Every year I release my awards for the best of the television season. With the Emmy Awards on Monday, I will be delivering my awards in three parts over the next three days. (See previous Awards – 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013)
These aren’t your typical awards. I do have some traditional awards, but unlike the Emmys, I seek out moments that resonate in some way, whether it be ones that made me cry, made me think or just shocked me to the core. As always, these are based solely on the shows I personally watch, so if you saw a moment you think should have been included, feel free to pitch your greatest moments in the comments.
We start, of course, with some of the more traditional awards, including Best New Series, Best New Character and Best Ensemble.
Best New Series: Kevin (Probably) Saves the World
The best show that came out this year also happened to be the best show no one was watching. Kevin (Probably) Saves the World wasn’t revolutionary television by any means, but it was the most feel-good hour of television that encompassed the best of everything you could hope for on every possible level. The cast was lovably quirky, especially Jason Ritter as the bumbling ne’er-do-well thrust into a situation of having to track down God’s chosen so as to save humanity. Funny, charming, charismatic and yet grounded in a way that felt genuine, Ritter like his dad John before him, handled every crazy situation and prat fall like a pro. Kevin was one of those shows you could enjoy for the sake of entertainment alone, but still find heart in its emotional core; it was the very best of comfort food. It’s a shame no one caught on to the magic of this fun, intelligent show. RIP Kevin (Probably) Saves the World.
Worst New Series: The Outpost
When the 2017-2018 season started, I quickly had 9JKL tapped as the worst show of the year. The “comedy” was subpar and predictable and all of the actors were so much better than the material they were given. But then this summer came The Outpost, and 9JKL no longer seemed all that bad. I barely drudged my way through the first half hour of this train wreck (it’s amazing I actually got through the whole hour before turning on something else to cleanse the palette). From the very first line of dialogue, I knew the show was going to be terrible. The acting was wooden, the writing was amateurish, the fight choreography left a lot to be desired and the effects were lazy even for CW standards. Whether this show ever got better I’ll never know because you only get one chance for a first impression, and The Outpost‘s first episode failed on every level.
First Show To Die Award: Wisdom of the Crowd
Though Me, Myself and I was pulled from the schedule (eventually completing its episode run over the summer), and Ten Days in the Valley was shuffled off to Saturdays to finish its run, Wisdom of the Crowd was the first new show of the season to officially be canceled. It wasn’t because ratings were poor or because the show wasn’t good (it was actually one of the more interesting and most watched new shows), it was because Jeremy Piven got swept up in the #MeToo movement’s no tolerance policy when allegations of sexual misconduct are levied. Now I don’t know whether the allegations were true or not, but pulling the plug on the show so quickly without first investigating the allegations and making sure there was any merit to them (a trend that has gotten way out of hand this season) was premature to say the least. It’s a shame because like its pseudo-counterpart, APB, before it, I would very much have liked to see where this techno-drama was heading.
Series that shouldn’t have been this good: Young Sheldon
The idea of spinning off the character of Sheldon Cooper on paper shouldn’t have worked. Based on what we know, the character’s true arc began in the first season of The Big Bang Theory, so what were we ever going to learn watching Sheldon traverse high school? There technically wouldn’t be a satisfying arc for the character, and seeing how he dealt with bullies at a young age just didn’t seem all that interesting. However, with a tremendously well-cast ensemble (including Laurie Metcalf’s daughter, Zoe Perry, as a younger Mary Cooper, the incredible Reagan Revord as Sheldon’s spicy twin sister, Annie Potts as the lovable Meemaw, and of course Iain Armitage as the title character) and some sharp writing that is both whimsical, funny, absurd and heartfelt all rolled into a pinata of cleverness, Young Sheldon was a surprising hit that has a bright future ahead of it. (At least until they reach the point when Sheldon’s dad (Lance Barber) must officially say goodbye.)
Series that should have been better: Ten Days in the Valley
I was very interested in Ten Days in the Valley when I saw the previews for the show. It seemed like it would be an interesting mystery and I like Kyra Sedgwick, so you can understand my disappointment when it turned out to be such a bore. I really wanted to like this show; I gave it the benefit of the doubt for as long as I could, but after about four episodes, I just couldn’t continue wasting my time hoping it would get better. The cast did what they were asked to do as well as they could, but the producers simply could not find a way to deliver the drama in any sort of compelling way. I’m not sure if it was the cliche feel of it all or the writing that screamed mystery around every corner, but the whole thing was a slog of nothing but characters doing stupid things every chance they got.
Best New Character: Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), The Good Doctor
Coming off his haunting portrayal of Norman Bates in Bates Motel, it was hard to believe Freddie Highmore could top (or at least match) that performance so quickly; then came along Dr. Shaun Murphy in The Good Doctor. Highmore imbues the character with just enough nuance that allows the character to have a sense of the world and how to live within it while battling the inner turmoil of being different than everyone else. Everyone sincerely cares for Shaun’s success without pandering to his autism. In their eyes, he may be different but he’s not treated as anything but another doctor in the program. And that’s all Shaun wants — his freedom to be independent. Yet, he relies heavily on the assistance (and friendship) of Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff), and this obvious contradiction helps build a character that you feel for, but fear for his inability to break from his reliance, even though he’s quite capable, despite his autism.
Best New Character in an Established Show: Andrew Kim (John Cho), The Exorcist
With The Exorcist shifting focus to a new family and spirit in its second season, it could have gone one of two ways — either the new cast of characters were going to help the show (and our returning priests, Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) and Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera)) evolve, or it was going to prove that lightning doesn’t strike twice. Luckily, it was the former, and mostly because of John Cho, who brought such a layered quality to such a disturbed character. Before we really knew what was happening with the family in question, Cho brought a sincerity to Andrew Kim, a recently widowed foster father, with several kids under his wing. Kim is warm, kind, generous and authoritative while at the same time hiding his utter loneliness — doing what he can to hide the grief of his dead wife so that he can remain a strong, dependable father to his kids. When it turned out that one of those kids wasn’t actually real (see part 2 for more), and that he was actually the target of this season’s demon, we got to see how tortured the man really was, and Cho performed every aspect of that with dignity and resolve.
Worst New Character in an Established Show: Cinderella (Dania Ramirez), Once Upon A Time
In last year’s awards, I talked about how Once Upon A Time missed an opportunity to respectfully end with a scene that helped bookend the series by having Henry’s daughter (Alison Fernandez) arrive to do to him what he did to Emma (Jennifer Morrison) in the first episode. Yet, despite several major characters leaving the show, producers decided to keep it going, and in so doing, had to create a cast of new characters. The problem is, this new batch of characters couldn’t match the fun and whimsy of the original cast; none more so than Dania Ramirez as Cinderella, who all but sucks every ounce of life from the show whenever she’s on screen. The best moments over the course of the season were when the original cast appears as their old characters (such as the episode that focused on Belle (Emilie De Ravin) and Gold (Robert Carlyle), as well as the final handful of episodes, which were far better then the entirety of the first half of the season, mostly because the focus shifted away from Cinderella and her problems). Ramirez didn’t inject anything new into the show and her chemistry with Henry (Andrew J. West) was DOA. What was once a gloriously fun show was drained of all energy, mostly because Ramirez just seemed so clueless and completely out of her element.
Best Ensemble Cast: Waco
It was only six episodes long, but Waco was a perfect example of compelling television. Not only did it have a tight script that kept everything moving at a quick pace, it had strong character development that continually reminded us that everyone makes mistakes, has biases and are just trying to get by the best we know how. And it was the cast that made it all work. Michael Shannon took a break from movies to pair his strong intellect with Taylor Kitch’s emotional core like no other pairing on television — and they hardly shared the screen at all. That’s a testament to the strength of the cast; everyone spars with one another in the best possible way that make you feel a connection to each and every one of them despite whether they’re ever on screen together. The passion each actor has for the project seeps through every frame, drawing you in and making you understand who these people were and what they were trying to accomplish. Whatever side you might be on, you feel the depth of sincerity in each character, and that’s all due to the power of the cast that brought it all together.
Best Cross-Over: Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow
Once again, the CW’s “Arrowverse” combines all four of its show to create one fantastic four-hour television event. Focused around the wedding of Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton), the gang merges on Central City only to be attacked by Oliver (Steven Amell) and Kara’s (Melissa Benoist) evil Nazi doubles from Earth X. The team then spends the next four hours trying to keep them from taking over their Earth while rescuing themselves from captivity on Earth X. Eventually, we end the crossover with not one but two weddings (hurray for Oliver and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards)!) and the introduction of a new Snart (Wentworth Miller), who is welcome back anytime should Miller so choose to return to one or more of these shows in the future.
Jump now to Part 2 of our Television Awards, which includes the Best Twist, Most Heartbreaking Moment, and Most Poetic Story Arc of the 2017-2018 season.