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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Fission Mailure Awards 2015: Television.

Fission Mailure Awards 2015:

Same drill as when we did films yesterday: I'm doing the three best and the three worst, alternating, with the requirements being that I must have reviewed them in 2015, even if that isn't when they aired. Two of the ones on this list are technically only half a series each, hiatuses being what they are, but I decided they would still count, since I review them in halves anyway.

This was actually a much better year for television than it was for films, although that might not surprise anyone. Anyway, let's crack on.

The Bronze Medal for Third BEST Television Show: Garo: Goldstorm Sho.

Such gold, so luster, wow.

You know, it often seems to depend on the flip of a coin whether a Garo series is any good - the sequel to the enjoyable but deeply flawed and fairly widely panned Yami wo Terasu Mono, Goldstorm Sho set about rectifying the mistakes that its predecessor had made, and for the most part, it succeeded.

Goldstorm Sho has its own flaws, of course, but it boasts some of the best action scenes in the franchise, one of the more coherent plots, and a great cast, including Masahiro Inoue as the most over-the-top, hammy villain I've seen all year. A definite contender for my favourite series in the Garo franchise and an obvious bronze medalist for this year's awards, Goldstorm Sho is a fun and often thrilling action series.

The film tie-in not so much. Let us not speak of the film tie-in.

The Rusty Medal for Third WORST Television Show: Doctor Who S35.

Two good actors, completely wasted.

For my sins, I decided that this was one of the 2014 ongoings that I would continue doing into 2015, and while it was certainly an improvement over 2014's offering (a vast improvement, even), its quality was almost rollercoaster-ish in how it jerked up and down. Including a strong opening four episodes, but also one of the worst two-parters and one of the worst standalones I've ever seen in Doctor Who.

It's sad to have to say that, really, not just because Doctor Who is a tremendous part of my childhood, and a big part of my parents' childhood, but also because the writers have all the tools they need to produce something wonderful. They have a great cast, headed by two charismatic and talented actors, and a sandbox where they can tell virtually any story they want to - and it's wasted, because most of the writers right now aren't very good.

For all that I dislike Moffat, he actually wrote some of the better episodes of this series, and I should never be in a position where I have to say that. 

The Silver Medal for Second BEST Television Show: The Flash S2 (First Half).

Distant sound of Queen music.

When deciding between this and the gold medalist, it was actually too close to call, and eventually what swung it was that The Flash, while brilliant and one of my favourite shows on television, has had its first nine episode scuppered somewhat by Legends of Tomorrow set-up, which has been easily my least favourite part of it.

Apart from that, though, I have loved this second series as much as I loved the third. Arrow's slightly more whimsical cousin, The Flash deftly moves from happiness and fun to creeping menace to horror and brutality, and then back again. Every episode has been a joy to watch, and the series as a whole so far has built up its overarching plot well, leaving me intrigued to see it resume later this month.

Add to that a strong cast of actors playing likable characters, some really pretty special effects, and some great music, and you've got what is easily one of the best television shows on air right now. DC does its best work in television, after all, and it kind of always has.

The Sad Bear Hiding In Your Wardrobe, Waiting, Sobbing for Second WORST Television Show: Hannibal S3.

What an atmospheric promo picture.

As Hannibal circled the same plots again and again, while characters ominously recited purple-y diatribes that all sounded like anyone in the whole show could have said them, and the show desperately tried to distract us with endless amounts of gore - the scales fell from my eyes. Hannibal's strength, perhaps its only strength, was in its novelty, and nothing is novel the third time around.

I went through the third series feeling bored, uninspired, and uninvested. Nothing these characters could do would interest me anymore, no amount of menacing nothings whispered at the audience would impress me, I was just done. Hannibal had nothing left in its box of magic tricks for me, and even a slightly stronger final third couldn't change that.

I'd like to say that Hannibal was as startlingly terrible as some of Doctor Who's episodes were, but it wasn't, it was just deeply, terribly dull - and while Doctor Who had some terrible moments, it also had some good ones, and perhaps more importantly, it was never boring, which is why Hannibal is coming in at the second worst television show of the year.

The Gold Medal for the BEST Television Show of 2015: Agent Carter.

Also explosions.

Agent Carter was like the crystallised form of everything I like in television: A 1950s spy drama with plenty of explosions and wackiness, great comedic beats, some genuine depth, and an all-around excellent cast. It ticked every box for me, and I'm so excited to see it returning later this month.

Easily the best television series to come out of the MCU (and since there are four of those and counting now, I can say that and have it be actually vaguely meaningful), Agent Carter was a joy to watch from start to finish, a technically near-perfect production with a lot of enthusiasm, nuance, and skill put into it.

It wins the prize for best television show of 2015, and to be honest, I won't be surprised if it wins best television show of 2016, either.

The Vaguely Sinister Mushroom-Growing Kit for the WORST Television Show of 2015: Supernatural S11 (First Half).

I see they broke out the MS Paint filters for this one.

What is Supernatural even doing any more? I think everybody knows it should have stopped about five years ago, yet still it limps on, clutching tissue paper to a wound from which everything tolerable about the show is bleeding out. The presiding atmosphere of every episode is one of baffled deja-vu, as the weary actors of the show run through the motions of what are essentially episodes from previous series', with some of the words changed.

At its worst, it's more painful to watch than the worst of Doctor Who this year, but even at its best it's just barely tolerable, the televisual equivalent of choking down wet bread. I can stomach it, but I do I really want to, when there's no end in sight yet, just an endless descent into the dregs?

Still framed as horror-adventure, the most horrifying thing in Supernatural is the show itself, the ur-example of 'sometimes it's better to stop while you're ahead', this Weekend at Bernie's monstrosity of a show, and that's why it's the worst television show of 2015.

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