2011 has been a good year for TV Talk, seeing as it was the year we started wittering on about television programmes that we loved and loathed.
As we start thinking about 2012, Emma and I are looking back over the year to find out what our best shows of the year were.
Drama - Black Mirror
This creepy trio of dramas from the excellent Charlie Brooker caused shock when the first episode The National Anthem was all about Britain’s Prime Minister having sex with a pig. But my unlikely favourite episode was 15 Million Merits which showed a future dystopia dominated by our *love* of reality television shows and technology and how bloody depressing that would be.
Comedy - Mongrels and Fresh Meat
I couldn’t wait for the second series of Mongrels to start and it didn’t disappoint as it followed the adventures of a middle class fox and his group of friends as they sang about killing Justin Beiber and how smoking makes you look cool.
And Fresh Meat may have started off a bit hit and miss amongst some viewers but its awkwardness made the characters endearing, loveable and quite true of some of the characters that you meet at university.
Also a quick mention for another university based sitcom Campus which I loved, but sadly is no more.
Documentary - Page One
This documentary looked at the on goings at national newspaper, The New York Times and how it coped with all the things that are set out to destroy print media. It looked at their time working on Wikileaks, the end of the war in Iraq and how they were dealing with online newspapers and the iPad.
It also looked at the journalists who had to leave after many years of work at the paper when cuts needed to made, and the friendships and working relationships that can only be formed in a newsroom.
Reality television - Great British Bake Off
In amongst all the cookery shows on television at the moment there was one show that simply beat them all – Bake Off. It gave the top amateur bakers a chance to show off their baking ability, like dropping cakes on the floor.
It also inspired Junior Bake Off where a group of extraordinarily talented children got to show off that they know what a ganache is and that they can beautifully decorate cakes at the age of 10.
Current affairs - 10 O’clock Live
Think of it as an hour long Have I Got News For You but with more sketches and a corner where you put a ranting and raving Charlie Brooker. Channel 4 attempted to bring satire into their schedule with an hour long live show bringing together Brooker, David Mitchell and the unlikely Lauren Laverne and Jimmy Carr.
Each presenter played to their strengths making it feel a bit like a mash up of four successful already existing shows but as it will return for a series two next year hopefully some lessons will be learnt to make the show better than before.
Family - Doctor Who
It was again brilliant television, beautiful looking with fun plots but also scary. Yes it may have been confusing but that is the beauty of it, not knowing what is going on but knowing that you will get an answer soon but then that will be just as confusing as before.
And although a bit weird, it is nice to know that the companion of the Doctor is now more than just a lost person who wanted to go travelling as it was revealed that not only is River, Amy and Rory’s child they are now the Doctor’s in laws.
But less River Song next year would be good…
Disappointment – Torchwood
I admit I was looking forward to the latest sci-fi offering but it just didn’t feel right, as I said almost every week in our Torchwood review. The lack of characters anyone could care about, the plot which one week stagnated and the next went at about 100 miles per hour and also the fact that Torchwood had very little to do with the plot made it a disappointment of the year for me.
Drama - Doc Martin and The Mentalist
The sadly-underrated Doc Martin gets my pick in the drama category. Sure, it’s not serious drama but it’s a lot of fun. Starring the ever-loveable and excellent actor Martin Clunes as the grumpy Doc, it never fails to get the right mix of gentle and interesting drama, clever character writing and plenty of comedy.
The Mentalist has been another treat, combining your typical US whodunit story with the psychological angle plus comic characters and clever and one-liners which make it amusing and different. It doesn’t hurt that Patrick Jane is pretty easy on the eye either.
Comedy – Come Fly with Me
Ok, so this only just counts as this year, since the series was all done and dusted by the end of February, but still it deserves a mention as one of my stand-out favourites.
I never liked Little Britain so Matt Lucas and David Walliams had their work cut out to win me over. But their mockumentary following the airport staff of Fly-lo (and others) achieved the impossible with its hilarious mix of true-to-life characters. I can’t wait for series two!
Documentary – Educating Essex
This isn’t a particularly high-brow documentary (notice a pattern emerging here?!) but this Channel 4 offering was something I really enjoyed. Instead of doom and gloom, this series followed troubled youngsters being helped enormously by the dedicated and inspirational staff at the Ofsted “outstanding” Passmores School in Essex. It would be nice to see more of these incredible funny and caring teachers next year.
Reality TV – Strictly Come Dancing
Unlike the X Factor which has experienced its most rubbish year ever, this year saw what must have been one of the best series of Strictly yet. It started with a good line-up and good pairings and continued that way.
Ok, so the wrong person won (should have been Chelsee!) but the final has never been so tight between three such excellent dancers, which made it all very exciting and brought us some amazing dances. My one wish for 2012? Please GOD give Anton a decent partner!
Family – Total Wipeout
Not much to say about this, except its perfect family entertainment. Watching every week it gets a bit old but it’s a must-see at least once just to point and laugh at people falling into the water and losing their dignity by being punched in the privates then getting thoroughly coated in mud. The human catapult in the Christmas Special was an exciting new development.
Disappointment – Doctor Who
Unlike Charlotte I have been bitterly disappointed by this series. Matt Smith has done an admirable job of making the role his own and Karen Gillan’s Amy has really grown on me but it’s the writing that’s the problem.
I agree that not knowing what’s coming next is fun but not when it’s due to plot holes, things left unexplained and the viewer being left thoroughly confused from start to finish, which is what’s been happening recently. Being confused without a surprise twist to explain everything in the end isn’t fun. It’s annoying and is the result of sloppy writing. Anyone can write a random string of nonsense. A well-crafted plot ties everything together coherently. I don’t think I’m particularly dim but I’ve been left baffled by some plots, as has my mum and many friends, and this is meant for kids as well.
I miss the simpler plots of the early days. Stephen Moffat wrote two of the best eps ever – ‘The Weeping Angels’ and ‘The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances’. More like these please or I’ll turn off all together.