Richard Roeper’s best TV of 2022

‘Pachinko,’ a deeply memorable depiction of several generations of a Korean family, tops the list.

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Jin Ha stars as Solomon on “Pachinko.”

Apple TV+

When compiling the list of my favorite TV series of 2022, I’ve opted not to include continuation seasons, e.g, “The Crown,” “Ozark,” “Better Call Saul,” “Only Murders in the Building,” “The White Lotus,” in favor of spotlighting shows that debuted this year. (If not, we’d have an awful lot of repeat titles on the list year after year.)

Among the fine efforts that didn’t quite make the cut but are worth your time if you’re up for some little holiday season catch-up viewings:

“George & Tammy,” “Welcome to Chippendales,” “Fleishman Is in Trouble,” “The English,” “Spector,” “Cabinet of Curiosities,” “Alaska Daily,” “Eat the Rich,” “American Gigolo,” “Rings of Power,” “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” “Wednesday,” “Five Days at Memorial,” “Loot,” “Mind Over Murder,” “Ms. Marvel,” “Dirty Daddy,” “Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey.”

Also:

“The Lincoln Lawyer,” “Candy,” “A Friend of the Family,” “The Staircase,” “Under the Banner of Heaven,” “Gaslit,” “Outer Range,” “61st Street,” “Tokyo Vice,” “The Girl From Plainville,” “The Dropout,” “Winning Time,” “Murderville,” “The Afterparty.”

Fine works, one and all — but these are my Top 10 TV Series of 2022.

10. ‘We Own This City’ (HBO and HBO Max)

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Jon Bernthal plays a swaggering cop on “We Own This City.”

HBO

The creative team behind “The Wire” and many of the cast members of that seminal series return to Baltimore and the world of crime, but this wasn’t a sequel, it was a stand-alone, six-part, self-contained series based on the best-selling book of the same name by Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton that chronicled the meteoric rise and spectacular, crime-riddled fall of the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force. Jon Bernthal is in prime Brando scene-stealing form as the swaggering macho cop Wayne Jenkins.

9. ‘Shining Girls’ (Apple TV+)

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Elisabeth Moss on “Shining Girls.”

Apple TV+

Even if Silka Luisa’s adaptation of the Lauren Beukes novel hadn’t done an astonishing job of re-creating the Chicago Sun-Times newsroom from the early 1990s as I remember it, I would have loved this expertly crafted and beautiful yet haunting story of a Sun-Times archivist (the great Elisabeth Moss) entangled with a serial killer who somehow seems to have committed murders across multiple timelines. An elegiac masterwork.

8. ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ (FX and Hulu)

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Midfielder Jordan Davies (left) with Ryan Reynolds on “Welcome to Wrexham.”

FX

It sounds like the pitch for a fictional series in the vein of “Ted Lasso”: Likable Hollywood hotshots Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, who know nothing about soccer, team up to purchase the third-oldest professional football team in the world, a moribund franchise in Wales. But it’s actually a fascinating, funny, inspirational and moving documentary series that focuses at least as much on the colorful players and locals as it does on Reynolds and McElhenney. Goooooooooooooooal!

7. ‘Black Bird’ (Apple TV+)

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Taron Egerton (left) and Paul Walter Hauser in “Black Bird.”

Apple TV+

Taron Egerton (“Kingsman: The Secret Service,” “Rocketman”) achieves Sean Penn-level intensity playing Jimmy Keene, a high-riding hustler in the Chicago of the 1990s who gets caught in a drug sting and hit with a serious sentence, after which he’s offered a deal: If Jimmy can get his cellmate, the suspected serial killer Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser doing Emmy-level work), to confess his crimes, he’ll have his sentence commuted. Based on a true story, “Black Bird” is a gritty procedural in the vein of “Mindhunter” and features the late Ray Liotta (who is as great as you’d expect playing Jimmy’s dad) in one of his final roles.

6. ‘Bad Sisters’ (Apple TV+)

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Sarah Greene (from left), Anne-Marie Duff, Sharon Horgan, Eva Birthistle and Eve Hewson star in “Bad Sisters.”

Apple TV+

Oh, how I loved every minute of this sly and dark Irish comedy, and how thrilled I am it’s coming back for a second season! Sharon Horgan, Anne-Marie Duff, Sarah Greene, Eva Birthistle and Eve Hewson are a marvel together as the Garvey sisters, who are extremely tight and do just about everything together — and that might include the murder of Grace’s husband, the abusive and manipulative and cruel and absolutely hiss-worthy John Paul (Claes Bang). “Bad Sisters” begins with a body in a coffin and works its way backward, as John-Paul survives more attempts on his life than Rasputin, until he doesn’t.

5. ‘House of the Dragon’ (HBO and HBO Max)

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Matt Smith and Emma D’Arcy on “House of the Dragon.”

HBO

Few series in the history of television have faced as much advance scrutiny and pressure as this prequel to “Game of Thrones,” set some 172 years before the death of the Mad King, Aerys, and the birth of his daughter, Prince Daenerys Targaryen. It took a while to sort out all the players and how they relate to one another (as it did with “GOT”), but “House of the Dragon” immediately captivated us with its lush location shots and elaborate interior sets, a brilliant score from “GOT” composer Ramin Djawadi, and some wild, racy and violent storylines. Matt Smith, Paddy Considine, Rhys Ifans, Graham McTavish, Emma D’Arcy, Olivia Cooke and Fabien Frankel were among the standouts in the ensemble.

4. ‘Tulsa King’ (Paramount+)

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Sylvester Stallone on “Tulsa King.”

Paramount+

Just as Kevin Costner found the perfect television vehicle in “Yellowstone,” Sylvester Stallone is tailor-made for the role of recently paroled New York Mafia capo Dwight “The General” Manfredi, who finds himself exiled to Tulsa in a classic fish-out-of-water setup. The 75-year-old Stallone remains a formidable physical force and still has a gift for light comedy, as Dwight alternates between knocking out his foes and quipping about this strange new world he’s found himself in.

3. ‘The Bear’ (Hulu)

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Jeremy Allen White plays the boss of a Chicago sandwich joint on “The Bear.”

FX

The buzziest new series of the year (made by FX for Hulu) makes great use of its Chicago setting as showrunner Christopher Storer creates an instantly believable and incredibly frenetic universe set in and around a family-run Italian beef sandwich joint which is going through some MAJOR changes. We already knew Jeremy Allen White was a singular talent from his work on the Chicago-set “Shameless,” but White reaches genuine star status with his blazing performance as an award-winning chef who returns home from New York under the most trying circumstances and takes over the ramshackle family joint. The entire supporting cast is Emmy-worthy, with Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ayo Edebiri and Abby Elliott creating characters so indelible they could each have their own series.

2. ‘Somebody, Somewhere’ (HBO)

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Bridget Everett stars on “Somebody, Somewhere.”

HBO

Set in Kansas but filmed in Chicago suburbs including Lockport and Warrenville, this is that rare comedy-drama that is equally superb in both genres, with the life force that is Bridget Everett drawing on her own experiences to create Sam, a smart and dryly funny and cynical and insecure woman in her 40s who has returned home following a family tragedy and is navigating through tricky waters on a number of fronts. In addition to the earthy, grounded drama and humor, we’re treated to Everett belting out numbers such as Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up” and Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” with such power and passion that it makes our hearts soar.

1. ‘Pachinko’ (Apple TV+)

After one of the greatest opening credits sequences in television history, with the multi-generational cast dancing in a pachinko arcade to the sounds of the Grass Roots’ “Let’s Live For Today,” we get one of the best TV series in recent years — a masterfully spun, gorgeously photographed, beautifully acted and deeply memorable work following the journey of one Korean family across some 75 years. Based on the widely acclaimed novel by Min Jin Lee, “Pachinko” is a triumphant work with gleaming performances by the great Youn Yuh-Jung (Oscar winner for “Minari”), Lee Minho, Minha Kim, Soji Arai and Jin Ha. Very specific to one family and yet universally relatable, “Pachinko” is a breathtakingly original treasure.

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