2017 in television

Post-Brexit and post-Trump, more than ever we needed a good year of TV to escape into and, looking back, 2017 was a rather brilliant year for the small screen.

Sherlock kicked off 2017 on New Year’s Day with a shocking finale in the first episode, Toby Jones’ delightful villain and the revelation of a third Holmes sibling. While it was a fairly mixed bag, a ‘mixed bag’ for Sherlock is still great in comparison to many other TV series. From one Steven Moffat BBC TV series to another, the end of January came with an announcement from Peter Capaldi that the upcoming series of Doctor Who would be his last. Over half a year of speculation later, it was confirmed that Jodie Whittaker would be the first female Time Lord which saw the rise of plenty of close-minded internet commentators but also a wave of positivity and well-wishing towards Whittaker for such a historic moment in TV.

Before this announcement though, Whittaker was enjoying success alongside former Doctor, David Tennant, and Olivia Colman in the third and final series of Broadchurch. While the series has lumbered on past its sell-by date the final series was entertaining and featured some powerful performances, as well as a sensitively handled series-long story arc about rape.

While it feels almost impossible to mention House of Cards now and not mention the recent Kevin Spacey allegations, the big talking point of this Netflix season five TV show was the Trump commentary. A controversial election, allegations of corruption and daily battles with the press; it became hard to tell fiction from truth and House of Cards thrived on this political climate even if it was a series of hits and misses.

During the usually uneventful summer we were treated to two enormously popular TV series: Game of Thrones and Rick & Morty. Game of Thrones, squeezed down to just seven episodes, was forced to cut out the flab leaving us with so much globetrotting that characters seemingly moved from one continent to another in a matter of minutes. Having said that, and despite a surprisingly low main character death toll, it was welcomed back onto the screen, with the dragon sequences being stand out points among the usual sex and dialogue-heavy episodes.

Rick & Morty was as cynical, heartwarming and hilarious as usual, with the Ricklantis Mixup being a deeper and more unconventional episode among the usual shenanigans. And who could have foreseen the impact the first episode would have on McDonald’s and its much talked about Szechuan Sauce which prompted an announcement of its return for one day only.

As autumn came, we were treated to the relaunch of Bake Off on Channel 4, which seemed to satisfy the devoted fans while remaining true to its BBC roots. Gunpowder became the Ofcom controversy story this year with its disembowelling and torture scenes seemingly overshadowing all three episodes. Halloween also saw the return of everyone’s new favourite show Stranger Things which, for better or for worse, seemed to deliver the same as its first break out series last year. And currently there is Blue Planet II, a beautiful way to lead into Christmas as it continues to win over viewers with its breath-taking visuals and the reliable presence of Sir David Attenborough.

With less than a month left of TV, and arguably its finest season still to come, Christmas, there’s still plenty to look forward to. We’ve been spoiled in a magnificent year of the small screen.


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October 2021
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