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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Gary's US Top 10

I'm Gary, you may've heard me on our podcast getting names slightly wrong and not quite sticking with TV shows. I'm the one of the trio with a keen interest in US programmes. Although we've included some key foreign shows in our best of the year posts I've compiled a US Top 10 that has defined 2015 for me. 


10. Jessica Jones (Netflix US & UK)
This one gets in by the skin of her perfect teeth!  Released in one 13 episode block in late November on Netflix (my channel of the year), this Marvel comic book adaptation oozes with intrigue and dark humour.  Plus it has David Tennant as a gloriously evil bad guy, not something I've seen him do for a long time.  Kristen Ritter is great as the lead and thankfully the show loses is "internal monologue" voiceover early on.



9. Bosch (Amazon US & UK)
I'm a huge fan of the books written by Michael Connelly and was excited when Amazon did a pilot in 2014. You can imagine my joy when the Netflix rival decided to pick it up for a full series this year. The 10 episode series is perfect for the binge watch.  Titus Welliver (The Good Wife) plays the moody Bosch very well.  I was a little let down by the supporting cast though, which is why it wasn’t higher on my list.  Good news is that Season 2 is almost done and should be out in early 2016.

8. BoJack Horseman (Netflix US & UK)
This is the only cartoon on my list and definitely not for kids.  Bojack, voiced by Will Arnett (Arrested Development), is a former TV star trying to get back into the public eye, he lives with his best friend and is dating a cat, as you do!  The show is fast paced and full of humour.  It also has Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) voicing his best friend, Aaron also co-created the show.  I binge watched both season 1 and 2, and could easily do so again. The second series went to new depths as it dealt with Bojack's depression and Todd's desperate attempts to leave Bojack's side.

7. Veep (HBO US & Sky Atlantic UK)
The longest running show on my list and thankfully we have one more season to come before they end it.  The addition of Hugh Laurie this season was wonderful; he played the new Vice President to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ inept President Selina Myers.  I say President as almost as quickly as she ascends to the oval office, she is threatened with losing it in an election.  I prefer this to the UK’s “The Thick of It” (also created by Armando Iannucci), mostly as I think US politics has much more you can lampoon and mock.  Special mention to Tony Hale in this season, the bumbling body man is hilarious as he gets ousted from his role. Even though

6. Better Call Saul (AMC US & Netflix UK)
Breaking Bad is without doubt one of the greatest dramas in recent memory, some might argue the best. A spin-off or prequel was always going to be a difficult thing to. Luckily Saul was one of the shining lights of Breaking Bad and Bob Odenkirk made a spin off about him an easy decision.  The first few episodes are a delight, showing Saul as a desperate lawyer trying to get noticed. Thankfully Jonathan Banks has also been retained from Breaking Bad as Mike, the short tempered and even short speaking sidekick.  The interactions between Saul and Mike are worth the viewing alone.  It’s not Breaking Bad and to be fair doesn’t try to be, but the show has pathos and comedy in bundles.

5. Daredevil (Netflix US & UK)
This gets a higher position than Jessica Jones mostly due to the fact it was such a surprise when it came out.  Another Marvel comic adaptation and the first I’ve seen where it felt real even though it’s about a superhero.  This one isn’t packed with big name stars, but Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk deserves special mention.  Set in the suitably named Hell’s Kitchen in New York it deals with real issues (housing, corruption and the mob) whilst staying true to the comic book themes of redemption.  This is in my top five as again I watched all 13 episodes in a short space of time.  Oh and forgot the bad film of the same character with Ben Affleck, like the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer this will make you forget the film.

4. Gotham (Fox US & C5 UK)
Technically this aired first in 2014 but I think C5 started showing it till Jan 2015, plus I only watched it when it came to Netflix, this is the only network show on my list.  Even if you are not a Batman fan this show has plenty of action, intrigue and violence for you.  It’s also quite fun trying to work out which future evil enemy of Batman you can spot.  I almost jumped out of my seat when I worked out who The Joker was.  It’s darkly shot and always feels like a new danger is just around the corner.  Ben McKenzie is great as the future Commissioner Ben Gordon and the rest of the cast camp up the roles without ever going too far.

3. Mr. Robot (USA Network US & Amazon UK)
In my opinion the surprise hit of the year, released without much warning or hype, Amazon again threw all 10 episodes at us in one hit.  Just after the recent Sony hacking scandal this show perfectly captured the paranoia people feel about being hacked.  At first you think lead character Elliot Alderson is a hacking vigilante, exposing people for crimes, but the show shifts into corporate espionage and how Elliot deals with troubling Mental Health issues.  The only real big name in the show is Christian Slater as Mr Robot.  Episode 8 will blow your mind!

2. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix US & UK)
For me this was my comedy of 2015, a brilliant new, light heated and sweet comedy.  It found a home  on Netflix after NBC rejected it. Co-created and written by Tina Fey (30 Rock) it has many of the same traits of 30 Rock but manages to be different as well.  Ellie Kemper (The Office US) plays ditzy but strong willed Kimmy Schmidt, a former doomsday cult member who is released by her cult leader after 15 years, who then promptly moves to New York.  The early episodes play up on the fact Kimmy has been away for 15 years, lots of life adjusting needed.  The supporting cast is great from Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) as Kimmy’s boss to Titus Burgess as her roommate.  The show ends with a great court room scene where Kimmy finally confronts the Doomsday cult leader.  And I dare you not to be singing the theme tune after 2 episodes.


1. Game of Thrones (HBO US & Sky Atlantic UK)
Whilst some would say Season 5 of this fantasy book adaptation was not the best, I will stand by this show through thick and thin.  Many felt this season strayed the most from the books, of which there are many loyal fans.  But I thought the plotlines chosen by the creators stayed loyal to the themes and characters enough to entertain and keep me watching.  The show always delivers great actors in key roles, just when we lost Charles Dance this year we got Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow, a Pope like character who certainly shakes up the show.  The ending focussed on the Jon Snow v White Walkers battle and delivered in a big way with ice zombies attacking a fortified outpost with incredible special effects.  Plus did I mention huge Dragons yet?  Season 6 has been delayed until April, I have already sent my complaint email to HBO.

Contributed by Gary Redrup.

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