The Best of the Rest: 2023 TV Highlights Worth Revisiting

These shows brought something special to the small screen, often in bite-sized morsels

Sometimes “Best Of” lists can lock us into a format that misses smaller, but still great TV moments.


‘Blue Eye Samurai’ (Netflix) — I’m not a big anime fan, but for some reason (great story, fascinating animation) I liked “Blue Eye Samurai,” and I wasn’t the only one.

‘The Law According to Lidia Poët’ (Netflix) — Outside of Italy few watched this period drama/comedy about the first woman lawyer in Italy Lidia Poët (pronounced poet). That’s a shame because not only is the beautiful Matilda De Angelis a good actress and fun to watch but the show packs all the humor of, say, “Downton Abbey” while telling a vibrant bit of history.

The Law According to Lidia Poët | Official Trailer | Netflix

‘Copenhagen Cowboy’ (Netflix) — If you’re a fan of director Nicolas Winding Refn (“Neon Demon” “Pusher Trilogy” “Drive” “Bronson” “Too Old To Die Young”) you’ll like his small-screen series. Even if you’ve never watched any of his work “Cowboy” will captivate you.

‘The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House’ (Netflix) — This show is so quiet, so boring and yet so interesting that it provides a near-constant contrast for the viewer. A young woman wants to become a geisha, but she ends up as the cook for a geisha school. If you love Japanese culture as I do it’s a must watch.

‘Mrs. Davis’ (Peacock) — Betty Gilpin plays a nun on the quest for the Holy Grail while simultaneously fighting against an A.I. villain. She’ll have to team up with her ex to complete the quest, and he runs in some shady circles. Yeah, it’s weird but Gilpin makes everything better.


‘The Killer’ (Netflix) — Okay, this is a cheat because it’s a movie and not a show (But the film DID debut on Netflix…). Having said that, wow, were the fight scenes fantastic, especially Michael Fassbender’s battle against “The Brute.” If you’ve ever wondered how a smaller, highly trained man could beat a bigger, stronger opponent this is the scene for you.

‘Blue Eye Samurai’ (Netflix) — The battle in the dojo is well done and worth the watch. The sequence shows one fighter against many, but it doesn’t resort to action cliches.

‘Warrior’ (MAX) — How is this show not more beloved? If you love martial arts this should be at the top of your list. The fight sequence in Mai Ling’s (Dianne Doan) house was great because, as good as Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) is, it’s Li Yong (Joe Taslim) who is the heart of the show. He just exudes cool.

‘Copenhagen Cowboy’ (Netflix) — Another epic fight in a dojo, this time it pits mob boss Chiang (Jason Hendil-Forssell) and Miu (Angela Bundalovic). I’d imagine directors will want to cast Hendil-Forssell as a baddie going forward. He has that “Godfather”-type seriousness but can also pull off martial arts stunts.

‘Gen V’ (Prime) — Superhero fight scenes almost also suck because it’s impossible to show superhuman bodies flying around, smashing into buildings, etc. and not have it appear silly on some level. Where are the stakes? When you’re in “The Boys” universe and can actually have gore and death, it suddenly works. The brief fight between Marie Moreau (Jan Sinclair) and Rufus (Alexander Calvert) will go down in history as the most disgusting, and memorable, moment in “The Boys” universe.


‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; (Prime) — One of the most enjoyable television shows ever made has come to an end, and while the flash-forwards took too long to get used to, it was a nice end to a very funny series.

‘The Gilded Age’ (HBO) — It’s true that most of the show’s humor comes courtesy of the brilliant Christine Baranski as Aunt Agnes and co-star Carrie Coon’s 1,001 versions of “pout,” but the show as a whole is very funny.

‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ (Prime) — This High Fantasy Dungeons and Dragons-based comedy had a brilliant first season and the second, while not as funny, offered a deeper and better storyline while keeping much of the humor. High Fantasy humor should be such low-hanging fruit, but it’s amazing how few get it right. “Vox Machina” loves the genre and knows just how to mine those laughs.

The Legend Of Vox Machina Season 2 | Official Trailer | Prime Video

‘Big Mouth’ (Netflix) — The show’s second-to-last season put it right back on track with a perfect mix of sweet, raunchy humor and lessons about life and sex. Few of us want to be 14 years old again and face high school, and this show captures that challenge to perfection.

‘Disenchantment’ (Netflix) — The show’s final season reminded us why it never lived up to its predecessors, “The Simpsons” and “Futurama.” The series didn’t grasp how to do High Fantasy humor as well as it could’ve. It still had its moments, and the animation was stunning.


‘Perry Mason’ (HBO) — Sadly, they’ve canceled the show, but a good little love story was brewing between Perry Mason (Matthew Rhys) and Ginny Aimes (Katherine Waterston). I guess we’ll never know how it turns out.

‘The Last of Us’ (HBO) — The much talked about romance between survivalist Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett) was contained in a single episode. Like all good love stories, the bond was both sad and endearing.

‘The Diplomat’ (Netflix) — The tension, the history, the grudges and the love come through between CIA station chief Kate Wyler (Keri Russell) and her equally talented husband Hal Wyler (Rufus Sewell). Their chemistry makes this show special. Is it just me or does Russell have chemistry with every co-star she’s ever had? She is amazing.

‘Sex Education’ (Netflix) — The most frustrating love story highlights the tension between Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield) and Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey). It wasn’t resolved in the fourth and final season, and while I was rooting for them to get together I thought Otis and Ruby Matthews (Mimi Keene) made a better match.

‘Good Omens 2’ (Prime) — What’s a little love between a demon and an archangel? It takes a long time to get there, but by the last episode you realize that it’s the forbidden love between Gabriel (Jon Hamm) and Beelzbub (Shelley Conn) that’s driving season two’s action.


‘Fall of the House of the Usher’ (Netflix) — Parts of the show were genuinely chilling, from the scene in the hospital to that very creepy cat.

‘The Last of Us’ (HBO) — For a show about the apocalypse you’d think there would’ve been more scares, but you have to wait until the end of season one for unsettling bits like the hospital scenes. Maybe it’s hospitals that I don’t like.

The Last of Us | Official Trailer | Max

’30 Coins’ (Max) — Season one had more legit scares, but this season’s depictions of Hell are fantastically done and truly a place you don’t want to be… even in your imagination.

‘Twisted Metal’ (Peacock) — Okay, so we’re seeing a theme here. The show’s hospital scene creeped me out.

‘Sex Education’ (Netflix) — I say this with tongue in cheek, but the progressive school Otis (Asa Butterfield) attends is nightmare fuel.


‘Full Circle’ (HBO) — Timothy Olyphant enjoyed a revival year (“Full Circle,” “Justified: City Primeval”) and the former was the better of the two. Still, it felt like I was watching daytime TV back when I was a bartender and my then-girlfriend would come over with breakfast and turn on her soaps. The show was that silly.

‘The Diplomat’ (Netflix) — This show hearkened back to classic nighttime soaps like “Dallas” and “Dynasty” given the tension between the main characters.

‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ (Netflix) — This unabashed soap opera is fun to watch.

‘Billions’ (Showtime) — The series didn’t start out this way, but the last few seasons saw it transform into a nighttime soap.

‘Lady Voyeur’ (Netflix) — This actual telenovela from Brazil kept my attention.


‘Florida Man’ (Netflix) — Lots of talent here, but the show’s dialogue and story betrayed them.

‘Justified: City Primeval’ (FX) — Um, we wanted a shootout.

The Continental: A John Wick Story (Peacock) — If you watched just the first part it was great, but the “John Wick” spin-off went downhill every minute, scratch that, every second afterward.

The Continental: From the World of John Wick | Official Trailer | Peacock Original

‘The Consultant’ (Prime) — The first three episodes hooked me, but by the end I wasn’t sure what was going on and, even worse, I no longer cared.

‘The Witcher: Blood Origin’ (Netflix) — Wow, has Netflix killed a great property. The acting talent is there but the stars are let down by the writers and show runner.

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