Thursday, 19 December 2013

2013 in review: top 10 TV

Well everyone else in the world is doing 2013 review posts so I figured I'd join in. And TV is a great place to start because I love it.

I'm such a couch potato it's ridiculous. Generally, though, most of what I watch consists of either repeats or complete trash. Or both if I'm having a bad day. My current favourite things in the world are the sensationalised American crime documentaries that populate the ID channel (as I write I'm watching something called 'Manhunt: Search for a Serial Killer'). Not big, not clever, very entertaining.

Anyway, just occasionally I watch something that isn't awful. Here's a (largely spoiler free) list of my favourites from this year...

Best in Show: Boardwalk Empire
If this were Crufts, some minor royal would be handing Steve Buscemi a big trophy and a rosette. I love Boardwalk. I love everything about it - the writing, the cast, the acting, the way it's shot and lit, the music, the costumes etc etc etc. It's the most consistently brilliant thing on TV and series four is fantastic. Top, top stuff.
Top moment - Michael K Williams' Chalky White vs Jeffrey Wright's Dr Valentin Narcisse is by far and away my favourite Boardwalk rivalry since Steve Buscemi's Nucky Thompson vs Michael Shannon's Agent van Alden in series one.

Best for the lolz: Parks and Rec
One of the inumerable reasons I love BBC4 is that it introduced me to Parks and Rec, and this year I've got properly into it watching the first three series back to back over a series of very happy weeks. Another case of great writing and a fabulous ensemble cast combining to make something lovely. And lovely is the right word for Parks and Rec - it's funny without being mean, well observed without being cruel and incredibly optimistic in outlook. Now to start watching the next few series...
Top moment - anything said or done by Ron Swanson

Most improved lolz: Veep
I watched series one of Veep and found it a bit meh. Series two is so much better and as a result completely hilarious. It feels like the writers have really hit their stride and focused in on giving the fantastic cast some amazing one liners. And the second great comedy on my list whose lead character is female, which is more noteworthy than it should be.
Top moment - so many fantastic quotes and insults to choose from, but as a cheese lover I particularly enjoyed Gary's vaguely psychotic girlfriend declaring "quit being so hot, you're melting my cheese".

Best for epicness, nudity and dragons: Game of Thrones
I adore the Song of Ice and Fire series of books and, so far, Game of Thrones has been a fantastic and (more or less) faithful adaptation. Probably the best ensemble cast on TV at the moment with amazing effects and great writing, it's the grand and sweeping scale of GoT that makes it so spectacular. And all the nudity. Gotta love the nudity.
Top moment - loved the addition of Diana Rigg to the cast, but the highlight for me has to be The Red Wedding. What's that song I hear?

Best for gore (and hotties): The Walking Dead
A good, old fashioned post-apocalyptic zombie yarn, The Walking Dead is definitely more than the sum of its parts thanks to some fantastically well constructed characters, great writing and uniformly excellent big set pieces. Another great cast too, particularly Andrew Lincoln's Rick (good hotty) and David Morrisey's The Governor (psycho hotty).
Top moment - the excellent mid-season finale showdown between Rick's group and The Governor's. Gory, exciting and heartbreaking in equal measure with a couple of great twists and a fantastic cliffhanger. Can't wait to pick the series up again in February.

Best old fashioned thriller: The Tunnel
English language adaptations of European crime thrillers are rarely great (the superlative Wallander aside) but Sky's take on Scannoir murder mystery The Bridge was really well done. Stephan Dillane and Clemance Posey were fantastic leading a British-French hybrid production in this well written, dark, funny and unpredictable drama about a serial killer with a grudge and a point to make. The Bridge has just been renewed for a second series. Hopefully The Tunnel will follow suit.
Top moment - the incredibly tense sequence with the (ultimately fake) bomb in cretinous tabloid journalist Danny Hillier's car in episode one set the scene and the pace really well. I was hooked from then on.

Saddest goodbye: Borgen
The fact that there's no more Borgen, ever, makes me sadder that it reasonably should. I love this series mostly because I love the characters and I'm genuinely sad to say goodbye to them, especially Birgitte. A believable, rounded and strong female politician character is so achingly rare, as indeed is a believable and rounded depiction of politics in general, and I'll miss Borgen's take on both so much. Bring on the box set!
Top moment - I have two (beware spoilers ahead): the moment when Bent follows Birgitte to the New Democrats and the moment when Nete - who I loved - is revealed to be the one leaking information to the Moderates. The former made me cry happy tears, the latter made me viscerally angry. I love that TV can do that.

Best one off: Burton and Taylor
Dominic West as Richard Burton and Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth Taylor - need I say more? Well if you insist: fantastic central performances with a great script and did I mention Dominic West as Richard Burton?
Top moment - the hotel room workout flashback scene was adorable. But my favourite scenes were the 'I love you but we can't be together' finale. Heartbreaking stuff.

The 'Not as good this year but still pretty fucking ace' award: The Great British Bake Off
Basically, I really didn't like any of the final contestants, didn't care who won and found all the tabloid nonsense really tiresome but Bake Off is still one of my favourite shows. And as long as Mary, Paul, Mel and Sue are still involved I'll always love it. The contestants and baking are kind of peripheral at this point.
Top moment - custardgate. Poor Howard.

The 'this is basically porn' award: Paul Hollywood's Bread and Pies and Puds
Pretty self explanatory really. Any show that involves a lot of old blue eyes is going to feature on my list. Several of my lists actually, but the others aren't for public consumption.
Top moment - all the close ups of his hands. Don't even care how creepy that is.

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