5. This is Us/The Good Place

4. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Over the course of its 30 episodes in 2016, the "Last Week Tonight" team brilliantly shined a light on a multitude of important topics and presented them in an insightful yet witty manner. While the election dominated news cycles in 2016, "Last Week Tonight" also featured exceptional reporting in segments dealing with journalism, finance, education, and the opioid epidemic.

3. Last Chance U

Shining a light on the largely unknown world of junior college football, "Last Chance U" takes the "Friday Night Lights" approach in finding drama in the characters instead of the field of play, showing the strengths and flaws of both player and coach. The typical player-coach relationship is more effective and interesting here in the bond between players and the school's academic advisor.   

2. Westworld

At times confounding but never boring, the debut season of "Westworld" set a new standard for quality on TV with smart writing, a top-flight cast, and amazing effects. Much is made of the shocking twists, but the solid premise that the show is built upon make it worth tuning into, or streaming, every week.

1. Stranger Things

Inevitable immense-popularity backlash aside, there's a reason "Stranger Things" was perhaps the top pop-culture obsession of 2016: it was damn good and a whole lot of fun to watch. The tightly packed eight chapters were well told and featured great performances and interesting characters. Whether or not the Duffer Brothers can meet sky-high expectations in season two, the feat of getting millions of people, across generational boundaries, to totally buy in to '80s-set monster mystery is quite an accomplishment.

While streaming and pay-cable are now far at the forefront of television quality, it was great to see NBC produce a couple of excellent network options this year, with the family drama "This Is Us" and the afterlife comedy "The Good Place." Propelled by an interesting premise, "This Is Us" features great characters and interesting storytelling, while "The Good Place" utilizes its excellent cast and creative team to build a world that's smartly creative and humorously profound.