Sunday, April 23, 2006

TV Heaven: The Cream of the Crop

With the return of intriguing castaway drama 'Lost' a matter of days away, it's got me thinking about programmes I watch/have watched religiously. As an avid fan of lists, I've therefore taken it upon myself to reflect on TV programmes, old and new, in order to create an all-time Top Ten favourite list.

Before the Top Ten (which by the way is brilliantly inspired), I'll take this moment to mourn the shows that didn't quite manage a placing:

Honourable Mention #1
Dad's Army (1968-1977)
Starring: Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Ian Lavender, Clive Dunn, John Laurie, James Beck, Arnold Ridley, Bill Pertwee, Frank Williams, Edward Sinclair

From the moment Arthur Lowe's absurdly bumbling Captain Mainwaring occupies the screen, armed with a lack of dynamism and wishy-washy Toff English eccentricity, Dad's Army is a delight. Satirising the traditionalism of Britain; it's naive, over-thought, one-dimensional attitudes and methods, Dad's Army represents, in part, an era in which much was achieved. Watching these men exercise their 'Britishness' in such a way is thoroughly engaging, led by an ensemble that largely understates when cliché could easily have been descended upon.

Honourable Mention #2
Desperate Housewives (2004-Present)
Starring: Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria, Nicolette Sheridan, James Denton, Alfre Woodward, Ricardo Chavira, Mark Moses, Andrea Bowen, Doug Savant, Cody Kasch, Jesse Metcalfe

In similar style to DA, recently acclaimed show Desperate Housewives uses satire as its main instrument. With an artificiality that spreads from the characters, to the set design, to the many sub-plots, Housewives weaves a web of deceit and manipulation, while remaining an essentially comic piece. What really makes this show worth watching though, is the performance of its four leading ladies. Cross, Huffman, Hatcher, and Longoria accentuate their characters flaws to similarly lengthy degrees, delving into their strengths and weaknesses in keeping with the frank and fluffy tone that we have come to know and love.

Honourable Mention #3
Pop Idol (2001-2003)
Starring: Simon Cowell, Pete Waterman, Nicki Chapman, Neil Fox, Will Young, Gareth Gates, Darius Danesh, Zoe Birkett, Rosie Ribbons, Michelle McManus

Let me make this perfectly clear. I mean 'Pop Idol'. Not 'Popstars'. Not 'The X Factor'. Pop Idol.

When Pop Idol first burst onto our screens in 2001, there had only previously been one reality talent show of this ilk, 2000's Popstars, which gave birth to the short lived band Hear'Say, but let's not get into that. Armed with a set of judges that had everything: Dr Fox had personality, Nicki Chapman had appeal, Pete Waterman had eccentricity, and Simon Cowell had.. well.. what Simon Cowell has. No imitation of this talent show will ever eclipse the feeling of jubilation at the end of Series 1, when Will Young emerged from massive underdog to beat teen hearthrob Gareth Gates in a vote that totalled just under 10 Million in all. Please bring it back. Its copycat cousins just aren't quite the same.

Ok. That's the honourable mentions done. Stay tuned for the Top Ten, which will begin later on.

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