Favorite TV Shows of 2017

As I look back on the last year in television, I think this might be the best year of TV ever. There were so many quality shows that I had to expand my usual top ten list to fifteen. I believe, with so many channels and providers offering original content, we are in a golden age of television. I hope that highlighting my favorites, you might give one of them a try and find a new favorite yourself.

To stake the obvious, I didn’t watch every TV show so this is an incomplete sampling. There are only so many hours in the day. Without further ado, here are my favorite television shows of 2017.

1) Master of None

2) The Leftovers

3) The Handmaid’s Tale

4) Game of Thrones

5) Mr. Robot

6) Insecure

7) Big Little Lies

8) Better Things

9) Black Mirror

10) Sense8

11) Legion

12) Better Call Saul

13) Glow

14) 13 Reasons Why

15) Orphan Black

What are your favorites? Did I leave one of your favorites off the list? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for suggestions.

Look for my favorite video games of 2017 list next week. Then, the week following, I will post my top 10 movies list.

Until next week…

The Last Guardian Review

One of my greatest joys in life is spending time with my dog. The unbridled joy he has when he sees me, the companionship no matter what is going on in my life, and the unconditional love is always present. These feelings are extremely hard to convey in a video game because few animals on screen look and act like a real animal. The Last Guardian is able to accomplish this in a way I’ve never experienced before.

Trico.jpg

Trico, the bird/cat/dog hybrid, reacts just like a real animal would. At the beginning, you have to build your relationship with him. He won’t respond to your commands and he is fearful of you. Trico will scream at you to get away until you insist otherwise. This can be frustrating at first for gamers used to pressing a button and always getting the same result. I found it refreshing and these reactions made Trico feel more lifelike. By the end of the game, Trico was there for me when I needed him and I was there for him when he needed me. We were a perfect pair and because the relationship grew organically, it paid off it spades.

The real marvel with Trico is how he moves. The Last Guardian development for an extremely long period of time, which left many wondering if the game  would ever see the light of day. I imagine what took so long was getting Trico to act and move like a true animal. Trico will wander, sniff around, get enamored by random items and it will be hard to break his attention from these distractions. The expression in his eyes and his ears give Trico personality that will melt your heart. By the conclusion of the game, I was less motivated to get to the end because I didn’t want my time with Trico to end.

I would be remiss to not mention the incredible score of the game. Its sweeping orchestration that came and went as emotional action happened on screen gave me chills at times. The music helped build the relationship between you and Trico in a magical way. As you get to climactic moments, the music would build and crescendo right when you are falling and Trico would swoop in and save you. The score always added to the moments while never dominating them. Bravo to Composer Takeshi Furukawa.

The Last Guardian is a Playstation 4 exclusive that is a must play if you are able. Fumito Ueda, who previously brought us Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, created another masterpiece. Games like The Last Guardian are why I play video games. It gave me an experience like no other form of media can and I can’t wait to see what Ueda-san does next.

My Top 5 Video Games of 2015

Every year, I reflect on what entertainment from the previous year I enjoyed the most. I do this so that others may find something they didn’t previous know about or wasn’t sure it would be worth their time. I, of course, didn’t see every movie, watch every TV show, or read every comic. What that disclaimer in mind, here are my favorite video games from 2015.

Until Dawn (Developer: Supermassive Games) – This game came out of nowhere and took over Twitch in September. A modern day “choose your own adventure,” Until Dawn takes the troupes of horror films and uses them to makes a campy, fun story. Unlike other similar games, choices and actions change the outcome of the story and who survives in the end. Starring such Hollywood actors as Hayden Panettiere as Sam and Brett Dalton (Agents of S.H.I.E.LD) as Mike, the actors not only lend their voices but also their acting ability through motion capture. Until Dawn was such a fun experience to play and would be a great party game to play with others.

Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture (Developer: The Chinese Room) – Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture was a breath of fresh air. Its sole purpose is to tell a story through interactive narrative and did not feature a single gun or combat scene. By focusing on the story, the developer, Chinese Room, found ways to tell the story through interacting with the world and a beautiful soundtrack (which I still listen to today). And what a stunning world it is. With its spectacular first-person visuals, you feel like you are in this town, trying to figure out what happened. This is the type of game that I would show someone to demonstrate how video games can tell a narrative story like no other medium.

Life is Strange (Developer: Dontnod Entertainment– Another game that featured no guns or combat, Life is Strange, is an episodic narrative adventure game that tells the story of a young girl in high school named Max. She discovers she has the ability to rewind time, and the player determines how she uses this power to adjust what happens in different situations. The game’s best attribute is its characters which you truly care about. You’ll do some brief puzzle solving but most of your interactions are through dialogue with other characters. What you choose to say to them can change your relationship with that character. By the end, I felt a real connection to Max’s best friend and Max herself. It was another example of a story that wouldn’t be as affective in any other medium.

Destiny: The Taken King (Developer: Bungie) – Destiny was the game that I put the most hours into this year. It has many features in a game that I love the most like, playing for better items for your character, a real sense of community among players, and a gorgeous environment. The Taken King expansion fixed many of the problems from the original game. The inventory system was improved and the way to “level up” your character became more straight-forward. The Taken King’s biggest improvement was to its story. The story related content and the motivations of your character were clear throughout and featured the best raid to date. If you have ever wanted to give Destiny a chance or didn’t enjoy it when it first came out, I would suggest you give it another chance.

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Developer: CD Projekt Red) – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was one of my most anticipated games since seeing a preview at Comic-Con in 2014 and it didn’t disappoint. This game was the best value of any game released this year featuring over 100 hours of content. Not only does Witcher 3 have quantity but quality in spades. Its side missions are better than most main missions in other games and the characters you meet are both layered and memorable. I’ll never forget many of these characters and can’t wait to see them again. The developer, CD Projekt Red, created a more detailed world than I’ve ever seen in a video game. It felt like it existed before I arrived and continues after I leave. This attention to detail created an experience like none I’ve ever had.

I also wanted to give a nod to Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, which I played in 2015 but came out in 2014. If it was released in 2015, it would be on this list. Blizzard knows how to make polished, fun games and Diablo III: RoS was so addictive. It always has you looking for better loot to put on your character and that drive for loot propels you through the game. The cut scenes that relay the story are second to none and the art design on the world feels lived in and creepy.

Thank you for reading this and my other favorites of 2015. Stay tuned for more features coming soon.