Posted by: Paul | December 23, 2010

Paul’s Top TV of 2010 – Part Two

Here’s part two of my list, concerned with the best dramas on TV this year. There was an awful lot of them in 2010, and it was very hard to narrow it down to this five. There are many worthy shows not on this list – a couple of them will appear in the Honourable Mentions tomorrow – but these five are my favourites, having either been outstanding in their fields or having something in particular to recommend them over others.

1. Wallander

I’m coming at this purely in terms of the quality of the UK, Kenneth Branagh version. I have not read any of the books, nor have I seen the original Swedish version, and I’m sure that both are very good indeed and I’d enjoy them very much. This version itself is beautifully shot, beautifully paced, beautifully written stuff. Kenneth Branagh is brilliantly hangdog as the self-destructive Swedish detective, every frame is like a painting, and it’s shot through with a melancholy which comes from the sun never sinking far below the horizon. More episodes have been thankfully been commissioned, but are unlikely to air until early 2012, so I’ll have to wait until then for my next fix. Unless I get into the Swedish version in the meantime…

2. Mad Men

Ah, Mad Men. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways… The subtle way real historical events are included without smacking you in the face with them. The way the entire show looks as if it’s been beamed directly from the sixties. The way almost every episode has a ‘Holy Shit! Did that really just happen?’ moment. The way Christina Hendricks sashays down the corridors of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce… Every moment is bliss, and I’m FURIOUS that it’s gone to Sky. Box set imports like Dexter from now on, I think…

3. Downton Abbey

Lovely, lovely Downton. Like crumpets smothered with jam, or your favourite big cosy jumper, there’s something incredibky comforting about Downton Abbey. A brilliantly executed, funny and involving script led by engaging and sympathetic characters on both sides of the master/servant divide, Downton did more or less everything right. Just don’t tell the historical purists I said that. Downton gives you people to root for and people to boo in equal measure, is beautiful to look at, and pushes all the right costume drama buttons and more besides. A bevvy of BAFTAs inbound!

4. Single Father

The reason I loved Single Father was the fact that it started out as one thing, and became something quite different. At first an almost too-emotional-to-bear family drama, it became a pseudo detective story with elements of heartbreaking romance thrown in. The cast were uniformly excellect, particularly the kids (with difficult material), and David Tennant and his brood were never less than a very convincing tightly knit family unit. After ending the first episode thinking I never wanted to watch TV again, after episode two I devoured the rest of the series hungrily.

5. Luther

Wonderful to see The Wire’s Idris Elba in a high profile British show. Luther was on the surface a fairly cliched police procedural, but the show took risks with its characters and situations – it was action-packed, scary, gruesome, funny, and also had the marvellous Ruth Wilson as an icy psycopathic nemesis to recommend it. Two two-hour specials await us in 2011, but I imagine those will mark the end of Luther’s story…

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