Archive for James May

The Pie Man Television awards 2011

Posted in BBC, Being Human, Caprica, Channel 4, Chuck, Dr Who, Game of Thrones, James May, Misfits, Outcasts, Sky, Stargate Universe, Torchwood with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by pieman70

Hey you thought I’d forgotten, about the TV awards or the blog, or both, you decide.  I sometimes wonder if I should keep doing this since it’s more than likely that In the Night Garden or Rastamouse will eventually feature, since they dominate what’s on my TV at home at the moment.  Saying that there was a particularly good episode of Octonauts that…

Sorry, will carry on, as always, I will not shy away from spoilers so if you don’t want to know the results, look away….. Now.

Its not that the pickings have been sparse this year, although there is definitely less TV I like going around, I’m also scuppered by opportunity.  I never managed to catch Fringe, Eureka or Warehouse 13 which is a shame as these seem pretty good and are propping up the schedules nicely.  On the other scale Sky graveyarded the last series of Caprica and were damn late with SGU.  Oh well, let’s see how I do.

 

Best TV show.

There were some obvious ones to go for here.  In my view Stargate universe gave a good last season, Misfits Season 2 was worth watching as well we also had The Walking Dead and since I have decided to give everyone else a chance and give Game of Thrones the Best new Show.  Still, Misfits made a good effort and Being Human was damned close, however the winner is.

Doctor Who

The latest season of Dr Who has divided fans, critics and commentators.  Critics say it’s too complex and confusing.  The split season lost momentum and they dislike the cast.  I disagree

This season wrapped up the River Song arc, finally explaining her origin and relationship to the Doctor.  While not straight forward I would dispute confusing.  It’s a bit of a no-win scenario, you make things too simple and people criticise for being simplistic, add in an arc and some more complicated plot elements and it’s over complicated.

In this series, when episodes have been strong, they’ve been really strong.  The opening 2 parter had mystery, excitement and a real epic scale (The filming in the US really paid off) Similarly Epic were “A Good Man goes to War” and “The Wedding of River Song” and it contained the knockabout fun and breakneck pace of stories like “Let’s kill Hitler”  There were also some good character pieces like Neil Gaiman’s “The Doctor’s Wife” and “The Girl who Waited” overall quality was high and while some episodes didn’t quite make the grade, for example “The Curse of the Black spot” was disappointing and the “Rebel Flesh” 2 part story suffered from padding. (Although I suspect if it had been cut to one episode it would have seemed rushed)

The finale had a slight feel of Deus Ex Machina to it, and indeed was guessed by some fans but has left us with the rather nice idea that the whole Universe thinks the Doctor is dead.  A good way of undoing the slightly tired plot device of the Doctor turning up and basically saying “I’m the doctor, Boo” to scare off his enemies.

Cast wise, Matt smith does well, although is occasionally written too close to Tennant for my liking.  Amy has annoyed less now that they’ve finally dropped her lusting after the Doctor and Rory has been a real standout, definitely my favourite of the two companions.  Alex Kingston put in a great turn as the many personalities of River Song, clearly enjoying playing the younger evil version of herself.  She’s a bit of a divisive character but I liked her.

So, hopefully we’ll have something next year, Due to the Unique way the Tories are trying to shaft the BBC we’ll see what we get.

 

Best New Show.

Ok, I won’t pre-amble too much.  While picking were thin I still caught some new stuff, and any other year the Walking Dead would have walked this, however in order to talk about more than one show, this got best new show..

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is a stunning example of what Commercial stations should be doing and the risks they should be taking.  It adapts the first of George RR Martin’s dense and complex “Song of Ice and Fire” series of books and does a grand job.  There are so many places they could have gone wrong, as it’s short on action but long on talk they could have cut the lavish production values, they didn’t.  They might have thought to add in a bit more action and less talking, they didn’t, and they might have shied away from killing their biggest name actor and the guy on all the posters a few episodes from the end of the series.  Again, they didn’t.  Why other networks don’t take risks like this is beyond me.

Sean bean plays Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell, who is recruited by the King of the seven kingdoms to the job of Kings Hand after the previous hand dies in mysterious circumstances.  Meanwhile the two remaining children of the deposed house Targaryan plot to return to Westeros and take back their kingdom.

I can’t praise this series enough.  However extra credit has to go to the Actors.  Sean bean gives his usual gruff performance but never drifts too far into Boromir or Richard Sharpe.  However the real praise has to go to Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, also known as the Imp.  He doesn’t just steal every scene he’s in; he takes it over, as if it was always his.  It helps that Tyrion is one of the more interesting characters from the books but Dinklage really deserves every scrap of credit he gets for this role.  Jack Gleeson also deserves credit for his portrayal of the heir Prince Joffrey Baratheon.  He is either a hugely dislikeable person in real life or a fantastic actor.  I would prefer it to be the latter.

I could go on, there are lovely touches, take the opening credits, an animated map shows you key locations of Westeros, adding some such as the Aerie and the Twins as they feature, shows a pictorial representation of the Rise and fall of house targaryan and the extra touch of having the sigil of their house next to the names of each cast member.  The only downside it that it has set a very high bar for any other fantasy series to meet.  Camelot has been the first to fall well short on just about every level.

 

Best Finale

This was a tough one, which season ended on an absolute high?  Tempting to add Being Human again but there were other stronger contenders.  Chuck was close on this as well, however the winner is

Being Human

Being Human was one of the absolute standouts this year, managing to outdo last year’s spectacular season.  Due to the events of last season our spooky trio have moved to Wales and taken up residence in an old B&B.  It was a nice touch that, quite realistically much of the season looked at the aftermath of Mitchell “Falling off the wagon” surprisingly enough the police tend to keep looking when a trainload of people are killed.  This combined with the return of Herrick from S1, Werewolf fights and a zombie made for an interesting series.

The finale had the events of the Box Tunnel massacre finally catch up to Mitchell, all the pieces set up through the season fall into place.  Herrick finally recovers his memory and naturally goes on a rampage, mysterious vampiric agents shut down the Box tunnel investigation and Mitchell is arrested and photographed.  By the end the final scene with Mitchell choosing to have George kill him rather than be turned into an agent for said vampires was touching.  Overall a great end to a good series.

Most Improved Show,

.Again, a tough call, more so because many shows didn’t so much improve as maintain the level of quality.  However, I reckon the prize has to go to

Stargate Universe

Is this the second season?  Was it just season 1A?  Sky 1’s dubious scheduling has me all ahoo.  Anyway, this season solved a lot of its normal problems.  They had a greater sense of peril and more action, but thankfully without sacrificing character and plot.  There was some neat use of Time travel, which lead to arguably one of the series most satisfying stories, finding the lost civilisation of their own ancestors, similar to an old DS9 story but taken to extremes.

The robot drones made a good enemy, really making the crew of the destiny seem trapped and outgunned.

Finally, the ending, yes it ended on a cliff-hanger, and arguably a small, low key affair, but again, I rather liked it.

 

Most Gratuitous T&A in a series

So many contenders this year.  Camelot, from what I saw was trying for a Spartacus’s crown but forgot to add the decent plotting, instead just dubious use of T&A.  Similarly Game of Thrones proved that to be an HBO TV series you have to allow nudity and sex.  Indeed one of my only criticisms was that on occasions it was pretty unnecessary (Even, Gratuitous?  Quiet inside voice) However, the winner managed to win without showing actual sex or nudity.  The winner is

Chuck

Chuck may nab a second award, but, as in all seasons, chuck has several goals.  Amongst entertainment, Genre references, fun and action it also requires to have Sarah either appear in underwear/bikini or dress up in a slinky outfit at least every other episode or more.  It’s the best sort of gratuitous; it’s gratuitous with a self referential mocking nod.  I expect the next season to have Sarah dress up as a Nurse, French Maid, Policewoman and air hostess all in one episode, with added sarcastic comments

Best Factual series

Sadly I’ve not been watching as much factual TV, unless you count Aunt Mabel telling me how we get Marmalade in “Come Outside” or Katie Ashworth explaining where cheese comes from in “I can Cook” (For those without kids, these are kids shows, I long for when they want to watch Horrible histories) and sadly I missed Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe, however there was a particularly good factual series I did catch.

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

Phew, clunky title, not exactly tripping off the tongue, but a fascinating look into the way machines have affected our lives and how we perceive and interpret the world around us.  It looked at those who believed we could have leaderless utopias or self regulating ecosystems and indeed critiqued some of these ideas or showed where things went wrong.  Deep, challenging and eye opening.

 

Best Entertainment Factual

This award almost has a usual suspects list, Mythbusters, Top Gear and something with James May, however the addition this year was Channel 4’s 10 O’clock Live, which I still intend to blog about.  Sadly it didn’t win, nope it’s that James May again.

James May’s Man Lab

In this series James May explores “Manly Pursuits” From building bars to serenading women.  It’s a bit like the sort of disposable “Man skills” or Dangerous book for buys” stuff you might get for Xmas made into a TV series.  But it works.

The show covers a wide variety of subjects.  The less than instructional DIY segments, combined with on once occasion cookery, are performed in the “Man Lab” which they actually build around themselves as the series progresses, installing a kitchen and bar.  Outside bigger tasks are attempted such as bomb disposal, rescuing someone from a beach or serenading a woman.  There was an extra feature (Sadly not carried to the second season) where a celebrity man had to perform a “Man task” against the clock, such as assembling IKEA furniture or changing a tyre.  Overall fun, informative and very watchable.

 

Best UK Network/Channel

Have clearly been responding to criticism that they just buy the best shows by making more of their own output this year.  However, so far it’s been fairly forgettable.  Their placing of all of HBO’s output on Sky Atlantic could have qualified them for this award but you’ll see in the next award why not.  In the definite running was Channel 4, who do seem to be trying new and better things since they axed Big Brother.  I’ll mention Channel 5 as well for not being too proud to buy up second showings of walking dead (Other free view channels should follow this lead) however, looking at the awards so far is it any wonder the winner is

The BBC

Good gods they’re not perfect, budget shenanigans, the infamous wondering timeslot and good old fashioned graveyarding aside they have produced the Best TV this year outside of HBO (And much of their work stands well alongside that) Yes, we had misfires (Outcasts) But they are trailblazing in nearly every field, Documentary, Comedy, Drama, Kids, at the moment the beeb does it better.

Sadly how long it will last is questionable, the budget has been cut in real terms with the govt freezing the license fee and dumping the world service on to the BBC’s books.  They are cutting down many cheap daytime programmes, but the problem with cutting something cheap is it inevitably only saves a little money.  We already know Dr Who is taking a hit, and with Spooks and Hustle finishing its doubtful any replacement will have the same money behind it.  Similarly there will be less money for expensive experiments like Outcasts.  Overall, we could be in for some lean times from Auntie

 

The Pirate Bay Award for services to Bit-Torrent

I changed this award last year because so many networks were doing well. Sadly a network that was the trailblazer against using Bit-torrent has now fallen afoul.  Yes the winner is

Sky

Sky made a number of slipups.  Now it is fair that Anytime isn’t free to all, although if you can get sky channels (Say with Virgin) its not unreasonable to want to use their on demand service for what you pay for, but no matter (Virgin would do the same if they owned any channels) however Sky made a couple of big mistakes this year.  First was Sky Atlantic, in principle a very good idea, buy all of HBO’s output and bung it on a new channel.  New series even premiered near the US airdate.  What’s the problem, it was Sky subscribers only.  N matter how much you pay you can not get Sky Atlantic on Virgin.  Some said this was a clever way to drive people to Sky but those people seem ignorant of the advent of the Internet.  I wouldn’t expect Atlantic to be free to non sky subscribers like sky 1 and Living are, but to take it completely off?  You might as well say “Just Torrent the damn thing”

Second problem, Sky have been jigging around the channels a bit.  Part of it is to make more sense, Sky 1 will be mostly their own output, Living will be imported shows not from HBO like Chuck, and Atlantic covers US imports (mainly HBO) but sadly this has meant delays to the start of some series, such as Chuck.  As anyone knows, delay too long from the US and once again people go to torrents.

Finally, their poor treatment of Stargate Universe and Caprica.  Ok they knew both were axed, but universe returned with little fanfare and Caprica was Graveyarded.  Both were shown significantly later than their US counterparts as well.

Overall these 3 mistakes have meant more bit-torrenting and lower ratings for Sky.  Hopefully they’ll improve things by the next awards

Only the Good Die young award.

Not too much for the axe to fall on this year, but it claimed a few scalps.  I was going to give this to Caprica, but I’m still debating the Good part of that.  No the award has to go to

Stargate Universe

Ok, it was a massive diversion from the parent show, but it had found its feet and was growing well.  Sadly as far as we know destiny is drifting between universes for all eternity, or until someone stumps up the money for a TV Movie.

Never given a proper chance award

Well, it wasn’t SGU, so it had to be

Caprica

Now, Caprica, for the most part hadn’t impressed me.  But it had potential, and S2 was gaining momentum.  However a graveyard slot by sky made watching difficult and its axing means we’ll only know where it was going by a quick summary at the end.  A shame because done correctly we could have been into S3 Caprica now ready to segway into the proposed Cylon war series.  Sadly it was just too different to Galactica

The Reilly 2040 worst padding award

Again, not been too bad this year, more sires are avoiding padding and getting to the point.  However, there was one culprit.

Torchwood: Miracle Day

This US/UK co-production saw a world where nobody died.  Interesting concept, shame they padded out the series so much.  It left the view of a series that had would pick up pace.  “Now we’re getting somewhere” you’d think then next thing you know we’re plodding again.  Probably not as poor as Series 1 torchwood but this bloated beast was no match for S2 let alone the excellent “Children of Earth”

Pie Man Special Award

In an effort not to make this the Special award for Chuck, it has been disqualified from the special award this year leaving room for

Misfits

The second season of Channel 4’s anarchic Super-hero comedy/drama really went from strength to strength.  While still remaining largely episodic there were some interesting stories carrying through, such as the Superhoodie reveal, in general though past episodes are referenced more than anything.  It almost became a running joke that Nathan, now immortal, is killed once an episode but it was done with such a sense of fun you knew it was a running joke.  An underrated addition was the new probation worker (No 3) who in contrast to the past two is simply uninterested, presumably why he has survived significantly longer than the other two.  For a comedy Misfits manages some Pathos, Alisha’s relationship with Simon/Supherhoodie is well played and there is occasionally some real pathos (Kelly and the gorilla for example) The series finale has a suitably apocalyptic feel where the Asbo 5 reveal themselves to the public and face off against a guy who can telekinetically manipulate dairy products.  Yes you knew Curtis’ time jump power would undo everything but seeing a previously unknown Lactose intolerance used as a Deus Ex Machina is something that only happens in Misfits.

Next series is interesting (I’ve seen it, it’s been on already) using the idea of Seth the power broker from the Xmas special to mix up the powers a bit.  The series will also be surviving without Nathan, but I’m less worried since he was often used as a comedic crutch by the writers.

Worst Treatment of a series

Will keep this short because it’s the same complaint as last year,

The BBC

Ok, let’s nail this down.  Dr Who is a flagship show, one of your biggest ratings hits.  Is it really that hard to set aside the same slot every week for the run of the series?  How hard can it actually be, make up a damn schedule.

Biggest Missed opportunity

Again, no pre-amble here, the culprit was obvious

Outcasts

I wanted to like Outcasts, Original British Hard SF drama, high production values; it’s what we’ve been asking for.  I blogged about this a while ago and it still annoys me.  Hackneyed old SF plots, unengaging characters and a feeling that the writers had no idea what they were doing.  They could have done so much better.  At least it wasn’t the Deep

 

Top Gear vs The Electric Car

Posted in BBC, Cars, Driving, Environment, James May, Top Gear with tags , , , , , on October 9, 2011 by pieman70

As always my blog, due to the bone-idleness of its author, is somewhat late to the
party. But I was honestly going to do a piece on Top Gears attitude to Electric/Hybrid
vehicles. Honest guv.

Anyway, Recently Top gear ran a segment on two commercially available electric
cars, the Nissan Leaf and the Peugeot ion. It has come under some criticism,
particularly from George Monbiot and others. Top Gear have also responded but I’d
thought I should put in my 2.5p (Exchange rate variable) worth.

First, declaration of interests. I am a petrol head. Love cars, Love the internal
combustion engine. Not only that but I do like cars that are bad for the environment,
the growl of an American V8 or the great looks and handling but 1960s fuel efficiency
of a classic british sports car. However, I do despair at my fellow petrol heads from
time to time.

Sadly, it seems most seem to think our love of cars and environmentalism can’t meet.
Indeed it quite often leads to a rather childish inclination towards climate change
denialism (Mr Clarkson, I’m looking at you) This need not be the case. My original
blog post was based around comments by Jay Leno, himself an avid car collector and
driver. His point was alternative fuels would free up the petrol car for the petrol head,
in the same way the car freed up the Horse for the enthusiast. This rings true for me,
as 90% of the car driving population care nothing for A V8 rumble or a supercharger
whine. They would prefer a car that goes from A-B, carrying all they wish to carry
(Cargo, children, sports equipment, cows) and costing as little as possible to buy
and run. My point is always we should nurture this and demand better electric, or
hydrogen cars and better public transport. The former to hopefully reduce the demand
for petrol, lowering prices and the latter to ease up congestion, not to mention the
environmental benefits. However to the piece.

One of the main complaints from Nissan and various articles and blogs, is the comedy
scene where they run out of power and have to push the cars around looking for a
charging point. Many state that they deliberately rand down the batteries to around
40% and selected a town with no charging infrastructure in order to make electric cars
look bad. On this point I disagree.

While charging infrastructure has improved, a good percentage of us live in cities
with little or no charging facilities. Hell, Glasgow has something in the realm of
2 locations and its Scotland’s biggest city, imagine the difficulties of running an
electric car out in the highlands. While Top gear may have laboured this point a bit
the possibility of running out of power miles from a charging point is a fear most of
us have. The Leaf has various clever systems in place to advise you if you have run
the battery too far down to reach a charging location, but like it or not at the moment
running an electric car will require planning and forethought that a petrol version will
not.

The second point which Top Gear made pretty well was the Electric Car’s biggest
fault, the time it takes to charge. Yes again they had some knock about fun waiting the
13 hrs for the leaf to charge, but still, for a complete charge from empty 13 hrs is a long
time.

I am not completely defending Top gear however. They took some liberties. First
there was some dodgy figures surrounding the cost to charge up a car, with many
wondering where they found their particularly high tariff. Second was a discussion
about the lifespan of the batteries and potential damage and replacement costs. The
main fault here is tha they failed to explain that if your battery does go wrong Nissan
will replace it for free, and worth noting that 90% of the battery is re-cycled in the
UK. This fact would have taken the force out of their ranting about some of the
running costs.

I don’t want Top gear to do puff pieces on Electric cars, but while not the hatchet
job some of the critics are making it out to be the Top gear piece was aiming to be
negative, as the bookend studio segment with its tiresome “Batteries are rubbish” line
from May and Clarkson “Humerously” suggesting we could use something called
Petrol. This has never sat well with me, Clarkson has a definite objection to the
Prius, and if he could get past rant mode and provide figures to his argument that they
are more environmentally damaging to build and dispose of, he would actually have a
pretty good scoop, since Toyota make a big deal of the Prius’s green credentials, but
instead of that we get general bluster and various omissions.

I don’t expect purely factual slots on Top gear and realise it is as much entertainment
as informative, but I do expect a little honesty, particularly since, like it or not, within
the next 20 years its more than likely we’re all going to be running an electric or
alternative fuelled car.

Here is the BBC’s response, it covers some of the points above, but still fails to mention nissan will replace any battery not holding a charge for free.

The Pie Man Television awards 2010

Posted in Ashes to Ashes, BBC, Being Human, Channel 4, Chuck, Defying Gravity, Dr Who, Heroes, James May, Lost, Misfits, Reaper, Sherlock, Sky, Sparticus, Stargate Universe, The Deep, TV, Virgin 1, Wonders of the Solar System with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2010 by pieman70

Ok it’s a bit late, but since the US is slowly disbanding the traditional dates of seasons it has meant that I have had to wait a bit before really trying to pull together last years TV, so technically this covers late 2009 as well, basically think of it as covering any TV that was made after last years television awards.  As always there is an SF bent to proceedings, and this year things are a bit sparse, not because of a lack of new shows, although there is a bit of that, but because with me now having a family I just can’t log the hours of TV I once managed.  So, arbitrary awards ahoy.  As always this will be littered with spoilers, spelling errors, bad grammar and generally poor quality writing, proceed if you dare.

Best TV show.

This one was tough, although truth be told the US isn’t nearly pulling its weight like it once was.  So what did we have, well there are many shows I liked, but how many would I actually judge as “best?” Ashes to Ashes was definitely good in its final season, Stargate Universe has become must watch TV even if it took me a while to get into my head that it wasn’t like the last two Stargate series, Lost had a great final season, Being Human S2 was great and of course we had the two masterful newcomers in Misfits and Sherlock which nearly qualified for best show on their first years.  Instead I’m going with…

It’s a bit of a hard one to judge, see if I have my timeframes right, and if I don’t tough, my 09/10 period catches 3 of the specials and the new series, so I’m spoiled for choice.  I know the specials weren’t as well received by everyone, although there is very little hate for Waters of Mars the Xmas and New year end of time 2 parter has taken a lot of flack.  It was a little flawed and very overindulgent in its last act, but it was a goodbye to the team that have brought our show back, and for that I can forgive anything, I cried manly tears.  Then we have the new series with Steven Moffat at the helm and Matt Smith and Karen Gillen playing the Doctor and Amy Pond, and you know what, its different, but Matt Smith has definitely taken to the role like a duck to water meanwhile the feel of the show is different but also much fresher, perhaps a little more kiddie friendly as well which is no bad thing, it is a family show.  The standout episode of the series was “Vincent and the Doctor” but credit where credit is due, the final 2 parter was great, with a mix of action, drama and comedy.  In fact that could be said of the whole series.  Downsides are the iDaleks and a slightly off 2 parter featuring sort of Silurians but in general I wait with baited breath for the Xmas special.

Best New Show.

Again, a little spoiled for choice, and again very much dominated by British TV, obviously Stargate Universe is an option, and I’d even consider Caprica, although I have to confess that I gave up half way through and came back at the end, none the less, while it took its sweet time to get going I was warming to it.  Truth be told it was very nearly Misfits, Channel 4’s ASBO superhero show, and if I can’t come up with an award for it from the usual categories then expect a spurious award near the end because it deserves some love.  However, best newcomer is non SF, it was short, but daring and once again it’s Steven Moffat.

Sherlock

This was a surprise, the BBC were running a set of new dramas, some one offs or week long events like The Deep, but then there was Sherlock, a modern take on Sherlock Holmes.  Epically named Dominick Cumberbatch took on the role and gave a great young Holmes in his performance, managing to keep the character enjoyable even if you know in real life he’s pretty unlikeable.  Martin Freeman took the role of Watson, now a veteran of Afghanistan drawn into holms’ world.  The show had a real energy and pace, so much so you really didn’t notice its quite staggering 1hr30mins running time per episode, yes each episode was a mini movie, that in itself is bold enough and kudos to the Beeb for letting them try it.  So far we only got 3 episodes but with a further 3 planned these could be short bursts of brilliance.

Best Finale

We had quite a few series end this year, or indeed be axed.  In the end though there were two real contenders for this prize, and oddly enough both had similar finales.  Lost didn’t win it, now I’m not a hater of this finale, yes it was a bit annoying that the island’s secret was basically “It’s a magic island” and I know that many found the “Alternate” flash sideways turning out to be the afterlife a cop out, and I would have perhaps preferred it to be a parallel world and the solution not to be turning the island off and on again, but regardless Lost’s finale was emotional and offered a sense of closure for me at least.  But it’s not the winner, no that has to go to…

So, it was all a sort of limbo for coppers who died on duty and Gene Hunt was to usher them to the next world, it makes sense, fits in with the Life on Mars Finale, and in general works.  It shouldn’t, it should be a cop out (pardon the pun) but it explains so much.  And of course we had the villain of the piece, Jim Keats, the more modern DCI and very possibly an agent of Satan himself trying to lure genes cops away, he managed to really create a nemesis for Gene, initially subtle and menacing his final few scenes where he was all out evil mad were a joy.  Taken as a 5 series story Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes is going to be one of my must own on DVD (Hell I’ve already got Life on Mars) I think re-watching now I know the secret will only reveal even more.

Most Improved Show,

This is a tough one this year, possibly because most of the series are either new or the returnees were pretty damn good already.  So I reckon I may be pretty controversial when I say the winner is

You may think I’m just making sure chuck gets an award this year, and you may be right, however stay with me.  Chuck was good already, but I really do think that it has been consistently improving over its run.  S3 gives us chuck with a new intersect, one that gives him kung fu skills.  Not just that but its one of the few series I know that can take getting a sudden series extension and not have the latter half turn out rubbish.

Most Gratuitous T&A in a series

I didn’t catch too much of Dollhouse this year, so I can’t say if it qualifies.  In fact T&A is clearly something ion this age of austerity we can’t afford, or perhaps its just I’m watching fewer shows that lend themselves to it.  I should probably watch the Hawaii Five O remake as it’s meant to be littered with it so I can have this award in next year.  I could use Misfits but what T&A it had wasn’t particularly gratuitous, so instead I’m opting for a non genre show that I’ve watched a bit of, because I like this award.

I’ve seen a few episodes of this and wow, you thought Knight Rider was bad, women seem to wonder around topless just for the hell of it.  The scene that I thought really exemplified this was during an episode where there had been a drought and at the end it rains once our titular hero has killed someone in a gladiatorial bout.  Apparently in ancient Rome rain made women in crowds fall out of their tops.  Similarly a fringe benefit to being rich was that you could have topless slaves hanging around your house and your wife wouldn’t bad an eyelid.  I get the feeling at script meetings someone did ask ‘How can we get more boobs into this series?’

Best Factual series

I’ve realised I watch a lot of documentaries, due to the unique nature of various channels I often don’t know if I’m watching something new or something ages old.  I have also decided to have two separate categories.  Shows like the excellent Wonders of the Solar system are clearly factual, however entertaining they may be while something like Top Gear is technically factual but is first and foremost entertainment.  I thought this was an important distinction.

This year I’ve been fairly spoilt for choice.  A good start was the badly advertised and barely plugged “The Digital Revolution” presented by Dr Alex Krotski, this had a lot going for it, not only was it an interesting insight into the social impacts of our information age but it was presented by the presenter I liked the most from 1990s games review programme Bitz.  Mythbusters is also a worthy candidate, straddling the boundary between factual and Entertainment factual with aplomb.  The winner this year must be.

This is one of these things that the BBC has everyone else beaten by a country mile.  Professor Brian Cox takes us through some of the wonders of the solar system.  That’s kind of it.  The content was factual but presented in such a way that it wasn’t stuffy or dry.  Brian Cox is an excellent presenter and speaks with a genuine and infectious enthusiasm for the subject matter and the visuals that are presented are truly awe inspiring.  Seriously try to watch this.

Best Entertainment Factual

And so from the less noble end, again we have Mythbusters as a possibility and the ever present Top Gear, in fact all we were short of were a few drama-documentaries which seem to have been in short supply.  However my award goes to.

I’m a big fan of James May, I think he’s a good presenter, particularly when given a subject matter he is interested in, he can usually add a touch of humour to whatever he’s presenting.  This series spun off from three one-off programmes he did, concerning toys.  In this he takes a toy, tries to convince some kids its fun and works towards a giant challenge.  This series had May building a life size Airfix model Spitfire, building a bridge over a river using only Meccano, re-creating the brooklands racing circuit full length but using Scaelextric, Living in a house made entirely of Lego and re-instating a branch line in Hornby double-0 gauge.  His success sis often varied but in the process it was nice to see kids taking an interest in toys and the way James May and a TV crew could get families and communities out together.

Best UK Network/Channel

To be fair there’s only a little competition in this, Virgin/Channel one are improving but look set to be dismantled after a Sky Buyout, Living will probably qualify for a Pirate Bay award next year, Channel 4 made a good effort with Misfits and now that Big Brother is gone I expect wonders.  Sky1 itself is on a bit of a decline, having far fewer shows that I’m interested in this year than last now that Lost is gone however their recent purchase of exclusive rights to all of HBO’s output is promising even if their proportional budget on home grown series is miniscule.  Bravo is still Bravo with nothing particularly new or interesting and with SyFy running V, Eureka and Warehouse 13 its fast becoming the channel filled with series I should watch but don’t.  No, the winner this year is,

Its not perfect, and there are criticisms, but this channel this year has given us, Dr Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Merlin, Sherlock, Ashes to Ashes, Top Gear, James May’s Toy Stories, The Digital Revolution, Survivors, Vexed, Miranda, Charlie Brooker’s Screen Wipe and many others.  All thoroughly entertaining, all home made.  It runs very few bought in series these days which is good as all the money from these series goes straight back into the BBC and into British pockets, surely worth supporting.

The RIAA award for harm caused to Bit-Torrent

Most networks are beginning to understand that getting stuff on screen as soon as is humanly possible after US screenings is the best way to stop people downloading stuff.  So this year the award has been flipped to recognise those who do their best to keep you off the Bit Torrents.  A credit here should go to ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC who have made their on demand service for catching repeats available to as many people as possible (Living only allow on demand on premium packages and sky only allow their Anytime service on sky) Sky have got anytime and have the best record for putting shows on usually in the same week they air.  I’m torn though.  See Sky’s protectionism is driving people like me to bit-torrents when we miss things (There were a few episodes of Lost I had to catch up on through “Alternate” means) it’s a small thing but it’s the only thing this year that pushed me to Bit Torrent.  In the end it has to be

Both are as good as each other, most of the channel’s main output is available, most are on for a week at least and they have back catalogues available for free or very little.  This could well be the future of TV.

Only the Good Die young award.

Not too many entries here.  I could say Defying Gravity but I may sound like a broken record next award.  Instead I’m going to go for,

I know it was 2 seasons old, but it was really getting moving.  They had found a groove, were building a mythology, and now we’ll never know how it was to end.  I miss my dose of supernatural fun.

Never given a proper chance award

This one should be obvious

It was shafted by Fox, let down by the Beeb, graveyarded and left to die.  A shame because this was a series that really got under my skin.  Space exploration where exploring space is the main source of peril, it was drifting near documentary territory at times.  I just wish everyone involved had been a little more confident in the series to push it harder.  I think this could have been a classic.

Most Promising 1st Season.

Again, a crowded year, Sherlock, Caprica, Stargate Universe, Defying Gravity. But in the end of the day the series which had a season that made me sit up and take notice was.

It shouldn’t have worked, it was badly marketed, with the creators seemingly telling as few people as possible about the show, it epitomised the joke Channel 4 Mindset of any new series being something crossed with Skins and the cast seem pretty dislikeable from the get go, but it worked.  A good combination of humour, drama and character this series drew you into its world.  A mysterious storm gives a group of youngsters on community service Super Powers, but how will they use these abilities and how will they explain why they killed their hulked-out probation worker.  See, the premise is even hokey, and it often had a “Storm powered person of the week” format that reminded me of Smallville’s early “Kryptonite powered baddy of the week” format, but it worked, and worked well.  The characters grew into full fledged personalities and the final episode in particular, which involved an evangelical Christian able to turn anyone who could hear her to her way of thinking had a real night of the living dead vibe to it.  Season 2 has shown no dip in quality either.

Most off the Boil series.

No pre-amble it has to be

So off the boil its been axed, Heroes, I would say its not you, its me, but it is you and I can’t do this anymore, I can’t sit through dross just to have the one or two great episodes, it just isn’t working for me.  Yes, I gave up through Season 4.  Can’t fault the networks decision here; however I have a concept for a sitcom starring Ando and Hiro if you’re interested?

The Reilly 2040 worst padding award

It’s a tough call, I could hit Heroes a bit more but that would be cruel, and if Padding was the only problem with “the Deep” it would be a mercy.  It could be Caprica, I don’t know because I faded out mid season and came back nearer the end.  No, it’s a tough call but I think it will be

I suppose it usually wasn’t a padding episode, but more some episodes were padded, So much of the Earth based body swap stuff is just tedious and most of the time you’re just waiting to see people in dark corridors whisper at each other to let you know that you’re seeing the interesting bit.  If you extracted the padding and re-distributed destiny sub-plots I reckon you could have shaved a couple of episodes off this series.  Overall though USTV, you are improving.

Pie Man Special Award

This is an award for something I think is good but has been sidelined by better, newer or just by accident.  This year it is

It nearly warranted the “Worst Treatment” award, see last year Team Chuck only thought they were getting 12 episodes, wrote a tight 12 episode arc and once ratings were ok were then surprised with another 10 eps.  I don’t give the award because wheat we got from this was something more akin to 2 seasons rolled in one.  It may have actually removed some padding.  Chuck is still a Joy, and a greater involvement of the extended cast meant we got more Buy More antics, a greater involvement for Morgan and best of all, an end to the will they/won’t they Chuck and Sarah question, they did and it stuck.  Plus we got at least 2 new Jeffster Numbers.  I can’t say this enough but a Jeffster Album?

Graceful Retirement Award

I think we only had one real contender, Heroes’ retirement being anything but graceful the award goes to

It was big finale time, and to be fair a cracking final season, obviously there is some disappointment from not having the Island’s secrets revealed in any way beyond “Magic” and the flash “Sideways” transpiring to be the afterlife was a slightly wasted opportunity, but it left me satisfied and gave a sense of closure which was welcome.  The story is complete; we need not worry about Lost any more.  And I for one cried like a baby at the finale, although the way Michael giacallo Scores episodes I’m sure he could make the Go-Compare adverts seem like stirring pathos laden masterpieces.

Worst Treatment of a series

Virgin/Channel One were a possibility, but chuck wasn’t as badly treated as last year.  I reckon Living are already getting much of my Ire for next year over Chuck as well, so lets have a different perpetrator this year.

The BBC has had one major problem this year.  Its Schedule or lack thereof.  It seems that either the IPlayer has spoiled them or they it is in fact incredibly difficult to put a programme on at the same time every week.  For its big hitters like Sherlock ad Dr who it’s often a matter of 30mins or so but I really shouldn’t be checking an EPG to see when Dr Who starts this week.  For others like James May’s Toy stories, it roved quite freely, so much so that I watched every episode on IPlayer.  But the worst has to be their treatment of Defying Gravity.  It was graveyarded, that I don’t mind, but there were some weeks we got two episodes, some one, some none, never at the same time, sometimes on different days.  Again IPlayer was my friend but how the hell can we be expected to support a show when it isn’t on the same time every week.  The BBC really needs to sort this out even if On Demand is the future.

Biggest Missed opportunity

I was tempted to say Caprica, but it was improving towards the end of S1, instead I think I’ll shoot at a one off Drama the BBC produced initially as a 5 day TV event, but were so worried about its poor quality that we had to endure 5 weeks of torment.  I speak, of course, of.

The Deep

James Nesbit, Minnie Driver and a crew of other “Him off of that things” take a submarine to the Antarctic undersea volcanoes to try and find out what happened to the previous mission (Containing Nesbit’s wife) and carry on their research.  What followed was a horror of dodgy premises, poor acting, poorer scriptwriting and mind boggling stupidity.  Note to writers, you should not see a twist and say “Was that meant to be a twist”

Various plot elements only made sense if you accepted that someone would pay to shove idiots underwater.  Here are two examples, presented in time honoured “Choose your own adventure Style”

You are on an evil giant Russian sub that looks suspiciously like that factory they film Dr Who in a lot.  To repair your sub and get everyone away from the soon to explode nuclear reactor you need to find the last sub and salvage a part from it.  You are using two pods to double your search chances.  One is your own, its controls labelled in English but it lacks the ability to dock with an airlock.  The other is the Russian one; it can dock but has all its controls in Russian.  You have two pilots, one, Clem speaks no Russian, does not know what part to look for and will have a long drawn out trauma about his wife who was killed on that sub, the other, Svetlana speaks Russian and knows what part to find.

If you put Svetlana in the Russian pod and Clem in your own, go to Paragraph C

If you Put Clem in the Russian pod and Svetlana in your own, go to Paragraph B

B Congratulations, you are churning out daft decisions suitable for a writer of The Deep, situation 2 is here.

You are a sonar operator and know your boss is on the take to corrupt Russian oil barons.  You suspect your boss knows you are on to you when he comes in holding a pistol, but the slide is frozen.

If you rush your boss to try and wrestle the gun from him before he can free it up go to Paragraph C

If you stare at him with a gormless expression, akin to a cow looking at a slaughterhouse wondering what goes on in there, go to Paragraph D

Paragraph C Bad luck, your decisions are good but do not draw out enough “Drama” you will never make it as a scriptwriter of “The Deep”

Paragraph D Well done, you are probably dead, of your own stupidity, but if you have survived the terrors of using a spoon to eat breakfast you could have a future writing any sequel to “The Deep”

Think this sums up what I thought of the show, it could have been interesting, educational, tense and claustrophobic, but it failed to hit any of these.  The money should have been given to the poor.