Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Sloppy Dog's Best of 2010: TV

After the exercise in venom-release that was the year’s worst singles, we now switch back to arse-kissy mode with 2010’s best telly. Special mention must go to the BBC’s one-off comedy Lizzie & Sarah, by far the darkest sitcom we’ve ever witnessed; a triumphant final series of Ugly Betty; the barking Spartacus: Blood & Sand, which invoked the ironic majesty of Sunset Beach, albeit with added intestine; the twist-crammed excitement of The Event; the uproarious Phoneshop; the even more uproarious Miranda; the consistently brilliant Spooks; and Ashes to Ashes, which provided arguably the greatest concluding episode since Buffy. But let’s turn our attention to those shows which did make the cut...

10. Sherlock
A modern-day reimagining of Sherlock Holmes, on paper, is a pretty dreary idea. And yet, the BBC’s quietly-epic, rulebook-burning mini-series provided one of the greatest dramas of the year. Inventive, twisted and cerebral, with outstanding performances from Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, it’s more than created an appetite for the second series.

9. The Road to Coronation Street
While Corrie itself rarely makes an appearance on the ol’ Sloppy Dog tellybox, this one-off drama documenting its origins was an absolute triumph. Charming and familiar whilst simultaneously razor-sharp – we’ll overlook the lone misfire in the form of the worst American accent since Channel 5’s The TribeThe Road to Coronation Street was a surprise hit, and a welcome one at that.

8. Glee
The All-American saccharin overkill was at times offputting, but when Glee got it right, it got it very right indeed. It goes without saying that Jane Lynch as the wickedly twisted Sue Sylvester was the star attraction, but mention must also go to a brilliant cast all-round, devilishly funny dialogue, and some of the most unlikely pop songs given a jazz-hands, eyes-and-teeth makeover. Let’s just overlook its unleashing of Don’t Stop Believin’, shall we?

7. The Great British Bake-Off
Seeing Mel & Sue reunited on screen was a pleasure enough in itself – add a reality elimination format and fuckloads of cake to the mix, and you’re left with televisual heaven. The Great British Bake-Off was simple, entertaining, informative and drool-inducing, filling the gap left by The Restaurant before it descended into utter farce.

6. Brothers & Sisters
Last year we described Brothers & Sisters as a very slick, very expensive soap opera, which still stands, but boy, do they know how to do it properly – the balance of wit and sentiment, the odd but effective mix of reality and escapism, and a fantastic cast across the board, while the flashback double episode provided one of the most powerful and well-executed TV moments of the year.

5. Mongrels
As previously demonstrated by Greg The Bunny and Avenue Q, there’s something acutely hilarious about puppets swearing. The rule most definitely applies in Mongrels, BBC Three’s uproarious tale of inner-city animals, though the laughs come from far more than the occasional f-word: shrewd popular culture references, side-splitting dialogue and unthinkable storylines culminated to give us 2010’s best new comedy.

4. Shooting Stars
Much like last year’s triumphant comeback series, this year’s offering from Vic & Bob was equal parts random and hysterical. The departure of Matt Lucas as George Dawes was of course disappointing, but the transfer of Angelos Epithemiou from panellist to scorekeeper was a stroke of absolute genius. And it's safe to say, nothing else aired on television throughout 2010 that invoked as much undignified, cheek-aching laughter as the Coldland sketch.

3. The Walking Dead
The intensely shadowy tale of a zombie outbreak in Atlanta was a last-minute entry to our list, but to make such an impression so late in the year is clearly the mark of an impressive drama. Dark, exciting, emotional and unapologetically gory, The Walking Dead was dangerously transfixing from its first few scenes alone, and stands way above the conventions of the horror genre as a moving, intriguing and morbidly entertaining show.

2. True Blood
While some wrote the second series off as a bit of a non-starter, the different strands throughout made for an interesting story – Jason’s experiences with the Fellowship of the Sun and its parallels with terrorism; the genuinely touching (and simultaneously hilarious) love story between Hoyt and Jessica; the slightly Twin Peaks-esque Texas storyline; and the lunacy unfolding back in Bon Temps, in particular the gleeful brilliance in Maryann’s eventual comeuppance. Thank Christ for FX, else we’d be waiting til 2016 for Channel 4 to air Series 3.

1. Misfits
The first series was outstanding; but the second series thus far has proved to be truly exceptional. While Misfits may sell itself under the “Heroes with ASBOs” theme, it’s proved to be significantly more than that, switching between some riotously funny dialogue and performances, and some incredibly solemn, emotional scenes. Iwan Rheon’s talent is deserving of its own mention, the same for Robert Sheehan portraying the single most aggravating character on British TV with such conviction – perhaps a backhanded compliment, but a compliment all the same. Quite where Misfits can or will go next is difficult to contemplate, but after what we’ve seen already, we can’t wait to find out.

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