TOMORROW’S NEWS “KAZZY Awards” – The Best and Worst TV of 2014!
Happy New Year and welcome back to my world of television. Before we start the next week with our usual round-up, I thought we would start with a look back over 2014, and what I call ‘The Kazza Awards’ and what I thought were the high points and low points.
I start with Best Dramatic Performance, and by a mile this goes to Keeley Hawes in ‘The Line of Duty‘. Prior to this, Hawes had been famed for playing beautiful, hoity toity, often one-dimensional characters, and suddenly out of the blue comes DI Lindsay Denton. While the premise of ‘Line of Duty‘ was quite confusing at times, we were all so taken by Hawes’ performance as the police officer who had more layers than an onion, she was all we could concentrate on. We were never quite sure if Denton was the victim or the perpetrator; and not only this, she was frumpy, dead-eyed and miserable and a million miles from DI Alex Drake from ‘Ashes to Ashes‘. From this Hawes has gone on to win a part in the forthcoming ‘Hollow Crown‘ series, playing Queen Elizabeth I. If she is not at least nominated for a BAFTA for her role in ‘The Line of Duty‘ then there is no justice in the world.
Runner up : David Neilson as Roy Cropper in ‘Coronation Street‘. We all felt Roy’s pain as he said goodbye to his beloved Hayley, as she took her life before cancer ravaged her. Roy’s internalising of his grief is in keeping with the character we have grown to love, and all this frustration culminated in him bashing Gary Windass with a cricket bat (I would have gone one further and done the whole Windyarse family). Roy felt threatened and vulnerable after the abuse metered out by a gang of yobs, and he didn’t have Hayley to give him the emotional strength to cope with this. Now he has to do Community Service for his crimes, and I’m hoping this will bring a little humour back to the character.
Surprise of the Year
Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. I have to admit, I baulked somewhat when it was revealed Capaldi was going to be playing the Doctor. He isn’t young, he isn’t pretty, he’s Scottish (I know David Tennant is too, but his Doctor was cockney), he looks like he could be Clara Oswald’s dad, and on paper, for me, it didn’t work. But it has. This series of ‘Doctor Who‘ has been better than the last two with Matt Smith, and even though there were times there were shades of Steven Moffat’s Sherlock and Doctor Watson in the interplay between Clara and the Doctor, it was still fun to watch, and there is something about Capaldi that makes it easy to believe he has the soul of someone who is nine hundred years old. He adds depth to the character, whereas Tennant was too soppy and let his two hearts rule his head; Smith was just zany and hard to take seriously when he was trying to be sincere; but Capaldi is so deep it’s hard to fathom at times what his motives are. He has saved Clara on many occasion, but you get the feeling he would sacrifice her to save the world and surely that’s what the Doctor is there for?
Runner up : Helen Wood winning ‘Big Brother‘. I still don’t know how Helen Wood won this summer’s (2014) ‘Big Brother‘. Personally I found her quite entertaining, but in general she was hated by the public more than any contestant I can remember in a long time – the sort who would be voted out once her entertainment value ran out. However, she was miraculously granted a pass to the final in the first week, so she was never up for eviction. It all smacked of a fix, but who can say what the truth behind it was? Either way, it’s hard for me to take Big Brother seriously again.
‘The 7:39‘. This mini series starring David Morrissey, Sheridan Smith and Olivia Colman, just proved to me how much I enjoy the works of David Nichols. It was a basic tale – middle aged man in boring marriage, meets pretty, sparky young woman about to marry a dull young guy. They have an affair and realise that sometimes things just don’t work out the way they’re meant to. It was hardly groundbreaking stuff, but the quality of the acting, along with the witty script, and the familiar Nichols characters (lovelorn hero, spunky girl, nerdy antagonist etc) made this essential viewing. In a year dominated by dramas like ‘The Village‘, ‘Happy Valley‘ and ‘The Fall‘, it was nice to watch a simple love story with sympathetic characters and a relatable plot. Controversially, I much preferred Smith’s performance in this, than I did in ‘Cilla‘.
‘Murdered by my Boyfriend‘ (BBC3 Monday)
This one-off drama, shown on the doomed BBC3, was so disturbing that it stayed in my mind for a long time afterwards. It was a cautionary tale, based on a true story, about a young woman who is killed by her abusive boyfriend, and we saw her descent from bubbly, confident teenager, to a vulnerable shell of a girl who ends up beaten to death with an ironing board in front of her baby. Ashley Campbell gave a moving performance as Ashley, and we felt her pain as she was belittled, beaten and terrified into submission. As I said at the time, this drama should be shown to young women as a way of alerting them to the dangers of relationships, and if a guy starts off seeming to be too good to be true, it’s because he probably is.
Hottest TV Moment
Sherlock kissing Molly Hooper. We had waited two years to find out how Sherlock had survived the fall off Barts Hospital, but within two minutes of ‘The Empty Hearse‘, our heads were spun by the sheer sight of Sherlock smashing through a glass window, ruffling that hair and grasping love-lorn Molly to plant her a passionate kiss on the lips, before sauntering off, leaving her wanting more. Of course it was all in the fantasies of Anderson, the police officer partially responsible for Sherlock’s downfall, but even so. Phew. Welcome back, Mr Holmes.
Runner up : Ben Haenow in leathers singing ‘Highway to Hell‘. I can honestly say I hadn’t even noticed Ben on the ‘X-Factor‘ until Halloween week, when he strutted onto the stage with a leather jacket and tight jeans, screeching out the ACDC song. After that, I could watch little else. Cold shower anyone?
Best Reality Show
Despite my rubbishing it week in week out, this award still goes to ‘The Only Way is Essex‘. While it doesn’t have the punch that it once did, and because we’ve seen the characters in other reality TV shows and know that the personalities portrayed on TOWIE isn’t always near the truth (except maybe Gemma Collins). it’s still a fun soap opera with goodies and baddies, and ones in the middle. And sometimes it’s fun to try and guess which storyline that has been constructed or is a real one. My one request is that next season they give Bobby a decent storyline and that they seriously rethink rehiring characters like Gemma, Arg, Mario and Jasmine. They bring little to the programme and I don’t think anyone would miss them if they were gone.
Runner up : ‘Strictly Come Dancing‘. While it wasn’t the most stellar series ever, it retained interest by not having a clear winner. It was only in the final few weeks that it became quite evident Caroline Flack was in the running. I have to confess I preferred the Zoe/Tess weeks than the Claudia weeks, and I hate the judges’ new entrance (oo-er) but unlike ‘X-Factor‘, we do get to see the contestants’ journey and enjoy watching their progress as they learn a skill, and even if there are evil machinations going on behind the scenes, it never seems as obvious as it does on ‘X-Factor‘.
‘JA’MIE : Private School Girl‘. I am a big fan of Chris Lilley, ‘Summer Heights High‘ and ‘Angry Boys‘ were amazing programmes, and in SHH, Ja’mie was an hilarious character – the spoilt brat schoolgirl who thought she was a cut above the rest and far more beautiful than she actually was. Lilley is an expert at getting under the skin of the characters he plays, and making them believable, and this was still the case with Ja’mie. But you can have too much of a good thing. Week in, week out, nothing seemed to happen, and the character became more nauseating. Sometimes when Ja’mie was letching after a teenage boy, or dancing provocatively with her teenage friends (played by real young girls) it would come back to me that it was actually a forty year old man playing the part, and it just seemed a bit wrong. Maybe it’s time for Lilley to create some more characters, because Ja’mie was so bad, I didn’t even bother with ‘Jonah from Tonga‘.
Runner Up : ‘The Great Fire‘. All the trailers for this series charting the Great Fire that ravaged London in the 17th Century made it look really exciting. In reality it made a particularly dull episode of ‘Downton Abbey‘ look like ‘Breaking Bad‘. Filmed in the dark, with wooden looking sets and dialogue straight out of 2014, this was like watching paint dry, and who the eff thought of casting Daniel Mays as Samuel Pepys? What next, James Corden gets a CBE?
I know he hadn’t been on TV so much in recent years, before his untimely death in June of 2014, but I had to make Rik Mayall my TV God. Always the most ‘out there’ of the Alternative comedians, there was always something likeable about Mayall, despite his public image being that of someone who was brash, big-headed and full of themselves. One always got the feeling it was tongue-in-cheek and underneath it all was a bit of a softy. He was never afraid to contort his good looks into hideous features that made him look like a gargoyle, his characters were often losers who, while on the ‘alternative’ spectrum, were still deeply rooted in the heart of British comedy – the man who thinks he’s far more important than he actually is. Pomposity is as much a part of our comedy make up as cross-dressing, and Mayall tapped into this. He shaped so much of the comedy landscape we take for granted today and his death at just 56 was a tragedy. It would have been fun to watch him go from the angry young man of Rik, to the curmudgeonly old man who was still angry about everything, and annoying everyone around him. His death was felt deeply by people of my generation and I doubt if we will see his like again.
Runner up : Another comedian, Matt Berry, to me is outrageously under-rated. He looks like a Mexican wrestler, talks like something from the 1920s and isn’t afraid to make an idiot of himself. Steven Toast – his most famous creation, is both likeable and yet self-serving, spiteful and strange at the same time. Toast is also an accomplished musician and his funny little songs in episodes of ‘Toast of London‘ makes it different to the usual sitcoms, and I certainly hope a third series is commission. Also, Berry is the best thing about ‘House of Fools‘. Vic and Bob are funny, but listen to the audience when Berry’s character Beef appears, the atmosphere is electric. Berry deserves to be a big star!
Please, I’ve had enough….
Benefits porn. Yes people are on benefits. Yes, there are certain sections of society that take the piss and have no intention of ever finding a job and sponging off the state. But there are dodgy elements of all society, and in times when the government are doing all they can to take money away from the poorest people in the country, it seems cruel to vilify them in so many programmes which make them look as though they are the scum of the earth. Channel Four’s ‘Benefit Street‘ wasn’t so bad because it gave a lot of the characters heart, and we got to know them and find out what their stories were. But Channel Five are really milking it, and coming up we have ‘Benefits: Too Fat To Work‘, One Direction Fans and On Benefits, I Am a Cyclops and On Benefits (the last two may have been made up by me). This is cheap, easy film-making by people who no doubt have never been on benefits in their life, and go home and have a good old laugh at the plebs they’ve spent their days with. Why not a programme about posh kids who have never done a days work and sponge off mummy and daddy (that’s not ‘Made in Chelsea‘)?.
Runner up: Housewives of.…. Please, no more. ‘Housewives of Miami‘, ‘Housewives of Orange County‘, ‘Housewives of Bel Air‘, ‘Housewives of Canvey Island‘…..no more, please!!!