Vada’s Top TV of 2014 – Part 1

Barry Quinn

Barry Quinn is an English Language and Literature graduate and a Creative Writer MA studier. He is an aspiring creative and professional writer and is currently in the process of writing his first novel. His writing blog can be viewed here: https://barrygjquinn.wordpress.com You can follow him on Twitter at: @mrbarryquinn

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2014 has seen some pretty ace television airing and so to celebrate the end of the year I bring you a list of my favourite episodes, along with some contributions by writers and readers of Vada alike.

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The Leftovers – Two Boats and a Helicopter

I need to catch up on this show, and recent reports have suggested that a new setting and supporting characters await its second season (don’t worry, the core – i.e., interesting characters – will thankfully be sticking around) but what I have watched of The Leftovers has had me hooked. Literally.

It’s pretty much a HBO remake of Lost, but it is a stunning programme, not least its third episode ‘Two Boats and a Helicopter’. Dedicated to Reverend Matt Jamison’s plight at losing his church, Christopher Eccleston delivers one of many brilliant performances. This episode made Matt interesting, whereas previously he had been rendered peripheral and rather lacklustre.

Episode six, ‘Guest’, followed in a similar vein by focussing mostly on Nora Durst, and delivered another standout episode. Perhaps season two should utilise this mode of narration more, by dedicating individual episodes to certain characters. I.e., the interesting characters.

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Looking – Looking Glass

Looking was a quirky little show that HBO produced early in 2014. If you didn’t watch it, now is the time to catch-up – season two starts next month.

A loveable cast of LGBT+ characters (and Agustín whom many despised) dealt with their lives and their loves against the colourful backdrop of San Francisco.

Dubbed the ‘gay version’ of Sex and the City, Looking is so much more. It’s finale, ‘Looking Glass’, neatly wrapped up the many threads of season one whilst posing a whopper of a cliffhanger – Patrick, after fucking Kevin, finally gets a chance at love with Richie.

I’m in two minds as to whom Patrick should chose – I love both Richie and Kevin for different reasons (namely Russell Tovey’s ears and Raúl Castillo’s smile).

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Psychobitches – Episode Two (Adam Lowe)

I love Psychobitches. It has some great gags and some great characters. What’s best is that, for the most part, the women get all the best lines.

The second episode of this series was especially funny because it featured the Brontes singing about their unfulfilled sexual desires on t’moors. Being from Yorkshire myself, the comical Yorkshire accents had me in stitches – and I loved seeing Katy Brand doing silly songs again.

More recently, Johnny Vegas entertained as a particularly hilarious version of Salome, who ends up mixing up her box of horrors with Pandora’s – to humorous effect.

Mind you, the first episode of this new series was undoubtedly the best. With an hilarious Margaret Thatcher parody, it was both outrageous and brave. Mrs Thatcher (the sublime Michelle Gomez) is wheeled in like Hannibal Lecter, and goes about explaining why inequality is good, why happiness means consistent growth and why ‘feelings’ are a socialist lie. She even vomits at the suggestion that everyone has an innate value.

The same episode features Kathy Burke as a riotous Queen Mother and Reece Shearsmith as Princess Anne.

Psychobitches is one of just a few British shows really pushing the boat out at the moment. It was called ‘hideous’ by royal biographer Penny Junor (who hadn’t seen the episode at the time) and ‘beyond the acceptable bounds of satire’ by trustee of The Margaret Thatcher Archive Trust Andrew Roberts. I want to see more.

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Doctor Who – Deep Water / Death in Heaven

As shocks go, ‘Deep Water’ delivered perhaps Doctor Who’s biggest shock of its new run. The Master has only flipping had a sex change!

Post-airing comments from the Moff suggest that gender is fluid on Gallifrey, so I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see a female Doctor in the near future. I actually think I could cope with that now …

And what a legacy was left by this stunning two-part episode! It saw the return of the Cybermen, the Mistress and UNIT, along with a satisfying conclusion to the series-long arc, and the apparent departure of Clara.

Stellar performances from Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Samuel Anderson and Michelle Gomez (in her second appearance in this list) make this episode(s) hard to top. Series 9 has a long way to go to beat this.

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How to Get Away with Murder – Kill Me, Kill Me, Kill Me (Zodwa Nyoni, playwright and poet)

Viola Davis IS How to Get Away with Murder. In response to the New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley, who called her ‘less classically beautiful’ than the ‘typical’ leading lady, I am too busy being in awe of Viola Davis’ performance than to be concerned with her age or how she’s too dark-skinned to be on TV.

Annalise Keating is a multifaceted character who is beautifully played by Davis. Period!

The OMG moment: Season 1 Episode 9, when we realise Keating has been at the driving seat all season long. What we saw and believed was by design. It’s frustrating and exciting.

Zodwa Nyoni is Channel 4’s Playwright in Residence at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

You can read part part 2 here and part 3 here.

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