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Ten of my favourite tv programmes
Top Ten TV Programmes... Ever!
Member Name: Mephit
Top Ten TV Programmes... Ever!
Date: 14/06/12, updated on 14/06/12 (52 review reads)
Advantages: ten of my favourites
Disadvantages: none really
In no particular order, ten of my favourite tv programmes:
*** Green Wing ***
This comedy series ran for (sadly) only two series from 2004. It was set in a hospital and featured a cast of quirky and dysfunctional characters as the doctors and office staff (patients had little to no presence).
Loosely, the over-arching storyline of the series is the arrival of new doctor, Caroline (Tamsin Grieg) and her will-they-won't-they relationship with Mac (Julian Rhind-Tutt). This is subject to the interventions and machinations of jealous Sue White (Michelle Gomez) and Guy Secretan (Stephen Mangan), amongst others.
My particular favourites amongst the characters are the deranged Sue White and the uptight Dr Alan Statham (Mark Heap). The show makes me laugh so much: bizarre happenings that no-one comments on, like Sue White dressing in strange costumes, the speeded up or slowed sequences, Alan Statham swinging his white coat... It's a gloriously subversive, anarchic comedy.
Some of the events are in questionable, boundary-crossing taste and it can come from a fairly dark place - it's not one for everyone. It is rated 15.
The Definitive Edition DVD boxset contains both series and the Christmas special and is available from Amazon at £16.37, new, presently.
*** Jeeves and Wooster ***
This production of the PG Wodehouse stories from the early 1990s features Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie as Jeeves and Bertie Wooster respectively. Both inhabit the roles perfectly: Laurie the foolish but good-hearted master while Fry is the perfectly correct, intelligent servant but power behind the throne, who always gets his own way in the end. It ran for four series of 6 episodes each. The later series set in the US are slightly less appealing, but still work.
The almost hour-long episodes mostly consist of Bertie finding himself (or one of his dopey friends) in a scrape, usually the threat of marriage to some nice gel or the demands of an angry aunt, and Jeeves having to work out some clever plan to extricate him. It's beautifully done, gently funny and does justice to Wodehouse's books. I adore the theme tune.
'Jeeves & Wooster' is repeated during the daytime on ITV3 and all four series are available in digitally remastered DVD sets for around £15, new, on Amazon.
*** Being Human ***
This is a supernatural drama/comedy series from BBC3, first shown in 2008. It had its fourth series this year, although I don't know if a fifth is planned.
The basic premise is that supernatural creatures/people do exist and three of them find themselves living together in a shabby house in Bristol. These are Mitchell (Aidan Turner) a vampire, George (Russell Tovey) a werewolf and Annie (Lenora Crichlow) a ghost. The relationships between the three friends and their attempts to stay human or regain their humanity are what makes the series. At times it can be very funny, for example where the two male characters displace their anger and pain onto the mundane, over-reacting to the change in scheduling of 'The Real Hustle'. Sometimes it can be very dark as well. It is quite gory, with swearing and violence at times and it is rated 15.
The series is shot in a realistic way, although with special effects for werewolf transformation and the like.
The fourth series suffers from unavoidable but major cast changes and I'm afraid it lost me as a viewer towards the end, but I will try to catch up at some point. If there is a fifth series I will give it a shot. The first three series, however, I was hooked on.
The boxset of all four series (six episodes each) is available on Amazon for around £35, new.
*** Supernatural ***
This is another supernatural series in which mythical creatures are not so mythical after all. This time it's a US series that began in 2005, featuring Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as Sam and Dean Winchester. The boys were brought up to be hunters of supernatural beasties by their father, who is out to avenge his wife's death.
The brothers' at times strained relationship is the lynchpin of the series and the chemistry between the two actors is appealing. Each series has an over-arching storyline of some big evil that needs thwarting, interspersed with occasional 'filler' episodes that don't necessarily contribute to the main plot. The boys spend much of their time on the road in Dean's pride and joy car, going to the next threat, living in dingy motels.
It's a good mix of humour and danger/action, held together by the personable characters of Dean and Sam. It's slicker and bigger budget than we can do over here and many more episodes per season (20-odd). It's on its seventh season presently.
You can buy series 1-6, rated 15, in DVD boxset for around £50, new, at Amazon.
*** Buffy The Vampire Slayer ***
Unlikely heroine, schoolgirl Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) discovers she is the chosen one, the vampire slayer, whose role it is to fight back the forces of evil.
It was a US series, which began in the late '90s and ended mid- 00s. Each season has a new (and worse) Big Bad to confront in the over-all storyline. Buffy's struggle to accept her destiny, her on-off relationship with Angel (David Boreanz) and her friendships with Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and Willow (Alyson Hannigan) are the most interesting and abiding parts of the show. The series grow gradually darker and more adult, although there is always a leavening of humour or the absurd.
I really loved this when it came out over here, although my daughter was just a baby and her grouchy time used to perfectly coincide with when it was shown on BBC2! Hence the need to buy it all on video.
All 144 episodes from the seven seasons are available in DVD boxset from Amazon at around £100, new.
*** MisFits ***
This is pretty much a British take on 'Heroes', only darker and grittier, where an unlikely group of people acquire superpowers. Our group consists of five youth offenders working out their community service. The main characters are the "weird kid" Simon (Iwan Rheon), disgraced athlete Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), manipulative minx Alisha (Antonio Thomas), hard-faced toughie Kelly (Lauren Socha) and motormouth provocateur, Nathan (Robert Sheehan). These are the eponymous misfits.
It's funny and dark, with violence and swearing at times. I loved the first series, shown in 2009 on Channel 4, while the second I enjoyed but thought pushed it a little far, what with superpowered primates and all... I don't like to shout 'jumped the shark', but it did put me off a bit and I haven't watched series 3 yet. I probably will give it a go, however.
It's rated 18 and the three series are available in DVD boxset from Amazon at £18.97, new.
*** The Tripods ***
This is a series I remember fondly from my childhood. It was shown during the '80s and was heinously cut short when the budget gave out or the BBC lost its tiny mind.
The world had been conquered by the Tripods, who mind-control most of the people left, using brain implants which are put in during the teens. Our hero, Will, and his cousin are prime for this procedure and run away, hoping to find an underground of free humans. But the Tripods aren't just going to let them go...
Wonderful sci-fi for its time, and a great storyline.
The two series are available together on DVD for £12.77 from Amazon, new.
*** Babylon 5 ***
It's ten years since the humans 'won' the war against Minbar. Babylon 5 is the fifth attempt by the human race to build a space-station for trade and diplomacy between Minbar, themselves and other alien species in troubled times. Previous Babylon stations were destroyed by saboteurs and the fourth vanished completely, so it's not an easy task ahead. The show follows the main crew of Babylon 5, led at first by Michael O'Hare's Cpt Sinclair, then in further series Cpt Sheridan played by Bruce Boxleitner.
At first, it seems the main challenge will be dealing with infighting between the various alien races, but an emerging threat to all from a mysterious and powerful opposition, the Shadows, soon concentrates minds.
This series was innovative in that it was written with a five-year framework in mind. The storyline and effecs were really interesting and my favourite characters were Ivanova (Claudia Christian) and Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle). G'Kar (Andreas Katsulas) and Londo (Peter Jurassik) had a great antagonistic relationship developing into an unlikely uneasy friendship of sorts. There were films and other material made apart from the main 5 seasons.
The complete boxset is available from Amazon at around £50, new.
*** Strictly Come Dancing ***
A bit of a guilty pleasure this. It started in aid of Children in Need, getting celebrities to learn to ballroom dance and compete against each other. It's hosted by Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly. Each celebrity is paired with a professional ballroom dancer and has to perform a different dance each week. A mixture of votes from a panel of judges and phone-in votes from the public decides who stays in the competition. Sometimes really bad dancers stay in because the public like watching them.
I'm not sure why I like this. I kind of like making authoritative-sounding judgements on someone's performance without knowing the first thing about ballroom dancing!
It's more of a pleasure to watch than other talent shows, to my mind, because it's celebrities who are used to being criticised and passed remark on, than amateurs who are pinning their hopes on stardom. You also don't get the manipulative emotional button-pressing of things like X-Factor, where you can see what they're doing with their 'human interest' sob-stories, but still somehow get sucked into it. I really hate that and I avoid watching those shows because of it.
It's had some interesting moments, memorably John Sargent dragging Ola across the floor like a sack of spuds, and a morning tv presenter now forever known in our household as 'head-butty man'. It's also had some questionable results, such as the apparent rehabilitation of character Anne Widdecombe has had in the eyes of the public, from a political pariah to national treasure? Hmm.
It's on every year in the weeks before Christmas. Fans can see the live tours or there are DVDs of the best of the series, tours or even fitness ones.
***I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here***
Another guilty pleasure, this time putting celebrities through absurd tasks in a jungle setting in Australia. Most infamous for its eating trials where they are expected to consume odd and gross items, from wichity grubs to kangaroo testicles. Other trials might consist of crawling through places alongside rats and beasties, and fish guts and slime. It's a grown-up version of the gunge tank, really. It's presented by Ant and Dec, who bring a cheesy charm to proceedings.
For the first week or so there is no voting anyone out, the public phone in to choose who to put through trials (usually the least popular/most annoying). After that, it's a case of voting each day to keep the most popular in and last man/woman standing is crowned king/queen of the jungle.
Part of the programme follows the celebrities during their mostly tedious days and nights in camp, usually pared down to the bickering and tension between personalities. Generally each year at least one celebrity does him or herself no good at all in the eyes of the public, like Gillian McKeith or Pat Sharp, while others shine. The apparently thoroughly nice ones tend to win.
I have watched it several years running, sometimes wondering why on earth I was, but still watching anyway. I'll probably watch again this year. It's usually on in the autumn on ITV.
You can buy highlights DVDs, the board game and video games.
*** Conclusion ***
It seems I like sci-fi, supernatural and celeb torturing programmes!
Honourable mentions should go to 'FarScape', 'BattleStar Galactica', 'Star Trek Deep Space 9', 'BlackAdder' and 'Red Dwarf'. 'Come Dine With Me' and 'CountDown' nearly made it too.
Summary: Ten of my favourite tv progs