10. MINDHUNTER (Netflix)
Missing “Hannibal”? “Mindhunters,” the serial killer drama from director-producer David Fincher (“Seven,” “Zodiac”) could be its prequel, examining the early days of the FBI’s Behaviorial Science Unit a few months after The Summer of Sam and six years before the publication of “Red Dragon.” The addictive 10-episode series comes equipped with its own Lecter in the form of mammoth incarcerated nerd Edmund Kemper (Cameron Britton), who gives the G-Men insight into the brains of killers they haven’t quite captured yet. Hannah Gross is awesome as the lead’s sassy egghead girlfriend, as is “Fringe” refugee Anna Torv as another hot academic trying to life-coach the Jonathan Goff and Holt McCallany characters.
9. AMERICAN GODS (Starz)
I love the production design and the cinematography and Crispin Glover’s Mr. World is wonderful, but I confess what I love most about Bryan Fuller’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel is Emily Browning’s undead-but-rotting Laura Moon, who makes me laugh even as she reminds me of the great Fuller comic heroines that led “Dead Like Me” and “Wonderfalls.” Sadly, Fuller quit the show over creative differences before season two could be shot, so maybe it will suck as bad as “Star Trek Discovery” in 2018.
8. WORMWOOD (Netflix)
Genius documentarian Errol Morris (“Gates of Heaven,” “The Thin Blue Line,” “The Fog of War”) hired Peter Sarsgaard, Molly Parker, Tim Blake Nelson, Bob Balaban and Jimmi Simpson to depict events surrounding the CIA’s top secret deadly efforts to weaponize LSD. But the endlessly spooky “Wormwood” also contains scenes of the real Morris interviewing real people connected to an agricultural scientist recruited by the U.S. government to service a more sinister agenda.
7. THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL (Amazon)
People too often mirthlessly type “LOL” as they sit silently, but this one routinely elicits from me actual laughter. Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is the latest from writer-director Amy Sherman-Palladino, whose “Gilmore Girls” revival was a big hit over on Netflix last year. Set in the early 1960s, it’s about a spoiled Manhattan housewife who stumbles into a stand-up comedy career as her “perfect” marriage flies apart. There’s a lot to love about the new series, but I’m particularly enamored of Tony Shalhoub and Kevin Pollak as Mrs. Maisel’s father and father-in-law.
6. THE DEUCE (HBO).
Co-created by “The Wire” mastermind David Simon the terrific porn-ascendant drama “The Deuce” uses loads of computer-generated imagery to reproduce “McCloud”-era Manhattan in the months leading up to the release of hardcore blockbuster “Deep Throat.” While filled with terrific characters and incident, “The Deuce” at junctures has the added benefit of being more arousing than the movies-within-the-series it depicts. “The Wire” never earned “Game of Thrones” ratings but HBO kept bringing it back for five years; hopefully the channel will be as kind to fans of “The Deuce.”
5. THE HANDMAID’S TALE (Hulu).
If you can find a better Christian Rape and Murder sci-fi hourlong, buy it. A series version of the Margaret Atwood novel that examines how free countries tend to turn into deep, smelly shitholes when they’re taken over by totalitarian theocracies, Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” is engrossing, thrilling, heartbreaking and one of the best things I saw in 2017. There are great twists. The performances – by Elisabeth Moss, Alexis Bledel, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski and Ann Dowd (guilty remnant Patti in “The Leftovers”) as the brutal sadist charged with indoctrinating the rapee-designates -- are superb.
4. BETTER CALL SAUL (AMC)
Much beloved for mapping so compellingly the secret origins of canny criminals Mike Ehrmantraut and Gus Fring, this series for me entrances no less with new (to us) characters like Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill vets Kim Wexler, Chuck McGill and Howard Hamlin, but also Ehrmantraut’s adversarial associate Nacho Varga. (If Michael McKean is truly sidelined this coming season, I’m hopeful the mesmerizing Michael Mando, who plays Nacho, will get more attention from Emmy voters.
3. THE LEFTOVERS. (HBO)
“Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof moved on from J.J. Abrams and Carlton Cuse to undertake HBO’s tale of what might happen if 2% of the world’s population vanished in an instant. While I liked the sprawling “Lost” finale plenty, the fabulous (if much less popular ) “Leftovers” – with its adorable goats, and false identities and tales of interdimensional transport – demonstrated that Lindelof could forge a ending satisfying enough to please almost anyone. And gods bless this series for showing us what Carrie Coon can do.
2. GAME OF THRONES (HBO).
Ah, Sand Snakes, we barely knew ye! David Benioff and D.B. Weiss continue to conjure the best characters in the wittiest show on television, but they’re now working without any of George RR Martin’s novels (which – it saddens me to say – Martin, 69, may never bring himself to complete), and I believe the show’s plotting has grown far more predictable thanks to this circumstance. “Game of Thrones” is another franchise nestled safely in my all-time top-three, but I do hope Martin finds a satisfactory ending to his final Ice & Fire novel, and – likely long after we’re all dead – some amazing filmmaker will create a more faithful (and even longer) maxi-movie.
1. TWIN PEAKS (Showtime)
Mark Front and David Lynch had a quarter century to think about how to approach season three, and the 2017 version of “Twin Peaks” is full of amazing choices. The most daring perhaps was imbuing FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper – whose Sunny Sherlock disposition was one of the most popular elements of the show 25 years ago -- with the personality of a newborn. Another was the bold but agreeable decision to move most of the series beyond the Twin Peaks city limits. The ABC’s 1990-91 version of “Twin Peaks” has long been a component of my all-time top-three TV series list, so imagine my surprise at discovering that creators Mark Frost, 64, and David Lynch – who turns 72 this month and whose last two non-documentary features were 2001’s “Mulholland Dr.” and 2006’s “Inland Empire” – managed to kick out 18 new episodes that not only lived up to the long-dormant franchise but also in some ways surpassed it. The decision to prevent Showtime from revealing anything about the plotlines was a masterstroke. It’s hard to believe anything could knock “Game of Thrones” off my number-one slot, but I think the 2917 edition of “Twin Peaks” may now have succeeded “Mulholland Dr.” as the filmmaker’s greatest achievement.
BONUS! HERC’S 10 BEST HALF-HOUR PROGRAMMES:
RICK & MORTY (Cartoon Network)
ASH VS EVIL DEAD (Starz)
THE GOOD PLACE (NBC)
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO)
SOUTH PARK (Comedy Central)
BETTER THINGS (FX)
SILICON VALLEY (HBO)
THE SANTA CLARITA DIET (Netflix)