2015 In TV

2015 was a weird time for television. Channels were still attempting to figure out how to adapt to a new digital commercial model. But despite people proclaiming that television is (or will soon be) dead, it seems like a new dawn of television is coming. Thanks to netflix (specifically Breaking Bad and its ilk) people are taking episodic dramas more seriously.

But going to start with political comedy. Two major shifts happened in the American political comedy landscape this year. After The Colbert Report ended last year, Comedy Central needed a new show to fill the gap and partner The Daily Show, and it happened with The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore. Something very different from both Colbert and Daily Show . It had an odd start but soon defined itself as something truly funny. It was oddly helped by something truly awful: Bill Cosby.

cosby

Later on in the year something bigger happened: Jon Stewart left The Daily Show after 16 and a half years. The new host of this had a hell of a job forced upon them, so the fact it went to an almost unknown Trevor Noah says a lot about how highly Stewart held Noah. And Noah’s doing well, despite needing an almost all-new news team. Since he started he’s had to do stories about terrorism, mass shootings, and Donald Trump. And he’s done well. His interview techniques aren’t quite Stewart yet, but he shows great potential.

white isis

Empire turned out to be the first major drama of the year, with the highest rated debut on Fox in three years with ratings steadily climbing since, culminating in the highest ratings for a debut seasons season finale since Grey’s Anatomy in 2005.

Netflix brought the style this year: Better Call Saul, Scream, Sense8, Daredevil and Jessica Jones were well received dramas whilst Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was one of the finest new comedies of the year, featuring adorable Erin (which is now her official name) from The Office.

In other comedy news, a remake of The Odd Couple starring Matthew Perry launched this year. Anybody know that? That should tell you how well it was received.

Crazy Ex Girlfriend debuted late in the year on The CW. This should be awful based on the title alone but it’s actually quite good. It’s a musical sitcom, which should get your attention if nothing else does. The songs are actually really good too. They range from the annoyingly catchy (I Have Friends), the very inappropriate (Sex With A Stranger) to the annoyingly catchy and inappropriate (Feeling Kinda Naughty). Luckily it’s not just me, critics agree. Which is a relief as it decreases the chances of it being cancelled. Also showed the weirdness of TV censorship. “Anal doesn’t hurt at all” is a big no no, but “butt stuff doesn’t hurt at all” is fine, despite being exactly the same.

Community took a risk this year, forgoing the usual network television root, and having it’s new series take place on Yahoo! A risk which early indicators seem to indicate paid off.

Glee ended this year, to the angry cries of about 80% less people who would have cried if it ended 5 years ago. No, that’s not me being needlessly bitchy, that’s the actual difference in viewing figures. If it was anything less than 60% less viewers I would’ve gone with “”Glee ended this year, provoking cries of “wait, that’s still on?””. But 2.3 million viewers, down from 12.45 isn’t something that can go without being mentioned. Especially since it’s actually lower than its debut season. It’s a warning tale not to let series go on too long. Glee really fell, and fell hard, and not all of it can be down to viewers changing how they watch. It fell comparatively to other shows as well. It was the 15th most watched show when it debuted, this year it ranked 148th.

With those figures, you’d think Glee mainstay Lea Michele would be worried that her career could be tainted by it. Luckily for her she was cast in Scream Queens. Which is, well, kind of amazing. A well-crafted murder based comedy. It’s dark, it’s twisted and it’s genuinely laugh out loud funny in parts. I feel this show should be commended for it’s use of music which has been amazing. From Beware Of Young Girls through to Forever Young the music on this show has been top class.

Gotham seems to be finding its feet this season by having one series-long arc to focus on which has an actual end point. And by having more Penguin, who’s been an amazing character. On the downside: Bruce Wayne himself is still a really boring character. Part of it is because the story is based around a plot on his life, yet we know he won’t die so it doesn’t really work. The death of the guy we assumed to be the Joker was marvellous though, we didn’t think they’d dare to kill off a guy who was that damn good.

It wasn’t just Glee that ended this year, Hannibal ended this year. To the utter dismay of the entire internet. This was a show which both audiences and critics loved but for some reason never scored high viewer numbers which sadly means the end of it.

As usual American HandEgg ruled the televisions in America this year with viewing figures of don’t care and an audience share of who gives a fuck?

The most watched show in Britain this year? Would it be a christmas special? The Queen concert at new years? A major sporting event? Nope, the most watched television episode of 2015 in Britain:

bake off.jpeg

Could it get more British than that? More people watched this show than voted in the last elections. And the right person won, and everybody agrees with that except the Daily Mail, who are being cunts about the fact she’s not white.

Thunderbirds was rebooted this year, but on ITV so nobody cared.

 

And that’s the year in TV.

 

Why We Love….Breaking Bad

Well where do you start? There’s just so much about this show that works. It didn’t outstay it’s welcome is an important one. I don’t think there’s many fans of the show who think “well it started good, but it went a bit downhill in the later seasons”. This might be because it only had 5 seasons, but American dramas have gone downhill in less.

Just leaving this picture here with no comment
Just leaving this picture here with no comment

In fact it could be said that the final season was one it’s best. It certainly contained one of the best episodes in Ozymandias. Usually the best episode in a final season is the final episode as that’s the culmination of everything, but in this case the third from final episode is one of the greatest, not just of the season, not just of the show, but of any series. People say the calm before the storm is the best narrative place to be, but in this case it’s the storm before the calm. The moment where the entire episode is basically soundtracked by someone next to you going “oh shit, holy shit! Holy mother of!” until you send them off to make tea.

Then they come back and you try to explain this
Then they come back and you try to explain this

The narrative for the show made sense. There weren’t any (that I recall) moments where you felt someone acted out of character or inconsistent with earlier characterisation. Everything people did made sense, ok, maybe it didn’t make logical sense because a lot of the decisions were stupid, but they made narrative sense, you can see why everyone did everything they did.

This is actually more creepy in the show
This is actually more creepy in the show

There’s something else about this show that I love, Walter White Jr. He’s a character with cerebral palsy, but it’s never really mentioned. It would have been so easy to make it a big deal, to discuss it and make it a big part of the father’s motivation. Or even to make him holier than thou, the kind of weirdly condescending attitude a lot of television has towards disabled people, where it makes them oddly overnice and friendly. Here, he’s occasionally a dick, because he’s a teenager, and teenagers are usually dicks.

breakfast
Dicks who eat a lot of breakfast

Finally: the performances, it’s been said before that Bryan Cranston gave the performance of a lifetime, but it deserves to be said again: he’s damn good in this. He gave one of the best performances I’ve seen in a drama. He’s matched by the supporting cast too, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Giancarlo Esposito (thank you google) et all create a fantastic ensemble cast, great performances and great chemistry, there’s barely a weak link between them. I think I have to bring up the performance of Cranston again though, before this he was mostly known for the role of the dad in Malcolm In The Middle. For British audiences, this would be like Jay from The Inbetweeners next role being the lead in Threads.

Or this guy being the lead in an intense medical drama
Or this guy being the lead in an intense medical drama

I think that might be a small part of why people love this, it’s a genuine surprise. Nobody saw this coming. The brilliance of it kind of sneaked up and surprised everyone, so if you caught on early enough you felt like you were in some kind of secret club. By the time it caught on it became so well known that anybody starting to watch it would have surely felt the slight bit of doubt that it could be overrated. So yes, that’s why we love Breaking Bad, and you should at least give it a try, you owe it that much, and I doubt you’ll regret it.

Oh, and watch Threads, but have something comforting to watch after
Oh, and watch Threads, but have something comforting to watch after

Like it if you like:

  • The Wire
  • House Of Cards
  • Hannibal