My Top 5 for 2016

3 dramas, 1 doco & 1 reality make the cut in the best new shows of 2016.

Every year I assemble my Top 5 shows for the year, sticking to the shows that have made their debut on Australian television.

This year there is an exception, denoted below.

5. Australian Survivor. TEN
Strictly speaking this is the second incarnation of this show, given Nine had a fling in with it in 2002. Three if we count Celebrity Survivor. But it was a new production rebooted after a lengthy break so I’m bending my own rule. Despite expanding the cast, the season and even the length of the episodes, this was a production that got better as it went on -culminating in a riveting, theatrical, emotional challenge and a winner we never saw coming.

4. Deep Water: The Real Story. SBS
All the publicity, naturally, went to SBS’ excellent drama series but it was the documentary on the gay hate crimes in Sydney that was a knockout blow. Turning a spotlight on this ignored, brutal chapter of our social history was inspired.

3. Stranger Things. Netflix
This homage to movies including ET, The Goonies, Stand By Me and Close Encounters of the Third Kind was spooky fun, led by a impressive juvenile ensemble. It was hard to resist the urge to binge as we travelled into the upside down.

2. The Night Of. Showcase.
Riveting performances, a searing look into the US crime and prison system as the consequences of one snap decision unravel. A lesson in how to update a UK drama and managing to stay classy.

1. The Crown. Netflix.
Turning Buckingham Palace into high-class soap could have been a disaster but under the masterful hand of writer Peter Morgan this was a compelling look at a family enduring great responsibility and a woman bestowed with power before she was ever ready for it. Claire Foy, supported by a stunning ensemble, was captivating as the young Elizabeth. Together with its lavish setting, historical insights and dazzling costumes, it was unmissable TV.

Honourable Mentions in no particular order:

Beat Bugs, Seven.
The Kettering Incident,
The Night Manager,
BBC First.
War and Peace,
BBC First.
National Treasure,
The Murder Detectives,
Exodus: Our Journey to Europe,
Deep Water,
The People vs O.J. Simpson,
Secret City,
Grease Live,
Here Come the Habibs,
The Man in the High Castle 
Amazon Prime.

Don’t forget to nominate your best in the TV Tonight Awards.

23 Responses

  1. Doctor Doctor was surprise for me. At the begining I thought it was going to be another formulaic Aussie soap but as it went on it morphed into a nuanced dramedy whereas the Wrong Girl which I thought I would love started out strong and then turned into a boring formulaic Aussie soap.

  2. 1. GoT
    2. Westworld
    3. The Man in the High Castle
    4. The Expanse & Billions
    5. Designated Survivor

    From what I’ve head “The Night Of” should/would be included, but I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. Also I remain mystified by the critical praise heaped on the nonsensical, dated and derivative “Stranger Things” – I still haven’t made it past the second episode.

    Interesting that none of them are Australian (too dominated by reality shite) and none are available on FTA (which has turned into a swamp of almost unwatchable garbage with the deluge of reality TV shows and cheap imported crap). Also I realised the other day I haven’t watched TV “live” in I can’t remember how long, months at least. My set’s tuned to the internet streaming services and shows by default and I hardly ever switch back to “real TV” anymore (even then I prefer to record it and watch it…

  3. Nice list David. Westworld is #1 for me, but I agree that The Night Of, Stranger Things & even Aussie Survivor deserve to be right up there. I also liked The Night Manager a lot.

  4. im surprised that there is no love for the visually stunning and original show “westworld”. much rather this than celebrities running round the jungle trying to appear unscripted

  5. Agree that Australian Survivor was great this year. This coming from someone who never watched a full Survivor episode until the Aus version aired this yr. Since the Aus version finished I’ve binged the last three US seasons, all excellent

    My favourite new shows this year were Luke Cage, Frequency and Stranger Things. Designated Survivor has also been awesome after a slow start.

    1. The episode summer of Gilmore girls a year in the life did not work for me. I struggled to watch that episode. Whilst it was great to have the Gilmore girls back and overall I did enjoy their return, that episode ensured it could not be number 1 for me.

  6. At least I watched a couple of this years picks, as i don’t think I saw any of last years top 5. Agree Australian Suvivor was really good (coming from me, who hates Aussie stripped reality shows) as was Deep Water :The Real Story. Other new shows I’d pick are The Durrells, Supergirl, Doctor, Doctor and The Wrong Girl. Out of the existing shows: Game of Thrones, just finished season 5. Wow! Call the Midwife, every season has been just sublime. I havn’t had any spare time to get Netflix, but am definately looking forwad to watching The Gilmore Girls.

  7. Yes, The Crown and Stranger Things definitely deserve to be in the Top 5.
    Both really, really good with outstanding casts.
    Also agree about Aus Survivor- compelling viewing towards the end.
    Exodus was also excellent – harrowing and deeply personal accounts of their attempts to escape persecution by a wide selection of refugees. Really made me change my views on the refugee crisis overall.
    Kettering was fantastic to start with but went downhill towards the end.

  8. Looking forward to trying The Crown soon. Absolutely loved Victoria on BBC First – really hope there’s another season or 2 as there’s still alot of her life to cover. Wolf Creek on Stan I watched this year as well (although it may have been released late last year). Hyde & Seek and Secret Daughter were ok but just not in the same league to me. Never got into Doctor Doctor at all. Currently watching Frequency on Netflix.

  9. Quite surprised to see 2 netflix shows and reality. Surely there was a drama out there that could’ve trumped a reality show?

    I’ve watched none of the top 5 shows but do plan to give the crown a go on netflix. Currently watching paranoid and fuller house.

    The top show of the year for me was designated survivor on netflix. Thought the mid season final was a ripper. So many unanswered questions.

  10. I can’t comment on a lot of them because they’re on networks I can’t watch. But I’d add Hyde & Seek, Doctor Doctor, Wanted & The Secret Daughter to that mix.

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