- That Mitchell and Webb Sound
A worthy successor to Fry and Laurie, hopefully. While the first series didn’t quite reach the heights of prime F&L, remember that the first series of ABoF&L was a bit on the patchy side, a bit too keen to rely on breaking the fourth wall in place of a proper ending to a sketch for our liking. Mitchell and Webb only did that once in their first series, so the next series should be up there with, say, the second series of ABoF&L, hopefully. Just as long as it doesn’t include any of the weaker sketches from the live DVD, and more of the great unused sketches from the radio series that they haven’t used yet. Constantly happening football falls into the latter camp, obviously.
- Not Going Out
For all the hoo-hah about The IT Crowd returning to the roots of proper traditional studio-audience backed sitcoms, this barely got any credit at all. A large shame, because it was brilliant. Usually, we’d be wishing a pox on any sitcom to pretty much do away with a decent plotline in order to make way for lots more wisecracking from the central characters. When it’s Premier League wisecracking from the gobs of Mack and Vine, all logic collapses upon itself, and you’re left watching the best ‘traditional’ sitcom since Men Behaving Badly went rubbish. If there isn’t an episode of this on Christmas Day 2007, we’ll be sorely disappointed. Trebly so if there’s another episode of Green Green Grass, obviously.
- The Thick Of It
Still as good as ever, which would include the excellent Christmas special, only that’s ineligible, because it was on in 2007. Which means we can skirt around the lack of A Certain Cast Member in it due to Certain Ongoing Events. Phew.
But the winner is…
Ladies and Gentlemen, Still Game is such a show. Having enjoyed the fourth series (the first to get a decent timeslot on nationwide telly), BrokenTV went out and bought the newly re-released DVD sets of the first three series (and since then, four and five). Before long, the discs have been lent out and passed amongst various members of the BrokenTV family, with every single member of all ages delighting in the show. It’s not a perfect state of affairs (we haven’t a clue who has actually got the first four series of the show right now), but a pretty good indication that if a comedy show is ever going to unite our nation ever again, it would be Still Game. Except the BBC would never promote it properly, as there’s no way people will like it, because it’s all in Scotch, and people only understand television programmes if there are at least two people from London in them (except: no members of BrokenTV’s family are Scottish, although some of us have been there). Best comedy of the year, then? Totally.
Triumph of the Year (Drama)
- The State Within
Never mind the ratings. The BBC's conspiracy can quite comfortably be described as "like 24, if CTU weren't in it", which in case you're a bit slow of understanding, is still a very good thing. Despite the reservations we'd had after the first episode (see blog post passim), this went on to get better and better with each new episode, even going on to have an unpredictable ending (an all too rare event in this day and age).
But the winner is…
Nudging The State Within into second place, especially if you don’t count that not-very-good episode with the hostages in the newspaper office (“I’ve kicked away his gun, now, shall I just pick it up? No, I’m a highly trained 21st century police officer, so lets all just run away and just hope he hasn’t locked the door or something”). Aside from that, a great concept, the right mixture of humour and drama, and all executed pretty much perfectly. And it’s not about to outstay it’s welcome, even if we’d have preferred there be a Christmas special – surely here was a show more deserving of a Christmas Day post 9pm slot than blimmin’ Dibley. They could have had jokes about Mike Yarwood and everything.
Triumph of the Year (Documentary)
- Frontline Football
A remarkable example of (a) the kind of thing BBC2 should be doing more often, and not just the wrong side of Newsnight, and (b) quite why football is the greatest sport there is, overpaid millionaire idiots or not. If you missed it (which wouldn’t have been difficult), Ben Anderson travelled to countries such as Palestine, DR Congo and Bosnia, and looked at how football plays a role in current and past political and religious effects. Notable scene: where the Congolese squad played a friendly match against a non-league French side in preparation for their World Cup qualifying campaign, only to see two of their players subsequently do a runner after the final whistle (with nothing other than the full kit and boots they were wearing) rather than face the prospect of returning to their war-torn nation.
- The Real Hustle
The hidden gem in BBC Three’s shit-covered crown, this endlessly entertaining hybrid of Beadle’s About and Crimewatch is the sort of show that gets anyone really interested when you tell them about it, only they’ll probably never get to see it because every time they put BBC Three on there’s only wall to wall repeats of Two Pints Of Torchwood and a Tittybangbang of Little Britain Uncovered in the schedule.
- The Story Of Light Entertainment
While much of it we already knew (and several interviews were taken straight from Channel Four’s The Showbiz Set, though sadly not including Denis Nordon saying how “fucking wasn’t invented in the 1960s, you know”), we’re a sucker for seeing clips of Bruce’s Big Night. It included revelations along the lines of Little recently falling out with Large, Cannon and Ball performing a new show where their general antics are regularly interrupted with songs about Jesus, and what happens when a radio ventriloquist makes the leap to television even though he can’t actually throw his voice. All in thirteen ninety-minute episodes, and wrapped up with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain performing Smells Like Teen Spirit. And you can’t say much fairer than that.
But the winner is…
Simply stunning. Especially so when watching it in HD, where the majestic sweeping shots are like having your eyes snogged by an angel. Even in bog-standard-o-vision, it was an almost impossibly wonderful piece of television, and well worth the four years to took to complete. Precisely the sort of television that very few networks would even consider making, and one that no-one could ever make as well as the BBC.
Triumph of the Year (Other Stuff)
Only shown on Scotch BBC-2, of course, which is a shame as it was very probably the best videogaming TV show ever. Actually, no ‘probably’ about it, seeing as the competition amounts to little more than annoying fourteen year olds saying a stilted “this game is good because the gameplay and the graphics are good”, other annoying fourteen year olds saying a stilted “hello Games Marstah, can you tell me how to get past the second level of Toejam and Earl?”, and Iain Lee. Interesting to see VideoGaiden already has it’s own pale imitation on Channel M already.
- Ricky Gervais Meets Garry Shandling
We Had To Watch It Through Our Fingers!!!!!!!1 The sight of someone who clearly genuinely believes every bit of gushing praise the Radio Times seems fit to bestow on him (even though he’s only actually done fourteen episodes of a very good television comedy before calling it quits, and twelve not so great episodes of another one), being put in his place by someone who co-created and made 89 (vidiprinter: EIGHTY-NINE) episodes of one of the greatest comedy shows ever made. And only after the former decided to go snooping in the fridge of the famously private latter (on camera) before even meeting him. Some say it was too uncomfortable to enjoy, but it was certainly preferable to the Christopher Guest self-congratulate-in. And we’re sure if Garry Shandling had needed a script at some point from his personal assistant, he’d have said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, but Gervais couldn’t be bothered whining about that sort of thing.
- Frank Sidebottom's Proper Telly Show In Black And White (with repeats in Colour)
On Manchester’s Channel M, of course. Only, what, thirteen years after the demise of Frank’s Fantastic Shed Show (it was the first ever TV show to feature Mrs Merton, y’know), he’s back, with the best programme title of the year. And yes, only the repeats are in colour, although luckily there seem to be so many of them, they’re the ones you’re most likely to catch. The only sign that the papier-mâchéd one is really knocking on quite a bit is once you see his wrinkled hands grasping a Thunderbirds colouring book and such, so he generally gets away with trotting out the same old shtick, especially as it’s still refreshingly entertaining shtick involving pickled stormtroopers and the like. Even if the sight of David Soul dancing around wearing Little Frank’s face is possibly the most alarming thing we’ve ever seen on a locally based digital TV channel.
But the winner is…
Minus points for using the phrase "A Very [X] Christmas" just before we were going to use it for a weak joke about not getting to see A Very The State Within Christmas because of poor ratings, but this was ace. Everything Victor Lewis-Smith should have gone on to do after TV Offal, instead he decided to do lots of rubbish documentaries with Keith Allen in – [looks to camera] he’s doing another one, y’know. In fact, it’s what BrokenTV would be like if it was on telly, and any good. Faint praise, there.
Triumph of the Year (US)
Still excellent, even if it is now on Sky, who insist cramming the schedules with Iain Lee fronted vehicles for D-list slebs (at that’s D-list by Sky One standards, which is very, very low) droning on about “a polar bear! What was all that about! And Hurley never loses any weight, and you never get to find anything out, and what about The Others! What are they all about?”. At least they finally seem to have cottoned on to why people download TV shows (because it’s better than having to wait six months to see them), and the second half of Lost: Month Three will go out just a few days later than the US broadcasts. If Channel Four had realised that, they might have gathered enough ad revenue from season two to be able to afford season three, but they were too busy thinking of vehicles for Russell Brand.
- The Venture Bros
Sadly missed by anyone who doesn’t stumble into it by accident at around 1am weeknights on Bravo, where it may or may not be on at random, this is one of our finds of the year. Everyone go out and buy the DVD from Amazon US, it’s only about six quid. It’s got Patrick Warburton in it and everything.
- Tom Goes To The Mayor
Sadly missed by anyone who doesn’t stumble into it by accident at around 1am weeknights on Bravo, where it may or may not be on at random, this is one of our finds of the year. Everyone go out and buy the DVD from Amazon US, it’s only about six quid. It’s got Bob Odenkirk in it and everything.
- American Dad
This is getting better at a rate inversely proportional to the rate Family “Man, this is worse than the time I [event relating to minor 1980s celebrity]” Guy is getting worse. This is proven by the fact it is now the sole programme in the BBC’s prime slot for imported comedy on a terrestrial channel (after Match of the Day 2 on Sundays around midnight, as long as there isn’t snooker or cricket on), which Family Guy ended up in a similar slot on BBC Three, with new episodes being shoved around by repeats of Two Pints Of Lager and Tittybangbang. A sad fate for any once-great show.
But the winner is…
Genius. A major network sitcom that manages to avoid any of the obvious settings (“Ok, so what’s this new show about? Another collection of sassy single flatmates and their experiences with dating, or the other type, a dysfunctional family?” “Well, neither.” “I don’t understand”). It completely evades the “character A says something, character B makes sassy putdown, everyone laughs” template used too often on both sides of the Atlantic (Green Green Grass, My Family). A script that always leads you into thinking they’re going to take a joke one way, then hitting you with a much better gag from out of nowhere. And after all that, it avoids the easy route of trying to be self-consciously ‘dark’ by managing to be uplifting and generally heart-warming. It features one of the best collections of actors ever found in a sitcom since Larry Sanders. And, to cap it all, each episode ends with both male leads chatting whilst sharing a bed in a delightfully innocent Laurel and Hardy and Morecambe and Wise manner. And the second series is twice as good as the first one was. Even better than Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiasm combined? Astonishingly: yes.
Best Channel of the year
- BBC HD
It looks better when it's bigger, honest.
It's like a wonderful 'secret' channel, a bit like having one of those boxes that could decode BBC Select in the early 1990s only about a billion times more ace. It might only be on for about four hours a night, but it offers up the following wonders:
(a) There's a wonderful new BBC ident that only the people special enough to have HD can see (i.e. us), which is much better than the circle-based BBC One idents that go on for too long.
(b) Generally one episode of the wonderful Planet Earth on every single night, which is fine by us.
(c) A second chance to see Not Going Out, which is the best new 'proper' sitcom since, as we’d said, Men Behaving Badly went rubbish. And again, it looks utterly gorgeous in high definition.
(d) The Beeb making the decision to simulcast their big Christmas films on the HD channel. Why buy a Blu-ray player (or, heaven forbid, a PS3) and all of your films again (for £25 each), when you can just have them included in your licence fee for nothing? And now live FA Cup matches too. Gawd bless the Beeb.
Bad points? The permanent on-screen logo is quite annoying, especially when there's a film on, but as it's only a trial service that only a handful of people are special enough to see, we'll let it slide. And it's a shame the new series of Doctor Who isn't going to be in HD while boring old Robin Hood is. We don't want to see Keith Allen’s face in that much detail, thanks.
Worst Channel of the year
For going from disaster to disaster. For trying to steal viewers from the first week of Channel Four’s The Paul O’Grady Show by screening old episodes of The Paul O’Grady Show. For ditching new home-grown children’s programming completely, without having a clue what to replace it with. For ditching comedy programming almost as completely, and hoping Harry Hill will hang around for an long as possible. For responding to plummeting ratings by vowing to spend less on future programmes with which to bring viewers back. For showing the same film on two consecutive Saturdays. For even messing up coverage of the World Cup, the most sure-fire of all ratings bankers. For keeping an audience share artificially high by pumping out ever increasing episodes of soap operas, knowing there’s nothing else worth showing. For devoting every night’s output to ripping off your viewers with an insultingly phone-in competition that virtually nobody can actually phone in to. Although, of course, they still pay for all attempted calls. Still, at least Poker Face was quite good, eh?
Nathan Barley Memorial Award For Unjustly Maligned Comedy Programme Of The Year
Better than the second series of I’m Alan Partridge, we’re saying. Of course, because it didn’t feature a character called Alan Partridge, everyone hated it. But then, everyone is wrong.
Disappointment of the year
- Time Trumpet
Why did that Humpty Dumpty Talks To Armando Iannucci show on BBC Four the other night not mention The Armando Iannucci Shows, eh? They mentioned this enough, and as much as it pains us to say so, by AI’s own high standards, it was pretty awful. The sort of thing we were happy enough to watch once, and will never feel compelled to watch ever again. Thing No-One Seems To Have Noticed: lots of people have mentioned how ‘the assassination of Tony Blair’ bit was cut from The 2007 Terrorism Awards as it was 2 Extreme 4 Da Telly, but not that it should have been removed anyway as it would have buggered up the joke about Tony Blair seeing out the rest of his days wandering aimlessly around Iraq trying to sort it out.
- Doctor Who
Way to stop people enjoying your show, RTD, by padding out three brilliant episodes with nine or so rubbish ones. Still, at least Rose has gone now.
Clue Club, only with more swearing, shagging and neon. Also suffers from only being any bloody good 18% of the time.
Like Howard Kendall’s second tenure at Everton, you could always sense a great big let-down was coming, but it didn’t make the end result any less disappointing. From being the best ITV drama of the 1990s, to a bog-standard 00s interchangeable ITV1 ‘gritty’ crime show that would usually have Robson Green in it. And don’t get us started on Wire in the Blood (oh, okay then: “Wire in the Blood? Annoying director who wants to be David Fincher in the dreary crime ITV1 crime drama, more like. See, told you not to get us started).
- Robin Hood
Not very good, was it? That’s what you get if you pick Keith Allen to be in things. Have they learned nothing from Roger Roger?
- Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive
It's (another) British version of Larry Sanders (minus ten points). It has Rob Brydon in it (plus nine points). It's on BBC Three* (minus five points). It's based around a fictional panel show instead of a chat show, because everyone stopped trying to do new chat shows as soon as "trying to copy David Letterman" was replaced by "trying to copy Larry Sanders" (a tentative plus two points). It features minor celebrities playing unconvincing portrayals of themselves (minus eight points). It includes Rob Brydon trying to play himself as a nasty, bitter version of his real self, who does little more than bitch about the guests on his show
*Thought for the nanosecond: is the BBC Three ident the beeb's version of Channel Four's Red Triangle, mainly there to warn viewers that the comedy programme are about to watch isn't going to be very good, and they'd be better off bunging UK Gold 2 on instead?
We've tried, we really have. We tuned in to the two-part special opener for series five, hoping that we'd just been watching it wrong on each of the previous occasions, but no, we still hated it. A few dips into the latter parts of the series had the same effect. Of course, maybe it's our telly playing up, which makes Spooks only *seem* like a load of poorly executed style over content, not as clever as it dearly wishes it is pap. It's the Poundstretcher 24.
- Being able to watch American TV as it really is over the internets
Oh no! Instead of being wall-to-wall quality shows that are good enough to see Arrested Development get cancelled, it’s full of rubbish Springer knock-offs, attempts at ‘be’ing the new CSI and tedious local news! You lied to us, liberal media!
But the winner is…
Or, to use its full title, Extras: The Taboo Of The Week Show. We’ve got loads we could write about it here, but we’ll restrict ourselves to this – what with the amount of time Ricky Gervais spends ‘ironically’ boasting about how many awards he has won, do you think he’s had time to notice he hasn’t won a single one for Extras yet? Granted, Ashley Jansen and Stephen Merchant have both picked up gongs for acting in it, but no actual awards for the Fat Bloke From Reading™. Actually, maybe that’s why he punished Ashley Jansen by making her character do nothing more in the second series than saying something she shouldn’t to the person who the Ricky Gervais character had just told her something about, which she clearly shouldn’t actually say to them, at least once every episode.
I'm Sorry, Are You Still Here? Award For Pointlessness
- Mock The Week
Still, once Merton naffs off from Room 101 to make way for Dara “Err” O’Brien (you’ll see), they won’t need to keep making up cheap new shows just to give him something to do. Now with added Andy Parsons, to make absolutely sure no-one is going to watch it. Until then, there’s a new run of this to look forward to (i.e. avoid).
Surprise of the Year
- Someone BrokenTV knows appearing on Dragons’ Den
He got more money off them than he’d asked for too. Good on him. We’ve beaten him at poker, you know.
- Some artwork BrokenTV’s Mark X knocked up in five minutes filling the screen for a few seconds on one of Channel Four’s biggest shows of the year, Gordon Ramsay’s The F-Word
To be fair, that’s probably more of a sign how far the channel has fallen in recent years. He wouldn’t have been let anywhere near 4 Computer Buffs, that’s for sure.
But the winner is…
You see, until that point, we were convinced they're pulling some kind of "we'll make lots of money if the channel goes under" The Producers tax dodge. Still, what with them replacing all children's television with repeats of Inspector Morse this week, we're not that sure we were wrong.
DVD of the year
- The Armando Iannucci Shows
About damn time, too. Arguably the finest programme AI has put his name to, we’re saying, and a welcome reminder of where his flights of fancy can take a (loosely) sketch-based comedy show after the disappointing Time Trumpet.
- The IT Crowd
While the programme itself might have been a bit of a curate’s egg, the DVD package more than made up for it. It’s the first time we’ve ever been more impressed with the menu screens of a DVD than the remainder of the content, but that shows how easily impressed we are by references to old Spectrum games. The rest of the disc is a delight, too, with a Ken Korda documentary about the making of the series (a pity the episode with Adam Buxton is was one of the weaker ones), and excellently, the option to have subtitles in 7337.
But the winner is…
See above. It’d be the best thirty-five pounds you spend on a DVD set this year. All the shows you didn't get to see because you don't live in Scotland.
The Harry Hill Award For Only Great Programme On ITV1 All Year
- Harry Hill’s TV Burp
“…and a happy new year.“
Movie Of The Year
Despite what everyone else says, this is our Thai horror flick of the year. Other reviews range from middling to woeful, but they’re all wrong, and we’re right. We suspect everyone else had just been watching it wrongly.
Of course. Who’d have ever thought we’d see Madonna mentioning Peter “Chicken Lollies!” Baynham on live TV, eh?
But the winner is…
Despite uniformly mediocre reviews, we found this Anglo-Franco-Luxembourgish (it’s a word) animated film noir thunderously entertaining. Top tip: watch the subtitled French version as opposed to the UK dubbed version. While it will make you look like a pretentious twerp, it does improve the movie.
Worst Overall Thing of the year
- Bo! In The USA
After reports that Leigh Francis wanted to move away from the whole Bo! thing (and, well, into things like A Bear's Tale, so, erm...), we get this. Way to push that envelopem Leigh. Of course, it's as bad as you'd expect, but if he was put in a show with decent writers capable of coming up with more than repeating the same three jokes over umpteen series, he might not be too bad. 'Might'.
- Green Wing
- The Catherine Tate Show
At the end of The State Within, every flipping week, voiceover bloke just has to chip in with "(Chuckle) Well, obviously you'll all gutted because you've just missed Catherine Tate, but don't worry! It's repeated on Sunday night, so you can watch it after all! There's no need to thank us, American Dad's the only programme on tonight's Sunday comedy zone that isn't a repeat, so we'll shove it the other side of midnight for you", and a little bit of us dies. Still, ha ha! Bovvered! Hahahahahahaha! That's what those 'chavs' talk like, isn't it! Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! (Dies.)
- Christian O'Connell's Sunday Service
- OFI Sunday
Bring back Wogan. Or at least repeat all of the better interviews, in full. You know, without a squawking D-lister popping up every five seconds, gushing about how “and then he said he like screwing!!! I was like, aagh!!!” as opposed to just letting us find that out for ourselves. It’d be much more preferable to past-their-best or not-as-good-as-they-clearly-think-they-are berks trying to ‘do’ a new TFI. Especially in the case of Chris Evans, who didn’t bother finding out why everyone stopped liking TFI Friday the first time around.
But the winner is…
There was one bit where he actually came out of character and commented on how the game was going in refreshingly earnest terms. Then he messed it all up by going back into his terrible impression of Noel, although because he's not very good, it didn't sound any different to his own voice (like most of his impressions), so no-one really noticed. There were probably worse things on TV last year, but cleverly we kept well away from most of BBC Three’s output, so were able to avoid them.