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Tuesday, December 30, 2008
2008 REVIEW: Part 2 - Television
Continuing my yearly look at the, erm, year, here's a rundown on all that was 'television'. As with previous years, I will splitting the 'charts', if I may use such a reductive term, into 'Scripted' and 'Non~Scripted' shows. Now, I am well aware that some of the 'N~S 'shows do contain elements of 'writing' but you'll get the general idea once the countdown begins.

Conchords, flying into my chart?

But before I start to use numbers to dictate what's hot and what's not, I'll mention some stuff that didn't quite make the final ten but I feel is worth giving a nod. Flight Of The Conchords did not do it for me initially but I am slowly coming round to their charms. Maybe they'll make the 10 next year with their soon to be aired second season.

Mr G, is there anything he can't do?

Another show from 'down under' that I missed on first broadcast (but caught the repeats) was Summer Heights High. I blame that on the marketing numb~nuts at BBC3 who made it look like a stupid kids show rather than the work of genius it is. No Heroics was a show from ITV2 (no, stop it - it's a real channel) that took a while to get going but I was genuinely sad when it came to a halt. It has massive potential as the premise is good (if well trod) and the cast are tops, just get some more writers in and they could have a hit. Having said that, it probably won't be back for a second series.

10 points if you know which one was in Doctor Who

More new~ness came in the form of How Not To Live Your Life on BBC3 and whilst not quite making up for the abortions that were The Wrong Door and Spooks: Code 9, the channel redeemed themselves by giving a comedian a chance. Like No Heroics it took a while but by the end I would say that yes, I enjoyed it. It must be said that the cast are not the best feature with only the lead, Dan Clark, showing any real skill.

One of these kids is doing their own thing...

Survivors came and went with some good stuff but some bad stuff too. A veritable mixed bag but I kept watching albeit not always on broadcast night. Max Beasley was the highlight but the rest of the cast were pretty dire and the less said about that awful woman in it the better. As good/bad as the original? Probably, as I wasn't particularly enamoured of that either though it did boast a better cast (if all with the same RP accent). The inclusion of the Lost~esque government conspiracy was interesting and I guess we'll just have to see how it plays out in the next series.

... one of these kids is not the same.

Finally with new stuff, the US debuted The Life & Times Of Tim, a terrific new animation that reminds you that Family Guy was once edgy. Actually, it's closer in tone to Curb Your Enthusiasm with its ridiculous situations and gormless 'lead'. Hopefully this show will get a chance as it's getting better with each episode. Oh yeah, when it's getting screened in the UK?

The Sontaran revival continues..

Actually, this is the 'finally' part. Just missing out on a Top 10 place were:; The Sarah Jane Adventures which was very disappointing and repetitious though did throw up some great stories here and there; and The Sarah Silverman Program which featured a certain Christopher Eccleston as a sci~fi character... Speaking of which, and just in case you're wondering, you won't find Doctor Who here (wouldn't be fair to the other shows) as it gets a Top 10 all to itself.

I've been reviewing these episodes for DEN OF GEEK, so why not go there and read my thoughts. There's only been ten episodes but this series has much potential.

I'm a little embarrassed to have this here, definitely a guilty pleasure. At first it just seemed like any old poorly crafted US sitcom but those crazy little bastids got stuck in my noggin and I found myself downloading it straight after its US broadcast. The cast are perfect and the larfs surprisingly good. Yes, it can be rather predictable but it looks like it may be a stayer.

Another disappointing second series though it is one of the very few shows I sit down to watch specifically so it must be doing something good. The finale was dreadful but there were some great stories in there and they've killed off a few of the cast (pity it was the ones who could actually act) so it'll be all fresh when it returns in a few months, hopefully.

Return to form? Well, I don't really deal in cliches but it's applicable here. The most recent season has delivered the giggles not only thick and fast but also in an incredibly edgy fashion. So much so that over here in the UK one episode was screened after the watershed! The inclusion of the IRA in a recent story passed by the tabloids but made everyone who saw gasp in astonishment at what the writers got away with.

It's taken a while but I've finally succumbed to Piven & Co. and their exploits. Disgustingly short (the season, not Piven) at only 10 episodes, it left me wanting more. Especially as it ended with a dinkle~dippingly shock~cameo from Martin Scorsese. Also making me hoot was Stellan SkarsgÄrd who seemed to be channeling Werner Herzog in his portray of a fascistic European director.

Some are calling this the best contraceptive on the planet. Well, I say 'some', mainly just me. Who wants sprogs when this kind of thing happens every week? (Cue all of Cam's pals with kids getting on their high~horse.) The premise should be as dull as every other sitcom the BEEB churns out but the casting of the children is so spot on that it makes my eyes write a letter to my brain each week congratulating it on its good taste. Even better are the parents, Hugh "Career Back On Track" Dennis and the lurvely Claire Skinner; though I do find myself shouting at them for their liberal parenting. Just lock them in a dark room after giving them a beating - that's the British way!

Definitely the weakest series so far and where was Richmond? But we did get Matt Berry so all is not lost. The laughs were not as regular (or as hard, stop it) but I get much joy out of seeing the gang together and the characters are now firmly set with Moss becoming a national treasure. Plus I fancy Katherine Parkinson. Now, how do I register with FriendFace?

Like The Simpsons, the writers seemed to have remembered what made the show good in the first place - laughs. It was almost like a reset button with Mark's marriage in tatters. An addition to the cast that was greatly appreciated by this humble blogger was Dobby; played with some style by Isy Suttie. The denouement sets up the next series quite nicely and top marks for use of the phrases, "F**k Bunker", "It was old style paedo~ing, before it got a bad name" and "I need you tell me you believe in Crystal Skulls."

As you can tell, I'm not really a fan of the 'drama' or anything over 22 minutes but when I do like it, I like it lots. Although I felt the finale was flat and nowhere near as good as the previous few, this year saw flash~forwards brought to the fore in a most beguiling way. My favourite of the new lot was Daniel, who was as odd as that feeling you get when you think you've just woken up when, in fact, you've been at work for two and a half hours. When he teamed up with Desmond for a time~traveling episode (of sorts) we were treated to the [Comic Book Guy] best episode ever. [/CBG]

The back~end of the previous season certainly suffered from the writer's strike and the break broke up the momentum. Thankfully, normal service was restored and the current season is lining up to be the best yet. Early on we had the lurvely Amy Ryan as Michael's squeeze and their partnership could have filled each episode, such was their chemistry. Andy's story, though 'heart~breaking', tickles my frossick pouch in a very real and meaningful way. It now has completely surpassed the original which gave birth to it and has become a different entity entirely.


Oddly, I cannot stand THE X~FACTOR but I find the trials and tribulations of the American a~holes to be most entertaining. Thankfully the US seems to have enough crazies to keep the show going for some time yet.

Crikey. A celeb~reality~competition that involved conducting an orchestra? Even more surreal than anything Vic 'n' Bob could concoct, this BBC2 show was bizarrely compelling and I now feel qualified to discuss conducting, orchestras and, *coughs*, baton use.

Although this is hosted by a woman with as much charisma as a snail with AIDS, she sure is purty! Aside from that, this BBC FOUR offering is an insanely difficult lateral thinking quiz show that seems to feature teams made up of weirdos who form pub quiz teams by themselves, alone and drinking Cuke.

For those not aware of this guy and his BBC FOUR televisual analysis show, he's bit like me (in style) except with more swearing and wank gestures.

It's beginning to wane and the inclusion of a band looking for money had me reaching to my phone and dialing Offcom. Actually, I have it on speed~dial such is my Daily Mail rage at everything I see on the BBC.

Not as good as last year's ... In China but charming and hilarious in equal measures. Take note Stephen Fry.

Regular blogites will be all too familiar at my disdain for the boobs that they manage to get into this show. But full marks to the production team nonetheless. This year no~one deserved to win, especially not the eventual winner Lee. That's not what I'm talking about!

Brian Blessed. Tom Baker. Every week purlease.

Maybe not quite 100% at the top of his game but two series in one year made my trousers redundant in a number of manners.

Whereas Amstell is at the top of his game. Too much good stuff to talk about from this year but it's a bit sad to see Bill Bailey go and even sadder that the Russell Brand episode remains un~aired. Offcom!

Possible Doc No. 11 & Companion?

To see the 'Best of' 2006, go HERE. For 2007, go HERE.

'Til the next time,

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posted by Cameron McEwan at 9:59 am -
  • At 3:40 pm, Blogger Richard Starkings said…

    Where's DEXTER, Cam? Remember we had this conversation last year?

  • At 3:58 pm, Blogger Cameron McEwan said…

    Never heard of it...


    I've managed to watch it twice since we had that conversation. Enjoyed it.

    On a different note, what's The Wire like?

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