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Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Review - The Television

How is it that we are at the last day of 2017?  And to be honest with you, now that it is almost over...I'M GLAD!  It has really been a very difficult year, and I am really looking forward to a brand new year of hope, dreams, and opportunities.

I just wish that it wasn't so blustery cold outside!  It's said that in New York City, it's going to be the second coldest New Year's Eve in the history of the Times Square ball drop!  That could make for one frosty Rockin' New Year's Eve party!  I hope Ryan Seacrest has packed his Underarmor long johns!  And I hope that Mariah Carey actually wears clothes this time around when she sings for her redemption performance after the trainwreck last year because otherwise she might turn into a diva-sicle.

Yeah, Mariah's horrendous performance at Rockin' New Years Eve '17 was just one of the many events that happened in the world of television in 2017.  We've seen some television series debut to much fanfare, and we've seen some of our favourite television shows end after many years of stories.  And while Netflix, Hulu, and CraveTV have won over a lot of viewers, don't count network television out just yet.

So grab a bag of Doritos, pop open a Dr. Pepper, and figure out the difference between Kourtney Kardashian and Kylie Jenner because this is the best and worst of television in 2017.

So, a lot of television shows debuted this year, but before we get to that, let's have a look at some of the shows that we said farewell to.

Girl Meets World (January 20)
The Odd Couple (January 30)
The Apprentice (February 13)
The Vampire Diaries (March 10)
Liv and Maddie (March 24)
Bones (March 28)
Duck Dynasty (March 29)
Dr. Ken (March 31)
Grimm (March 31)
Sleepy Hollow (March 31)
Last Man Standing (March 31)
Switched at Birth (April 11)
Girls (April 16)
2 Broke Girls (April 17)
24: Legacy (April 17)
The O'Reilly Factor (April 21)
Bates Motel (April 24)
Rosewood (April 28)
The Great Outdoors (May 8)
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (May 17)
Baby Daddy (May 22)
Reign (June 16)
Pretty Little Liars (June 27)
Orphan Black (August 12)
The Insider (September 8)
The Strain (September 17)
Episodes (October 8)
Me, Myself, & I (October 30)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (November 12)
The Mindy Project (November 14)
Longmire (November 17)
Charlie Rose (November 17)
Fashion Police (November 27)
Tavis Smiley (December 13)
Chelsea (December 15)

A few notes:

It's interesting that with "Fuller House" and "Raven's Home" currently airing, "Will & Grace" coming back after a decade long hiatus, and "Roseanne" set to return in 2018 that "Girl Meets World" didn't last longer.  The sequel to "Boy Meets World" was quite the popular show on the Disney Channel and made stars out of Rowan Blanchard and Sabrina Carpenter.  But as decent an effort as it was, perhaps the fact that it was on the Disney Channel might have harmed its success.

But hey, at least it lasted longer than "Me, Myself, & I", which lasted a grand total of one month on the air. 

On the flipside, lots of television series ended after a long run.  Perhaps the one that I am most brokenhearted about is "Bones".  I've been a fan since the first episode aired in 2005, and the cast chemistry and riveting storylines kept me a fan for twelve years.  While I will miss everyone there, at least David Boreanaz is continuing to act in his new show "Seal Team".

"Last Man Standing" also ended its run in 2017 after six seasons, and many fans of the series cried foul, accusing ABC of canceling it due to political reasons.  I don't quite understand that, but given that Tim Allen's previous series "Home Improvement" ran two years longer, I suppose I can understand his disappointment.

Also ending after six seasons is "2 Broke Girls"...and honestly it was about time.  No offense to Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, but the show was never my cup of tea.

We also said farewell to "Bates Motel" and Freddie Highmore's brilliant, but frightening take on a young Norman Bates.  But don't worry, you can catch him on "The Good Doctor", which has gotten mixed reviews, but I find myself liking it.

And some of these shows ended on their own accord.  I suppose Mindy Kaling expecting a baby could be one reason why "The Mindy Project" wrapped up.  But in the case of Tavis Smiley, Bill O'Reilly, and Charlie Rose...well, let's just say that when you have men behaving badly, they find themselves on the unemployment line really quickly.

I mean, just ask Matt Lauer about that one, right?

All right.  Now let's talk about some of the successes of 2017.  We'll begin with the smash success of the NBC drama "This Is Us".  Starring Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, and Sterling K. Brown, the series is a rather unique one, using flashbacks and flash forwards to tell the tale of one family.  It's had viewers on their seats and has caused a nationwide shortage of Kleenex!  And good news for's reportedly been renewed until at least 2020!  After years of struggles, NBC is slowly winning back their former "Must See TV" title.

On Netflix, "Stranger Things" has aired two seasons, and in those two seasons, fans have been clamoring for more.  It's also been a great career renaissance for Winona Ryder, who has been largely hit and miss since the 2001 shoplifting scandal she was involved in.  Her role in "Stranger Things" was definitely worth the wait.

Netflix also took a gamble with a reboot of the 1970s sitcom "One Day at a Time".  With Norman Lear once again contributing to the show, this version features a Cuban-American female veteran with PTSD struggling to balance a career with motherhood.  Justina Machado and Rita Moreno have a fantastic chemistry with each other, and although the show is told from a 2017 perspective, it has all the charm and the punch of the 1975 original.  And good news...season two debuts January 26, 2018!

On January 26, 2017, the CW took a chance with the show "Riverdale", a darker look at the teenagers that have starred in Archie Comics since 1941.  What the end result became was a surprise hit for the network.  While you haven't seen Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead quite like this before, it's a show that you just get caught up in and you crave more each week.

(Okay, that's how I feel anyway.  I love "Riverdale" and make no apology for it.)

Oh, and the "Santa Clarita Diet" starring Drew Barrymore?  Extremely disgusting, but surprisingly satisfying.

Now for the shows that have debuted this fall and winter, I think some have the potential to be hits.  We already saw a preview of Ellen DeGeneres' "Game of Games" in December and it already received major buzz.  I am looking forward to the official premiere on January 2, 2018. 

Hitching a ride on the success of "The Big Bang Theory", "Young Sheldon" debuted on CBS in September, and I think the early buzz is that it is a winner, as is "Seal Team", "The Good Doctor", and "The Gifted".  Again, it's hard to predict what will be a hit, but early indication is that all of these series will likely get a second season at least.

And now for some miscellaneous pieces of television trivia from 2017.

Congratulations to "The Bold and the Beautiful" for celebrating thirty years on the air.  It is also the television series that has been seen in more countries than any other American soap opera.  The show still boasts two of its original stars in Katherine Kelly Lang and John McCook!  Outstanding, no?

And just to mention a show from across the pond, I want to commend "Emmerdale" for concluding a year long storyline featuring the character of Ashley Thomas battling dementia.  The storyline played out beautifully and educated the public over what living with dementia is like and how painful it is for the loved ones they leave behind.  John Middleton (Ashley) and Charlotte Bellamy (Laurel, Ashley's wife) were outstanding and both were rewarded with acting accolades courtesy of the British Soap Awards.

Megyn Kelly left FOX News to join NBC's "Today", and while the switch was jarring at first, she is starting to come into her own.  Meanwhile, with the departure of Matt Lauer amidst his sex scandals, Hoda Kotb has temporarily joined Savannah Guthrie, and the girl power seems to be working - ratings are actually up for the morning show since Lauer was fired.

"13 Reasons Why" might have been accused of glorifying suicide, but in actuality, I found it to be incredibly haunting and well acted.  It's not for everybody, but if you can sit through it, it's well worth it.

Jimmy Kimmel also had a rough 2017, as his newborn son was born with heart issues - but Kimmel used the opportunity to talk about affordable health care for everyone in America.  While some found his remarks to fall on deaf ears, for others he became the voice for millions who were stuck in medical debt.

Can Michael Phelps win a swimming race against a Great White Shark?  Apparently, nobody really knows.  The shark was actually computer generated, meaning that the whole race was just a clever edit.  Insert shark week comments on Twitter.  Who would have thought that "Sharknado 5" would have been more realistic?

And finally, Scott Pelley left the anchor desk at the CBS Evening News after serving in the position for six years.  While it took some time for a replacement to be found, Jeff Glor took on the position in December 2017.  All the best to him.

That appears to be a wrap for the television flashback.  Join us tomorrow for the first entry of 2018 with a look back on the news events that shaped 2017 for better or for worse.  Happy new year, everyone!

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