Wrapping up the box.
MY TELEVISION YEAR.
It has been a very busy year for Babs so there were far and few television programmes watched with regularity. Thankfully I have a DVR and with boxed set DVDs and friends abroad it has allowed me to catch up on some great TV viewing. Here are my faves and the reasons why I stay glued to the flat screen.
1. The new kid on the block – AMERICAN HORROR STORY.
The wondrous creators of ‘Glee’ and ‘Nip/Tuck’ – Brad Falchuck and Ryan Murphy are responsible for this campy take on the haunted house theme. A young family movie into a house in Los Angeles to repair some damage done due to daddy’s infidelity. Full of naughty housekeepers in garters or with glass eyes, a rubber gimp suit, creepy neighbours, ghosts past and present, a homo couple and references to the pitfalls of childbirth and children to boot! It is a real treat, crafty and creepy, a guilty pleasure – minus the guilt! Jessica Lange in her SAG and Golden Globe nominated role as southern neighbour Constance is the shows highlight amongst many. Renewed for a second season, this time with a different family, house and ghosts I can’t wait to be horrorfied again.
2. The silliest stalwart – TRUE BLOOD Season 4.
Sooky (Anna Paquin) and her sexy suitors returned for more murderous mayhem and plenty of blood spilling. This time the foe was a coven of witches led by the formidable Fiona Shaw as the leader Marni. One highlight was when the superb Nelsan Ellis as, arguably the best character in the treasured show – Lafayette channels the spirit of Marni therefore imitating Fiona Shaw, it was a hoot . Kristen Bauer van Straten as vampiress Pam had lines of dialogue to rival Sue Slyvester in ‘Glee”. It was sillier and bloodier then previous seasons but it still works for me. Bring on season 5 which will feature Christopher Meloni (Law & Order SVU, Oz) as a sexy superior vampire. What more beefcake? 🙂
3. Never a pain – NURSE JACKIE Season 3.
Edie Falco, warts and all, returned as the most flawed character I can recall on the small screen. This season a new nurse entered the frame and he was right on Jackie’s case. She managed to dodge the bullets of last seasons revelation that she is indeed a pill popping addict using prescription drugs to avoid the pains of life in a big city hospital – juggling a dual life at home and at work, the final episode in which she pulled the two- faced whammy and asked her husband to get out of the house was a whopper. Falco leads this great ensemble with a riveting performance, Eve Best as the best friend continued to delight as do the rest of the staff of All Saints hospital in NYC all helping to make this series one of the best shows on TV right now. It shows no sign of losing its appeal making me want for another hit – am I an addict?
4. Medievil Mafiosa – GAME OF THRONES.
HBO – well those 3 capital letters they do make you stand up and take notice. New to the quality stable of series comes a show that is a real treat. It has been tagged as a ‘The Sopranos” in Middle Earth but it is far more than that.
Filmed in Ireland and Malta the scenery is glorious and production values are of the highest order making this show flawless and allowing you to immerse yourself into the fantasy world that simply makes you believe. Fine acting from a mostly British/European cast and an Emmy winning performance by the little man of the moment Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent) this series follows many clans across many kingdoms who covet the throne to rule all. It took me a while to work out who was who and what the hell was going on at times, but it has individual scenes that were riveting and as a whole was entirely engrossing. Once I found my way around the clans of the Starks, the Lannisters, the Targaryens, and so on I was hooked.
Production design and costumes should be singled out along with seamless CGI that has you seeing and believing in this wondrous other world. The title sequence is superb as well.
Mention must be made of the final scene, I was absolutely stunned, it came from nowhere but once revealed I cannot recall a single image like it in recent times, it shook my world and will surely shake up the next eagerly awaited sophomore season of this great show.
5. Musical Mayhem – GLEE Season 2 and 3 (pt 1)
The musical maniacs of McKinley high school returned and whilst the episodes were very patchy and uneven, when it soared it was well worth the effort of persevering with this pioneering show. The episode in which virginity was lost between a heterosexual and homosexual couple of kids was a highlight, though not as controversial as they say, it cleverly used the staging of the musical of West Side Story to great effect. Sue Sylvester had her usual quotas of clingers – always a delight. I am looking forward to the new series ‘Smash” that follows in the musical footsteps of this favourite of mine.
6. Homegrown quality at last – THE SLAP
Perhaps setting a long overdue benchmark for quality television out of Australia this controversial suburban soap opera had everyones tongues wagging. ‘Who’s side are you on?’ was the tagline – following the aftermath of a family BBQ in which a child was slapped by another adult, not his parents. Based on the acclaimed popular novel by Christos Tsiolkas each episode concentrated on a separate character as the saga continued. Covering many hot topic issues and featuring a multicultural cast the performances were first class, the writing gratefully accomplished and the production values at the top end of the scale. It was a welcome change on the local television scene. Kudos to cinematographer Andy Commis who created a cinematic canvas that is unusual for Aussie drama.
Please don’t die on us – THE BIG C season 2.
Laura Linney returned as Cathy with terminal cancer – at times she can be very self righteous and selfish but then she is dying so I guess all can be forgiven. This dramedy had some fine moments and some terrific guest stars – Hugh Dancy & Parker Posey. It was good to see the character of Andrea played by Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) fully fleshed out this time. Unfortunately I missed a couple of eps midway but the final episode packed a sentimental but very powerful wallop, making me feel I had run an emotional marathon myself.
Honorable mentions to
MODERN FAMILY – a great cast of characters both the adults and the kids, constantly funny, I don’t watch religiously but I am always pleased when I catch eps every now and again.
THE LOVE BOAT (reruns on 11) – I love catching up on the retro guest stars often Hollywood icons long dead and TV has beens. Silly storlylines that keep me interested even though oh so cliched.
THE GOLDEN GIRLS (reruns on Gem) – A TV comedy classic with a great cast of elder actresses. Betty White is the last dame standing as sadly the other 3 cast members Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty are no longer with us. Perfect comic timing and wonderful retro references tickle my funny bone a plenty.