This has been a weird year for me and my TV.
Partly because of my day job, partly because of my kids, and partly because I rarely can stay up past 8:15 anymore, I feel like I haven’t watched nearly as much TV this year as I have in the past. However, in 2022, I was probably exposed to, and heard of, more TV programs than at any other time of my life.
This should not be surprise because as we all know by now, there are about a million different streaming TV options out there. And since nature (and TV programmers) abhor a vacuum, it seemed like something new, and necessary to watch, premiered on a streaming TV service pretty much every day this year. Now, finding the time, and being able to stay awake long enough to watch all of that stuff is another matter. For example, I haven’t watched one minute of Netflix’s “Squid Game”, I’ve only seen one episode of “Yellowstone”, and I don’t know anything at all about what happened in the final season of “The Walking Dead” other than there are probably still a lot of zombies staggering around just like they were when the show started 11 years ago.
But, I have managed to get some TV viewing in. And, as I have done each year since 2020, I have made it point to espouse upon what I think are the 10 Best Things I Watched On TV This Year. I had to go back and check my memory on some items, and I may end up missing something here that I watched back in April.
1: Not everything that I watched that is on this list is from this year. You’ll know what soon enough.
2. As this is my list, the definition of “TV” is up to me. For example, I do a lot of the cooking in my house, and as such, I watch a lot of stuff on my iPad when I am at the stove. And, as you will see with at least one of these listings, where and how I watch something can be as far away from my living room TV as Hawaii is from California…
Just about the only thing better than Kevin Bacon is Kevin Bacon rocking a cheesy 1970s porn stache on top of a hilariously over-the-top Boston accent and playing a ridiculously corrupt, FBI agent in a 1993 Boston that is still more than a decade away from the Red Sox ending the Curse of the Bambino.
9. Pepsi: Where’s My Jet? (Netflix)
So, in the 1990s, Pepsi ran a promotion where if you drank enough Pepsi, and collected enough points, you could collect different types of swag and gifts. And, in one commercial, Pepsi offered a Harrier jet for 7,000,000 points. It was all meant to be a joke. Except to one guy from Seattle…
8. The Mandalorian, Season 3 Trailer (Disney+)
I am a “Star Wars” fan and I have pretty much gone all-in on Disney re-starting the franchise. And the first two seasons of “The Mandalorian” were among the best things I saw on TV in years. In fact, in my 2020 “Best Things” re-cap, I picked the first season of “The Mandalorian” as my No. 1 show of the year. This year I got all kinds of excited about Disney’s new “Star Wars” show, “The Book of Boba Fett” due to its Biblical-sounding title and the fact that it was going to be about Boba Fett. And, for the most part…It was a slow-going disappointment. That was until The Mandalorian entered then scene for a few episodes and saved “Boba Fett’s” season. I hope that any future seasons of “Boba Fett” are good. But, in the meantime, Disney has put up a two-minute-long trailer for Season 3 of “The Mandalorian” and if you watch it once, you will be circling March 1, 2023 your calendar for the show’s season premiere.
Hey, remember the 90s?
6. (Tie) The Old Man (Hulu)/Slow Horses (Apple TV+)
There are some actors who just make everything they are in better. (Kurt Russell and Helen Mirren immediately come to mind), and Jeff Bridges and Gary Oldman are in that club. The growth of streaming services has boosted the market for “Presitge TV”, and more and more “Movie Actors” have taken on TV roles that, in the past, they never would have considered. This year, Jeff Bridges put in one of the best performances on TV as a former CIA operative whose past has caught up with him. And Gary Oldman was back for a second season as the head of a team of British Mi-5 agents who the King’s Secret Service would rather forget existed. Both owned every scene they were in.
And speaking of Movie Stars Taking On TV Roles…Sylvester Stallone made the move to TV as the awesomely named Dwight David Manfredi, a New York mafia capo whose loyalty for serving a 25-year stretch in prison was returned by sending him off to set up shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma. You can tell Stallone is living it up in the role as he puts together his crew of misfit, low-level outlaws and goes about just taking ownership of Oklahoma’s second city. If you needed any evidence that Stallone can actually act, “Tulsa King” is Exhibit A.
As I have said in my prior “Best Thing” recaps, this is my list, and my criteria. If I could see it on TV, it qualified. And as I have all six seasons of “Northern Exposure” on DVD, and was able to watch it on my 58-inch Samsung 4K TV in my living room, “Northern Exposure” made the cut. But, the reason I had to watch it on DVD in my living room is because “NX” isn’t streaming online ANYWHERE. Hell, the show isn’t even on Blu-Ray, and took a decade after it left the CBS airwaves in 1995 to even make it on DVD. I’ve heard that all the delays were due to music rights for songs used in the show. Whatever the case, “Northern Exposure” remains a well-acted document of the era just before the Internet took off. And the fact that it is only on DVD is reason enough for physical media to continue to exist in the world of streaming.
3. Dio: Dreamers Never Die (Showtime)
Any kid of the 70s or 80s knew who Ronnie James Dio was. The lead singer of Rainbow, Black Sabbath and his own band Dio. As if that résumé wasn’t enough, he created the greatest hand gesture since the advent of the middle finger: The Heavy Mëtäl Devil Horns. That alone would make Dio worthy of the documentary treatment.
2. Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount+)
Yes, I saw this over the summer in a theater. But, it just premiered on Paramount+ (You can watch this and “Tulsa King” back to back, if you like), and that is TV, champ. I wasn’t sure about “Maverick” when I heard about Tom Cruise coming back to his most-iconic role after nearly 40 years. But, I can’t find any faults in “Maverick”. It’s heartfelt, thrilling, funny and emotional. (It will get dusty in your living room when Cruise’s Maverick and Val Kilmer’s “Iceman” meet up). Is it the best American film of 2022? You might get an argument, but you won’t get a derision from anyone other than the New York Times. Cruise could have called it a career after Maverick’s final flight.
1. Cal Raleigh’s Walk-Off Home Run That Sent The Seattle Mariners To The Postseason For The First Time In 21 Years. (YouTube/Seattle Mariners MLB Channel)
I was standing in the Queen’s Marketplace shopping area in Waikaloa, Hawaii, on our last night on the Big Island. My phone was out and I was watching the Mariners play the Oakland A’s back in Seattle. The score was 1-1, bottom of the ninth, and looking like the game was headed to extra innings. And then, with a 3-2 count, Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh got ahold of a slider and sent it into the right field seats. Mariners win 2-1. The drama and happiness were almost too much to handle. I let out a shout there among the shoppers and tourists that was 21 years in the making.