2017 Calvin Awards: Best TV Show
By David Mumpower
February 20, 2017
Last year, a brand new series exploded into the public consciousness and almost won the category. This year, we again embrace change by selecting new offerings as our favorite two series of the year. Second place this time goes to The Good Place, a sitcom with impeccable leads in Ted Danson and Kristen Bell, but one whose virtually unknown tertiary characters oftentimes steal the show.
The Good Place is ostensibly an examination of the afterlife through the eyes of undeserving entrant. Through some unlikely cosmic error, Eleanor Shellstrop died at the same moment as a different Eleanor Shellstrop, the woman who rightfully earned her spot in The Good Place. “Fake” Eleanor tries to fit in as a series of cataclysmic events unfold, each of which hints that she’s the source of disruption in this utopia.
On its surface, The Good Place sounds like a high-concept sitcom with an extremely small shelf life. In execution, it’s a sublime exercise in pointed storytelling. We don’t want to give away anything, so all BOP can say is that if you haven’t watched the show yet, spend the five hours binge-watching it. The Good Place enjoys a similar structure to Lost in that it has a clever reveal at the end of each episode. Each new twist upsets the delicate balance of this paradise, causing a constantly increasing but organic amount of chaos. The Good Place is the most deceptively clever sitcom in recent memory and a worthy choice as the second best Television Show of the year.
How great were the two new programs this year? Their presence prevented Game of Thrones from becoming a three-time champion in the category. Since its inception, the HBO fantasy masterpiece has finished in our top five in every vote, and that streak continues this year with a third place finish.
When Breaking Bad ended, Game of Thrones had already shown signs that it was ready to usurp the story of Walter White’s tragic tale to become the most iconic program on television. That’s exactly what happened the last two years, but while Game of Thrones had a wonderful season including its best finale to date, two new series intrigued us more. The decline of Game of Thrones is more about those two programs than anything it did wrong. In fact, it could very easily wind up winning the next two years as it heads to a dazzling, frenetic finish. Stranger Things and The Good Place had amazing rookie seasons, but Game of Thrones has proven over time that it’s got staying power.
A pair of additional HBO offerings rounds out the top five. One of them, Westworld, is the latest triumphant drama for the network that has mastered the art form. Westworld is a 21st century take on Michael Crichton’s 1973 directorial debut of the same name. Whereas the original film was a celebration of quasi-futuristic science fiction conventions of the early 1970s, the new version of Westworld is a grim evaluation of mankind’s basic flaws.