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What to do in assessing the year, with so much to cover, so many hundreds of shows? Make a list of the best for readers to know about, to savour as intelligent distractions and entertainment. That’s what.

For this best-of list, my emphasis is on new material. Some of these titles landed on cable or broadcast TV, and here’s where to find them now.

The Globe 100: The best books of 2022

The 10 best theatre productions of 2022: Toronto, Stratford and Shaw

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Jeremy Allen White  and Liza Colón-Zayas in The Bear (2022). Courtesy of Disney+

Jeremy Allen White and Liza Colón-Zayas in The Bear on Disney+.Courtesy of Disney+

The Bear (streams Disney+) is about Carmy (Jeremy Allen White), a young chef going upward in his career, but a bit troubled. He returns home to Chicago after his brother’s unexpected death, to run the family’s neighbourhood restaurant. Sound like a family drama with the usual twists? It’s not. Intense, darkly comic and as brittle as Carmy’s sanity, this small show is like an explosion of ideas, characters and anxieties. Never has a garrulous kitchen staff been brought so vividly to life. An instant classic.

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Domhnall Gleeson and Steve Carell in The Patient (2022). Courtesy of Disney+

Domhnall Gleeson and Steve Carell in The Patient on Disney+Courtesy of Disney+

The Patient (streams Disney+) is an exquisitely taut thriller, utterly unpredictable, and it’s mainly a two-hander. Middle-aged, unsettled therapist Alan (Steve Carell) takes on a new patient, Sam (Domhnall Gleeson), an enigma who says he was abused by his father. One morning Alan awakes to find he’s chained to a bed in Sam’s basement, where Sam confesses that he’s a serial killer. Like nothing you’ve seen recently, the 10 half-hour episodes are unfailingly gripping, scary and moving. Possibly the most serious-minded series of the year.

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Elle Fanning, left, as Carter and Colton Ryan as Conrad Roy III in The Girl From Plainville.Steve Dietl/UCP / Courtesy of W Channel

The Girl from Plainville (streams Stack TV) is true-crime brought to unnerving life. The case is the 2014 death by suicide of 18-year-old Conrad Roy (Colton Ryan), a notorious case because 17-year-old Michelle Carter (Elle Fanning) was alleged to have sent messages encouraging him to kill himself. Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Here, you are asked to be the jury, and to understand contemporary adolescent angst presented with a subtlety that challenges you. A poignant nuanced drama.

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Adam Scott in “Severance,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

Adam Scott in Severance on Apple TV+.APPLE TV+

Severance (streams Apple TV+) is a wry, sinister take on work/life balance and the most-praised show of the year. No wonder. It asks what if you could park your personal anxiety somewhere else while at work? And what if everything about your employer was deeply sinister, even those small engagements with fellow workers? Mark Scout (Adam Scott) is the everyman figure and Christopher Walken plays, with enormous grace, a man hanging on. A hugely ambitious drama achieving all it aims to be; plaintive, moving and surprising.

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From the left, Jack Lowden, Christopher Chung, Olivia Cooke and Paul Higgins in Slow Horses on Apple TV+.APPLE TV+

Slow Horses (streams Apple TV+) is a genius variation on old-school espionage dramas. Based on the novel by Mick Herron, itself a twist on John le Carré's world, it brings us one of the great dilapidated spies. That’s Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman, relishing it) a man so burnt-out, seedy and cynical, he’s mesmerizing. A bunch of semi-competent spies surround him and the result is thoroughly engaging, acidic at times and yet action-filled.

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Colin Firth, left, as Michael Peterson and Toni Collette as Kathleen Peterson in The Staircase on Crave.Courtesy of HBO / Crave

The Staircase (streams Crave) dramatizes the well-known case of the death of Kathleen Peterson (Toni Collette) who was found dead at the bottom of a staircase and it asks if husband, Michael Peterson (Colin Firth) was truly responsible, as the courts found. The story was the subject of a classic true-crime documentary series and yet here, more is revealed about the bewildering and thorny case. Superb acting from the two leads and a true puzzle to ponder.

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Pachinko (TV Series). Minha Kim in “Pachinko,” premiering March 25, 2022 on Apple TV+.

Minha Kim in Pachinko on Apple TV+.Juhan Noh/APPLE TV+

Pachinko (streams Apple TV+) is epic in scope but intimate in focus, weaving and bobbing from a Korea in 1915, then occupied by Japan, over the decades, to 1989 when Solomon Baek (Jin Ha) arrives in Japan from the U.S. to secure a financial deal. The history behind him is the meat of the story, told with glorious visual oomph and yet with a humane feel that startles and brings you to tears. (In English, Korean and Japanese, with English subtitles).

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Taron Egerton in “Black Bird,” premiering globally July 8, 2022 on Apple TV+.

Taron Egerton in Black Bird on Apple TV+.APPLE TV+

Black Bird (streams Apple TV+) is a fraught prison drama, but spreads to become a story about toxic masculinity everywhere. We meet Jimmy Keene (Taron Egerton, who played Elton John in Rocketman) who is looking at 10 years behind bars. Then an FBI team makes Jimmy an offer. If he makes friends with Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser), a prisoner doing time for a murder, and gets information, he can go free. A slow-burning tour de force, remarkably free of melodrama.

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As We See It (TV Series). From left, Violet (Sue Ann Pien), Jack (Rick Glassman) and Harrison (Albert Rutecki) are twentysomething roommates on the autism spectrum who are striving to get and keep jobs, make friends, fall in love, and navigate a world that eludes them. With the help of their families, aide, and sometimes even each other, these roommates experience setbacks and celebrate triumphs on their own unique journeys towards independence and acceptance. Credit: Amazon Studios

From the left, Sue Ann Pien as Violet, Rick Glassman as Jack and Albert Rutecki as Harrison in As We See It.Ali Goldstein/Amazon Studios

As We See It (streams Amazon Prime) is a peach of a show. Based on an Israeli series, it’s best called a “dramedy” about three roommates who are on the autism spectrum. The actors identify as being on the spectrum and all three are deft at both the humour and the wrenching circumstances of their fictional lives here. Uproarious, poignant and pointed.

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Erin Doherty as Becky Green on Chloe on Amazon Prime Video.Luke Varley/Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video

Chloe (Amazon Prime Video) is on this list because it’s very smart escapism; a psychological thriller that’s prestige popcorn drama. British, it has Erin Doherty (Princess Anne in The Crown) as Becky Green, a sullen woman living in a council house, taking care of her mom, who has dementia. She becomes obsessed with the online life of Chloe Fairbourne (Poppy Gilbert), who seems to have it all, but doesn’t. Doherty’s ability to convey the sheer poignant weirdness of Becky is astounding.

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