Saturday 16 December 2017

My Top TV of 2017 (Part 2, 25 - 11)

MY TOP TV OF 2017 25 - 11

Having already listed the Also Rans, the shows that have Lost It this year, and the Hast Thou Got Crops In Jethro shows in my personal TV favourites of 2017, here comes the rundown of the real winners.

25 - Rellik (BBC 1)

Telling a story backwards has been done before, most famously by Seinfeld and Memento, and this was more of an exercise than a satisfying end result. But parts of it were excellent, and full marks to the Williams brothers for attempting it. Quite how a second series will work we'll have to see next year. (Or last year, I don't know how it works.)

24 - Orange Is The New Black 5 (Netflix)

Having dropped off my radar with its last two series, this "one season in a day" series won us back. Patchy and variable, as ever, it found its mojo and a couple of episodes were the tops.

23 - Murder In Successville 3 (BBC 3)

Possibly the funniest improv comedy that's ever been on telly, shockingly overlooked in this multi-channel landscape, its third series was as good as its predecessors. I'd put it on BBC1 primetime and see it slay Mrs Brown and Porridge, if I was in charge.

22 - Decline & Fall (BBC 1)

I have spent most of my life not realising how funny Evelyn Waugh is, probably as a result of TV adaptations that don't do him justice. But this, I realised as we got into it, was one of only a couple of Waugh novels that I'd actually read, albeit 35 years ago. And I bet most of the humour went over my head then. This time, with Jack Whitehall in the central role, it worked beautifully and was, at times, laugh out loud funny.

21 - Top Of The Pops 1983 / 84 (BBC 4)

This is usually in my Staples pile, and in truth gets fast-forwarded over in places. But these two years worth of TOTP are particularly strong examples, 1984 being one of the richest years, both musically and visually, of my younger years. Politically and socially 1984 was an outstanding year, and TOTP captures it marvellously, from Bronksi Beat to Band Aid, via Frankie Goes To Hollywood. 

20 - Roots (BBC 4 / History Channel)

Only a remake of a TV show from my childhood, but a powerful one, and stories that need to be told to every generation. Had me welling up at the end. Again, in the context of the racist president and the alt-right White House, watching this in 2017 was disappointingly similar to watching it in 1977 (when it was quite possibly up against the Black & White Minstrels on BBC1)

19 - The OA (Netflix)

One of those shows that suffers in the memory from having been on early in the year. Had we watched it in November, it might be in our top ten. As it is I'm struggling to remember how outstandingly original and surprising it was. But it was.

18 - Veep 5 (HBO DVD)

In this year's list, when it might have been in last year's for some, because (as Virgin media customers) we can't see Sky Atlantic shows so have to catch up with them on DVD. Simply the smartest and most consistent comedy writing to be had. The politics seem quaintly old fashioned in the context of the Trump Presidency, and make you nostalgic for the way things used to be done.

17 - Broken (BBC 1)

Jimmy McGovern's miserablist Priest drama with Sean Bean nearly fell into the Hast Thou Got Crops In Jethro category, but really punched above its weight with its topics, its great writing, and the close of the last episode which had us all welling up (and tweeting "you marvellous priest")

16 - Better Call Saul 3 (Netflix)

Again, I'm sure I'd have ranked it higher if we'd just finished watching it, and it continues to have the best photography on the screen. Another good season that, surprisingly, doesn't seem to get noticed at the Emmys.

15 - Urban Myths (Sky Arts)

A little overlooked gem from Sky Arts, short stories based on true or apocryphal real life incidents. Noel Clarke as Muhammed Ali, Eddie Marsan as Bob Dylan, Cary Grant taking acid with Timothy Leary, David Threlfall as Samuel Beckett, all really deserved to be seen by a wider audience.

14 - Roald Dahl's Way Out (CBS 1960)

An odd one, being a TV show that's not from this year, not from this decade, not even from this century. And not even consistently great. But it is this year's best TV surprise find, which I discovered purely as a result of looking at Wikipedia after seeing an episode of Tales Of The Unexpected. Who knew that, way back in 1961, Roald Dahl devised and presented an anthology series of horror and thriller stories, sponsored by a cigarette company, resulting in him smoking throughout, parts of which are as spooky now as they were 55 years ago? And you can see almost all of them on YouTube.

13 - Richard Osman's House Of Games (BBC 2)

Oh look, I know it's the cheapest show to make in this entire list. It's probably one of the cheapest shows to make in telly, but we loved it. As if to demonstrate how hard it is to come up with a good gameshow, the rest of TV failed to come up with one good new lasting format this year. Meanwhile House Of Games came up with half a dozen new game formats every episode, and half of them could probably hold their own as a separate programme. Look out for series 2 shooting up the ratings and probably crossing over to BBC 1, and if the boardgame isn't the biggest selling game of Xmas 2018, someone's missing a trick.

12 - Stranger Things 2 (Netflix)

If it hadn't been for Episode 7... (This was No 1 in my Top TV of 2016

11 - The Crown (1 & 2) (Netflix)

Another victim of the time of year. Last year I put it at No 2 in my list, because we hadn't finished watching the whole of season 1. And at time of writing we've only watched two episodes of season 2. Season 1 was, really, the best. Season 2's started with a bit of a slow one and a few anachronisms, but I bet it's going to warm up. Hey, like it needs my accolades. Look at all those BAFTAs it picked u - what's that you say? Oh come on.

So which shows made my Top Ten? Read them here.

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre return with a brand new show in 2018. Stay tuned.

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