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72° Good Afternoon

LIers reveal their TV favorites and disappointments of 2019 so far

Phoebe Waller-Bridge stars in Amazon Prime Video Season

Phoebe Waller-Bridge stars in Amazon Prime Video Season 2 of "Fleabag."  Credit: Amazon Prime Video

We are now well past the halfway mark of the 2019 TV year, and about to enter fall. So, what do you think? More to the point, what did you think? Long Islanders are discriminating viewers and like everyone else, have scaled the mountain of peak TV in 2019. With nearly 500 scripted shows alone, along with one of the most anticipated finales in TV history ("Game of Thrones"), how did LIers make sense of this bounty?

Favorites? Disappointments? You had a few, and I reached out to readers to find out about theirs of 2019, so far. These readers happen to be discriminating indeed: They include retirees, homemakers, lawyers, and even a librarian (yes, librarians watch TV,too.) They're smart, plugged in, sophisticated and know what they like and don't like. I've interviewed them for stories, or they've reached out to me with comments over the years. I respect them all. Here's what they had to say: 

One of my favorite shows that I discovered in 2019 (in part thanks to Netflix) is NBC's "Good Girls." It's a perfect balance of fun and dramatic. Plus, the three leading ladies [Christina Hendricks, Retta, Mae Whitman] are each very talented. I also love Netflix's [mystery teen drama] "The Society" — these teens are forced to literally build their own society. 
Disappointment NBC's "New Amsterdam." It's not the worst, but Max [Dr. Max Goodwin, played by Ryan Eggold] is just too optimistic and everything works out too perfectly most of the time. 

The third season of "True Detective" — the characters and actors are first-rate — while the second season of "Mindhunter" on Netflix is also a favorite. Also, recent seasons of both "Billions" and "Ray Donovan," with memorable finales. Meanwhile, "Barry" has become one of my top-15 shows — dark humor played so well by Bill Hader and Henry Winkler. Biggest surprise? [Sundance's British short-run series] "State of the Union," with Rosamund Pike. Ten episodes of only ten minutes each was unique. I enjoyed the actors, their give and take and the honest and humorous way their troubled relationship was examined.
Disappointment The second season of AMC's "The Terror." I'm only two episodes in and I’m very bored. Not compelling in terms of character interest.

 My wife Laura and I have a 66-year-old roof antenna that doesn't get cable and our $19.99 flip-phones can't get streaming or on-demand series either, but we do manage to binge-watch almost any series we want on DVDs from Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library, including our favorite new series, [HBO's] "Succession." We also loved FX's 'Baskets."
Disappointment "Ray Donovan," season 6. It rates a 'D' from this retired schoolteacher, after earning B and B+ grades for its first few seasons.

"New Amsterdam." I like medical shows and this was one of the best in recent years. Excellent actors all around.
Disappointment "The Bachelor" and "Bachelorette." Reality TV is not my thing, especially when adults display bad behavior and put their business in the streets.

 "What/If" [Netflix's noir thriller with Renée Zellweger] was awesome. "Russian Doll" was also thought-provoking and took "Groundhog Day" to a new level. I also liked "Fleabag" (almost Seinfeldian in its humor), and this season of "The Good Fight" (why this is on CBS All Access is a mystery to me), "Billions" (riveting character studies of the overly ambitious), Netflix's version of "Designated Survivor" (harder and edgier than ABC's), and the Israeli series, "Shtisel" and "Srugim" (great insights into the lives of the ultra-Orthodox community).
Disappointments Netflix's "Afterlife" (depressingly unfunny), NBC's "Manifest" (could have been a two-hour movie), and "The Good Place" (love Ted Danson and Kristen Bell, but this season was somewhere between inane and not very funny).

The second season of "The Good Doctor." The cases are fascinating, particularly the manner in which they are solved as the lead character, Dr. Shaun Murphy [Freddie Highmore], uses his savant-like ability to recall (and demonstrate to the audience what he sees) every case he’s ever studied. And though happy, uplifting endings are typical, they are never guaranteed. Sometimes the results are heart-wrenching and highly thought-provoking.
Disappointment While I like [TBS'] "The Last OG" — perfect vehicle for Tracy Morgan — the problem is that the show is much, much too short. I appreciate that something on commercial television is just that — commercials are to be expected. But this is ridiculous. Just when a scene gets going there’s a break, then another break. And not just commercials, but recaps, coming attractions, and worst of all, behind-the-scenes interviews … There are fewer than 15 minutes of an actual program. Ugh.

 I've really been into "America's Got Talent" for the past 3 seasons, and my all-time favorite moment by far was during this season's auditions when Kodi Lee, an autistic and blind man, played the piano and sang … I keep re-watching his audition (and) it makes me cry each time.
Disappointment My boyfriend was watching the final episode of the most recent season of "The Bachelor," and I will admit to watching it with him. The least favorite thing I've watched all year.

 One of my favorites was [HBO's] "Chernobyl," overall and [Amazon Prime's] "Fleabag" was also a favorite, as Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who both writes and stars, is a phenomenal talent. Also saw HBO's [Israeli crime drama] "Our Boys" — top-quality feel, timely and we haven't seen this kind of transparency since "Shtisel."
Disappointment I don't watch anything long enough to say it's the "worst" or "least favorite" but maybe "Orange Is the New Black" jumped the shark?

 "Stranger Things," season 3. Incredibly well-written and had the TV moment(s) of the year — Hopper saving the day, Eleven reading his note, and the teaser from the Russian prison … just wow. Also, how could I not mention the final season of "Game of Thrones" and a close second for TV moment of the year was definitely Arya killing the Night King. My jaw hit the floor. Honorable mention to the new Amazon original series "The Boys." It's dark, twisted and downright hilarious.
Disappointment The HBO miniseries "The Case Against Adnan Syed." I was a huge fan of the original "Serial" podcast, but the HBO series didn't really bring anything new to the table.

Winner hands-down is "Chernobyl" — just a fantastic miniseries. Meanwhile, honorable mentions to "Game of Thrones" (a well-done conclusion); TBS' "The Detour" (hysterical writing), "The Big Bang Theory" (great cast), "Ink Master" (well-done reality competition), and "Orange Is the New Black" (good season).
Disappointment Anything on HGTV because of all those paid infomercials for Lowes, Home Depot, and Wayfair!

I was a big fan of Amazon Prime's "The Boys," based on the comic of the same name by Garth Ennis. I was a big fan of the decisions they made to make the story work for television and it does a great job of making you believe the world it's set in. Karl Urban is fantastic as Billy Butcher.
Disappointment Haven't watched a lot of scripted TV this summer, so unfortunately can't give you a most-disappointing.

If you too have strong feelings about TV — from favorite shows to favorite moments to favorite characters, or their opposites — then please email me at I want to hear from you, too. Don't be shy: Your opinions about television are as valid as mine, and because they are your opinions, more so. Let's climb peak TV together. There's a long way to go yet. 


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