Saturday, December 27, 2008

Top 5 Telly Of The Year!!!

I want to preface this by saying this year I could easily have filled a Top 10 list with shows I absolutely love, it's been that good. So if there's omissions, they were not easy to leave out. And here we... go!

The new brainchild of J.J Abrams, this brilliant sci-crime drama picks up where The X-Files left off, but has the sense to base itself not in the world of the paranormal, but rather the "almost possible" field of fringe science. Olivia Dunham is a disillusioned DHS detective assigned to investigate cases slightly outside the norm, and the only man that can help is Walter Bishop, a former government scientist who worked on top secret experiments. He's brilliant but also slightly insane after spending 20 years in an asylum. What sets this show apart is the violent, creepy cases (ever wanted to see a man cut to death by razor-winged butterflies?) and the outstanding casting. John Noble, in particular as the gentle but deranged Walter Bishop is a revelation.

After a first season that went from fun to addictive viewing, season 2 has been nothing short of compulsory. Lovable is a word bandied about a lot when it comes to this show about an unwilling spy and his two protectors, and the creators never seem to forget that it's meant to be fun. As before, the action is deftly staged, and the characters have been more fleshed out, but it's the interaction between the cast that really make this shine. These are actually people you like, and root for on a weekly basis, and in Zachary Levi the producers have definitely found a charming, funny leading man for years to come.


Now, this was a real find for telly. An original series from Alan Ball (he who wrote 'American Beauty' and 'Six Feet Under') set in the American deep south, True Blood takes place in a modern world where Vampires are part of society. Having "come out of the coffin" they live with us, work with us, refusing to feed on humans, choosing instead to drink 'True Blood', a synthetic substitute. It's here when Sooki Stackhouse, a young waitress who can hear people's thoughts, falls in love with 200 year old vampire Bill Compton and the problems it causes throughout the community. And of course there's some old-fashioned Vamps that believe in the old ways too. Being an HBO show there's sex, violence and F-bombs dropped throughout a gripping story filled with a fantastic cast. Ryan Kwanten especially, as Sookie's screw-up, meat headed brother is just astounding.

The telly that refuses to stop being amazing. Weeds' fourth season completely shook up it's whole world, burning down the entire neighbourhood that pot-selling Widow Nancy Botwin and family resided in, forcing them to relocate to the Mexican border. Albert Brooks was introduced as Nancy's father-in-law, who can't stand her, and stole every episode. Celia Hodes was back to her acid-spitting bitch best, and the stakes were raised higher as Nancy unwittingly became involved in a drug cartel. Son Silas was made part of the family pot business, and younger brother Shane finally stopped talking to the ghost of his dead dad. As always, Mary-Louise Parker was phenomenal every week as Nancy, making her the strongest, most sympathetic, yet sometimes completely selfish widow every portrayed on telly.

Bittersweet, this one. Coming off the back of a stunning, if cut short by the writer's strike, first season, this new season has been everything I loved about it but so much more. The stories have been better, the characters put into equal jeopardy and hilarity, and thrilling through-arcs laced into the big picture. And yet, thankfully, it's lost none of it's magic, the key factor that set this telly apart in the first place. If anything, the magic of the show is even more luminous than before, mixing beautiful and grotesque scenarios with killing one-liners and it's trademark 40's-style spitfire dialogue. The cast is better than ever too. Ned and Chuck continue their ill-fated romance with new obstacles, Emerson Cod is given more to do than simple droll put-downs, and we even get a companion for Digby the dog - Pigby the pig! Kristin Chenoweth steals the whole show though, a constant, hilarious, heartbreaking standout. The sad news is that after falling ratings (which every show has had thanks to the strike) ABC has not ordered a full second season of this wonderful telly, so this will be our lot unfortunately. But hell, when it's this good I'm glad for anything I can get. You'll be missed, Pie Hole!


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