TL;DR: I tracked everything I watched in 2022 — including 47 shows — so I can bring you this list of recommendations!
Last year I started tracking what TV shows I watch so I can produce these end-of-the-year lists, and I continued the habit in 2022. As a result, I know that I watched 342 hours of television across 47 shows. Here’s some of my favorites.
This is an excellent zombie show set in a South Korean high school. There’s drama, there’s romance, there’s a growing hoard of undead trying to kill everyone. I watched this with Ollie and we loved every minute and can’t wait for season 2.
I already loved the world of Cyberpunk, which is an odd thing to say about a severely fucked-up dystopia. The makers of Cyberpunk 2077 did a phenomenal job of extending the visual language for this type of future beyond the rainy neon streets of Blade Runner, showing us what the world looks like in broad daylight, and injecting more neon color, music, and personality.
Then this fantastic anime kicked things up another notch. The style of everything here is jaw-dropping. The casual, almost cartoony violence. The slow-motion repeated color-shifted frames of David using his Sandevistan implant. The constant delight of getting to visit locations I know well from the game.
But more than any of that, this is a good story. David character arc is tragic, and the story doesn’t shy away from the constant threat of cyberpsychosis, and of increasing risks the gang needs to take to achieve glory. The final confrontation managed to not only deliver a gut punch of emotion, but also gave me an additional reason to dislike a bad guy from the video game.
I get frustrated quickly with historical fiction, and despite the involvement of Battlestar Galactica’s Ronald D. Moore, the early NASA 1960s setting did not appeal to me. Honestly, I only came back to watch season one when I saw a teaser for season 3.
In a nutshell, what this show does well is that each season is set about a decade apart, following the diverging history from a single change in our timeline: What if the Russians had beaten the US to the moon landing?
Season one is set in the sixties and follows the events at NASA as they desperately attempt to catch up and avoid Russian dominance in space. Season two is set in the seventies and covers the establishment of competing moon bases by Russia and the US. Season three is set in the eighties and covers the race to establish a Mars base.
Once I knew that, it was easy to push through my dislike of the sixties setting, and enjoy the ride. The characters are great, the story is great, and I can’t wait to watch season three.
I’m sure like most people you’re suffering from Marvel burnout. But trust me, this series is an absolute joy. Kamala Khan (played by the fantastic Iman Vellani) is a “brown girl from Jersey” who grows up in a world shaped by the rise of the Avengers. Her walls are covered with posters of her favorite hero, Captain Marvel. She writes fan fiction and has a YouTube channel discussing superhero events. But she’s also Muslim, from a Pakistani family, and when she gains her own super powers, everything about her personality informs the type of hero she tries to become. It’s joyful and optimistic, while also leaning into the practical realities she needs to face in today’s world. I can’t recommend it strongly enough.
If you’re not aware of the books or the show, here’s the set up: Slough House is the British Intelligence version of American police departments’ “rubber gun squad,” where intel operatives who can’t be fired for cause but are not wanted are sent to languish. There, they do administrative shitwork for the rest of their lives until they quit in disgust. This purgatory is presided over by the vile, flatulent anti-George Smiley, Jackson Lamb, a man with an awesome and terrifying Cold War reputation who must surely have fucked up in some epic way to have been placed in charge of Slough House. He is monstrous, callous and casually abusive to his charges and, in fact, anyone else who dares stray into his drunken squinting gaze. The stories are about the various limbo’d agents of Slough House, and the things Jackson Lamb is up to when nobody is looking.
That’s how Warren Ellis described the show in his newsletter and convinced me to check it out.
I can’t recommend it enough if you enjoy spy stuff. Gary Oldman is a masterful bit of casting here. You may be familiar with his turn as legendary spy George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, where he was always calm and sedate and in control. Jackson Lamb is none of those things, and Oldman commands every scene he’s in, noisily slurping noodles, farting, drinking, and dropping the most devastating one-liners about everyone in his eyesight. His absolute contempt for everyone around him is second only to his fury when anyone fucks with him or his territory. As he says, “They’re all losers, but they’re my losers.”
Recommending a Star Trek show is complicated, because people have complicated relationships with Star Trek. You certainly already have your own opinions about whether Star Trek is good and worth watching, but give me a second to recommend this to you.
A few years ago, Seth MacFarlane launched a show called The Orville, which couldn’t make up it’s mind whether it was a blistering satire of Star Trek, or a loving continuation of The Next Generation. Because it couldn’t commit, it never really succeeded at either, pulling it’s satire punches, and so dedicated to the vibe of TNG that it couldn’t deliver anything new.
So it was surprising to me to find that Lower Decks, a show that constantly vacillates between being a loving homage to The Next Generation and a blistering satire of Star Trek as a whole, is consistently excellent. That turns out to be because it was created by Mike McMahan, the man behind the twitter account @TNG_S8, which consisted entirely of episode synopses for a fictional eighth season of The Next Generation. Here are some of my favorites:
A pod of quantum dolphins are struck by the starboard nacelle, Picard defends himself in the dolphin murder trial. Guinan learns hockey. *
Riker's ex-girlfriend arrives and dies, leaving behind a pile of glowing dust and a mystery. Picard is trapped on a turbolift with a horse. *
Riker protects a class of alien school kids and their attractive teacher during a lava storm. A flock of tiny, flightless birds hunt Wesley. *
Picard must debate a copy of himself… to the death. Geordi and Data really want to find their snake before anyone notices it’s gone. *
I love how well he nailed the big dramatic plot contrasted with a silly b-story. “Guinan learns hockey” kills me every time. I can just imagine Picard visiting her for advice on the dolphin trial, but they’re on the holodeck and she’s in the penalty box the whole time.
Anyway, Lower Decks is that. It follows the lower-ranked crew of a Starfleet ship, and how they just try to live their lives while the bridge crew get in absurd situations. It’s really really good.