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Samantha M. Quinn's Best of 2022

What is just one Best of List for the end of 2022? I give you five of them!

My Top Five Characters of 2022

Wednesday Addams – Wednesday (2022): Wednesday seems to have finally achieved her final form in the new series based on The Addams Family. This version of Wednesday is older and is no longer surrounded by her famous family (mostly), which allows her to darken the world on her own. She is a layered, interesting character with easy to understand motivations. While her macabre tastes and almost inhuman reactions are what give her uniqueness, it is her drive to find answers, desire to defend those that need help, and her hidden humanity that make her great.

Nurse Chapel – Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: Chapel as a character from the original series could have been so much more than an unrequited love interest for Spock and occasionally utilized for her actual expertise as a nurse. In Strange New Worlds she is an expert in several unusual things, and she is also exceptionally smart, resourceful, and irreverent. She almost steals every scene she is in and manages to rise to the top of a very crowded, excellent character roster.


Naru – Prey (2022): I have nothing but praise for Amber Midthunder’s starmaking turn as an almost proto-Ripley named Naru. Prey came out of nowhere as a prequel to Predator, and is in my opinion better than the original. It is set in the 1700s with a woman as the main protagonist instead of a block of wood (Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in the original). She is Comanche, set to prove herself a warrior by attempting to chase prey that is hunting her at the same time. She quickly sets her sights on a strange new humanoid monster who is killing its way up the food chain. Utilizing skill, resourcefulness and intelligence in her quest, it is wonderful to watch her figure out how to best this hulking creature which seems unkillable. Naru should be an action icon, and I hope we get to see more of her in the sequel hinted at in the film’s final seconds.

Drummer/Bobbie/Amos – The Expanse: Is it cheating to include three characters in one slot? Fine, I’ll pick Drummer. I mean, Amos and Bobbie are both absolutely terrific characters, but Drummer just edges them out for me. Not only is she tough and brilliant, but she is also somehow the defining character for the entire series. She was also a bisexual polyamorous non-white character that was never just token representation.


Claudia – Interview with the Vampire: This version of Claudia breaks some major adaptation rules by aging her up about ten years. As a consequence we skip the cutesy child vampire shenanigans and go straight into teenage angst. However, I think this is beneficial in a lot of ways because Claudia is more of an equal in the family dynamic, and a powerful force in the story. She is incredibly smart, manipulative and never once pretends to be anything other than a monster. They don’t sugarcoat her behavior, she is a killer without remorse, prolific in both her mastery of death and her excellent prose. Top that off with a marvelous performance by Bailey Bass, and Claudia stands out as the best character of 2022 for me.

My Favorite Actors of 2022

Ewan McGregor – Obi-Wan Kenobi (Obi-Wan Kenobi): Ewan was one of the only reasons I could stomach rewatching the first couple prequel movies. McGregor so embodied the role originally played by the late great Alec Guinness that you might be forgiven if you thought he had been the first one to play him. Here he brings a new side to the character, the defeated hermit. We saw glimpses of that character in A New Hope, but here Ewan imparts the right level of pathos and almost suicidal grief over losing everything. It was kind of wonderful watching him grow back into his power, and his chemistry with Vivien Lyra Blair as Leia was fantastic.

Tatiana Maslany – Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk (She-Hulk, Attorney at Law): I was never in doubt about Tatiana's ability to play Jennifer Walters, but I was curious how she would handle the She-Hulk stuff. I shouldn't have been concerned. What could have been a one-note gimmick character was made into something special with her performance. She brought both the humor and inherent darkness to a character that has to rebuild her life after extreme circumstances. That's hard to pull off, and as the first real comedy in the MCU her performance was both instantly engaging and often very funny.

Madison Lintz – Maddie Bosch (Bosch: Legacy): I remember watching the first season of the mother show (Bosch) before dropping it and forgetting it existed years and years ago. I knew it was still running, but I couldn't really remember anything beyond Titus Welliver as a grizzled detective and his daughter, the girl who played Sophia in The Walking Dead. It was surprising to see that the spin-off would refocus the narrative on Maddie as essentially the new POV character. Well, that is kind of true, she is bumped up to co-lead along with Bosch and Honey Chandler (Mimi Rogers). However, for me Madison Lintz was the reason I got hooked. She brings an interesting dynamic to Maddie, someone who is very strong but looks somewhat vulnerable. She sells the character's determined nature, and her natural chemistry with Titus makes the father/daughter dynamic very powerful. Her performance was enough to drive me to watch all seven seasons of the original, and that has to be a first for me.

Anson Mount – Captain Christopher Pike (Star Trek: Strange New Worlds): We knew going into the first season of Strange New Worlds we would get a great captain in Anson Mount's Pike, but what I didn't expect is how much more he would bring to the role than he did during his tenure on Star Trek: Discovery. This is a hard role to nail down. It would be perfectly reasonable to play Pike a tortured soul, dark and brooding because he knows his own fate. However, Mount brings a levity and warmth to the character that is infectious. You can see how he inspires loyalty and trust, and his chemistry with every other actor on screen elevates this show. He may not be my favorite character on Strange New Worlds, but he is absolutely the anchor that holds the show together.


Sam Reid – Lestat (Interview with the Vampire): I feel kind of horrible not putting Lestat in my best character list, but it felt repetitive with Claudia being number one. Plus, if I have to choose between actor and character, I’ll choose actor here. Sam Reid has embodied Lestat so completely, that every other version of him will be held against this performance. He manages to thread the needle between horrific and charming, powerful and fragile and almost makes us want to forgive him for his transgressions against Louis. I truly hope he is recognized for this performance, and plays the character for years to come.

My Favorite Things of 2022

Thing (Wednesday): This disembodied hand has always been a stand out in Addams Family productions, but here there is just so much more to love. From his relationship with Wednesday and Enid to his absolute loyalty and resourcefulness, it's hard to grow attached to a creepy stitched up hand, but somehow it happened.


Sarii (Prey): Sarii is a good dog. I mean, in real life the on-set rumors were that the dog was not an actor and basically ran amok. But somehow, in all that chaos, we have one of the best animal characters I've seen in years. This dog is about as perfect a representation of canine companionship as you could hope. He not only frequently assists Naru in her quest to stop the Predator, he actually joins in on the action.

Vulcan Telepathy (Star Trek: Strange New Worlds): I haven't done a best episode list because it was just too much to do, but I would be remiss to not mention my favorite plot this year. Spock has always had somewhat undefined telepathic abilities, and in "Spock Amok" we have a Freaky Friday-esque mind swapping farce. What makes it great is the wonderful acting from both Ethan Peck and Gia Sandhu playing the opposite character for most of the episode. But the attention to detail, character beats and diagloue make this a wonderful new addition to the array of Vulcan telepathic abilties.

Ghosts (Ghosts UK and Ghosts US): After stumbling on the US verison of the show and falling in love with it, I eventually tried the UK version and fell almost as hard. I'll get some flack for preferring the US version, but I think it is because they made their Ghosts more sympathetic. Both versions are a lot of fun, and oddly, both are running right now. While the human characters are great, this really is about the antics of the undead, and their time period-specific views on the living.


B2EMO (Andor): There have been so many droids. While almost all of them have been fun and occasionally great, none stand out quite so much as B2EMO. This sad, square, stuttering little robot steals every scene he is in. He is loyal and I absolutely love how all the characters take care of him. Even Cassian, who is a bit of a prick most of the time. His design is also unique, with an almost tortoise shell approach to his head. I also find it super endearing that he has to decide if he has enough power to lie. What a wonderful character.

My Favorite Scenes of 2022

Running Up That Hill – Stranger Things, season 4 episode 4: This was a brilliant scene, capping the drama built up for the first four episodes. Plus it put Kate Bush back on the charts.



That Lightsaber Duel – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Part VI: This is perhaps the best lightsaber scene filmed in twenty years. It is emotionally charged and engaging from beginning to end. It also highlights Hayden Christensen's great acting ability.



Wednesday’s dance – Wednesday, season 1 episode 4: While not as emotionally resonate as some of the other scenes in this list, I feel this one captures the main character completely. Wednesday is dark, quirky, weird and doesn't give a fig what others think of her.



Footloose – Umbrella Academy, season 3 episode 1: Just wonderful. Enough said.



Luthen’s speech – Andor, season 1 episode 10: For me this is the best written and most brilliantly acted scenes in the entire year.



My Five Top Shows of 2022

House of the Dragon was a spin-off prequel that no one really wanted except for desperate HBO executives trying to cash in on any remaining Game of Thrones interest. Yet this was a very well made show, from the gorgeous sets and breathtaking visuals, to the gripping political intrigue and gut wrenching violence and tragedy. This was what drew people into those first seasons of Game of Thrones and what they wanted in those last seasons, and I hope it can continue this level of quality into the future.

Stranger Things is a show that is getting a bit long in the tooth, and I honestly wasn’t sure if I would like this fourth season. Hell, I put off watching season three for over a year. Thankfully this was not only my favorite season so far, it was also one of the most tightly plotted and deeply intricate tales of horror and found family I have seen recently, from the creepy origins of the main villain to the deeper horrors experienced by our main hero. This was not a season for the faint of heart, but damn, does it set things up for an absolutely epic final run.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds was so anticipated. I was waiting, hoping we would get something good. What we ended up with is so much more than I could’ve hoped. Practically every episode was delightful, full of great characters and excellent storytelling. With returning characters we learned more about (looking at you, T’pring and Chapel) and all the wonderful new characters, this show is the best of what Star Trek can be: fun and thought provoking, with things to say and grand new worlds to explore. I hope this runs for ten more years.

Andor is a show I put off for so long, because after watching that first episode I was bored out of my mind. I’m going into much more depth soon (I’m working on a season review) but this was not Star Wars as I have always known it to be. It was well acted and tightly plotted, with real stakes and intense action and drama. It was also utterly gorgeous, making even the rough lived-in Star Wars universe look like a place I would actually want to visit, and hopefully not get thrown into prison for looking the wrong way.


Interview with the Vampire is a property that almost begs for adaptation. Despite an absolutely wonderful movie version in the 1990’s, the property has languished in legal hell for a quarter century. Anne Rice tried for years to get it back in her name, and when she did she shopped around for quite a while trying to find the right people to adapt her works the way she wanted. She was actively involved in the development of this series until her death, and it shows. The spirit of the Vampire Chronicles and especially the vampire Lestat is alive and well in this adaptation. It is rich in production values and cinematography, with atmosphere dripping from every shot and subtext layered in with every syllable uttered by the talented cast. In a lot of ways I cannot believe this series is real, because it is by far my favorite show this year, and I hope the next season will be wonderful.

Shows Still Airing

Quantum Leap is still on a mid-season break, but it has successfully brought back the franchise in a satisfying way. It isn’t the same show, but honestly that’s probably a good thing. Plus, it canonizes the finale of Quantum Leap in a way that makes it not quite so sad.

Willow is one of those shows that will leave people with a satisfied grin or a heavy shrug. I’m not even sure that I like it that much. But it is just on the right side of fun and silly that I have to find out where the season lands. With just a few more left in the season we’ll find out soon.

Belated

I’m not entirely sure how I missed Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra when they first aired, but after years of people telling me I should, I finally broke down and watched them. Boy, was I impressed; the epic storytelling and wonderful characters on both shows made a lasting impression. I am hearing rumors of new entries into the franchise coming soon, one a live action adaptation and a few animated sequels from the original creators. We’ll see, but I am cautiously excited for more to come.

Arcane is the kind of show that should’ve been awful. It was a side project of a game studio trying to expand into different markets. Their game world is convoluted and has entirely too many overly sexualized female characters, three of which were chosen as the leads for this show, and I honestly don’t know where they got their story inspiration. But wow, this is probably the best thing I watched after Interview with the Vampire and Andor this year, but since it came out in 2021 I can’t put it in my best of. I should probably review this... so much to review and so little time.

My Worst Experiences with Shows in 2022

The Sandman – I’ll give this show the credit that it was gorgeously made, imaginative and well acted. But I could barely make it through that first episode. Maybe it isn't for me. I couldn't get into the comics, either.

Vampire Academy – Maybe there is a good show buried beneath the poorly done exposition threaded through the first episode, but it's just not for me.

Halo – While it was not necessarily awful, there was something off about this show. I tried a couple of episodes and didn't continue.

Resident Evil – I couldn’t get through the first episode of this series, and this is from someone who watched all six Resident Evil movie adaptations in the theater. It doesn’t have to be faithful, but at least try to make it good.

First Kill – I will admit I actually finished all the episodes of this show. It is a vampire romance, which is totally my jam, and it focused on two women as the main romantic couple who actually had some good chemistry. It also had Elizabeth Mitchell as one of the main actors. Unfortunately, it was badly written, the special effects were a joke and the finale was one of the worst I’ve seen in a while, with a cliffhanger built around forced drama instead of built up stakes or character agency.

That's it for me. Feel free to share your own or comment on mine. I'd love to hear your opinions.

Samantha M. Quinn spends most of her time in front of a computer typing away at one thing or another; when she has free time, she enjoys pretty much anything science fiction or fantasy-related.

7 comments:

  1. I've already mentioned (ad nauseum) my love for Strange New Worlds and I have yet to finish Obi-Wan or start Andor, but they are on my list. As for Vampire Academy I'll grant you the first episode was weak. But man did they make up for it!

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    1. Try to stick until Episode 3 of Andor. If you are not hooked by then I would be surprised.

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  2. I have no desire to watch The Umbrella Academy, but the scene you posted put a huge grin on my face. I am a sucker for anything with 80s music.

    Sorry for the above deletions. Either Blogger is or I am having formatting issues.

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  3. I deleted them, Chris, no worries. Blogger has gotten weirder than ever this year.

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  4. I just watched the first episode of She-Hulk and it didn't grab me. Should I stick with it? I've got 18 days left on my Disney+ subscription.

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  5. I enjoyed it more than Ms Marvel and Moon Knight. It is goofier then most of the other MCU shows, but Tatiana is great.

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  6. Love Bosch/Bosch Legacy. Eagerly awaiting the new season.

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