Tuesday, April 25, 2006

TV Heaven: All Time Top Ten [ #10 - #8 ]

#10 - ER (1994-Present)
Starring: Maura Tierney, Goran Visnjic, Mekhi Phifer, Parminder Nagra, Linda Cardellini, George Clooney, Noah Wyle, Anthony Edwards, Laura Innes, Sally Field, Scott Grimes, Sheri Stringfield

ER is one of those programmes that gets by on its frenetic pace, both in terms of internal medical analysis, and quickly accelerating plotlines. There is always something to discuss, whether it be a doctor's dilemna, a patient's dilemna, or how good George Clooney looks in his uniform. Regardless of a sense of plotline familiarity from time to time (what other TV show doesn't have that), there have been some superbly memorable episodes throughout its several series. T
hey also know how to mix things up. Episodes have ranged from jaunts to the Congo, to flood rescues, to the real-time final hour of liver patient Ray Liotta's tired life. It is a credit to the writers that its characters and plot strands feel as fresh as they do after such a long time.

The ensemble have been of a dramatic high standard throughout, with mentions to Noah Wyle, Laura Innes, Linda Cardellini, and particularly Maura Tierney, who has mastered her very difficult arc throughout many series'. Her fractured mind outside of work is indicative of ER's continual message that things can't be taken at face value.

#9 - Only Fools and Horses
(1981-2003)
Starring: David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Lennard Pearce, Buster Merryfield, Roger Lloyd-Pack, John Challis, Sue Holderness, Gwyneth Strong, Tessa Peake-Jones

Perhaps lower on my list than I expected is the long-running sitcom Only Fools and Horses. This sitcom is one of the finest, telling the story of down-on-their-luck family in Peckham, who get by by trading stolen junk and selling it down the market.

The family dynamic within Fools is perfect, with Del Boy (Jason) the head of the household, living with younger brother Rodney and their Grandad, in a council flat. Although the actor who played Grandad, Lennard Pearce, died after a couple of series' the dynamic remains the same with navy war veteran Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield). The great thing about their relationship is that although Del holds the cards in both the financial and manipulation stakes (their mother died when Del was a boy), he is dependent upon the others in a way that is true of families to this day.

Watching these two pretenders is great value, with David Jason a particular standout as the ambitious Del Boy, bringing all of his charisma and spice to a role that, while generous, needed to be grabbed hold of. Nicholas Lyndhurst is also very good throughout, and when called upon for more dramatic acting, delivers in earnest. Of course the comedy value plays the most major part, and there has been a fair few hilarious madcap moments that will always be etched in my memory. Whether it be through their belonging, trust, or faith, Del Boy and Rodney find themselves in these situations because they want to better themselves, something we can all relate to.

#8 -
Coronation Street (1960-Present)
Starring: William Roache, Elizabeth Dawn, Helen Worth, Jean Alexander, Barbara Knox, Anthony Cotton, Vicky Entwistle, Beverley Callard, Johnny Briggs, Amanda Barrie, Ian McKellen, Anne Kirkbride, Tina O’Brien, Julie Goodyear, Suranne Jones

This is the only soap opera in my Top Ten, and in any case no other soap opera could ever touch it. This is the pinnacle in drama, comedy, longevity and reality. For 46 years now (can any other show say that?) Coronation Street has wowed, touched, demanded the utmost attention, garnering consistently high ratings throughout its five decades. Still with original cast members, it stands alone as a lofty benchmark for others to reach.

Most recently, while rival shows launched a no-holds-barred onslaught of drama, Coronation Street has mixed it up a little, balancing its darker elements with a light humour. This works wonders, taking little away from the harsher realities but imprinting its own style that is evidently missing in the work of its competition. Recent storylines including the serial killer Richard Hillman's massacre, and Maya's psychotic jealous revenge against her ex-husband Dev have been inspired. I am convinced that the Street will be here for another 45 years, and who knows? Maybe even longer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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