Sure, cinema is great. But did you know there is a smaller version of cinema that you can fit into your living room? It's called 'Television' and it's apparently the next big thing! As the lines blur between screens big, small, and online, TV's new golden age continues to thrive, with an embarassment of riches gracing the small screen. 2015 said goodbye to some of its most cherished treasures, and welcomed some new heroes. We've picked out some of the most eye-catching, thrilling, and hilarious moments from the last twelve months. Has Made In Chelsea made the cut? (Spoiler: it has not.)
Warning: there are obviously several massive SPOILERS herein.
Don Draper says goodbye
How on earth do you end a television series as rich and fascinating as Mad Men? Appropriately enough, Matthew Weiner's drama ended with neither a bang, nor a whimper; too cool and understated to close things up with deaths or explosions. Like much of the series, it left the ultimate fate of Don Draper ambiguous and open-ended; and like much of the series, it was close to perfect.
Game Of Thrones
Jon Snow’s fate
“You know nothing, Jon Snow”. It is the most frequently-repeated line from television’s most talked about show. But we found ourselves knowing nothing about Jon Snow. Season 5’s shocking finale – on the heels of an eventful enough year – left everyone south of The Wall fretting over Westeros's favourite bastard; HBO teased us even further when he showed up, bloodied and battered, on the Season 6 poster. Not even George R.R. Martin’s books can shed any light on what happens to him. We have until April to find out who really knows anything.
Mark’s dinner party
Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong were determined to have their painfully-observed POV-comedy go out with a characteristically uncomfortable bang. Episode four of Peep Show’s final season conjured up this extraordinary exercise in cringe, seeing Mark (David Mitchell) attempt to maintain etiquette amidst the likes of some injudicious eyeliner, a gay love triangle, a broken marriage, and a pasta dish generously described as "Moroccan". It’s a masterful episode: at once painful to watch and cheek-hurtingly funny, and among the show’s all-time best.
The Walking Dead
The Glenn cliffhanger
Season 6 of TV’s bloodiest show (sorry, True Blood) centered around an enormous walker herd in a quarry, and Rick’s efforts to divert them away from the Alexandria safe zone. But it was Steven Yeun’s Glenn that had social media ablaze with speculative chatter. The hopeful hashtag #GlennLives briefly trended on Twitter after the series’ longtime supporting-player favourite appeared to perish at the hands of some zombies; it was a painstaking four episodes before we learned of his fate. Not everyone was satisfied with the eventual conclusion, but AMC’s zombie hit still proved it could be at the top of the water-cooler conversation hierarchy.
She was gutsy and tenacious, sure, but boy, did Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) make some terrible decisions in her pursuit of David Tennant’s slippery Kilgrave. First there was her fatal assumption that Hope Shlotmann had broken Kilgrave’s spell, and later seriously misplaced trust in Jeri Hogarth’s better nature. But when she lets Kilgrave’s mum and dad enter his cell with him even the goat at the beginning of Jurassic Park was putting its hooves over its eyes. The result was not pretty.
Seth Rogen’s sex scene
Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson’s sublime Millennials-in-Manhattan sitcom returned in rude health this year, with a clutch of celebrity guest stars that included Janeane Garofolo, Patricia Clarkson - and Seth Rogen, in this hilariously awkward episode. During the midst of a New York heatwave, Abbi and Rogen’s character, ‘Male Stacy’, get down to sweaty business. Broad City’s propensity for filthy humour makes this one of the most hilariously disgusting sex scenes in history.
The Christmas Special
The game, once again, is on – and though we haven’t actually seen the latest entry in Steven Moffat’s gloriously entertaining Sherlock revival, it is already one of 2015’s biggest TV events, the centrepiece of the Beeb’s Christmas offering. Way back in November 2014, the official BBC One account tweeted the first photo from the special, with the hashtag #notkidding. Holmesies could hardly believe their eyes: the erstwhile modern-day reboot was heading back to its Victorian source. But why? And how? We shall see (or as Sherlock might suggest, observe), on New Year’s Day.
Death by car door
Marvel’s first Netflix foray – a darker, bloodier, swearier alternative to its cinematic universe – offered many memorable moments; that single-take corridor fight is a highlight. But for us, the standout scene saw Wilson Fisk – a terrifying Vincent D’Onofrio – murdering a Russian gangster after a date gone wrong. (And you thought Tinder had the dregs of the dating pool...) Viewed alongside the backstory in episode eight, Marvel provided levels of depth and horror rarely seen for a villain. We’d been offered morsels of his psychopathy, but nothing quite prepared us for this.
The Roswell incident
Noah Hawley’s Fargo has delivered plenty of WTF moments over its two seasons. But these tend to arrive in fairly conventional form: a self-repaired leg break or a popular character getting the chop, for example. So imagine our surprise when AN ACTUAL UFO turns up at a gunfight, saving Lou Solverson’s (Patrick Wilson) life in the process. In hindsight, this supernatural flourish was signposted from the off (Rye Gerhardt hit with a car after looking up at the lights; Episode 2’s War Of The Worlds finale), but, unlike Kirsten Dunst’s Peggy, we obviously weren’t fully actualised enough to realise. Funny, brutal, and downright weird, Season 2 Episode 9 is prime Fargo – an authentic America where a flying saucer bizarrely doesn’t seem completely out of place.
Anne Boleyn gets the chop
Henry VIII’s (Damian Lewis) queen, Anne Boleyn, was nasty, conniving and spiteful… and her death was utterly devastating. Claire Foy plays the scene, involving a long march to the block and a man with a very sharp sword at the end of it, perfectly. She projects the dignity, courage and sheer terror of a hitherto malign figure facing violent death, making her sympathetic just in time to break our hearts. Sure, she spent most of Wolf Hall addressing Mark Rylance’s Thomas Cromwell as “Kreumwhale” in a silly French accent, but the punishment didn’t really fit the crime.
Amazon threw its (black)hat into the VOD arena with a 10-part hacking thriller spearheaded by Rami Malek's loveably weird Neo-alike. From cog in the machine to spanner in the works, his IT clock-watcher Elliot Alderson is the perfect troubled hero for the WikiLeaks era, recruited by Christian Slater’s shadowy Coney Islander and invited to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Pretty darn deep, as the first episode quickly made clear. Our standout moment? Elliot's calm collaring of a child pornographer in his own café.
The board game commercial
Dan Harmon’s quirky sitcom has now – almost – lived up to the ‘six seasons and movie’, the goal that became a rallying cry for a fanbase forever threatened by cancellation. The unlikely sixth season on, erm, Yahoo! Screen was full of sublime moments – Ken Jeong’s “Ham, Girl!” was a scene-stealer – but for our money, this mind-boggling metatextual fake commercial is Community at its best.