Life
Raymond Doherty 30 Jun 2017 11:09am

The best TV of 2017 so far

To mark the halfway point of the year, we decided to look back at the best of the small screen so far this year, just in case you missed it

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Caption: Photography: HBO

Line of Duty

The hugely popular BBC police corruption drama has somewhat of a set formula by this, its fourth series, but that made it no less compelling. This year saw the addition of the always-excellent Thandie Newton as DCI Roz Huntley. There were more twists and turns to possibly get through here but the standout scenes once again involved the interrogation room and superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar). He just wants to “catch bent coppers". Or does he?

Catastrophe

Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney's brilliantly foul-mouthed comedy/drama continued this year with a turn towards the darker parts of negotiating a relationship and children. Now weighed down with real problems – Rob Norris (Delaney) is unemployed so can’t afford their mortgage and is starting to drink again. Sharon Morris (Horgan) can’t remember if she cheated on Rob and her father is ill. But as always it deals with them with a smirk. It’s very funny and in parts, moving.

The Young Pope

Academy Award-winning director Paolo Sorrentino’s The Young Pope was unlike anything else on the small screen this year or in almost any year, for that matter. The title is the only predictable aspect of it. It is about a pope (Jude Law) who is quite young, in pope terms. In parts it is surreal, funny, strange, confusing but is always stylish and surprising.

Master of None

The comedian playing a version of him or herself is a formula quite well worn by now (Larry David’s untouchable Curb Your Enthusiasm and Louis C K’s' Louis, among others), but Aziz Ansari still manages to bring something new to the table.

The second series is more ambitious than the first in every sense. Far from a conventional sitcom, each episode could almost be a stand-alone short film as it moves from New York to Italy and back. 

Westworld

Big budget, big actors (Sir Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris) and even big themes, this HBO production pulls few punches. It’s a sci-fi drama set in an Old West theme park where guests interact with automations in real life scenarios and lines between reality and gameplay become increasingly blurred as the season continues. It was laboured and clunky at times and was best summed up by one of its stars, Evan Rachel Wood, who referred to it as “an amazing prequel and a good setup for the actual show". Roll on series two.

Billions

Season Two of this Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis vehicle is ludicrous but that’s what makes it so entertaining. The two stars ham it up as billionaire hedge fund savant Bobby "Axe" Axelrod and US attorney Chuck Rhoades. Both have a questionable moral compass and seem to be in love with the same woman. What made this season better than the first were the auxiliary characters, such as Chuck’s horrible father and Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon).