Krampus in Der Pass

It’s that moment you’ve all been waiting for: it’s the TMINE Top N programmes of 2019!

As usual at this time of year, TMINE is busily packing its bags to get ready for its annual Christmas break. We’re not there yet, though, as everything will continue until Thursday at least, although I have a Christmas party to go to on Friday so who knows what’ll happen then?

However, barring minor miracles, there’ll be no more shows that are both new and excellent for me to review this year, which means I can at last unveil TMINE’s Top N programmes of 2019, where N is a positive integer that you can guess, if you want. You haven’t got long. Just a few paragraphs in fact.

Here are previous years’ Top Ns:

I will say at this point, though, that despite the expansion in streaming services this year, N<14 for 2019. And for about the first half of the year, it looked like it wouldn’t be more than a handful. However, things have perked up since.

That’s all the clues you’re getting, mind.

There are other TV shows

As always, the caveat:

I’ve not watched every TV programme broadcast or acquired in the UK this year and I barely watched any live TV, so there are almost certainly some good shows that that I’ve left off the list. And, of course, there are a few shows that started well but I’ve not finished yet, so aren’t eligible for the list.

So best not to think of this as the definitive “Best new TV shows from all the shows that have aired around the world of 2019”, so much as just the “Top TV shows I would recommend to a friend of the ones I’ve reviewed in 2019”.

Old stuff is good

I should also point out that this is all the new shows that have hit TMINE’s TV-viewing radar this year, and it’s worth remembering that sometimes the best TV can come from people who have already been making great TV.

So honourable mentions for the following ineligible shows that have continued to provide me with considerable viewing pleasure this year:

  • Le bureau des légendes (The Bureau) (France: Canal+; UK: Sundance TV) – seasons three and four
  • Dark (Netflix) – season two
  • Engrenages (Spiral) (France: Canal+; UK: BBC Four) – season eight
  • Impulse (YouTube) – season two
  • Legion (US: FX; UK: Fox UK) – season three

Drum roll, please

But now, to the Top N of 2019. As always, feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments, on your own blog or on the TMINE Facebook page.

Continue reading “It’s that moment you’ve all been waiting for: it’s the TMINE Top N programmes of 2019!”
Dan Aykroyd and John Goodman on ABC's The Conners

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The OA
Internet TV

Boxset Monday: The OA – Part II (Netflix)

Available on Netflix

When The OA first came to Netflix, it was to minimal fanfare. Just as Stranger Things came to us with almost no publicity, so The OA came with a not especially informative trailer and a title and that was about it.

Then, of course, we got to watch them and marvel in projects that at times bordered on genius. The first season of The OA wasn’t exactly plain sailing or without its ups and downs, however. Indeed, it took me a little while to get through all the episodes, rather than just boxsetting them (episode reviews: 1, 2-4, 5-8).

But Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij’s story about a blind girl (Marling) who disappeared and then reappeared seven years later, her sight restored, and now claiming to be ‘The OA’ (the original angel), was nevertheless a stunningly original piece of work, unlike pretty much anything you’ll see on TV, outside David Lynch’s most auteured piece. In parts supernatural, in parts fairy tale, it was a musing on a musing on the power of storytelling – and of the need to tell stories – as well as of art, music, dance, nature, life, love, masculinity, femininity and more.

The ending, however, wasn’t so much ambiguous as diminishing, suggesting that the whole thing was just made up by The OA based on things she’d seen and read, in the style of The Usual Suspects.

Marling also suggested that she hadn’t even considered a second season and that was that for the story – until the show’s success inevitably resulted in its renewal.

Britt Marling in Netflix’s The OA

A fairytale sequel

What then for season two – or Part II as it now is? How do you create a sequel to a fairy tale? And how do you do it when you no longer have the element of surprise, as you did with your first season?

As you might expect, Marling’s answer is not whatever answer you just came up with but is something staggeringly different. Indeed, there’s one key line in Part II that sums it up: “I think logic is over-rated.”

And I mean that in a good way, because in terms of ideas, I’d say Britt Marling is the closest we now have to a young, female David Lynch. Or maybe David Lynch is just the older male version of Marling.

Continue reading “Boxset Monday: The OA – Part II (Netflix)”
Il Miracolo (The Miracle)
European TV

Review: Il Miracolo (The Miracle) 1×1-1×2 (Italy/UK: Sky Atlantic)

In Italy: Aired on Sky Atlantic, May 2018
In the UK: Tuesdays, 9pm, Sky Atlantic

Like most right-thinking people, I hate Rupert Murdoch. Being a Sky customer for 15 years – through necessity, rather than choice – has therefore been something of a vexing experience. We didn’t want to give money to Rupert Murdoch but… we did. Things obviously got better last year when News International sold all its share in Sky, but there’s still that lingering “Grrr” of annoyance at the thought of supporting Sky.

What’s equally annoying is that Sky is responsible for some of the better European TV out there. As well as all the Sky Atlantic originals we’ve had in the UK, we’ve also recently had both Babylon Berlin and Das Boot from Sky Deutschland, and from Sky Italy we’ve had the likes of 1992 and now Il Miracolo. The last of these isn’t quite in the same league as the rest, but it’s clear that we’re all going to have to get used to the idea of a benevolent Sky god, rather than Rupert Murdoch.

Il Miracolo

Not miraculous

The Miracle (to give it its English name) starts off at a somewhat different level from the rest of the show – with an almost literal blood bath. Police raid a mafia boss’ home but when they find him the basement, he – and most of the basement – are covered in bucketloads of blood.

But there are no bodies.

Meanwhile, Italy’s prime minister (Guido Caprino) is having a hard time of it. There’s a referendum on leaving the EU due to take place in just a few days. Meanwhile, his wife (Elena Lietti) is having random sex at parties with ugly blokes and his kids are just humming. No, really, they’ve got a nanny and every time he passes their bedroom, they’re praying – and usually humming – with her.

Then the police tell him they have a very particular concern. They show Caprino what they found in the mafia’s boss basement – a plastic statue of the Virgin Mary. Thing is this statue is crying blood. They’ve tested it and it’s definitely a man’s blood. And despite being attached to nothing, the statue is crying blood at the rate of nine litres an hour, every hour. They’ve even had to stick it in an empty swimming pool with a bucket under it to catch all of it.

Is this a miracle? If it is, what does it mean and what does God have up His sleeves? And more importantly, what should Caprino do with the information – tell the world and risk riots or keep it to himself? And can he even keep it to himself or will the news leak anyway?

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Rachelle Lefevre and Kelsey Grammer in Proven Innocent

Review: Proven Innocent 1×1 (US: Fox; UK: Universal)

In the US: Fridays, 9pm, Fox
In the UK: Acquired by Universal. Will air in March

Watching Fox’s new legal drama, Proven Innocent, reminds me of how it’s possible to feel sorry for actors even when they’ve managed to bag the lead role in a TV series. Sure, they’re the star. But in this? Oh dear, I’m so sorry.

I’ve always quite liked Rachelle Lefevre and thought she’s deserved a better career than she’s had, ever since she was bumped from the US adaptation of Life on Mars in favour of Gretchen Mol in the reshoot. She joined Off The Map, the only Shondaland series to get canned after one season. She was Victoria in the first two Twilight movies but was replaced by Bryce Dallas Howard in the third movie, Eclipse, just as the role got meaty. It’s only Under The Dome that’s really given her any success and that was a prevaricating lump of daftness at the best of times.

Kelsey Grammer, on the other hand, is a fabulous comedic actor who had huge success with two long-running comedies: Cheers and Frasier. Unfortunately, all his comedy series since Frasier – Partners, Hank, Back To You – have been truly awful. Boss and The Last Tycoon both demonstrated that he’s an amazing dramatic actor, too, but those shows got cancelled fast.

And with Proven Innocent, all I can do is feel sorry for the both of them – as well as Vincent Kartheiser (Angel, Das Boot, Mad Men), Laurie Holden (The Walking DeadThe Americans, The X-Files) and Riley Smith (Frequency) – as they endure some really quite pitifully poor material as they head towards yet another inevitable cancellation.

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