Sunday, 30 December 2012

What Were We Watching in 2012

The Olympic and Paralympic Games cloud my vision, I can barely see back before them, though my memory retains a vague recollection that a hot Spring had people from the Environment agency handing out hose-pipe bans and warning we'd need three months solid rain if the aquifers were to be replenished. 

Never grant these men their wishes again. 2012 was the year it poured. The aquifers are now overflowing and still it rains. 

Even most sceptics were won over by the summer of sport, not just by the quality of the achievements but also by the way in which the BBC managed to pull together and get it right. All the BBC, TV and Radio and those never to be left unmentioned web pages where we can get more information about the race we've just watched. What more can a web page add to Mo? 

This is the same BBC that got the Royal Flotilla coverage of the Queen's Jubilee year so wrong and later went on to turn a gun on itself with its treatment of the Jimmy Savile Newsnight story and later accusations leveled at a senior politician. One step forwards, two steps back.

The Olympics were about extraordinary athletic achievement and spectacle. I'm trying to forget Radio 1's Trevor Nelson, telling me during the opening ceremony, 'see that bloke in the crowd there? He's my mate!'. Dear god. Not content with his lame-brain inanities at the beginning of the Olympiad the Beeb had the temerity to wheel him out for the closing ceremony too. 

But oh that opening ceremony. Danny Boyle you made us proud to be British and we all thought we'd have to watch it from behind the sofa, like we used to Dr Who. Surely it would be one long cringe; how wrong could we be. Did I miss Danny's knighthood or is he a refusenik like Alan Bennett, "Thanks but no thanks, I'm ok as I am". 

Would you turn down a gong? As New Year's and Queen's Birthday Honours come around I find myself wondering why we perpetuate these arcane medals. Not that I'm ever likely to be called to the palace, but should the manila embossed envelope arrive I'd have to write back a pithy note saying, "I'll pick up mine when Danny Boyle picks up his". 

There was so much to look forward to twelve months ago. The world had it's eye on us and we  didn't disappoint.

On  the box Mrs Brown took hold as the new sit-com sensation - I remain to be convinced. Most big laugh still rely on the inclusion of the word 'fuck' to get the laugh.

A raft of American shows continued to hold my attention. Justified, Boardwalk Empire, Homeland - though the latter in its bid to become a franchise had some horribly clunky moments and may drift even further from the tension of the fine first series when it returns for series three. 

Game of Thrones was good rather than great but delivered a terrific series ending episode.  

 If you haven't been watching Treme it's time to catch up. New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina seemed a strange option for The Wire creator David Simon's next project but it's approach is a delightful weaving of human stories.

One actor who suddenly appeared from  nowhere was Bobby Cannavale who played the psychotic Gyp Rosetti in Boardwalk Empire and an only slightly less psychotic doctor in Nurse Jackie. The latter is a treat, a drama masquerading as a comedy. It delights with ever episode.

Finally, Mad Men remains a joy. Despite the show being off air for more than twelve months it returned with a confidence that only a show presided over so tightly by one mind can achieve. Mathew Weiner's compelling meditation of the shifting cultural tides of mid 20th century America is just extraordinary. It shows us what we were and what we now are without ever telling us. The best example of writing one could ask for - but then I'm biased. 

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