Saturday, 1 January 2011

Serien des Jahres

Best Show:


The fourth season wasn’t the best one the show ever had, but the first half of the season had some outstanding episodes – they just didn’t come together very well, giving the whole thing a bit of a disjointed, insular feeling. But it is hard to discard the fact that I watched Emily about ten times after it aired and I still find it to be one of the most intense episodes of the show, from the happiness that starts it to the utter desperation after the rooftop scene. Also, I’ve never been so invested in characters before.


I usually have issues with finales – hence the presence of the BSG finale in the disappointment category last year, and Lost’s this year – but the whole rush of the second and final season, the unfaltering consequential conclusion which got the show to where Epitaph One began – was brilliant. Epitaph Two is a good episode on its own, but it’s the emotional investment with the characters as they grow (particularly Topher) what makes Dollhouse one of the best series that have aired over the past years – and both Belonging and Getting Closer felt like a punch in the gut.


It slowly turned into one of the smartest and most relevant shows on television, dealing with extremism, terrorism, religious fanaticism, the importance of memory for the formation of identity and other such things (not unlike Dollhouse and Terminator, for that matter). Naturally, it also got cancelled. The remaining five episodes will air next year in the United States but they’ve already finished airing in Canada. Also, Lacy Rand!

Mad Men

Mad Men is already a subtle show, but this season was particularly slow to reveal its eventual direction (one could even say that it remained unclear until the last episode, when a prediction of one character turned out to be accurate). Overall, I’d say that this one wasn’t quite as stunning as the previous, but some of the small moments were outstanding: Peggy, whenever she was with her newfound artist friends (especially the scene in the car after the beach), Peggy and Don and there incredibly complex and ever-changing relationship, especially in The Suitcase, when the past three seasons paid off, Sally Draper (the bits with the creepy kid, her simple “No it’s not” to Megan’s “It’s going to be all right”, which sounded so incredibly earnest for someone so young), who is slowly turning into one of my favourite characters because I can see where she will be, in four or five years. I am even okay that the finale wasn’t an adventure like Shut the Door, Have a Seat was, and they wouldn’t have been able to repeat that anyways.

Doctor Who

I really never expected to love the new team so quickly. I was quite fond of David Tennant as Ten, and Donna Noble took some time to truly love, but I still think that she is one of the most tragic characters of the show (I kind of hope she’ll get a better conclusion at some point) – but it literally took a minute for me to adore Matt Smith’s Eleven (Fish sticks and custard!). And Amy Pond, the girl who waited, brave Amy, who comes to the rescue whenever Eleven runs out of ideas. And Rory, who I never thought I’d like as much as I did. And River. I still don’t know how the show works, considering that some of the stories are quite silly, but this season was the best so far. And Vincent and the Doctor is such a quiet little story, but it made me cry like a baby.


I’ve always enjoyed Fringe. I grew up watching Dawson’s Creek and Pacey was one of the more interesting characters, so there will always be a soft spot in my heart for Joshua Jackson, and Anna Torv is JUST PERFECT in her role. But Fringe has always been a very enjoyable, but not very deep show, and then… the third season happened. A year after FOX decided to cancel all these smart shows dealing with memory, identity and what it means to be human, Fringe, in its third season, decided to tackle these issues as well, forcing the lead actress to play both Olivia and alt!Olivia pretending to be Olivia and Olivia pretending to be alt!Olivia. Naturally, soon after the show became one of the smartest and most complex programmes currently airing weekly, rumours of its cancellation started. DAMN YOU, FOX.


Leave it to the British to adapt the same idea Heroes had but in an incredible, fascinating and lovely manner. Five young people who are doing community service after minor criminal acts are struck by lighting, and discover that they have super powers. They can’t really control them. They don’t decide to be heroes, but try to cope with their lives. Some of the powers are really, really unfortunate. The second season has been brilliant, incredible, wonderful, and there is still so much more to discover about these characters.

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recs had a mediocre first season and then turned into a small-town-version of The West Wing in its second season. Leslie Knope CARES ABOUT GOVERNMENT! During the economic crisis and the crisis of government, she decided that it was still important to provide vital community services! She is idealistic and her cynical surroundings (Ron fucking Swanson) realize how essential she is for the community! I LOVE this show. I appreciate how smart it is about its portrayal of idealism and passion, but it is also the funniest and smartest comedy programme, and it has a fantastic ensemble cast, and one of the loveliest female friendships (Leslie and Ann).


Probably the best ensemble cast, along with Parks and Recs. Sometimes strange, but with a keen sense of its core: community, “a modern family”, strangers growing to love each other, how friendship ultimately prevails. Also a show that proves how having a small but dedicated audience can sometimes lead to incredible, pop cultural awesomeness. It also featured a Christmas episode this year that will probably go on my list of things to watch around Christmas every single year.

Better Off Ted

PERFECT Show. Prematurely cancelled. The irony is that the parody of a corporation which manufactures everything and anything and has no morals whatsoever apart from how well something is going to sell is probably closer to the truth than almost anything else. Also, Portia de Rossi.


I have a vague idea in my head about the difference between a guilty pleasure and a show I watch because it is serious about an issue I care about. Leverage… is probably most comfortably filed under the former category, and the rare occasion in which I’d feel comfortable recommending a show to the friends that normally don’t really share many interests with me. It is about a modern day Robin Hood firm using illegal methods to grant that the good win against the powerful evil, but it thrives on its likeable characters. Parker (Beth Riesgraf) is probably one of the best weird female characters since… well. Anya.

The Good Wife

Enjoyable procedural with a keen sense on how politics change with the opportunities the internet offers. Fantastic actors, well-written characters, and with one of the most mysterious and intriguing characters this season: Kalinda Sharma, played by Archie Panjabi. If the only possible choice for a former girlfriend is Lili Taylor, there must be something special about a character.

Nurse Jackie

For some reason, this show always slips my mind – but while it’s on, it is brilliant, features engaging characters and an unlikely balance between drama and very dark humour.

Best New Show:

Lost Girl

Ever since Buffy ended I’ve looked for a show with a similar spirit, and the Canadian series Lost Girl about a succubus trying to negotiate the politics between the two opposing sides of the Fae (supernatural) world while trying to find out about her personal history and figuring out her own life is the closest so far. Features strong female characters, a liberating lack of censorship when it comes to swearing, drinking and sex, and a good balance between character development, insular stories, an overarching mystery and good conversations (also, Kenzi might be my favourite side-kick EVER).


I am not objective because I love every single version of Luc Besson’s story – even the unfortunate Point of No Return. Nikita is not as disturbing as La Femme Nikita was, it provides more conventionally sympathetic characters, but there is still some interesting dynamics – if the show decides to be more interested in the moral ambiguity rather than the Nikita-Michael thing which doesn’t really provide any new insight into the characters, it might just be the best new show this season offers.

This Is England ‘86

This doesn’t exactly fit this category, since it is based on the movie – but it had a perfect six episode run, with lovely characters, a seamless combination of drama and comedy, and the LOVELIEST characters. Also, quite surprisingly, Skins veteran Jack Thorne provided the show with a party that was more pure Skins than the fourth season of said show itself.

Pretty Little Liars

I feel really weird including this show on this list. This is a classic example for “guilty pleasure”: a whodunit set in a posh East Coast town, small enough for everybody to know each other. A circle of friends reunited over the discovery of a dead body, which brings up old stories. For some reason, this could be the tackiest, most superficial show, but it’s not. It gets so many things brilliantly right without even seeming to try too hard (they probably do) – the importance of popularity amongst the teenagers, the insecurities, the fact that everybody needs secrets, how hard it is to figure out who you are in an environment that pressures you to fit in.

Haven’t Made Up My Mind Yet:

Boardwalk Empire

When Boardwalk Empire is good, it is about politics and power (and how it shifted towards organized crime during the Prohibition in the US) and how women slowly became politically relevant following the extension of voting rights in the 1920s. When it’s good, it relies on its incredible ensemble cast (Steve Buscemi, Kelly MacDonald, Gretchen Mol, Michael Pitt, among many). Sometimes it’s not good, but considering how much potential the show has, these periods are easy to overlook.

Friday Night Lights

There is always a potential of tragic failure whenever a show loses its established cast and tries to reinvent itself. I’d argue that this worked very, very well last season, when only some of its regulars were replaced – this time around, there is both a new cast and a new driving force behind the show. As someone who’s always enjoyed the portrayal of the outsiders in this community mostly defined by its passion about football the most, this season hasn’t been THAT awesome so far… but the new kids are all doing a pretty good job, and who knows where this season is going.


A show that took forever to reveal where it was going in its fifth season, finally had a fantastic pay-off. Lumen (Julia Stiles) is a brilliant addition to the show. Dexter still struggles with the fact that the show becomes completely uninteresting whenever Michael C. Hall is not on screen, but the dynamics between him and tragic Lumen made up for it.

Jumped the Shark:


Sorry, but I had to stop. It didn’t work out anymore. I’d rather watch my DVD of Angels in America or my copy of Fried Green Tomatoes.

True Blood

WHEN CAMP GOES WRONG. Lost Girl deals with a similar world, but so much better. I don’t care about the characters. I don’t care about the mythology. Frankly, I don’t even care that it’s one of the few shows that deals very openly with sexuality.


There are many people who have articulated why Glee fails on so many levels. Mostly I can’t deal with the fact that it is uneven and has no ideas about who the characters are, and I can’t make myself care anymore, Darren “Harry Freakin’ Potter” Criss or not. I still wish that some of the characters could go on to live in a better environment (Sue Sylvester would fit perfectly into what Community provides), and some actors will hopefully have a brilliant career after the show ends. But I am watching Glee for the crashes, and actually it’s even more painful when an episode stumbles over a moment of truth (nine episodes into the second season, I felt like the characters were actually talking TO each other, rather than talking about themselves, for the first time), because this show could be great, but it’s not. 


For a limited amount of time somewhere between the second and the third season, I truly enjoyed how Lost portrayed conflicting ideas about leadership and political philosophy, even to the extent that I was able to ignore its blatant focus on the straight, white male perspective. The conclusion of the show was… terrible. After killing off most of the non-white and independent female characters, Lost decided to be about Christianity. I will look back on this show and think… bla. As Abed said: A Lost Season One DVD REPRESENTS LACK OF PAY-OFF.

The Walking Dead

I've never read the comic. This show has a wonderful aesthetic, but after about forty years of George A. Romero, it’s impossible to enjoy a show about zombies which completely disenfranchises its female characters. They are not involved in leadership decisions, and even if this is supposed to be a portrayal of “the average middle American society” being struck with a catastrophe, the resulting dynamics are way too frustrating to be observed for even the few six hours the first season got.

Stuff I enjoy from time to time:

The Office

A couple of times the last season, The Office reached an unexpected peak in pop cultural relevance when it turned out to be the best show to deal with the financial crisis, and how the short-term thinking as opposed to whatever it is Michael Scott does right lead towards it.

Warehouse 13

This show has incredibly likeable characters and I can’t really decide why I’d pick Leverage over it every time: maybe it’s about how uneven the seasons are? There are always incredible well-done finales and cliffhangers, but then, the follow-up episodes are usually kind of filler. Female H.G. Wells is still a pretty darn great character though. Also, Claudia!

Stuff I watched for the first time:

In Treatment
United States of Tara
Being Human

Stopped Watching:

The Big Bang Theory
How I Met Your Mother

Look forward to:

Skins US
Skins, Season Five
That show with Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Maybe The Cape
Blood and Chrome, whenever that's coming out

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