TV Dinners: The Best TV of 2012

Shows which were listed in the 2010 or 2011 pieces on this topic are disqualified from a repeat nomination. I’ll probably lift the moratorium next year, on a rolling three-year basis, so that the 2010 shows – or. at least, any of them that are still being screened (Caprica, Spooks and 24 have already gone, with Fringe on its last series and The IT Crowd likely not returning either) – will be eligible to repeat. But, for now, here are ten more of the best pieces of televisiual entertainment to have graced our screens in the last 12 months.

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TV Dinners: The Best TV of 2011

TV continues to occupy an increasing amount of our leisure time – last time I checked the Tivo, there were no less than 15 regular series which were being DVR’d, and it seems the number has been creeping up, to the point where we have to exercise discipline to ensure an unwieldy backlog doesn’t build up. It helps that the DVR hard-disk is limited to 20-25 hours of HD TV at any one time, and doesn’t appear expandable [unlike my ‘puter, which just got a 1 Tb external drive, almost entirely for media-related reasons]. It concentrates the mind when the DVR starts warning you that it’s gonna start erasing stuff, like a mother threatening to throw out all those toys if she finds them lying on the floor one more time.

To keep things fresh, all shows that were listed in last year’s top 10 are disqualified from contention. In some cases, e.g. Haven, they didn’t keep their standards up, others (Caprica, 24) were not on the schedule, but the majority would at least be worthy of an honourable mention in this year’s roll of televisual goodness. Speaking of honourable mentions, those should also go to Alphas and Being Human [the original British version, though the American remake is going in some interesting directions[. They were the two shows which were the final ones cut from the list. As last year, the list is in alphabetical order

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Forbrydelsen: Something rotten in the state of Denmark. And it’s good.

Denmark in general, and Copenhagen in particular, does not have the reputation of a hot-bed of crime. I travelled through the country on a number of occasions in my student, Inter-railing years, and the things that come to mind when you think about the country are stuff like Hans Christian Anderson, Legoland and Victor Borge. The most disturbing thing to come out of the country is probably Lars Von Trier and…well, he needed to come out of the country to express his weirdness. Otherwise, crime seemed limited to drunken students removing the head from the Little Mermaid statue. And then came Forbrydelsen literally “The Crime,” more loosely translated as The Killing. Danny Kaye must be spinning in his grave

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Dead Channels: UK vs. US TV Zombies

Dead Set

Dir: Yann Demange
Star: Jaime Winstone, Andy Nyman, Kevin Eldon, Riz Ahmed

I largely avoided the Big Brother phenomenon, leaving the country mere months after the programme started in 2000, though it was clearly already gaining some steam. My ignorance probably added some extra resonance to this five-part series, which centres on the effect a zombie outbreak would have on show participants, from both sides of the camera. Certainly, there is no dodging the parallel drawn between the reality show devotees who gather outside the studio with their signs and chants, and the living dead chewing on human flesh later – both mindless zombies, of one kind or another.

The Walking Dead

Dir: Frank Darabont and others
Star: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden

The hero is Rick Grimes (Lincoln), a cop who is shot, and comes back from unconsciousness – like the protagonist in 28 Days Later – to find the world has gone to hell. He returns home to find his wife Lori (Callies) and son have vanished, and heads off towards Atlanta to find them. What he doesn’t know is that, while his family are safe, Lori is now in a relationship with Rick’s old partner, Shane (Bernthal), hiding out in the country.  Rick has first to track them down, and then figure out how to survive in a world with very little infrastructure left.

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The Rocky Horror Glee Show

First off, I have never watched an episode of Glee before this week. So for those of you as ignorant of the surprise hit Fox TV series as I am, let’s summarize. It’s about the members of a school choir in Lima, Ohio, as well as teacher Will Schuester, who runs the club (Matthew Morrison), and is about a 50/50 mix of high-school drama and musical numbers. The latter cover pretty much the gamut, from show tunes to Beyonce [sometimes even in the same number], and has become a cultural phenomenon. The show has sold 13 million digital downloads, and last year the cast had 25 songs reach the Billboard Top 100, the most by any act since the height of Beatlemania in 1964.

Still, you’ll probably also understand from that description why it wasn’t of much interest to me until last Tuesday, when the show delivered one of its themed episodes. Previous ones had included Madonna and Britney Spears (yawn…), but this one was themed on The Rocky Horror Show. Having seen more incarnations of that show than I care to think, dating back bordering on 25 years, this had to be seen. However, I had my pointy boots on, ready to administer an appropriate kicking, having accidentally stumbled open a scene where a fat black girl was playing the part of Frank N. Furter. Affirmative action at it’s most horrific? Lock and load, people.

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