Power Rankings! Shows I Want to Watch, But Haven’t

3:16 PM 8/18/2017

by Tim Goodman

THR's chief TV critic ranks the shows in the "to-do" pile.

GLOW, Ozark and Mr. Mercedes Stills - Split - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Netflix (Left, center) and DIRECTV (Right)

Here at Power Rankings! Central, we are on a ridiculous roll that not even impending vacations can slow down: It's Week 3. Crazy times! If you were here, you'd hear the dulcet tones of Band of Horses and that "Talking television at the casual party" lyric that just feels so descriptively real.

Anyway, the first two Power Rankings! covered the essential dramas and essential comedies that you had to start working on before watching anything else. Notice how I never said you had to finish all those series. Television is a luxury in these times of madness and monsters — it shouldn't be a chore. Like all viewers drowning in Peak TV, you just needed some guidance. I called those essential for a reason — that's where you begin when you're confused about what absolutely has to be watched to understand the zeitgeist. It's a primer for talking TV at the casual party.

This week, I'm going to tweak things just a bit, which ought to buy you a little more time to start watching shows on the previous two rankings. I think this current version not only gets to the frustrations that television critics often feel but to those that people who are not paid to watch TV feel even deeper in their bones: An obsession with currently unobtainable, unachievable goals; that FOMO sensation of hearing others talk about, say, Mr. Mercedes and thinking, "Yes! Damn it, I want to watch that one as well! At some point...Like, kind of soon...Or when I finish all these other essential ones."

Translation: This week's Power Rankings! are made up entirely of shows I want to see but haven't (OK, in fairness I may have peeked at some, but no deep dives). The greater the urge to see the show, the higher it ranks on the list. I think these rankings perfectly ascribe our shared desire to watch something with buzz, or something that other people are watching and annoyingly texting you about, but that you've missed because of a lack of time (or, in fairness, because of something more interesting or pressing in front of it).

It's a weird list. I mean, what happens to the "In the Mix" part of the Power Rankings! since this is basically that? It also suggests that I want to go back and watch everything. I don't. I have no interest in watching Santa Clarita Diet. And I left off documentaries like The Keepers because, well, there are hundreds of documentaries I'm behind on. As for other shows left off? Either I didn't want to watch them at all or it's been so long I forgot. You decide.

As a reminder, if you want to know how the Power Rankings! are calculated, just read the first one. If you're curious how the previous rankings will churn and shuffle themselves, be patient. A few more need to be turned loose in the wild to create enough time to update the others. It's both art and science, people. Duh.

At this point I normally say, "All hail the series that can hold down the No. 1 slot the longest," but in this context, well, a series probably doesn't want to be on this list for very long. It wants to be seen, to join other previously seen shows and then be ranked and judged. May all these shows find eyes.

As you'll see below, there are two numbers associated with each entry. The number on the left is the current ranking; the number on the right was its last ranking. They will of course match on the inaugural list.

  • 1/1 Glow

    I'm desperate to watch this. Which, as you know by reading this, is different from actually watching it. But this is currently the highest priority. People in the general population, aka Gen Pop, whom I trust are raving about it. Also, sure, other critics. But the drumbeats of urgency are there.

  • 2/2: Mr. Mercedes

    My exact reaction when sitting at a table at TCA and hearing half the people sitting with me sing its praises (the other half, like me, had not seen it): "Are you f-cking kidding me? Really? Jesus. This channel is not supposed to make things I want to watch."

  • 3/3: Manhunt: Unabomber

    My reaction was certainly less agitated than the one described above. But it was percolating. Also, I give Discovery credit for keeping at it with scripted. This third effort is, like Epix's Get Shorty (which I adore), the charm. I'm definitely going to get to it.

  • 4/4: Room 104

    I was on the fence about rushing to watch this or, like so many other things, "getting to it later," and then the Duplass Brothers came to TCA with HBO and after they talked about the series in creative detail, it raced up this list (which, in truth, I conceptualized pretty much at that moment).

  • 5/5: Loaded

    I'm going to admit something that many (most?) of you have experienced a lot, but now is creeping into the day-to-day world of critics: I had never even heard of this series. When fellow THR critic Dan Fienberg posted his review for us, I went, "Hmmm. What the?" For a moment, I was slack-jawed. Loaded was like an animal (let's say a fox, shall we?) that had walked into my flat when I was out. When I came home, there it was, staring at me. "Are you a fox? Why are you in my flat? Where did you come from? What the f-ck?" From there, I just wanted to watch it.

  • 6/6: Ozark

    Reviews of this have been generally positive and people who keep watching it say it gets better. Plus I really like that Jason Bateman fellow. Also, it's been renewed for a second season. And I like dark, troubling things. (I can always lighten that mood with some Arrested Development). Did you see what I did there?

  • 7/7: Difficult People S3

    I just need to catch up, man. Can you cut me a little slack? Jesus.

  • 8/8: Preacher S2

    A prime example — and no doubt you've got your own — where you start something in season one, like it, get distracted, find something else, get distracted, live your life, get distracted, race to finish the season and then find out you're already behind on the second season.

  • 9/9: Shut Eye

    Oh, yeah, I like the old ones, too. This still falls within the parameters established in the first of the rebooted Power Rankings! that going back a full year was permissible. Seriously, I want to see this. It's on my list (wink).

  • 10/10: A Series Of Unfortunate Events

    Yeah, there's going to be a lot of Netflix series on here because they release about nine new shows per week and some of them I really want to see but there are only 24 hours in one day, or so I'm told. I want to binge this. Currently planning to, but also feeling like it would be best on a rainy weekend and it's summer, which is kind of related to how it ended up here in the first place.

  • 11/11: I'm Dying Up Here

    This has more to do with the fact that I like some of the people involved and I used to cover comedy as an actual beat at a newspaper years ago (yeah, I know; weird). But wow, I have literally never heard anyone talk about this series. I don’t think I've even seen it mentioned on Twitter after the first week it premiered. There may be a reason for that. And I'm going to find out — if it's bad I'll stop watching. That's also kind of the point of this list.

  • 12/12: Genius

    Did you know that this is Emmy nominated? It is. Kind of a stunner so maybe it's time to find out why. Also, congratulations to Nat Geo for pulling that off. Very, very difficult.

  • 13/13: Comrade Detective

    I was going to review it. I had claimed it, even. But then chaos arrived, as it often does. And when things get overwhelming, sometimes stuff has to go. Hell, there's a whole list of shows on Acorn and other streaming services I want to watch but haven't because other series have taken precedence. Life is cruel.

  • 14/14: The Sinner

    I don't know. It's here because people I like are still kind of quietly talking about it. Not like a raging din of buzz. But it's out there. And someone from the Gen Pop who I like said, "I just started 'The Sinner' and it's good" and I said, "Who are you?" So I'll watch.

  • 15/15: Crashing

    We're getting to that point in these rankings where you're starting to think, "Yeah, sure, you're definitely going to get to that. Of course you are." Maybe you're right. But it's here. It's on the list, damn you doubters.

  • 16/16: Dear White People

    See: No. 15.

  • 17/17: Goliath

    OK, now here's one that goes way back. Like, back, back, back. But it still falls within a year. It still stars Billy Bob Thornton, who always brings it. And, because that's the beauty of streaming services, it's just sitting there waiting for me. Technically I've already paid for it.

  • 18/18: The Guest Book

    For the record, I'm watching Room 104 first. Thank you, I'll be here all week. And it's definitely going to take a lot longer than a week to get this far down the list.

  • 19/19: Z: The Beginning Of Everything

    Please notice the symmetry. Beyond that, I found a piece of paper (yes, actual paper!) where I wrote down the title, meaning at some point in my life I was either going to review this or I wanted to watch it. I feel like following that journey to its end. Or at least I say that now.

  • Out, In Peril and In the Mix

    Out: Nothing yet (or everything not here).

    In Peril: Pretty much everything below No. 5, right?

    In the Mix: Really?