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RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes

 
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RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 7:38:20 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.

quote:

ORIGINAL: MovieAddict247

Some part of me is saying that I've seen The Signalman, but I don't think I have.



You should check it out, they've just started releasing the full run of the Ghost Story for Christmas eps on dvd,

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Post #: 571
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 7:40:02 AM   
MovieAddict247


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Joined: 5/6/2009

quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson


quote:

ORIGINAL: MovieAddict247

Some part of me is saying that I've seen The Signalman, but I don't think I have.



You should check it out, they've just started releasing the full run of the Ghost Story for Christmas eps on dvd,



Awesome stuff.

Nice writeup for Blackadder - Goodbyeee is one of the best episodes of British television ever.

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Post #: 572
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 7:43:30 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
11. Without Walls
"An Interview with Dennis Potter"



1994

Dennis Potter was one of televisions most creative and innovative writers, leaving a legacy of incredible work that few writers come close to. This interview with Potter was recorded when he knew he was dying of cancer. Potter is in fine form, talking about his illness, his work and his life. He still has the same black humour he's shown through all his life, even saying he's nicknamed his cancer "Rupert", after Rupert Murdoch, a man he saw as representing the worst aspects of the media. It's a moving interview with a truly brilliant man.

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Post #: 573
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 7:51:12 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
So before we get to the top 10, I have to give a special mention to Not Only... But Also



If this existed as a full run of episodes then it would probably have been my number one, what remains is certainly my number one show of all time. But picking a compilation episode didn't seem fair, because it can't be judged on the same criteria as regular episodes of other shows. But it didn't feel right making the list without giving it a mention.

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Post #: 574
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 7:55:34 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
10. The Phil Silvers Show
"The Court Martial"



Season 01, Episode 25
1956

Phil Silvers starred as U.S. army master sergeant Ernie Bilko. Bilko did his service during peacetime at Fort Baxter, a small, quiet little camp. Bilko spent his days cheating, conning, lying, gambling and basically doing anything he could to get his hands on money. Bilko usually enlisted the men in his command to help with his schemes, but he was just as happy to fleece them if he needed to. All of this was done under the nose of ineffectual Colonel Hall.

So what made the show so great? First of all there's the character of Bilko, played to perfection by Silvers. I can't say if Bilko was the first unsympathetic lead in an American sitcom, but he's quite possibly the most influential. Shades of Bilko can be found in American comedy characters down the ages from Louie De Palma to George Constanza, right the way up to George Bluth.

In addition to having one of the strongest lead characters in sit-com history, Bilko was unusual for featuring a large support cast. From Colonel Hall right the way down to slobby private Duane Doberman, every member of the extended ensemble was given a chance to shine. In fact, it was this large cast that led to the show's demise. The show was just to expensive to keep on air.

Then of course you have the wonderful writing. Elements of the show might naturally have dated, but setting the action in an army camp during wartime means that the characters are quite isolated from modern life and have achieved a timeless feel. Also, the comedic setups are so superb that any budding script writer could benefit from a crash course in Bilko.

My episode of choice sees Bilko taking part in an attempt to break the record for induction of new recruits to the army. Through a series of events that can only occur in a sitcom, they accidentally induct a recruit named Private Harry Speakup. Trouble is that Harry Speakup is actually a chimp. In order to avoid the shame of admitting they inducted a chimp into the army, a court martial has to take place. Absurd comedy at its finest.

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Post #: 575
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 7:57:11 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
9. Omnibus
"Whistle and I'll Come to You"



1968

Jonathan Miller's adaptation of M.R. James classic ghost story stands among the finest films of 1960s British cinema. James's stories stood as warnings to those who delve to deeply into forbidden knowledge or areas where they didn't belong, here Miller tells James's story while also trying to offer a psychological explanation of events. Whistle tells the story of Professor Parkins, an academic who takes a holiday to the eastern coast of England. While exploring the shore area, he discovers an old whistle inscribed with a phrase in Latin, 'Who is this who is coming?'. When Parkins blows the whistle, someone, or something, answers the call. He becomes haunted by dreams of being followed along the beach, and he soon finds he is no longer alone in his hotel room. Parkins is a rational figure whose disbelief in the supernatural becomes shaken to the core. Michael Hordern gives an endlessly inventive performance as Professor Parkins. By turns he is argumentative, comedic, eccentric, arrogant and blinkered to the feelings of others, yet still pulling great empathy from the viewer. The performance is possibly the finest the great actor ever gave. Miller also shows a great talent at capturing the sense of quiet foreboding of James' stories, turning the windswept coastline into a desolate area where nightmares live, and conjuring phantoms out of the everyday.

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Post #: 576
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 7:58:42 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
8. Wallace & Gromit
"The Wrong Trousers"



1993

The film begins on Gromit's birthday. But because of the huge pile of unpaid bills, Gromit's presents consist of a new collar and a pair of robotic trousers. The trousers are big robotic creations and they're intended to be used to take Gromit for walks. Wallace decides the only way to make money is to rent out a room. Their lodger is a sinister penguin. The penguin first takes over Gromit's bedroom and then Wallace's attention. Feeling pushed out, Gromit leaves home. When Gromit leaves, the mysterious penguin begins to make some alterations on the robotic trousers. While looking for a place to stay, Gromit stumbles across the penguin's true identity, Feathers McGraw - wanted criminal. Meanwhile Feathers has trapped Wallace in the modified robotic trousers and has plans to steal a diamond. It's up to Gromit to save the day in a frantic and thrilling battle with Feathers that culminates in a hair-raising ride along a model train set.

The claymation animation is sharper than A Grand Day Out and the inventions seem more high-tech as well, from the trapdoor that drops Wallace out of his bed to the trousers themselves. The emotional depth of the characters is also improved from A Grand Day Out and the scene with Gromit leaving is actually quite moving. This was the short where Wallace and Gromit became national icons and it wasn't just the smoothing out of the rough edges that make this work so well, it's Park refining his characters and capturing the qualities and quirks that make them so beloved. It's difficult to imagine Wallace & Gromit being created in any other country because there's something about them that feels uniquely British. In many ways that eccentric Britishness makes them feel like refugees from an Ealing film and I think that's partly what's so appealing about them. They feel timeless, but not dated or antiquated. The Wrong Trousers is the peak of their glories, but that's not to say what came later was in any way bad. There's not a Wallace & Gromit outing that's anything less than a five star classic, but this is the one of the most exciting and funny animations ever created.

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Post #: 577
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 8:01:10 AM   
MovieAddict247


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The train chase in The Wrong Trousers may be the greatest scene in animated history. It's perfect.

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Post #: 578
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 8:01:24 AM   
rawlinson

 

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Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
7. Seinfeld
"The Soup Nazi"



Season 07, Episode 06
1995

For those who've never seen the show it stars stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld as... stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld. That's nothing that unusual for American sitcoms, many stand-up stars play themselves, or versions of themselves in sit-coms, but I don't think any wrote themselves as unflatteringly as Seinfeld did. Show Jerry is vain, neurotic, petty, and mean-spirited. His circle of friends are just as bad. Neighbour Kramer is a free-loading kook, Elaine could have been the token normal character but she's just as unpleasant as the rest of the characters. The jewel in the crown however is George an overweight, balding, hateful, neurotic, dumb, mean, dishonest, insecure, workshy little ball of self-loathing, played without a hint of vanity by the wonderful Jason Alexander. Seinfeld is a rare American sitcom in that none of the lead characters are written to be sympathetic. They're our identification figures, so of course we end up on their side, even though the writing is constantly telling us what horrible people they are. Not many American sitcoms could have a character gleefully celebrating the death of his fiancee and still be one of the highest rated shows on television.

Described within the series itself as 'a show about nothing', Seinfeld gets its laughs from placing the characters in mundane but absurd situations, getting entire episodes from misunderstandings over the ownership of a pen, a barking dog, a forgotten parking spot or a loaf of bread. Is Seinfeld without its flaws? Of course not. Like all other shows it had weak episodes, but for a show that lasted as long as it did, the hit-rate is astonishing, also, the fact that it never fell into easy sentiment is incredible.

There were so many possible choices for the Seinfeld slot, but the infamous Soup Nazi episode, with a cook who made the best soup in New York, but who banned anyone who didn't obey his exact ordering procedure should be a classic by anyone's standards.

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Post #: 579
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 8:02:06 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.

quote:

ORIGINAL: MovieAddict247

The train chase in The Wrong Trousers may be the greatest scene in animated history. It's perfect.


Amazing, isn't it? And it never gets old.

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Post #: 580
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 8:09:20 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
6. The Singing Detective
"Skin"



Season 01, Episode 01
1986

Pulp mystery writer Philip E. Marlow is in hospital being treated for a severe outbreak of psoriasis, like Potter himself, Marlow is one of the small percentage of psoriasis sufferers who can undergo symptoms of such severity that they practically cripple him. While in hospital, Marlow retreats into a fantasy world where he is a private detective, and also in memories of a traumatic event in his childhood.

Marlow's pain intensifies and he begins to mix up events from his past, his present and his film-noir fantasy life. The three different scenarios combine to form a type of fourth reality where fictional and non-fictional characters can interact, and Marlow begins to suspect that even the hospital is part of his creation.

We basically enter Marlow's head in The Singing Detective, many shows have tried to give us access to the inner workings of a character's mind, but none have ever managed it with as much skill and ease as The Singing Detective.

Several of the actors play multiple roles in the series, further adding to the disorientation felt while watching the show. Soon even the viewer begins to lose track of what is reality and what is Marlow's fantasy. Add to this the fact that this is one of Potter's musicals and the sense of unreality is complete. Marlow uses his various levels of reality to provide himself with clues as to his own psychological traumas, Marlow's recovery is dependent on him unravelling a repressed mystery but to do he needs to figure out what is real and what is fantasy.

With the wrong actor this show could easily have fallen apart, how lucky that they got Michael Gambon to deliver his finest performance as the tormented Marlow. It's a towering performance, if this had been for the cinema then anything less than an Oscar would have been an insult. As it was he deservedly won the Bafta for his year, even if the show itself ridiculously missed out.

The episode of choice, Skin, introduces us to all these worlds, to Marlow at his worst, and to the greatest mini-series in British television.

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Post #: 581
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 8:14:15 AM   
rawlinson

 

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Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
5. The Sopranos
"College"



Season 01, Episode 05
1999

This sprawling Mafia drama, created by David Chase, is one of the prime examples of why HBO has been one of the best television stations in the world over the past decade.

The Sopranos revolves around The Soprano crime family in New Jersey, the series opens with head of the family, Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) having a crisis. He's unhappy with both of the families in his life. His crime family no longer has what he sees as the honour of his father's time. His real life family is dysfunctional to the extent that it's bringing on extreme panic attacks. Soprano's life is getting so affected that he's pushed to an unusual step for a mobster, he goes to therapy.

The Sopranos began at around the same time as Analyze This, and it could easily have gone down the same predictable road. Instead, David Chase gave us one of television's great dramas, packed with memorable characters. Chase used the gangster genre as a way of addressing various pyschological and sociological themes, Soprano's home life was every bit as important to the show as his work life and the series also explored the impact on his children of having a gangster for a father. Chase also loaded the series with symbolism, and dream sequences were often used to explore Tony's inner turmoil.

As in most Mafia dramas there's a large number of strong supporting roles for male actors. The roles of Paulie Walnuts, Silvio, Uncle Junior, Christopher, Cousin Tony, Artie, etc all provided great opportunities for some star-making performances. But The Sopranos was unusual for a Mafia drama in that it also had a large number of strong female roles, from Edie Falco gave a career making performance as Soprano's wife Carmela. Lorraine Bracco, most famous as a gangster's wife in Goodfellas, played Soprano's therapist, Dr Melfi. Nancy Marchand played Soprano's twisted mother. Jamie Lynn Sigler played his rebellious daughter and Aida Turturro played his sister, Janice. While there's no doubt that many of the women in The Sopranos are treated as little more than sex objects for Tony and the others, that viewpoint is always the character's not the show's. The women with larger roles are fully realised, complex creations to rival any of the men. In fact, many of the women are given more complex personalities than a lot of the leading men. Compare the depth of Janice Soprano to that of her husband, Bobby, for example.

But the greatest accolades have to go to Gandolfini's performance as Tony. A bear of a man, Gandolfini easily captures Tony's menacing aura, but he also shows what a remarkable actor he is. Great writing means little without a great actor, and Gandolfini is a perfect match for Tony. It's impossible to imagine anyone else in this role, Gandolfini captures Tony's arrogance, insecurity, humour, vindictiveness, rage, lust and charm perfectly. Many actors would have overplayed the role and would have lost much of the character's complexity in doing so. You never see Gandolfini on screen, in over 80 episodes, where he's anything other than Tony Soprano. There's not a bad scene, incredible when you consider he's on screen for the majority of the show's near 90 hour running time.

The Sopranos was demanded incredible patience from the viewers, allowing storylines to build at a slow-burn, something that frustrated many viewers who demanded immediate resolution. The conflict between Tony and Uncle Junior, which many expected to be resolved with Junior's death instead turned into a long running storyline with many unpredictable twists and repercussions. Paulie's resentment over his standing in the family, something which you expect to turn violent, instead just becomes a long running character trait. The ending, which caused great upset among fans of the show, was another example of Chase's refusal to give easy answers to his audience. Those expecting a big ending were bound to be disappointed by Chase's decision, but I can't imagine the show ending any other way.

College shows us both sides of Tony, the way both of his families pull at him. While taking his daughter, Meadow, on a road-trip to check out her college choice he sees a man he thinks is a former gangster who turned snitch and went into the witness protection scheme. Tony is torn between his loyalty to his daughter and his need to take out a hated snitch.

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Post #: 582
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 8:18:35 AM   
rawlinson

 

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Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
4. Frasier
"An Affair to Forget"



Season 02, Episode 21
1995

On the face of it, uptight shrink Frasier Crane was never the most likely candidate for a Cheers spin-off. As good as Kelsey Grammer was in the role, Frasier just never seemed to have what it took to be the leading character. So it was with very low expectations that I watched season one of Frasier. It took an episode or two to get going, Frasier relocates to his home town of Seattle in order to become a radio psychiatrist. We are introduced to an uptight brother, a grumpy father, a dog and a kooky English character. Even though it was cleverly written, it seemed like Frasier could be to Cheers what Benson was to Soap.

Then at some point, something changed. It didn't take very long either. Episode 3, in fact. Frasier, Niles and Martin go out to dinner. That simple. I don't know if it's how snobbish and unpleasant they allow Frasier and Niles to become in that episode, how honestly hurt Martin is, or just the fact that Niles meets Daphne for the first time, but everything worked at that point. I understood every relationship, I had an insight into every character, I knew I was watching a show of rare comedic genius.

The cast were all wonderful, each actor grabbing the chance of creating a memorable figure, but Frasier's greatest strength as a series, and quite possibly its legacy, is in the creation of Niles Crane, Frasier's neurotic, pretentious, preening, snobbish but caring and good-hearted younger brother. Niles is one of television's greatest characters, from dancing a tango with the object of his desire, attempting to run a gourmet restaurant with his brother, or simply ordering a coffee, Niles was a glorious creation. And this episode is very Niles-centric. When he suspects his wife, Maris, of having an affair with her fencing instructor, we get treated to the sword fight to end all sword fights, and also the greatest episode of any comedy series ever made.

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Post #: 583
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 8:20:28 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
3. The Snowman



1982

I think The Snowman is a victim of its own success. It's difficult to find anyone in the UK who is unfamiliar with the film, even if they haven't seen it all the way through. It's a part of Christmas here, shown every year on C4 on Christmas Day. Everyone knows the famous theme song and it's entered the public consciousness to the extent that it can get spoofed, out of context, in a horrible television commercial and most people will get the joke. The sheer ubiquity of the film seems to have had the odd effect of making it slightly underrated. Most people I know seem to dismiss it with 'oh, I loved that when I was little' but they haven't bothered to revisit it as an adult.

Let's get the plot out of the way, a young boy makes a snowman on Christmas Eve. The snowman comes to life, the boy shows him his house. In the second half the snowman and the boy fly far North until they reach a snoman's party and the boy gets to meet Father Christmas. The film could have fallen into the same traps as the similar themed Polar Express and have become sickly sentimental at times.

What works strongly in The Snowman's favour is the fact there is no dialogue. The wonder and awe is evoked through the breathtaking animation, faithfully adapted from Raymond Brigg's picture book. The scenes where the snowman and the boy take a motorbike ride and when they take flight over the countryside, towns and ocean contain some of the most beautiful animation ever set to film. Even 'Walking In The Air' works in the context of the film, all memories of Aled Jones fade away and the song becomes a haunting piece of music.

While the film is incredibly heart-warming, it also contains a rare depth and poignancy. The end of the film also provides an interesting look at loss and the importance of memory, all evoked by a simple image. One of the most beautiful and magical short films ever made.

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Post #: 584
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 8:26:16 AM   
matty_b


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From: Outpost 31 calling McMurtle.
One Foot in the Grave - good choice, but the traffic jam episode is impossible to beat for me.

Ghostwatch - I was 12 at the time, and did not sleep a wink that night. Petrified beyond belief doesn't even begin to cover it. One of those genuinely rare "you had to be there" moments of television.

Father Ted - a great, great episode. I might possibly take Speed 3 or A Song for Europe over it, but it wouldn't be by much.

Doctor Who - argh, impossible to pick just one. Blink is great. If we're talking classic Who...Curse of Fenric or Talons of Weng Chiang. NuWho...Midnight or Turn Left.

Blackadder - can't argue with that. The final five minutes from George's "I'm scared, sir" onwards is just unparalleled brilliance.

Wallace and Gromit - yeah, fantastic.

Frasier - god, that swordfight is amazing. I don't actually think I can pick a favourite episode of Frasier, but Ham Radio is always the first one that springs to mind.





< Message edited by matty_b -- 24/8/2012 8:32:20 AM >


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Post #: 585
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 8:29:52 AM   
rawlinson

 

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Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
2. The Prisoner
"Fall Out"



Season 01, Episode 17
1968

Patrick McGoohan plays an unnamed former secret agent for the British government. The show opens with him resigning his post for unknown reasons. He is then kidnapped and held prisoner in a small town known only as The Village. The Village is a bizarre, resort like place where the inhabitants are other spies and secret agents.

The unknown authorities who control The Village try to strip him of his identity by renaming him Number Six. They are determined to find out why he resigned. The series then follows the battle of wills between McGoohan and the ever revolving Number Twos who interrogate him as McGoohan struggles to keep his individuality and discover who actually controls The Village.

It's no exaggeration to say that The Prisoner was one of the most bizarre shows we've ever seen. The Prisoner mixes the spy genre, surrealism and sci-fi to create a unique and unsettling show. The Prisoner was very popular with the sixties counter-culture, the show's attitude, its distrust for authority, the way it valued individuality above all else and its battles against the faceless authority figure made it a perfect show for a rebellious generation.

A large part of the success of the show was thanks to its location, the North Wales village of Portmeirion. Portmeirion was constructed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis as a tribute to Mediterranean villages and the place has an oddly out-of-time quality to it that made it a perfect setting for The Prisoner's sinister Village.

The Prisoner is a show of questions but very little answers. The main thrust of the series is the conflict between Number Six and The Village, both demand answers from the other that they never get. The Village itself is a question, we're given various different locations for it, none of which seem to be true, putting a question mark over The Village itself that extends to its inhabitants. How many of them are captured like Number Six? How many are undercover agents trying to break Number Six? What exactly is Rover, the terrifying weather balloon/guardian of The Village? Who exactly is the mysterious Number One? The questions even go beyond the confines of the show. Is Number Six really John Drake is a question often debated among fans of the series.

The Prisoner is a series with an epic scale confined in one very small locations. It asks essential questions about the nature of human identity, are we really who we think we are or we just a construct to be numbered and catalogued, is our humanity something that can be stripped away?

And what other episode best represents the show than the final one? The ending of the show remains controversial even now. McGoohan took all of our preconceptions about what we thought we knew about the series and threw them back at us in an anarchic and bewildering orgy of symbolism. While the ultimate reveal of the show is well known to most people, that shouldn't put you off watching the series, the actual puzzle of The Village and the people who run it goes far deeper than the obvious and simple explanation would suggest. And even if you find the philosophical implication of the final episode to be utter nonsense, then you should still watch it just to have the pleasure of seeing one of television's greatest fantasy shows.

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Post #: 586
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 8:30:43 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
1. The Wire
"Final Grades"



Season 04, Episode 13
2006

The Wire's not just a simple crime drama, it's a sociological statement about the effect of drugs on all levels of society. Based, much like Homicide was, on David Simon's own research on street crime, The Wire is not some didactic lecture about how drugs are bad, the finger of morality is never wagged in your face. The Wire doesn't just feel real, it is real.

The Wire has been described as resembling a novel, and it does have that same approach, each season of the show is like a book within a book. It's a patient show, stretching out character arcs over several seasons. It's also a brave show in the way that it shifts focus each season. From the street level drug trade, to the docks, to the local politics, to the schools, to the media. The Wire examines different aspects of life in Baltimore and the effect that drug-dealing has.

The Wire had one of the largest ensemble casts on television. The first season introduced to the cops and to the main drug empire they were trying to take down. Our lead character was McNulty, a wise-ass, drunken, sex-mad, insubordinate cop. He thinks nothing of circumventing his superiors to get the job done. But this is no Harry Callaghan style maverick cop. McNulty transcends the limitations of that stereotype.

The police we were introduced to in season one, McNulty, Bunk, Prez, Lester, Kima, Herc, Carver and Daniels remained our lead characters throughout the entire run, but they were by no means the old fashioned idea of the police as noble figures. Every one of them was a fully rounded human being with all of the flaws that come with being human.

The criminals were the Barksdales, Avon, D'Angelo, Stringer Bell, Wee-Bay, Bodie, Poot and Wallace. It's notable that they weren't just one dimensional villains, they too are human beings and they're shown as being likeable, witty and charming people even though they commit ugly and brutal crimes.

Season one also introduced us to Bubbles, probably the most sympathetic character on the show, a long time drug addict and police informant. If any character really undergoes a transformation in the show, its Bubbles. He's probably the character most deserving of redemption as well.

Season one also introduced to possibly the show's most popular character. Omar Little, stick-up man. Omar lives his life by a strict code, if you're in the game then he'll put his gun in your face and take whatever you have. If you're an innocent then he'll leave you alone. Omar makes a living by robbing drug-dealers, he's hated and feared by the majority of Baltimore dealers, seemingly regarded almost as an urban legend. Even children know Omar's name and flee when they see him coming. He's intelligent, cunning, and seemingly takes as much joy in thinking up plans to outwit his enemies as he does in actually stealing the money. Omar puts himself in danger and loves it because 'it's all in the game, yo'. Omar is also openly gay and it is to the show's eternal credit that they never felt the need to tone down his sexuality.

Over the course of the five seasons some characters would die and get replaced by others. Where do you even start with the list? We were introduced to Marlo Stanfield, head of a drug family determined to take control of the city. Cutty, a former hitman for the Barksdales who found he no longer wanted to be in the game. We met schoolkids who seemed to have no future beyond dealing. Corrupt media, along with one or two journalists who still felt there was a sense of ethics in their profession. Corrupt politicians, and the ones who weren't corrupt were forced into compromises by a life in politics. You could make a list of the top 20 most interesting characters in The Wire and still be missing some essential names. One of the show's greatest achievements was to take characters who you think you know and then slowly reveal more and more layers until you realise that you knew nothing. Characters you hate at first can end up becoming a firm favourite to the extent that you shed tears at their death (not mentioning any names)

The Wire is ultimately a bleak show, there is no escape from this life. Baltimore seems to be running in a circle. Faces change but the same power structure always remains in place. For every Bubbles who gets clean or dies there's a Dukie ready to take his place. For every Avon there's a Marlo, for every Omar there's a Michael. The Wire has so much depth that I could spend hours writing about it and still only scratch the surface. The greatest show America has ever given the world.

So how is it possible to choose just one episode? It wasn't easy, but I think it had to be Final Grades. It doesn't have Omar in court, it doesn't have McNulty and The Bunk investigating a crime scene, nor does it have "You remember that one day, summer past?" but it does close down the single greatest season of any television series ever. And it's still better than The 400 Blows.

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Post #: 587
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 8:31:51 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
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quote:

ORIGINAL: matty_b

Ghostwatch - I was 12 at the time, and did not sleep a wink that night. Petrified beyond belief doesn't even begin to cover it. One of those genuinely rare "you had to be there" moments of television.



Absolutely

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Post #: 588
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 8:33:54 AM   
matty_b


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The Wire - I need a rewatch before picking a favourite episode. Season four is the best, though.

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RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 8:37:53 AM   
MovieAddict247


Posts: 3751
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The Snowman is so lovely. Not seen any of the others.

A really enjoyable list, Rawls.

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RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 8:42:21 AM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
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quote:

ORIGINAL: matty_b

Frasier - god, that swordfight is amazing. I don't actually think I can pick a favourite episode of Frasier, but Ham Radio is always the first one that springs to mind.








Ham Radio is very very close, it's that swordfight that swings it though.

quote:

A really enjoyable list, Rawls.


Thanks.

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Post #: 591
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 9:04:50 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77721
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quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

Any you're interested in?


All of them really. Stuff like Mary Tyler Moore I've been wanting to see for years.

Ted and Who

Really want to see Cheers. Blackadder's great, I have all of Phil Silver's to watch but me memory of the show is that's it's awesome and Whistle was very good.

I still haven't seen S1 of The Sopranos. I started with 2. A great Frasier ep but I don't think it would be in my top 20 or so. Hate the Snowman and The Wire's superb but I don't understand the love for S4.

Wrong Trousers should be number 1


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Post #: 592
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 9:10:46 AM   
elab49


Posts: 54589
Joined: 1/10/2005
quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

27. Fear on Four
"The Horn"

Series 02, Episode 06
1989

Fear on Four was a radio horror anthology series that carried on the tradition of The Man in Black, horror host, something that continues today with Mark Gatiss' series. Edward de Souza played our host here, introducing the stories, often adapted from classic short stories. There's a lot of competition for the slot, The Speciality of the House maybe, with Timothy West as a customer of a very exclusive restaurant, or By the River, Fontainbleau which unsettled me for reasons I still can't quite understand. The pick of the series was The Horn. A trio of travellers are trapped on the motorway by a snowstorm and take refuge in a workman's hut, telling stories about a brutal murder that took place in the area, but the weather soon forces them to find a better shelter, but to do that they have to brave the storm. Some of the most unsettling sound effects in radio combine with a chilling story to create 30 terrifying minutes of radio.


There's another of those lovely coincidences - some of the de Souza's are replaying and the first one is a recent discussion elsewhere - The Yellow Wallpaper.

Still need to read and digest the list - congrats on finishing


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Post #: 593
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 10:24:24 AM   
Wezzo

 

Posts: 59
Joined: 5/12/2011
Brilliant Taxi choice. I love that show.

Louie is fantastic, my faourites are Bully, God and Duckling, but pretty much every episode is something really special. I really enjoyed Lucky Louie too.

Community, I'm just watching S3 right now. One of my favourite shows. I think Cooperative Calligraphy is my number one, your choice would definitely be in my top 5. (Also high up: Modern Warfare, Contemporary American Poultry, Advanced D&D)

One Foot in the Grave is superb and really underrated/overlooked. The Trial is my #1.

The Twin Peaks pilot is outstanding.

A Song for Europe is my #1 Father Ted; Hell is number two.

Blink is in my top 100, the only ep of Who I really even considered.

Your Cheers choice is another in my top list I think that's about five out of the past ten that are also on my list! It's my #2 Cheers, after Pick A Con, Any Con.

Blackadder is of course a fantastic choice, Dish and Dishonesty is my fave.

Wallace and Gromit! I completely forgot about those when I made my list (and every time I've updated it since!) Great choice. The Snowman is a wonderful choice, same goes for that too.

Seinfeld, brilliant (my top 5: The Outing, The Parking Garage, The Contest, The Soup Nazi, The Chinese Restaurant)

The Sopranos, once again you picked my favourite too, fantastic episode and the one where I really fell in love with the show.

Absolutely thrilled to see Frasier in the top 5. The episode choice is superb, that swordfight is just outstanding, pure comedy gold. (eps in my top 200: Ham Radio, Two Mrs Cranes, Author Author, Dial M For Martin, Miracle on 3rd or 4th St, Look Before You Leap)

The Wire I had real trouble picking (I went with the pilot); I haven't finished the show yet (on S4) but it's all about the whole with that show for me.

Thanks so much for the list, it's the best I've ever read here, and the one that's made me want to participate rather than simply lurk Been a wonderful read, I've bookmarked it for future reference, and added about forty DVDs to my Amazon wishlist on the back of it!

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Post #: 594
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 10:26:40 AM   
elab49


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Wezzo, if you check the List of Lists at the top of the page you might also enjoy reading Rawlinson's top TV series thread. Some fantastic choices there too 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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Post #: 595
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 10:35:27 AM   
Wezzo

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49

Wezzo, if you check the List of Lists at the top of the page you might also enjoy reading Rawlinson's top TV series thread. Some fantastic choices there too 


Great minds think alike, I stumbled across it last week and spent about four hours reading through it; it, too, was serious wishlist fuel!

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Post #: 596
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 10:46:54 AM   
st3veebee


Posts: 2353
Joined: 3/9/2006
From: 9303 Lyon Drive
quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

24. Community
"Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"



Season 02, Episode 11
2010

Initially, Community seemed like it was going to take the obvious path, Jeff as our lead, an on again off again relationship with Britta that would form the backbone of the show, with the rest of the characters supporting them, but only rarely taking the lead. That's not necessarily a bad thing, plenty of great shows have gone down that path. But Community quickly threw that aside, the most important relationship on the show now is Abed and Troy, and while the show still teases on/off relationships with characters, it's not the focus of the series. Abed's place in the series is important, initially teased as a quirky supporting character whose inability to distinguish social cues would make a Latka-esque fan fave, but again, that wasn't the plan. Abed still maintained a sense of child-like wonder, but there was so much more depth. Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas sees him retreat into a fantasy world where he and the other characters are all in stop-motion. Designed to look like the Rankin-Bass specials of the 60s, the show explored Abed's loneliness, and his desperation not to be abandoned (quite fitting to do it in stop-motion when you think of Rudolph's Island of Misfit Toys.) But even with the focus on Abed, the show still managed to find time to nail some truths about the other characters, especially Britta. It deserves to become a Christmas classic.


I love Community but this episode easily stands out as the worst. I had to stop watching it after a while because of how awful it was.

Surely the missing pen or first paintball is the best, no?


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RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 12:11:30 PM   
Rebel scum


Posts: 3483
Joined: 2/1/2006
Blink, Blackadder, Oh Whistle, Wrong Trousers and The Snowman are all fantastic. It's probably a toss-up between Blink and Goodbyeeee for my favourite TV ep.

I'm not sure which episode of Frasier I'd pick, but off the top of my head it's probably the one where Frasier, Niles and Martin go fishing.

I really enjoyed this list, it's shown up how little TV I watch .

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Post #: 598
RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 2:53:26 PM   
vad3r


Posts: 4403
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No Mad Men episodes?

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ORIGINAL: horribleives
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RE: Top 200 T.V./Radio Episodes - 24/8/2012 3:16:01 PM   
paul_ie86


Posts: 11422
Joined: 4/1/2007
From: Chelsea Hotel #2

quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson


quote:

ORIGINAL: paul_ie86


quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

39. Breaking Bad
"Fly"



Excellent stuff



I was very close to picking Full Measure, but something about Fly just pulled me in.

And yeah, you should check out Louie.



Watched the first two episodes last night after post. His date was brilliantly awkward.

quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

24. Community
"Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"



Season 02, Episode 11
2010

Initially, Community seemed like it was going to take the obvious path, Jeff as our lead, an on again off again relationship with Britta that would form the backbone of the show, with the rest of the characters supporting them, but only rarely taking the lead. That's not necessarily a bad thing, plenty of great shows have gone down that path. But Community quickly threw that aside, the most important relationship on the show now is Abed and Troy, and while the show still teases on/off relationships with characters, it's not the focus of the series. Abed's place in the series is important, initially teased as a quirky supporting character whose inability to distinguish social cues would make a Latka-esque fan fave, but again, that wasn't the plan. Abed still maintained a sense of child-like wonder, but there was so much more depth. Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas sees him retreat into a fantasy world where he and the other characters are all in stop-motion. Designed to look like the Rankin-Bass specials of the 60s, the show explored Abed's loneliness, and his desperation not to be abandoned (quite fitting to do it in stop-motion when you think of Rudolph's Island of Misfit Toys.) But even with the focus on Abed, the show still managed to find time to nail some truths about the other characters, especially Britta. It deserves to become a Christmas classic.


Excellent choice, absolutely my favourite episode.


quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

20. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
"Chuckles Bites the Dust"



Season 06, Episode 07
1975

Probably one of the most obvious choices on the list, often considered the pinnacle of the American sitcom, so much so that T.V. Guide placed it at number one on their list of the greatest television episodes of all time a few years back. In fact it was such an obvious choice, I almost went for Put on a Happy Face instead, and it would have been a fine choice, but the reason Chuckles is so beloved is that every performance and every word is damn near perfect. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was an ensemble comedy with MTM as the lead, playing Mary Richards, a 30 something woman who works at a local t.v. station. The series was a phenomenon, it spun off hit shows like Rhoda, Lou Grant and Phyllis, was intelligent, adult comedy and you can feel the influence of the ensemble cast and the writing in shows like Cheers, Taxi, Frasier, 30 Rock, and pretty much every big ensemble comedy that treats the audience like adults. Chuckles is all about grief, and the way we react to death. Chuckles, the station clown, has been selected to lead a local parade. He goes in costume, dressed as a giant peanut, and is shelled by a rogue elephant. While most characters can't help but see the gallows humour in the way Chuckles dies, Mary insists that everyone maintain a certain level of respect. But then the funeral comes.


Found this and the Dick van Dyke show on US Netflix, so have put them on my to watch list.

quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

17. Twin Peaks
"Pilot"



Season 01, Episode 01
1990

David Lynch brought his own unique brand of weirdness to television with this surprise hit series. There's nothing in Twin Peaks that would make you think it would become a cultural phenomenon, but it did. A film spin-off, books, comic books, 'I Killed Laura Palmer' t-shirts, adverts featuring Dale Cooper. Twin Peaks should have become a cult hit and little more. So what exactly was in the water in 1990? Why did this show become such a breakout success? The acting and writing were all superb. The storyline was intelligent and interesting. It was frightening, funny and dramatic. The characters, especially Dale Cooper and Bob, were iconic. You'd expect the American mainstream to really have hated this show. There was of course the expectation that it would fail. So an agreement was reached with the network that an alternate ending, where the story was tied up, would be shot for the pilot episode. If the series wasn't picked up beyond the initial episode, they'd be able to sell it to Europe as a film.

The show opened with the discovery of the dead body of schoolgirl Laura Palmer in a small Northwestern town named Twin Peaks. The FBI are called in to investigate, bringing Agent Dale Cooper to the town. Cooper is an unconventional FBI Agent, he believes in using dreams and intuition to solve cases and he has a deep belief in Tibetan mysticism. The show then follows Cooper's attempts to not only solve the murder, but unravel the darker mystical secrets of this small town. Dale Cooper quickly became one of the most popular characters in television and he's still regarded as a high point for quirky leading characters. Twin Peaks inhabits similar territory to Lynch's Blue Velvet. Both look at the darkness that lurks beneath the surface in a small town, taking almost Capra-esque settings and corrupting them. This opening show drops you right into the heart of the mystery, and the weirdness.



Bought this a while ago, loved the first series but somehow haven't found the time to watch S2 yet

quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

15. Father Ted
"Hell"



Series 02, Episode 01
1996

The show revolved around three inept Catholic priests trapped together on Craggy Island, a godforsaken place somewhere off the coast of Ireland. Dermot Morgan played Father Ted Crilly, the most normal of the priests, but still a greedy, devious liar. Like all of the priests, you get the feeling that Ted doesn't really want to be a priest, even though he does display outrage when someone says something against the Catholic faith.

Ardal O' Hanlon played Father Dougal McGuire, the most innocent of the three priests. Dougal doesn't seem to believe in God, in one episode memorably claiming that he doesn't believe in organised religion and in another he convinces a bishop to quit the church. Dougal has trouble telling the difference between dreams and reality and his failure to understand nearly every situation leads Ted into trouble time after time.

The last of the trio is Father Jack Hackett, played by Frank Kelly. Jack is a near comatose figure who only wakes up to drink, hit someone or leer over women. His only speech appears to 'Feck, drink, arse, girls' and a selection of non sequiturs. Jack also appears to be happy to answer to the name Flipper The Priest.

Joining them in their hellish life is Mrs Doyle, the tea obsessed, overworked housekeeper. Mrs Doyle appears to have had a husband at one stage, but she gets uneasy when he's mentioned. She displays little interest in anything in life beyond tea and cake. Pauline McLynn takes what easily could have been an overlooked role and turns it into a memorable, if grotesque, creation.

Dermot Morgan's tragic death, just as series 3 was airing, meant that many feel the show ended before its time. But everyone involved have stated that the third series was going to be the last, they wanted to go out on a high.

Father Ted follows one of the golden rules of good sitcoms, the characters are trapped together. A sense of isolation always seems to produce a strong comic dynamic. It doesn't matter if the characters are isolated from the rest of society because of their personalities or because of location, there's a theme running through lots of great comedy about people being trapped together. You can't get much more trapped than have three priests, with nothing in common, who have been forced out of the mainstream church life due to indiscretions.

The finest episode sees the three Fathers taking a caravan holiday, leading to their house being robbed, being constantly mistaken for perverts, and having to spend time with the most annoyingly upbeat priest in Ireland.


Another excellent choice

quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

14. Dr. Who
"Blink"



Season 29, Episode 10
2007

For those who don't know, Doctor Who focuses on the adventures of The Doctor, a mysterious alien who uses The Tardis (a spaceship disguised as a police box) to travel in time. Beyond that it's a bit difficult to really give a good synopsis of Doctor Who. How do you sum up 50 years of television? Without a doubt it's one of the most popular television shows of all time. The Doctor, The Tardis, the theme music, The Daleks, The Cybermen, Davros, regenerations, The Master, even fairly new additions like Billie Piper's Rose have become iconic.

But outside of the devoted fans, I've always thought most people's love of Who is going to depend on their opinion on the actor playing The Doctor. Again, for those who've never seen the show, once The Doctor becomes fatally wounded (meaning the actor has been fired/decided to leave) The Doctor can regenerate, a healing process that leaves him looking like a completely new man. Each new incarnation of The Doctor has their own personality quirks and if you don't like the new version of The Doctor, the show can be pretty hard going. Luckily, most of the actors playing the Doctor have been talented individuals. We won't mention Six.

I know it's probably going to be seen as perverse to pick an episode of new Who rather than the old series, and on top of that, to pick an episode the Doctor is barely in, but nothing in old Who is this good. There's not a lot in television that's this good. The introduction of The Weeping Angels (which I hope will be given a long break soon, we don't want their effectiveness to be lost) combined with the greatest companion that never was in Carey Mulligan's Sally Sparrow, make Blink the obvious choice. Also, it's pretty bloody scary.


Another excellent choice, but I'd probably place the Family of Blood story and maybe Midnight above it.


quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

12. Blackadder
"Goodbyeee"



Series 04, Episode 06
1989

Blackadder was created and written by star Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis. The first series saw Atkinson as a cowardly, idiotic Prince Edmund, the son of King Richard The Fourth (the ever-bellowing Brian Blessed), who fails to win his father's favour so decides to overthrow him. Edmund was aided by his faithful servant, the surprisingly intelligent Baldrick (Tony Robinson) and his imbecilic friend, Lord Percy (Tim McInnerny)

As fans of Blackadder know, this dynamic was not to last long. Atkinson was fine as the cowardly Edmund, and the show is a hell of a lot better than many will have you believe. In fact, in many ways The Black Adder has the strongest writing of all the series. But there was just something not quite right about the series.

For the second series Atkinson stepped back from writing and Ben Elton joined Richard Curtis as co-writer. Time moved on and Blackadder was now a lord in the court of Queen Elizabeth 1. Blackadder was no longer a idiotic whiner, he had evolved into the familiar image of the character, charming, ruthless and Machiavellian. Baldrick had also changed, he was still Blackadder's servant, but now he was slovenly and stupid, although with a staggering amount of confidence in his 'cunning plans'. Percy was still Blackadder's idiotic friend. Miranda Richardson made a strong addition to the cast, playing Elizabeth as a spoilt schoolgirl. There were two other important additions to the show, Stephen Fry played Lord Melchett, the Queen's grovelling Lord Chamberlain and there was also a guest role for Hugh Laurie. The dynamic was now in place and if the show had ended after this series then Blackadder would still be my pick for the greatest sitcom ever.

Come series three Blackadder had slid a little further down the social totem pole and now he was a butler to George, Prince Of Wales. George had a lot in common with the Percy character, but Hugh Laurie took the role and in doing so created one of the great comedy idiots. Stephen Fry, Tim McInnerny and Miranda Richardson all did guest spots on the series. Remarkably, as perfect as series 2 seemed, Blackadder The Third managed to improve upon it.

The final series saw Blackadder as a Captain in the British army during World War 1, sharing a trench with two of the stupidest people in the land, Lieutenant George (Laurie) and Private Baldrick (Robinson). Blackadder Goes Forth was also to find major roles for Fry as the demented General Melchett and McInnerny as Captain Darling. Richardson also returned in a guest role and Blackadder Goes Forth even features a cameo by Geoffrey Palmer.

Blackadder Goes Forth was the darkest, most satirical, and most serious series of the show. Putting the characters right in the middle of one of the worst wars mankind has ever known was always going to add a level of poignancy to the show, but I don't think anyone was expecting how incredibly moving the final episode was going to be, which is why it takes the slot. The final scenes have been rightly praised, but I think there's so much power running through the episode, especially when the characters are discussing how they came to be in the army. Beautifully played by the entire cast, there's been few better statements on the madness of war.





quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

6. The Singing Detective
"Skin"



Season 01, Episode 01
1986

Pulp mystery writer Philip E. Marlow is in hospital being treated for a severe outbreak of psoriasis, like Potter himself, Marlow is one of the small percentage of psoriasis sufferers who can undergo symptoms of such severity that they practically cripple him. While in hospital, Marlow retreats into a fantasy world where he is a private detective, and also in memories of a traumatic event in his childhood.

Marlow's pain intensifies and he begins to mix up events from his past, his present and his film-noir fantasy life. The three different scenarios combine to form a type of fourth reality where fictional and non-fictional characters can interact, and Marlow begins to suspect that even the hospital is part of his creation.

We basically enter Marlow's head in The Singing Detective, many shows have tried to give us access to the inner workings of a character's mind, but none have ever managed it with as much skill and ease as The Singing Detective.

Several of the actors play multiple roles in the series, further adding to the disorientation felt while watching the show. Soon even the viewer begins to lose track of what is reality and what is Marlow's fantasy. Add to this the fact that this is one of Potter's musicals and the sense of unreality is complete. Marlow uses his various levels of reality to provide himself with clues as to his own psychological traumas, Marlow's recovery is dependent on him unravelling a repressed mystery but to do he needs to figure out what is real and what is fantasy.

With the wrong actor this show could easily have fallen apart, how lucky that they got Michael Gambon to deliver his finest performance as the tormented Marlow. It's a towering performance, if this had been for the cinema then anything less than an Oscar would have been an insult. As it was he deservedly won the Bafta for his year, even if the show itself ridiculously missed out.

The episode of choice, Skin, introduces us to all these worlds, to Marlow at his worst, and to the greatest mini-series in British television.


Watched this for the first time this year. My favourite episode is the one where he tells how he lost his faith in humanity.




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