This is the time for those pesky Top 10 lists for the year. I am not going to do the ‘best’ as I don’t watch everything – I have never gotten into Breaking Bad, I am on a break from Sons of Anarchy (the 4th season was just too violent) and I think Homeland is good but not great. So here are my top 10 favourite programs for 2012:
10. Justified (USA) Season 3
How could that they top that awesome second season? Well they did. The big bads for the season were Detroit mobster, Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough) trying to get in on the local Oxy action, and local ‘mayor’ of Noble’s Holler in the segregated part of Harlan County, Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson). However, the season was all about family, their betrayal and loyality, both Raylan’s and Boyd’s.
9. Archer (USA) Season 3
This is the funniest and sharpest spy adult cartoon on the planet. There is great voice work by H. Jon Benjamin, Judy Greer, Aisha Tyler, Chris Parnell, Amber Nash and Jessica Walter and you actually start to care for these crazy characters and their insane lives.
8. Fringe (USA) Season 5
Fringe is one of the best shows on at the moment. It is an ode to creativity and strength of conviction. As soon as the series creators realised the show was not going to get ratings that make it a ‘hit’, but they did have an avid fan base and support from Fox Network, they had the licence to tell the stories they want. Fringe’s final season is proving to be completely different from what came before and simultaneously true to previous seasons. The trio of Olivia (Anna Torv), Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Walter (John Noble) are fantastic actors and they anchor you through the incrediable leaps of faith required in good science fiction. I suspect that this shows legacy will be ‘All You Need Is Love’.
7. Being Human (UK) Season 4
What do you do when one of your lead actors decides to leave the show to go to New Zealand to make The Hobbit? You give him the best send off in the final of the previous season, start to close the story arcs of the remaining lead characters in the beginning episodes of the latest season and seamlessly introduce and reboot the series. Beautifully done.
6. Call The Midwife (UK) Season 1
Midwifery in London’s East End in the 1950s. Not your typical topic for great Sunday night TV. But this charming BBC series based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth is a winning combination of comedy and drama. Showing us the true worth of the British National Health Service and introducing the comedian Miranda Heart to a great dramatic role.
5. The Bridge (Sweden/Denmark) Season 1
The Bridge was the first joint creative and financial set up between Denmark and Sweden. The story is driven by a criminal investigation instigated by the dumping of a body on the Oresund Bridge joining Sweden and Denmark. One investigator from each country, this detective double act is a winning combination of verging on Aspergers Saga Norén (Sofia Helin), the lead homicide detective in Malmö and friendly Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia), the lead homicide detective in Copenhagen. The first season is a compelling crime story with great twists and turns and loads of adrenalin.
4. Game of Thrones (USA) Season 2
This adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin's series of fantasy novels, this second season is bigger, better and with more characters. It builds up to the Battle of Blackwater, with all its magic, betrayal, love and scheming, however it is the character duets that stand out in this season. The wonderful work between Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister, head of the Lannister family and Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, the younger daughter of Stark family of Winterfell who is disguised as an orphan boy and in his service as she tries to get back to Winterfell from King’s Landing ; Rose Leslie as Ygritte, a Wildling and Kit Harrington as a new member of the Night Watch and Ned Stark bastard, Jon Snow; Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth, a female warrior and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as her prisoner of war, Jaime Lannister; and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister trading barbs with Lena Heady his elder sister and Queen of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, Cersei Baratheon.
3. Mad Men (USA) Season 5
There was some backlash over the amount of time spent on Megan (Jessica Pare), Don’s second wife this season, but to me it was logical that she was seen in stark contrast to Betty (January Jones) and her icy coldness of previous seasons. Although their screen time was not as much as Megan, it was decisions made by Joan (Christina Hendricks) and Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) that had the greatest impact. Season 6 will be very interesting indeed.
2. The Killing (Denmark) Season 3 or 4 depending who you ask
Technically it is Season 4, but as 1 and 2 were shown at once in the UK, the Brits call it Season 3. Now coming to an end next week in the UK, this season and this series is great television. It will go down in the TV Annals as one of the best crime dramas made with a mesmerising central performance by Sofie Grabol as Detective Inspector Sarah Lund.
1. Sherlock (UK) Season 2
Just four words – A Scandal In Belgravia. Enough said. Best 90 minutes of TV for 2012.