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RLLMUK's Top 100 TV Shows Results: #1 in your referendum


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I voted for Borgen but didn't get around to adding comments on my 10 to 20 choices. Obviously I think it's great, but what I will say is that it's one of those rare shows that has a really strong opening episode. I'd highly recommend people give it a go as you'll either be completely hooked after the opening 60 minutes, or realise it's not for you. They do in that opening episode what lesser shows would spin out over a whole season.

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92. Rick and Morty

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Take Doc and Marty from BTTF, remove restraints and morality, add lots of sketchy gags and voila: you have Rick And Morty. Like a kind of ‘Filthy Futurama’ but amped-up even more than that implies, R&M takes a simple premise – eccentric inventor goes on adventures through time and space with his grandson – and just spins it off into all sorts of crazed, nasty, grim and plain wrong ‘what if?’ style sci-fi scenarios.

Incest, violence, body horror and mental and physical abuse are frequent tropes, so the fact the dodgy twosome’s adventures are hilarious elevates the show to ‘twisted genius’ status. Following a nihilistic and cynical path that makes the likes of South Park or Family Guy seem wholesome and upbeat, it’s a true original that will make you chuckle and squirm in equal measure.


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91. Anne of Green Gables | Batman (1966) | The Great War | The Master [1984] | Monty Python's Flying Circus | Mysterious Cities of Gold | Mystery Science Theatre 3000

This is, thank Christ, the last of the tied entries. Spinning through them for the sake of completing this before my 111th birthday we have Anne of Green Gables, which I’m afraid I’ve not seen but IMDB says, “An orphan girl, sent to an elderly brother and sister by mistake, charms her new home and community with her fiery spirit and imagination.” So check it out if that’s your bag.

Ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner, BATMAN! Everybody’s favourite campstravaganza swoops in alongside little orphan Annie – a live cartoon featuring ridiculous props, sultry Catwomen (Julie Newmar, man…) Caesar Romero’s delightfully nutty Joker and more Dutch angles than you can shake a stick at.

We also have The Great War and The Master snuggling up at 92; chop-socky action rubs shoulders with a very sincere documentary about the First World War.

Monty Python's Flying Circus is also in the mix. For some praise of the surreal Python genius, over to MarkN, “I love surreal humour and daftness, and nothing for me beats Monty Python. Yes, it's patchy across its four seasons, but when it's good it's so very good. Obviously there are the big names sketches that everyone knows - lumberjack, dead parrot, nudge nudge etc, but there's an awful lot of other stuff that never fails to make me laugh - it's just so gloriously silly. Super-innovative too. So much so that any surreal comedy that came after was often called Pythonesque. Are there any other programs with an entry in the dictionary? (Or a programming language named after them for that matter.) Search youtube for "Monty Python Travel Agent" for a sublime Eric Idle rant, or perhaps "Mouse Organ" for a determined Terry Jones being very cruel to animals”.

Richie Sombrero went for Mysterious Cities of Gold, for which I have a one-word review: “ESTEBAN!!!” Which leaves us with Mystery Science Theatre 3000: “When zany mad scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester and his loopy assistant Frank get bored with their work at the Deep Thirteen research center, they kidnap Joel the janitor and shoot him into orbit on the Satellite of Love. While in space Joel builds wacky robot sidekicks Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot to help him withstand an onslaught of grade 'Z' movies that the mad scientists force him to watch.” Errr…ok.

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90. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

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During an era where it felt like the only shows available on TV were Star Trek spin-offs, DS9 still managed to shine. Decidedly different to the hippy-dippy Next Generation, the overwhelming ‘Meh’ that Voyager inspired and the ‘Please baby Jesus, redact this from history!”-ness of Enterprise, Sisko’s experience on the fringes of Fed space is like All Quiet on the Western Front in, um, space.

Although it still has entertaining tech mumbo-jumbo, some great interpersonal relationships and a memorable religious subtext, it’ll no doubt be best remembered for the first portrayal of a full-on war in the Trek universe, culminating in the gripping ‘Sacrifice of Angels’.

Charles said, “DS9 took a while to get going but once it did there was no stopping it. A series arc which, despite effectively being made up on the fly a lot of the time, hangs together much better than most serialised shows 'with a plan' and quality dialogue that you do not tend to expect from a Trek series. Has got a great sense of humour when it tries and loads of classic episodes.”

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87. Serial Experiments Lain

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A mind-boggling, dreamlike anime which - from the two episodes I’ve seen - appears to have an impressionist/surrealist vibe that’s pretty intriguing. Lordcookie was suitably impressed:

"This is not a typical animated series, it is weird it is confusing and it is wonderfully hypnotic. Lain centres on a 13 year old girl by the name of Lain Iwakura. Lain is a shy and distant girl that has her life turned upside down when she receives an email from a friend that committed suicide a few days earlier. This strange event results in Lain becoming more and more interested in the 'wired'; a sort of Internet v2.0 in which the boundaries between real life communication and digital communication are difficult to distinguish. As she becomes more proficient in the ways of the wired the lines between the two realities become increasingly blurred.

The series does not try and lead the audience by the hand, as a spectator you are alone and occasionally disoriented by the images on screen. Is the series a cautionary tale of the duality of internet personalities? Is the wired a religious allegory? Is it either? Does it really matter? The answer is a resounding no. Lain provides so many different answers, and poses many more questions that anybody who has watched the show could probably come up with a completely different summation of the series. Lain leaves it up to the audience to decipher the images and to try and come to some sort of coherent understanding of what the last six and a half hours actually meant. It is refreshing to be treated to such an experience it makes you pay closer attention to every image and to every piece of dialogue in order to gain greater knowledge of what exactly is going on. It is a brave move for a series to take, especially in an age where we are increasingly guided safely through each episode to a conclusion that makes perfect sense. This freedom will however put some people off, it does mean you have to pay full attention and it does mean some things will never make total sense, but if you are willing to put in the effort you will be rewarded with a fantastic and memorable experience.

The narrative structure reinforces the programme's weirdness. Just like Satoshi Kon's classic Perfect Blue (1997) the distinction between time and space is often incoherent as the series jumps about and leaves the audience wondering exactly what they are watching and if it is in any chronological order or not. It is like tumbling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland and wondering where the hell you are likely to end up. This sense of disorientation is perfect for setting the mood for the series and puts the spectator in the position of Lain. Visually Lain is a beautiful patchwork of differing visual styles. There are stark colours and clean lines in the 'real world' which are juxtaposed with the vibrancy and complexity of the wired. As the series progresses these two styles begin to merge with greater regularity which produces some stunning visual effects. The visuals further accentuate the isolation that Lain (and the audience) face, with many of the peripheral characters lacking definition. It is an effective way of focusing attention on Lain and leads the audience into her world. Great emphasis is placed on images such as the repetition of cables and wires that surround Lain's house or the occasional religious symbol.

Lain is an exceptional series that will intrigue and confound you in equal measure. Its unusual narrative structure and lack of any real closure will put some people off, but for those that are sick of watching identikit dramas and want something that will provide you with the opportunity to think then I urge you to seek out a copy”.


86. Black Mirror

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Every era of humankind has a measure of apocalyptic ennui troubling its cultural consciousness. Sometimes this manifests as a thin string in the counter-culture, sometimes as a thick cable running through mainstream society. The fear of technology in the so-called ‘Information Age’ is one of the supporting cables; a high-tension power line that throbs with our atavistic terror at a world slipping out of our control. Charlie Brooker has gripped this cable and is mainlining the grim matter, replaying its troubling messages back to us through our own personal black mirrors.

As Brooker began as a satirist who majored in funny stuff, this swing into jet-black futureshock was initially a surprise, but quickly started to feel like his true calling. If you’ve not happened upon a Black Mirror episode yet, introductions are simple: imagine a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits series dedicated to technology as the source of horror and you’re right there. Like those shows, it exposes the nerves beneath the skin and plays upon them for maximum fright value.

Every episode is excellent and worthy of your time, but particular callouts must go to: ‘Be Right Back’ as a heart-breaking look at how simulation is becoming more desirable and attainable, but set to bring its own woes into our lives; ‘The Entire History of You’ as an icewater wake-up call from our near future concerning digital accessibility; ‘White Bear’ which preceded ‘The Purge’ and exposes that film for the tame dreck it really is, and – of course – ‘The National Anthem’: the first episode, given unbelievable relevance by recent current events involving our current PM and his predilection for deceased swine.

With strong echoes of British terror icons John Wyndham, Nigel Kneale and Amicus Horror, there are no safe corners in Brookers nightmarish vision of where we may be headed; no gentle reassurances that the world we build from plastic and silicone will somehow morph into a gentle pair of welcoming arms. It’s due to get a Netflix series in 2016, so soon you’ll be part of a full on recursion as your device plays back to you the very series that warns of that technology’s inevitable dominance, and the cold dominion it’ll exercise over everything we love.

Prepare.


85. Jonathan Strange & Mister Norrell

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A very popular adaptation of the novel, I’ve not yet had the pleasure but get good vibes from the production. Benny: "I often find adaptations of my favourite novels to be lacking in some way or done half-arsed or completely missing the spirit of the original story. But this adaptation was one of the most surprising and brilliant I have ever seen, and has some truly fantastic performances".


84. Phoenix Nights

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Emjay2k said, “I've not really enjoyed much of Peter Kay's stuff since this (although his recent BBC series [Car Share] was quite good) but Phoenix Nights was and still is fantastic.”

...and it absolutely is. Melding together Dave Spikey and Neil Fitzmaurice’s quickfire gags with Kay’s gentler, more observational humour, Phoenix Nights stands somewhere between the rain-soaked Bolton gutter and the stars (although that could be the glare from stolen Crime Time spotlights).

It’s a kindly look at a bunch of ordinary people, occasionally a bit grim and sometimes a little racist, but most often with its heart in the right place. As you’d expect from Peter Kay, the characters are acid-tongued and the soundtrack part of the whole comedy shebang in a clever juggling act that stops the chancers and thickos losing their charm. Cracking ensemble comedy from writers at the top of their game.

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<Joint> 84. Better Call Saul

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...or The Unlikely Adventures of ‘Slippin’ Jimmy McGill, BCS is notable for a couple of reasons: it’s one of Netflix’s flagships, and proof they can snag some high-profile shows and programme them in a ‘boxset’ stylee. Secondly it’s a spin-off of one of the most critically-acclaimed shows of recent memory, that being Breaking Bad.

Following the outrageous fortunes of “s’all good, man!” in a prequel to his Heisenbergian antics, BCS chronicles McGill’s rise to dubious prominence as defender of the law-averse, whilst also fleshing-out his personal life.

So far, this has proved to be a very entertaining. As Emjay2k says, “This is the newest thing on my list and given it's only had one series I am kind of reluctant to put it this high up. Having said that, I really, really, really loved it. It grabbed me in a way that Breaking Bad did not (it did eventually) and so despite it having just one season, and despite enjoying comparatively more seasons of Breaking Bad, Saul gets in ahead of it for me”. Time will tell whether it has the legs and the waft to sustain its slightly flimsy premise, but for now it’s extremely watchable, classy programming from Netflix who continue to impress with their lineup of originals.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Watch the first season of Prison Break and then that's it. There is filler being a 22 or so episode season that's expected. It is one of the finest debut seasons of a show ever. Then it goes to shit i.e Heroes

But even when it's shit it's gripping and entertaining. Love it.

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I had a bit of trepidation about the IT Crowd too, but on the strength of Linehan's name alone it was always going to be worth giving a try.

Then the first episode had Bodie, Doyle, Tiger and the Jewellery Man and all was right with the world.

Linehan writing a pilot episode is like Messi up front in the first game of the season. He'll nail it and then slip into sync with the others around him.
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  • 5 weeks later...

I'm getting a "Je Suis RickyDVT" T-shirt printed.

Apologies for the astonishing delay. After my private life got somewhat stabilised over Christmas, I started a new role at work and been doing 9 or 10 hour days. It's been a funny few months.

So if it's ok, I'll pick this back up and just do a sentence or paragraph on each up until the top ten, then go to town during the vinegar strokes. Will recommence either tomorrow or Monday :)

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We're back!

79. Miami Vice

A real blast from the past. At such a remove, all I can really picture is what you see over the opening credits: the palm trees, the endless sun, the Ferrari Testarossa and pretty Flamingoes. I do remember it was incredibly slick and stylish, with the pastel shirts and white suits; what I can’t remember was whether it was genuinely any cop (pun intended). It certainly had a big impact on the cultural consciousness, though, and seemed to sum up that aspirational era perfectly.

78. Edge of Darkness

A bleak and disturbing political thriller, the estimable Bob Peck stars as a detective whose daughter – an environmental activist - is murdered. From this event, his life spins out of control as we’re given a tale of environmental collapse and governmental & military corruption that’s quite unique. Another slow-burn masterpiece from the BBC that captures the paranoia and terror of the cold war and the nuclear age.

77. Community
I’ve never watched Community, but I’m more than happy to sit for a few minutes in blissful contemplation on how radiant Alison Brie is.

76. Yes, Minister
Despite being 30 years old or more, I doubt whether the core concept of this insightful comedy – that politicians are either unctuous charlatans or ineffectual morons – has changed one iota. Scabrous and witty whilst also populated by characters you can genuinely relate to, it’s a rare treasure.

75. MASH
Repeated ad infinitum on BBC when I was a kid, the TV spinoff from the Altman film has great training wheels for young 'uns seeking to sharpen their use of irony and pointed sarcasm. A rare US production that is left-leaning, anti-war and quite acerbic, the show is a great stage for the likeable Alan Alda and the rest of the surgical crew. Side note: I always found it weird that in the show (unlike the movie) Radar almost never used the prognosticating powers he was named for.

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