Just as the vegetable-growing year has a “hungry gap” in spring, when very little comes up, so, new produce in the TV year tends to drop off around now. As noted in the new, seasonally adjusted Telly Addict, Game Of Thrones, The Fall, Mad Men, The Good Wife, Nashville, all are either done, or close to being done, having been launched in either the autumn or the winter, when people watch telly and don’t go on holiday or sit in the garden or outside a pub in the evening. However, UK-Belgian epic The White Queen is here to save us for the next ten Sunday nights on BBC1; also this week, BBC2′s scientifically pointless but cat-filled Horizon: The Secret Life Of The Cat; Dates on C4; and the triumphant takeover of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart on Comedy Central by John Oliver from these islands (and from the same management as me). The British are coming. And some Belgians.
Who’s in here? Well, if you watch this week’s Telly Addict, which avoids spoilers for the final episodes of The Fall on BBC2 and Game Of Thrones on Sky Atlantic (mainly because I hadn’t seen either when I filmed this yesterday), you’ll see clip evidence of at least two supporting actors who are in both shows. Also, new on BBC3, docucircus The Call Centre, and new on C4, the terrific, glacially-paced French “zombie” drama The Returned. And congratulations and clubbable banter all round for the 500th episode of Pointless on BBC1.
Catching up with the Masterchef final on BBC1 from last week this week on Telly Addict. Also, the quick death of Four Rooms on C4; Da Vinci’s Demons on Fox; a much more promising new US drama, Banshee, on Sky Atlantic; and two new sitcoms on ITV, Vicious and The Job Lot, one of which I’m sticking with. Due to the Bank Holiday, I hadn’t seen the final episode of The Village when I wrote this one, so I’ll catch up with it next week, as I understand it ended with a song and dance number.
So much to fit in, so little Telly Addict! I know, I know, I promised to cover The Walking Dead and Spartacus: War of The Damned this week – due to popular demand from gorehounds – and I will, I will, but both long-form series have had to be “put back” to next week, to clear space for two one-offs which need to be addressed this week: surprise treat The Fried Chicken Shop on C4 and Meet The Izzards on BBC2. There’s also The Brits 2013 on ITV, with its new “serious” tone; the series finale of the magnificent Utopia on C4; and surely the best moment on The Jonathan Ross Show on ITV, like, ev-ah! You’ll see what I mean. (Oh, and I’ll do the best of Seth MacFarlane on the Oscars next week, too.)
I take the plunge this week on Telly Addict by watching a whole episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys on BBC1, the most successful sitcom on British television, just in time for its third hit series to end; also, back to Utopia on C4, which I can’t stop thinking about, or reviewing; and two recommendations from the Freeview universe: the second season of Suits, on Dave, and the fourth of The Good Wife on More4, both slick, glamorous, fast-talking US legal dramas, as it happens. Oh, and a definitive “Now, If You’ll Excuse Me, Inspector” from Ripper Street on BBC1.
After publicly identifying the “Now, If You’ll Excuse Me, Inspector” moment in ITV’s Lewis on last week’s Telly Addict – in which arrogant Oxford academics rudely make excuses and walk away from Lewis when he’s investigating them about a murder – I have three more prime NIYEMIs on this week’s. I also return to Utopia on C4 to see how it’s getting on after the first rush of blood; give the pilot episode of Fox/Sky Atlantic’s serial killer-based thriller The Following a chance; sigh heavily at the lack of jeopardy on the otherwise well-intentioned Great Comic Relief Bake Off on BBC2; and give a preview of my promised review of Louie on Fox. And another look at the mesmerising ITV logo.
This week on Telly Addict, I mainly reviewing the new ITV logo. Oh, and some actual telly programmes, including the first, heinous two-part Lewis on the “new look” ITV; the phenomenal conspiracy thriller Utopia on C4; the PG Wodehouse adaptation Blandings on BBC1; and a quick look at a couple of belated highlights from The Golden Globe Awards, shown here on FiveUSA.
I apologise for the late running of the plug for this week’s Telly Addict. I’ve been busy. At any rate, it’s been up all day, and within it, you will see my nice new haircut, a shirt I haven’t worn very often and some considered, erudite, witty reviews of – plus some controversially throwaway remarks about – the adorable 1973 John Betjeman documentary Metro-land, shown again last week on BBC4; the similarly locomotive Great British Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo on BBC2; the perhaps unfairly maligned Mr Selfridge on ITV1; the quite horrible World Without End on C4; and the return of Silent Witness to BBC1 for its 16th series! I’ve already found myself in a titanic struggle with a persistent man over at the Guardian website, should you have more time on your hands than sense. You’re more than welcome to discuss these shows here, in a friendlier environment. I always reply.
Well, I’ve certainly put the hours in this year in terms of TV. My first full calendar year of writing and recording Telly Addict every week: that’s a lot of percentage in the Sky+ tank. Because I am now duty-bound to review all the exciting new stuff – and that means stuff I wouldn’t normally watch, like Red Or Black, TOWIE and The Apprentice – I find myself watching and analysing the first episode of everything, but not always bothering to watch the second episode. There are only so many hours in the day etc.
This, if you run a finger down my final list, accounts for the fact that Secret State, which I wasn’t sure about to start with, makes the list, and The Town, which I was sure about, doesn’t. I saw the former through to the bitter end, which means something, and I found myself unable to summon up the enthusiasm to see how The Town turned out, which also means something. My enthusiasm for The Great British Bake Off was entirely sincere: I couldn’t wait for the next episode. This is how I feel about the re-runs of Friday Night Lights: can’t wait. (Although the Guardian erroneously claimed that I judged The Bake Off to be “the best TV show of 2012″, when, in fact, it was simply my favourite.)
It seems obsessive and random to put these fantastic shows in any kind of qualitative order, so I’ll leave them in the order that they occurred to me. I’m not sure whether or not I ought to apologise for the proliferation of shows on Sky Atlantic. The channel has a deal with HBO; ergo, it’s where all the best imports turn up. Sorry (There, I apologised.) Oh, and by the way, I enjoyed some of the Olympics on the BBC, and Euro 2012, on the BBC and ITV, but found Gary Lineker a bit irksome on both.
The Great British Bake Off, BBC2
Line Of Duty, BBC2
Game of Thrones, Season 2, Sky Atlantic
Boardwalk Empire, Season 3, Sky Atlantic
Hunderby, Sky Atlantic
The Fear, C4
Fresh Meat, Series 2, C4
Friday Night Dinner, Series 2, C4
Michael Portillo’s Great Continental Railway Journeys, BBC2
Sherlock, Series 2, BBC1
The Bridge, BBC4
Homeland, Seasons 1-2, c4
Twenty Twelve, Series 2, BBC2
Inside Claridge’s, BBC2
The Thick Of It, Series 4, BBC4
Eastbound and Down, Season 3, FX
The Walking Dead, Season 3, FX
American Horror Story: Asylum, FX
Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, E4
Friday Night Lights, Seasons 1-3, Sky Atlantic
Girls, Sky Atlantic
Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partidge, Sky Atlantic
The Newsroom, Sky Atlantic
Veep, Sky Atlantic
Secret State, C4
Top of the Pops, 1977, BBC4
Man About The House, Series 3-5, ITV3
Horror Europa with Mark Gatiss, BBC4
Loving Miss Hatto, BBC1
Downton Abbey, Series 3/Christmas Special, ITV1
Mrs Biggs, ITV1
Celebrity MasterChef, BBC2
Modern Family, Season 4, Sky1
Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, ITV1
The Bletchley Circle, ITV1
Feel free to nominate shows you loved. I fell out with Downton during Series 2, but was surprised to find myself back onboard with Series 3. I also thought that Gates, on Sky Living, came out very well, but since I was one of its writers, I am unable to trust my own judgement. We must try Sky Living’s judgement, though, and it won’t be returning for a second series.
After the unusual step last week of trailing something – The Fear on C4 – you’ll be glad to know that I actually review this week. (We record this on a Monday afternoon and the first of four episodes aired on Monday night, running to four consecutive nights thereafter.) In the event, I’m rather surprised to say that Telly Addict seems to be going out on a limb here in praising The Fear to the rafters, as it was rubbished in many quarters. I was also a fan of the first episode of ITV1′s The Town, by playwright Mike Bartlett, also less so of A Young Doctor’s Notebook on Sky Arts 1, albeit mainly due to a disconnect between me and Russian humour, as it’s based on the semi-autobiographical short stories of Mikhail Bulgakov. Oh, and further mention of ITV3′s re-runs of Man About The House, which are an ongoing pleasure.