2016 Staff Picks: TV Shows and Documentaries

Our expert staff take a look back at the year and recommend their favorite titles. You'll find all of these selection in the alcove of our AV Department.

  • The Look of Silence

    2016 by Joshua Oppenheimer

    "This is filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer’s companion piece to his astounding, provocative debut, The Act of Violence, a documentary nearly a decade in the making that explored Indonesia’s brutal past by asking former government-backed death squad leaders/ executioners to reenact their crimes. The Look of Silence, while not as audacious, turns its camera on the relatives of those million plus victims, expanding on his first film with heartrending empathy and moral clarity."

    Recommended by Chris

    "A mild mannered ophthalmologist courageously confronts the unrepentant killers of his brother and tens of thousands of other victims of the Indonesian genocide. This documentary is as powerful as the director’s The Act of Killing without the surreal elements."

    Recommended by Steven

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  • The Dark Horse


    "Not to be confused with the excellent documentary Dark Horse, about a small town in South Wales that forms a syndicate to buy a long shot racehorse. This Dark Horse is from New Zealand and based on the life of Genesis Potini, a speed chess champion who suffered from bipolar disorder. He formed a chess club for underprivileged kids, relating the pieces to their Maori heritage and the strategies to options in life. Actually, you can’t go wrong with either movie, as both Dark Horse titles are winners."

    Recommended by Sharon

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  • Midsomer Murders. Series 18.

    2016 by Gwilym Lee

    "I've read that this mystery series, which has been ongoing for years, is considered the Brits' favorite series. It certainly is mine. Based on the novels by Caroline Graham, this series takes on contemporary topics like UFOs, competitive bike marathons, dead body snatchers, and more. This show has fine acting with a twist of humor and it is always enjoyable."

    Recommended by Mary

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  • Outlander. Season Two

    2016 by Ronald Moore

    "I'm totally addicted to this time-travelling historical romance, based on Diana Gabaldon's series of novels. If the story doesn't hook you, the cast, the costumes and the scenery will grab you until you too are waiting impatiently for the next installment."

    Recommended by Terry

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  • The Affair. Season Two

    2016 by Sarah Treem

    "Highly atmospheric, mysterious and suspenseful without being violent, this Showtime series is brilliantly written and acted. Four people’s points of view add psychological depth to this complicated story which just seems to get better and better."

    Recommended by Lukie

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  • A Poem Is a Naked Person

    2016 by Leon Russell

    "Back in the early '70s, musician Leon Russell hired the inimitable documentarian Les Blank to capture concert and studio footage. But the results, filmed from roughly 1972-1974, were not to Russell’s liking and he nixed the film’s release. Thankfully, some 40 years later, Russell changed his mind and the results are glorious. Blank was never one to focus on any single subject for too long, his curiosity leading his camera on all sorts of meandering, fascinating tangents (a snake feeding, some dude eating glass, a house being built), and the documentary turns out to be both about Russell’s music and Blank’s desire to explore the world outside the studio and stage."

    Recommended by Chris

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  • The Good Wife. The Final Season

    2016 by Robert King

    "I rarely watch non-BBC or Acorn-media presentations, but I really got sucked into this incredible season. But I hated the ending! I did love the performances and the smart, sassy, thought-provoking take on the Chicago legal world and politics. What will we do without Eli Gold (Alan Cumming) and of course Alisha (Julianna Margulies)?"

    Recommended by Mary

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  • Heart of a Dog (dvd)

    2016 by Laurie Anderson

    "A tone-poem of a documentary, ostensibly an elegy for Anderson’s recently deceased rat terrier, Lolabelle, but really a much wider rumination on family, lovers, illness, memory, art, grief and how we carry on in the great, churning wake of the lives we’re left to forge ahead with after those we love died."

    Recommended by Chris

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  • Vera. Set 6

    2016 by Marek Losey

    "I wait in anticipation for my next series of Vera and when I get the notice that the DVD is in, I jump for joy! This series portrays so many aspects of being a good detective and boss--the ability to actively list and observe the verbal and nonverbal clues, for example. I also love this series for the strong character development and incredible setting. The police team is top-notch and the mysteries are complex and intriguing."

    Recommended by Mary

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  • Unreal. Season 1

    2016 by Marti Noxon

    "Unabashedly feminist, this behind-the-scenes look at a make-believe dating competition program (think the Bachelor) is also super funny, snarky and constantly entertaining. I loved how the show was not afraid to make their main characters unlikable. The main characters make bad choices and, yet, you root for them."

    Recommended by Lynnanne

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