It was the best of years; it was the worst of years. Primarily, however, 2012 was the telliest of years. There was so much telly, in fact, that there seemed a very real chance it might burst its banks and start pumping out of the sides, leaving us up to our molars in Christopher Maloney and Eggheads repeats, smelling faintly of T4 On The Beach.
Drama. It was all over the place. Here a plot, there a plot, everwhere a plot-plot. The Hour (BBC2), Everyday (C4), Line Of Duty (BBC2), The Town (ITV1), Birdsong (BBC2), Accused (BBC1), A Mother’s Son (ITV1), A Young Doctor’s Notebook (Sky Arts), Parade’s End (BBC2), Homefront (ITV1), Secret State (C4), Room At The Top (BBC4), The Fear (C4) – all conspired to ensure we couldn’t move without snagging our cardigan on an unexpected cameo or thwacking our forehead against a particularly ambitious narrative arc. I loved Whitechapel (ITV1), the barking “pantocrime” procedural in which London is depicted as a sort of neo-Victorian dismemberment theme park, with DI Milquetoast (Rupert Penry-Jones) and DS Bastard (Phil Davis) gulping their way through a trio of preposterous investigational peasoupers. Ditto Last Tango In Halifax (BBC1), a big dollop of cuddly, custardy splendidness from Sally Wainwright. The ever-growing enormousness of Downton Abbey (ITV) inevitably inspired a flurry of monocled arrivistes (The Paradise? Titanic? Begone, upstarts!), while Scott & Bailey (Sally Wainwright again), The Bletchley Circle and the brrrr-inducing Daphne Du Maurier adaptation The Scapegoat suggested primetime ITV1 drama need not necessarily entail six hours of Martin Clunes sighing at a kitchen table.
Less successful were the same channel’s Leaving (sexual obsession in Cheshire), The Last Weekend (sexual obsession in corduroy), The Poison Tree (shouting on shingle) and latest Lynda La Plante partwork Above Suspicion: Silent Scream, with its cover-mounted maverick, foldout script and cut-out-and-keep disembowelled floozy (RRP ). Further proof, as if further proof were needed, that dramas with colon-ised titles: are rarely as clever: as they think they are.
There was other stuff. While Auntie triumphed in the culinary stakes with Masterchef and The Great British Bake Off, C4 took the wooden spoon and, gurgling maniacally, proceeded to beat itself about the cranium with it. Here was a commissioning department apparently in the throes of some sort of existential breakdown. Was it terminal? The existence of Hugh’s Three Hungry Boys (putatively buff Hollyblokes forage for mushroom analogies among stupefied Cornishmen and fashionable knitwear), Heston’s Fantastical Food (his nibs Wonkas around with giant Hob Nobs, pretend baked beans and “Hestum Bongo”), Jamie And Jimmy’s Food Fight Club (pantomime cows, jokes about Chewbacca and hammerblow mince tips), and The Fabulous Baker Brothers (Mumford & Buns) would appear to suggest so. Guys. Have a Hestum Bongo and relax.
Sky Atlantic did the decent thing and brought us Girls – Lena Dunham’s merciless demolition of/acrid paean to 20-something self-absorbtion – and Julia Davis’s sublime Hunderby, with its shipwrecked Victorian dullards and “bubbly milk”. BBC1 Scotland gave us the thrillingly unsettling Limmy’s Show, while BBC4′s ever-splendid Getting On supplied us with empathy, clipboards and the most devastatingly effective deployment of the phrase “plop-plop” in comic history.
Less intentional lolz were supplied by the thickset extras that ugged and um-bongoed their way through Andrew Marr’s History of The World (BBC1), the bewildering avant garde subtitles of ITV1′s Let’s Do Lunch With Gino & Mel (“Use this onions. Gino! Gino! Gino! 220 degrees? APPLAUSE“), the mind-bumming “reality” travesty that was The Only Way is Essex Live (ITV2), and incomparable daytime cop boggler Crime Stories (ITV1), in which the long arm of the law reached into its own trousers and effectively gave itself a wedgie.
No less enjoyable was the sight of Homeland (C4) finally abandoning all pretence at plausibility and unicycling off to Woohooville, honking its nose like a horn, nodding furiously at the “special voices” telling it to stop pretending it knows what it’s doing, and instead to start free-jazzing its way through (ziiiiing) flapping great plotholes with an increasingly slapdash approach to (parp) the Middle East and (krrrrrrrkkk) more mumbling and security breaches and – oh look, a terrorist using an iPhone 5 – *UNEXPLAINED EXPLOSION*. That Homeland is still one of the most gripping series on TV is testament both to its extraordinarily taut direction and the fact that there are few sights on earth as pleasing as that of Damian Lewis in full window-rattling, interrogation table-slapping, wibbly-accented “I’m a goddamn American, by jove!” mode.
Then there was Hunted (BBC1). Poor, dunderskulled Hunted, with its eyeball injections and talking rabbits and its determination to emulate the counter-terrorism tension of Spooks by having Melissa George run past computers in a George At Asda anorak. The third and brilliantly bleak final series of The Killing (BBC4) brought lashings of drizzly Scandijoy, as did the birch-veneer political machinations of Borgen (AKA Høuse Of Cårds).
Further mentionables: the blazing, breathtaking Olympic Opening Ceremony (BBC1), Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman’s Pointless (BBC1) bromance, and finally From The Sea to The Land Beyond, a perfect, perfect reminder of the quiet majesty of BBC4.
So that was 2012 then: lots of telly, some of which was good. They can have that for the box set.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Seit 1996 bin ich freier Mitarbeiter der Salzgitter-Zeitung, als Experte für das Geschehen im hiesigen Kreisfußball. Daneben sind meine Kolumnen seit 2005 fester Bestandteil im Lokalteil der Salzgitter-Zeitung. Zusammen mit Frau und Tochter sowie zwei gefräßigen wie faulen Stubentigern versuche ich das zu meistern, was das Leben, das Universum und der ganze Rest an Absurditäten für uns bereithalten.