Friday, 30 December 2011

2011 List #5: TV

I don't watch much TV.  Sometimes it gets in my line of sight and grabs me but generally I'd rather be watching a film.  Occasionally if I've heard great things about a TV show, I'll rent the boxset.  But this year I have had the pleasure of some of the best TV I have ever seen.

This is England 88 soared above everything else.  It was absolutely perfect, except for one (likely improvised) fight scene that went on slightly too long.  The performances and the writing were captivating.  I have banged on about it enough this year in these two posts here and here.  But it came out of nowhere (I had not heard that there would be a TIE88 until I saw the TV advert about a week before it aired) and slapped me round the face.  It was grim but not nearly as depressing and shocking as TIE86.  There was a slightly hopeful ending that leaves me desperate for the next installment, TIE90, that Shane Meadows has promised.  The show was Meadows at his best; warm, real, complex, sad and funny.  All this and more.  Go watch it.

I kept hearing so much about John Lithgow in Dexter Season 4 that I decided it was time to give this show a go.  So far I've made a start by watching the first two series.  Dexter is played by Six Feet Under's (a show I have been forced to sit through but actually admired a great deal) Michael C. Hall and is an interesting if slightly silly character.  The first season was pretty good but the second season took it up a notch with a brilliant character coming to an unexpected end at the climax of the series.  I hope the show can maintain it's appeal for me through the third season despite the loss of a great character.  I'm definitely going to stick with this one just to see what all this fuss is about Lithgow in season 4. 

This year I watched season 7 of Entourage.  It's still painfully sexist but wierdly Sasha Grey, the actual ex-porn star, playing a version of herself came out as quite an interesting and vaguely complex character.  The guys still make me laugh but deep down I still hate them for not being grateful enough of their blessed lives.  Jeremy Piven is consistently brilliant as agent Ari Gold, a character you love to hate or hate to love.  I'm still not sure.  Looking forward to the final season and movie in the near future.

The Walking Dead should have been the ultimate TV show.  Finally a TV series following the lives of characters stuck in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.  But the first season underwhelmed me.  I like that it had a great deal of focus on the characters and not so much horror but I felt that the characters are not brilliantly written and some of the acting didn't seem spot on for me.  I still find it hard to accept Andrew Lincoln's American accent and if you asked me to name any of the characters I couldn't.  However I look forward to Michael Rooker (minus one hand) coming back into the series at a later date.  And from the first couple of episodes of season 2, it looks like this series is going to get better and better.

I finished Lost this year.  As much fun as it was, the ending was bloody terrible.  I really enjoyed it's absolute ridiculousness and it's a shame they tried to provide answers in the end.  Lost had it's ups and downs but consistently made me jump up and down going WTF???  But by the end I wanted it to get lost.

Two more series I started but decided not to invest any more time in to were Rescue Me and Mad Men.  The former was quite good and I watched the entire first season.  I like Denis Leary and was keen to see how the writers would tackle the aftermath of 9/11 and it's impact on New York firefighters.  But the show seemed to just want to show that these guys are politically incorrect assholes just like most other people.  The characters are sexist and homophobic and despite their clearly heroic job, I didn't feel the need to spend any more time with them after the first season.  Mad Men seemed intriguing but just didn't grab me.  It looks amazing, the acting is fantastic and the creation of the near-past is faultless.  However I don't think it's for me. 

Finally Black Mirror, created by Charlie Brooker is a fantastic three episodes of wierd, technology-obsessed dystopian tales.  Beginning with an episode where the Prime Minister is forced to have sexual relations with a pig, the show just got wierder, cleverer and more prescient as it continued.  The episodes all featured a new cast, new characters but similar themes; the dangers of our reliance and obsession with technology.  It is an absolute must-see.  Sharp, serious satire from a cynical, sarcastic genius.  Find a black mirror and watch it.

Next year I will be continuing with Dexter and The Walking Dead and should probably try and get round to starting The Wire.  I'm also desperate to start Breaking Bad which I have heard very good things about.  Anybody want to recommend me any more TV to dip my toes in in 2012?  Anyone see any of this lot?