What was the best TV performance of 2017? That’s a tough question to answer, if only because of the sheer volume of television anyone would need to sort through in order to form an opinion. Nonetheless, we put the question to our staff and came back with some compelling answers.
We already knew Ted Danson was an okay television actor. There’s a little bit of history there. But it’s still nice to see him flourishing like this. The twist at the end of the first season of The Good Place and the subsequent fallout in season two has given him the opportunity to really let it all hang out. He gets to play dopey and naive, he gets to play sneaky and evil, he even gets to show real emotion every now and then, like he did in the scene with Janet in his office. That scene, despite taking place in a mostly silly comedy about the afterlife that never passes up an opportunity for terrible/genius puns, was as touching as anything that happened in any drama this year. Like I said, he’s an okay television actor. I’m glad we’re finally recognizing that. — Brian Grubb
John Mulaney got handed a really hard job playing Andrew Glouberman in Big Mouth, which required him to find the comedy in being the only kid not going through puberty just yet and being utterly baffled as to what the hell’s going on all around him. But he also keeps the show on an even keel and manages to foreground just how ridiculous puberty actually looks when you’re on either side of it without coming off as smug. — Dan Seitz
I want to pull someone from Twin Peaks‘ because it was full of the most enjoyable performances I got to see this year. I’m spoiled for choice, but if I went with my heart, I’d say Harry Dean Stanton‘s return as Carl Rodd was worthy of being the best of 2017. But I’m also sure I’m not alone in thinking that. For pure entertainment throughout the entire season, I’d have to go with Jim Belushi and Robert Knepper as the Mitchum Brothers. They’re responsible for some of the more joyous moments of the Las Vegas story in Lynch’s revival and also fit in right alongside the other odd characters from the original series. If Stanton is the safe choice, Belushi and Knepper are the wildcards. — Andrew Roberts
I’m going with Aubrey Plaza in Legion, specifically the dance montage she gifts us in “Chapter 6.” Plaza pretty much destroyed any boxes people tried to place her in after Parks and Recreation with this role. Not only is she wildly entertaining to watch, she actually gives a comic book story a credibly threatening, believably complex villain. And no one does crazy like her. — Jessica Toomer