By BEC SPARROW
It’s been magic, hasn’t it?
TV this year. It’s like we rediscovered our ability to make fabulous drama, to tell our own stories. And baby, when we tell Australian stories we nail it. (As compared to when we try to rip off American reality TV concepts — Being Lara Bingle, The Shire, anyone? — in which case we implode like Bob Katter’s head during Mardi Gras.
Channel 10 made some truly bizarre programming decisions (choosing a controversial Kiwi to host Breakfast, axing The Circle and anyone else remember the blink-and-you-miss-it Everybody Dance Now? I’m still not sure why that show didn’t work but it didn’t.).
On the positive, they have The Project which (for me) is the perfect mix of news, chat and Dr Chris Brown. Channel 7 coasted along not taking any big risks but continuing to deliver likeable content like Downton Abbey and My Kitchen Rules and the type of content that makes you want to stick a fork in your eye … like Beauty and the Geek).
And Channel Nine finally got back in the game. It’s like they went into Cash Converters, bought some old, tired shows and revamped them (The Voice is the new Australian Idol, Big Brother is back and all of a sudden they’re snapping up Australia’s Got Talent). Finally, the ABC showed everyone else how to program decent shows with In Gordon Street Tonight, MABO, The Gruen Transfer, Rake, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Q & A. I don’t think I watched SBS at all except for Insight. But Insight is THE BOMB. So there.
But enough of all that. What were the real highlights of 2012? Here’s my pick …
1. THE VOICE – Channel 9
Oh my God, how good was it? Seriously. They took the tired, seen-it-all-before Australian Idol format and tipped it on it’s head. There were no humiliating you-cannot-sing-you-complete-arsehat auditions. No embarrassing tear-you-a-new-one critiques from the judges. Instead we had vocal “couches”, enthusiasm and fluro nail polish.. I’m not sure what i enjoyed more, seeing Keith Urban’s undies, watching Seal dance in a way that can only be described as ‘sexual hot chocolate’ or wondering if Joel Madden was turning up occasionally stoned. I loved every minute and while I’m sad that Keith has jumped ship to that bucketload of crazy known as American Idol .. I’ll be tuning in next year (if only to read Em Rusciano’s hilarious Mamamia re-caps ..).
2. OFFSPRING – Channel 10
Okay, I’m about to recap season three, so AVERT YOUR EYES IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET! Seriously, this Aussie drama wipes the floor with everything else. The writing is fabulous, the original music is divine (Eddie Perfect and Clare Bowditch were extraordinary this year) and the acting is impeccable. Just when you think they’ve run out of crazy arse storylines we watch our favourite verbal serial-killer Billie and her husband Mitch struggle with their infertility with Mick becoming increasingly close to Rosanna.
The deliciously goofy little brother Jimmy became a father (but more importantly delivered the line “Nanna Nina Noonan” and introduced me to the concept of ‘surprise chips’) and Nina delivered an unforgettable scene when – off her face drunk – she attempted to hide in a tree in her front yard. And look Kick Gurry, we like you but rack off. You do not get to be Nina’s love interest. And finally, Nina and Patrick sorted their shit out at the eleventh hour and found out they were pregnant. That scene with them running down the hospital hallways holding hands … magic. OH MY GOD I CANNOT WAIT FOR NEXT SEASON! Bring. It.
3. CAN OF WORMS – Channel 10
Channel 10, you are both morons and geniuses. You let the magic that is Chrissie Swan walk away from The Circle but were smart enough to give this 38 year old former advertising copywriter, her own show. The format of Can of Worms was always good but never really hit its stride with Dicko as the host. Now with the fabulous Chrissie Swan steering the ship, it’s an hour of TV full of cheeky laughs, refreshingly honest celebrity opinions (imagine that! REAL OPINONS! WOO!) on a range of meaty issues and, of course, terrific debate. Frankly, it’s great TV and the only thing missing is Meshel Laurie who featured in the first season … which brings me to my next highlight …
4. THE TODAY SHOW – Channel 9
I tend to flick between Sunrise and TODAY but I have to say, the Today Show win HUGE points for having the courage to allow two women to host the show on a regular basis. When Senor Karl is away, it’s not uncommon to see Georgie and Lisa co-hosting … why is having two women host a TV program so ‘daring’? It’s 2012, people.
5. REVENGE – Channel 7
Okay, the truth is I never actually watched this. And from the ads it really looked like it was about a chick with the looks of a supermodel and the people skills of Charles Manson. It’s been a while since TV had a decent over-the-top soap opera and this one (according to the ratings) fit the bill. My friend Rob summed up Revenge this way: “Crazy, exceptionally attractive, incredibly wealthy, martial arts superstar chick seeks revenge for the death of her father who is the victim of a terrorist conspiracy involving the Greyson empire. Typical love triangle thing going on, along with plenty of glitz and glamour. Its like the OC loaded up on on crack with Terintino pulling all of the strings….. but in a Hollywood kind of way.” What’s not to love?
6. DOWNTON ABBEY – Channel 7
The moment Lady Sarah shagged that dude and he died, I was hooked to this series. Love a bit of pearl-clutching, slutty costume drama. Plus it has Dame Maggie Smith. GOLD.
7. HOMELAND – Channel 10
Claire Danes is PHENOMENAL as the CIA operative (Carrie Anderson) who struggles to live with her bi-polar disorder. To see a character on TV who is living with a mental illness is refreshing. And Danes is extraordinary in this role as a woman who at times, feels she is losing her mind. Damn you, Brodie.
8. THE OLYMPICS – Foxtel/ Channel 9
Best. Opening. Ceremony. EVERRRRRRRRRRRR. (Daniel Craig as James Bond accompanying the Queen, the homage to Shakespeare and Harry Potter, the appearance of Mr Bean and the London Symphony Orchestra doing Chariots of Fire and David Beckhman on a speedboat …). Oh yeah, and the sport was okay too.
9. PUBERTY BLUES (10) / HOWZAT! – KERRY PACKER’S WAR (9)/ REDFERN NOW (ABC)
What did 2012 prove? That when it comes to telling our own stories, we are phenomenal. Each of these series was take-your-breath outstanding. But for me, nothing beats watching the celebration of friendship between Debbie and Sue (Ashleigh Cummings and Brenna Harding) … the actresses so beautifully captured the drunk-on-love quality of teenage girls who are BFFs. And when they rescued Freda from being gang-banged in a panel van, I wanted to both cry and cheer. Now rack off.
10. JIMMY GIGGLE – ABC4KIDS
I’d like to personally thank Jimmy Giggle for babysitting my four-year-old so often during the year. Lovin’ the sideburns, man. Don’t ever change.
My husband Brad is of course horrified by this list and feels that The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones should be mentioned. But whatever.
Check out some of this years best (and worst) TV shows below:
Over to you. What show was your highlight for 2012? What are you looking forward to watching next year?