TV 2013: The returning

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I doubt I’ve ever watched as much TV as I did in 2013. Self-evidently, it’s because I’ve been reviewing TV throughout the year, again, thanks to the Guardian’s continued patronage of Telly Addict, which has now reached its 134th edition. There’s a special review of the year up now, although, in the heat of trying to put together a definitive list, I forgot to mention The Returned, which is something of an omission. I’ll provide a Top 10 here, as it’s easy enough to siphon out the highest echelon from another quality-packed year. But after that, they’re in no order. All entries here are, in my fallible opinion, what the piece of furniture in the corner was made for.

1. Utopia, C4*
2. Breaking Bad, Netflix
3. Ripper Street, BBC1
4. The Returned, C4
5. Louie, Fox
6. Parks & Recreation, BBC4
7. Gogglebox, C4
8. Fresh Meat, C4
9. Game Of Thrones, Sky Atlantic
10. Broadchurch, ITV

Friday Night Lights, Sky Atlantic
The Walking Dead, Fox
Sound Of Cinema, BBC4
The Fall, BBC2
Love/Hate, C5
Y Gwyll, S4C

The Job Lot, ITV
In The Flesh, BBC3
The Village, BBC1
Boardwalk Empire, Sky Atlantic
Stewart Lee’s Alternative Comedy Experience, Comedy Central
The Wrong Mans, BBC2
Bates Motel, Universal
Hannibal, Sky Living
The Newsroom, Sky Atlantic
Boss, More4
The Good Wife, More4
Nashville, More4
Fried Chicken Shop, C4
The Route Masters, BBC2
David Bowie: Five Years, BBC2
Family Tree, BBC2
The Great British Bake Off, BBC2
Southcliffe, C4
Dates, C4
Mad Men, Sky Atlantic
It’s Kevin, BBC2
London Irish, C4
Oliver Stone’s Untold History Of The United States, Sky Atlantic
The United States Of Television, BBC2
Suits, Dave
Veep, Sky Atlantic

I feel certain I’ll have missed essential titles off this already fairly swollen list, so let me know if I have.

*Having named Utopia as my TV show of the year, it would be rude of me not to provide a link to it at the Channel 4 Store website, as Channel 4 DVD were kind enough to send me a copy just before Christmas when I merely asked them, via Twitter, where I might buy a physical copy at short notice (having failed to find one in my local HMV). For that, they deserve a link. It was re-watching the whole thing between Christmas and New Year that just edged it past Ripper Street in my final list. It was close run.

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Bake!

TA117We’ve hit that competitive cookery sweet spot where Celebrity Masterchef is still on BBC1 as The Great British Bake Off begins on BBC2. A mouth-watering week for Telly Addict, then, with an unholy amount of blue tape around its ravaged fingers and thumbs. More blood and guts – for one unfortunate farm animal at any rate – on Under The Dome, Channel 5’s latest import, this time a CBS adaptation of a fat Stephen King novel about a town in Maine that’s … under a dome; the welcome return of Top Boy to C4, proving that the channel can look at the vexed issue of poverty – or at least an underground capitalist economy – without humiliating anyone; and the finale of season one of The Americans on ITV, which ended as it began with a period-appropriate song. No room for Sky1’s promising Chickens or BBC1’s intriguing What Remains this week; will remedy that next week.

It’s not the end of the world

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First: it looks like I’m getting two weeks off! So, this week’s Telly Addict, although not a review of the year, acts as an end-of-the-year, end-of-the-world edition. Under review are BBC Sports Personality of the Year, BBC1; the finale of Season Three of Boardwalk Empire, Sky Atlantic (no spoilers); The British Comedy Awards, C4; Richard E Grant’s Hotel Secrets, Sky Atlantic; Inside Claridge’s, BBC2; and Little Crackers, Sky1.

HustingsACBakeOff

Secondly, I was also asked to promote The Great British Bake Off as my favourite TV show of 2012 (incorrectly billed as “the best TV programme of 2012″ in their more provocative headline). You can watch my little three-minute film here. Props to the Guardian website people for, once again, flagging this up on the main page. It’s reassuring to see that the commenters below the line have been instantaneous with their comfort and joy.

I watched this once. The presenters heads are completely up their own arses and it’s about the most tedious, poncy, self opinionated, piece of shit I have ever had the misfortune to view. Baking should be fun, with these arseholes it becomes a ritualised chore. More utter bilge from the increasingly bilge-producing BBC.

 

The middle-class fetishisation of food at a time of austerity – just what a PSB provider should be doing! What next … four celebrities in a big house with all the heating and electricity on talking about how warm and cosy they are?

 

FFS. We used to have telly like Kenneth Clarke’s Civilisation, Malcom Muggeridge, Face to Face, Not Only …But Also... Now we have endless cookery crap and people taking DNA tests live on air. Seriously- God help this country. It ain’t the Royals fault, either.

 

Corn syrup for undernourished brains.

 

Utter trash. Pointless competitions make for cheap nasty television. The smug presenters and contestants are horrible.

No names, obviously, as that would be playing into their evil hands. (I like the concept of “self opinionated” though.) So it’s “Goodwill to all men!” to those miserable fuckers, and “Merry Christmas!” to the rest of you. Thanks for viewing this year – in increasing numbers, so I’m told, since we moved to Tuesday mornings. Here’s to another year of me sitting at a slight angle and trying not to wear the same shirt two weeks’ running.

Was it the Guardian that did this for you?

Second Tuesday morning Telly Addict, which means I’m catching up on last Tuesday’s Great British Bake Off Final on BBC2 (there will be spoilers – deal with it); plus Friday Night Dinner, which started again three weeks ago on C4 on the wrong night; the penultimate, Leveson-style The Thick Of It, with its excellent Guardian joke, on BBC2; and a one-off C4 documentary with a title that makes it sound less subtle and tender than it actually was, My Tattoo Addiction. (Funnily enough, the programme’s producer alerted me to it via Twitter, but if I hadn’t have liked it, I would have just quietly ignored it. You have to admire him for direct marketing.)

“H” bomb

Without any attempt at forcing the issue, Sesame Street or QI style, this week’s Telly Addict is brought to you by the letter “H”. Three dramas, each beginning with the same letter, and two of them beginning with the word “Home.” First, the return of Homeland to C4 for its make-or-break second season; second, a new one to ITV1, Homefront (which isn’t one word, but we’ll let it off as I liked it); and finally, Hunted on BBC1, the big-budget Transatlantic co-production that we previewed at the Edinburgh Television Festival. Oh, and a quick morsel of Bake Off, because it would be rude not to.

Two feet in the past

There is a period drama theme to this week’s Telly Addict. Not my doing, really, but the overworked drama departments, whose current obsession with the past might well be due to a commissioner-led preference for the “theme park with safe rides” option, as persuasively discussed by Mark Lawson in, oh yes, the Guardian the other week. We catch up with BBC4’s Room At The Top (delayed by a mere 18 months due to rights issues); BBC1’s The Paradise; and Sky Atlantic’s Boardwalk Empire, back for its third season and as vital as ever. (Unless you don’t have Sky, in which case, it will be back for its third box set in the New Year.) Also, back in the real world, nods to Doctor Who and The Great British Bake Off, specifically, Cathryn and her old-fashioned, family-friendly exclamations while under teacake pressure.