It’s nearly the end of the year so I thought I would write a brief review on my favourite TV shows of 2015. It was hard to limit the choice to just 10 of the best but here goes!
Even more enjoyable than Downton, perhaps because it was a new and exciting premise. Humans tells the near future tale of Synths, artificially intelligent beings that are becoming increasingly accepted as parts of society.
However some worry about what might happen if the Synths become too powerful, we’re told this can never happen as they don’t have such an ability in their programming.
Then though, things go a little awry when our favourite Synth begins to show signs that her memory has been wiped and she is in fact one of a handful of much more powerful Synths with at least one of their number having no qualms about killing humans.
Gemma Chan was absolutely fantastic in this show and my wife and I spent all summer imitating her quotes and perfectly android like behaviour.
2. Downton Abbey (no spoilers)
Wow, can it be six years since Downton Abbey first gate-crashed our TV’s? I remember seeing the first promotional advert for it that summer and I knew instantly that I would love it but who knew it would become such a hit with everyone else.
Happily Season Six at Downton is one of if not the best series of the show with lots of ups and downs and almost all the loose ends tied up. All the cast have some great scenes and episodes and I laughed at lot and was even shocked by that dinner table scene.
It’s so obvious that most of the actors really enjoy the show too and I adore the fact that there is no violence or bad language. I wish they would carry on making more, Sunday nights will never be the same again, even Poldark or Mr Selfridge can’t pull that off.
My wife has on occasion said that I remind of of Mr Carson and I think that is true but he is clearly so loveable as well being a stickler for doing things properly. I always think it is great when he is more traditional than Lord Grantham.
Oh, I did lie about the bad language. Without saying what happened, when Lady Edith called Lady Mary a “B!tch” it was so entirely well-deserved.
Can’t wait for the Christmas Night special.
3. The Walking Dead
I am a big fan of the Walking Dead, there is nothing else like it on television and each episode is as expensive looking as many a film. People who don’t watch the show assume it is down to the graphic gore that it is so popular but really it is about the characters battling to stay alive in the most apocalyptic of eras.
Andrew Lincoln is fantastic as Rick Grimes and if I was stuck in a zombie attack, I wouldn’t leave his side though that isn’t always a good thing to do.
The second half of season 5 was fantastic with the events at Terminus and the absolutely shocking death of Beth at the prisoner transfer at the hospital. There was also the memorable Revolving Door of death when on a supply run a group of three get trapped in some revolving doors with Walkers on both sides. Tense and agonising and obviously one or more isn’t going to make it out alive.
The first half of season 6 has been rather tame by comparison except for the quarry events and the out of nowhere invasion by the W gang. Only at the end when Alexandria was overrun did we see any of the terror of previous seasons.
I found the Alexandrians quite boring and perhaps as our group were safe in their refuge for the first time in months, it by necessity took a bit of the sting out of the situation. The second half of Season 6 should be great though.
What’s your favourite Walking Dead moment? Mine is when little Lizzie kills her even younger sister to prove Walkers aren’t bad people forcing Carol to have to kill her too. Great stuff!
In the winter and spring of 2015 it seems like the whole of Britain was gripped by Poldark, a remake of the famed 1970’s series but this time with more male flesh on show.
Ross Poldark returns to England after fighting in the American Revolution. His family and friends thought he was dead. The woman he hoped to marry is now engaged to his cousin. His father is dead, and the property he has inherited has been allowed to deteriorate. It is the late 1700s in Cornwall, England.
This is a family drama, but is also about the challenges and conflicts between the rich and the poor. It is a time when fishermen are not catching much fish, tin and copper mines are closing down because prices are too low, but the price of food and rents are high.
Ross faces the challenge of making his land productive, caring for the tenants who rely on him, and trying to win back the woman he loved – or finding a reason to live without her.
Poldark is such a beautiful series to watch with the wonderful rugged Cornish scenery and great performances of the leading stars and I can’t wait for the second series to start to find out whether he can break the mining cartels who are out to bankrupt him.
5. Wolf Hall
I really loved Wolf Hall, a period drama set in the times of King Henry VIII.England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the King dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn.
The Pope and most of Europe oppose him. Into this impass steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer, and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?
The show is bursting to the seams with incredible actors with Damian Lewis as King Henry VIII but really it is Mark Rylance who steals the show with his depiction of Thomas Cromwell. He is absolutely wonderful, one of the best portrayals I have ever seen and it makes you really feel for someone in an impossible situation having to deal with such humungous figures as The Pope, King Henry VIII and an understandably defiant and increasingly crazed Queen Anne Bolyn
It’s a truly riveting watch but you really have to pay attention to the dialogue and not look away from the screens. Thomas Cromwell actually went some way in real life to creating the first modern political state.
Incidentally as with parts of this years Downton Abbey, much of Wolf Hall is filmed at Lacock Abbey. You can take a tour there with me at Ye Olde England Tours 🙂
6. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell
It’s really quite difficult to write about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell without making it sound a bit useless when in reality it is such an incredible show.
Set in the early 1800’s, magic is known of, but rarely practiced in England, that is until a long time practitioner Mr Norrell arrives on the scene to try and bring credibility to real magic. Jonathan strange emerges around the same time, as a newly fledged Magician, and the two inevitably meet.
It’s all written in such away that makes the occurrence of actual magic in the early 19th century entirely believable and it is depicted as being just another branch of the sciences by characters in the show.
It has excellent actors and tremendous sets and special effects as well as cleverly using real historical events to weave a uniquely enjoyable television show,
7. The Bridge III
My favourite Scandinavian Noir police drama is currently midway through its third season and it is as good as ever. Following on from the events of the previous two years, Martin is now in prison and Saga has a new Danish partner.
A number of people related to LGBT rights activist are being found murdered in highly theatrical situations and each with a part of their body removed.
Our favourite Autistic Swedish Detective Saga Norien is being pushed closer to the edge as she misses her old partner, her boss narrowly avoids being murdered and is stuck in a coma, her father dies and her crazy mother who blamed Saga for all past problems has been badmouthing her to police department before committing suicide.
Saga’s new Danish partner appears to be something like autistic himself which perhaps why when he saw Saga asking strangers whether they want to have sex, he was quick to accept.
The plots are intriguing and I’m sure the conclusion will live up to reputation. Moodily lit, fantastic theme tune, an old Porsche and that bridge. Such a great show and I love Saga Norien.
8. Dr Who (No spoilers for American readers)
The second season with Peter Capaldi as Dr Who has been something of a revelation. Finally, much more adult drama and some tremendous ideas and stories.
One such story with long-standing repercussions sees the introduction of Game of Thrones Maise Williams as Ashildir, a young Viking girl, who The Doctor gives the gift of Immortality to with tragic consequences.
My favourite episode involved The Dr being kept imprisoned in a castle encased in solid Diamond wall which was patrolled by a monster that would kill him at regular periods but not before he could punch the wall. Enduring terrible pain and suffering every time he died, over billions of years he kept this up until his eventual freedom.
9. Home fires
The drama follows a group of inspirational women in a rural Cheshire community where the shadow of World War II is casting a dark cloud over their lives. The isolated village couldn’t feel further away from the impending bloodshed and battlefields and yet it is not immune from the effects of war. As the conflict takes hold, and separates the women from their husbands, fathers, sons and brothers, the women find themselves under increasing and extraordinary pressures in a rapidly fragmenting world.
There are some incredible actresses in this programme and they portray characters that are affected by war with some wanting to do their best to help and others unwilling to do so.
10. Indian Summers
Another drama by Channel 4, this one telling the story of a group of British socialites towards the end of the British Raj. Set against the sweeping grandeur of the Himalayas and tea plantations of Northern India, the drama tells the rich and explosive story of the decline of the British Empire and the birth of modern India, from both sides of the experience. But at the heart of the story lie the implications and ramifications of the tangled web of passions, rivalries and clashes that define the lives of those brought together in this summer which will change everything.
It’s the summer of 1932. India dreams of Independence, but there are limits to how much and how quickly many of the British want to go. In the foothills of the Himalayas stands Simla; a little England where every summer the British power-brokers of this nation are posted to govern during the summer months.