Review 2010: The Opinion Engine: 30/31: Some things I've enjoyed watching on television this year.

On Location 1f

TV It’s still strange to me that Sherlock on BBC One was considered the surprise hit of the summer, given the writers, the cast and the directors involved. Steven Moffat once again produced a classic from his fingers, aided and abetted by Mark Gatiss with Benedict Cumberbatch somehow embodying Conan Doyle’s anti-hero within a modern setting and Martin Freeman managing to find a new nobility in Watson, a character previously given even less respect than the average 60s Dr Who companion. If the middle episode was generally considered middling, the first and third were two of the best dramas on television this year, as, like Inception in cinemas, they refused to talk down to viewers and welcomed us into the afoot game.

Virtual Revolution on BBC Two achieved the somewhat impossible task of making me excited about the web again after months and months of creeping boredom. Across three episodes, Aleks Krotoski revealed the history of the internet, her methodology to tease out the slightly less well known stories, demonstrating that such things as social networking are not new phenomena, it’s simply that new technologies have made them easier and less niche. The result is that over time geeks, nerds and dork have no longer become marginalized by society. They are society. And I decided that blogging wasn’t just a hobby but a mission.

The TV Election Debates were thrilling television. Not particularly because of what was happening on screen, but because they confirmed that the likes of twitter have essentially changed the way some of watch tv and how tv and in this case politics works. Within seconds of the previously tried and tested anecdotes emerging in the debate, parodies were appearing within a hundred and forty characters to the point that by the end all three candidates were looking somewhat ludicrous. So ubiquitous has this hashtag approach to television become, it’s entirely possible to know exactly what’s happening in a programme without even turning on a television. To boycott The X-Factor now, I don’t just have to have a different channel on, I have turn off my twitter client too.

The Pacific on Sky Movies HD was the kind of television which used to be given pride of place on a national channel but now finds itself in one of Murdoch’s televisual ghettos. A ten part epic from the same stable as Band of Brothers, this took three US army officers through the World War Two campaign demonstrating the ease with which humanity loses its humanity within extreme circumstances of peril and there were few more memorable scenes this year than of men stealing the gold filling from their deceased colleagues. Employing interviews with the real soldiers depicted in the series gave the drama extra weight and suspense too, not least because we weren’t entirely sure who had survived until the very end.

Mentioning The Ascent of Man is a bit of a cheat since it’s older than I am, but BBC Four did repeat an episode recently which sort of makes it count, and after spending the best part of a month watching The Wire, I then spent half of the next month letting Jacob Bronowski explain a history of scientific thought to me. As ever, some of my favourite shows this year have been these presenter led documentaries, but what Bronowski was able to do was describe extremely complex ideas with few of the flashier excesses which distract the viewer now. One of the episodes seems to take place entirely between three rocks in a desert with only a Neolithic skull as a prop. It was one of my big televisual experiences of the year and I’d recommend it be one of yours in the next.

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