As ever, it’s been a busy year on the ol’ telly box. Here are our our picks for the Top Ten most amazing moments of televisual awesomeness…
The Fall of Chuck – Better Call Saul
Although we all know where Jimmy/Saul (Bob Odenkirk) will eventually end up, it’s no less gripping to discover ‘why’. However, one of the many fine moments of season three concerns the fate of someone else, Jimmy’s brother, Chuck (Michael McKean). His humiliating ‘defeat’ to Jimmy during the New Mexico Bar hearing was an exhilarating watch. Yes, it was predictable (we always knew Jimmy had a plan), but seeing the counter-attack unfold, cheering on Jimmy as he overcame his older brother, made us complicit in the consequences that were to come by end of the season. Seeing an irreversibly broken Chuck kicking away at his desk in the final shot of the final episode was nothing short of heartbreaking.
Half a Mind – Bojack Horseman
This year, Bojack Horseman was less about Bojack than normal, branching out and expanding the roles of its side-characters. Some of the strongest material was given over to the backstory of Beatrice Horseman, Bojack’s mother. At the end of episode two, after seeing Bojack’s grandmother fall apart after the death of her son, including a beautiful time-travelling duet, young Beatrice finds her mother, post-electric shock therapy, telling her never to love too deeply. With just half a sentence, they broke their audience’s hearts ‘Why I’ve half a mind…’. This was Bojack at its best, painful, oddly beautiful and achingly true.
Unanswered Questions – Fargo
Following two amazing seasons, each based on a real-life bizarre murder case, Fargo season 3 offered up perhaps the bizarrest yet. It also gave us an uncomfortably quiet and reserved villain. Unflappable and completely in control, the mysterious V.M. Varga is the embodiment of quiet horror. Completely untraceable, he always has another card to play, and I found myself respecting, even admiring him. His final hoorah, in the last minutes of the season finale, is equally mysterious: a Schrödinger’s cat. Sat in a police interrogation room, he pulls his final card which, he claims, is a Get Out of Jail Free one. And that’s where it ends. Painfully unanswered. Did they finally get the bad guy? More to the point, did I want him to get caught?
Noel Fielding Eats a Flower – The Great British Bake Off
Okay, look, I love The Bake Off. I always have. There’s something bizarrely addictive about watching complete strangers making fabulous cakes, and every year I find myself getting emotionally attached to the annual batch of amateur bakers. It’s one of the few shows that consistently manages to get a get a rise out of me. Maybe it’s the yeast. When the show moved to Channel 4, losing Mary Berry and Mel and Sue, I, like most of the nation, had my doubts. However, the new network pulled through, delivering an almost carbon copy of the original. Sure, the chemistry between Sandi and Noel isn’t quite the same, and Prue is a slightly different breed of doddering old lady, but Channel 4 pulled it off. And the highlight? Yeah. Noel eating that flower.
“I want that Mulan McNugget Sauce, Morty!” – Rick and Morty
If we needed evidence that Rick and Morty had well and truly entered the Zeitgeist, we found it in the opening episode of season 3, ‘The Rickshank Redemption’. The fact that a throwaway, niche cultural reference, concerning a fast food movie tie-in condiment from 1998, would eventually lead to thousands of people hating on McDonalds even more than they (always) deserve is extraordinary. But what’s even more remarkable is that a TV show which revels in (almost) total nihilism, has become the world’s most popular. Sums us all up, really.
Utter Pride – Runaways
Runaways has been a firm fan favourite for comic book readers since it first hit our shelves back in 2003. One of Marvel’s most original tales since the sixties, Runaways centres on a group of teenagers who discover that their parents are in fact a team of supervillains. Thereafter they… well… run away… Since its very first incarnation, there has been rumour of a movie, and alleged scripts being passed back-and-forth from studio to studio to no avail. Amidst the inundation of Marvel series that no-one asked for (Inhumans anyone?), a cheer came up from internet land when Hulu announced that their contribution to the MCU (which will also soon include Cloak and Dagger) would kick off with this peppy romp filled with sorcery, time-travel, and freakin’ velociraptors.
The F-Bomb – Star Trek: Discovery
After 21 minutes and 56 seconds of ‘Choose Your Pain’, the fifth episode of Star Trek: Discovery, fifty-one years of inter-galactic televisual innocence was finally laid to waste when an F-bomb was dropped callously onto the Discovery’s main deck. Intriguingly, the character chosen to smash this prime directive was not Jason Isaac’s brusque Captain Lorca or a wrathful Klingon lump, but socially naïve and thoroughly likeable motormouth Sylvia Tilly. This certainly wouldn’t have happened on the Enterprise; imagine Scotty screaming down his communicator ‘I’m giving the fucker all I can, Cap’ain’ or Kirk telling Spock to ‘lighten the fuck up’. Won’t someone think of the children?! We assume this little fracture in the space-curse continuum is a one-off and future F-bombs are as hard to find as high-quality Dilithium Crystals in the gamma quadrant.
The Spy – Stranger Things
It’s a given that we all love Stranger Things, yes? That’s not really up for debate. The most difficult thing is choosing a favourite moment. For me it’s ‘The Spy’, an episode gripping from start to finish that manages to showcase everything we love about the show. Noah Schnapp delivers a powerhouse performance as Will Byers, Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) gets to cement his status as a legendary badass and overall it’s a perfect balance of humour and horror. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long on that cliff-hanger, and we can just about forgive them for Chapter 7 right?
Not Disappointing – Twin Peaks
Whether you’ve seen it or not, you’ll probably know about Twin Peaks, yet it hadn’t been seen onscreen since the early 90s which seemingly added to its legendary status. Finally, a third season was greenlit for this year and thankfully David Lynch delivered another bizarre, confusing and entertaining season that had everyone talking. The legacy wasn’t ruined and it remains one of the best shows to grace our TV screens. As usual there were many questions but that’s part of the fun. A mesmerising mixture of old cast and new faces and well worth the wait.
Morales Returns – The Walking Dead
On its never-ending lurch through the post-apocalypse, The Walking Dead managed to pull the ultimate trolling this season as long-disappeared Season 1 alumnus, Morales, made a shocking return to our screens. Long forgotten by most, Morales was a member of the original Atlanta survivors who suddenly left the group near the end of the first season. Since then, die-hard fans have been campaigning for his return, and it seems that Gimple finally listened. Bringing him back in the final moments of episode two, the internet exploded with excitement. Where had he been? What had become of his family? Would he become a main character once more? No. Ten minutes into episode three, in a moment that left fans screaming at their sets, he was shot in the head by Daryl. ‘Cause it don’t matter. Not one little bit. Well played TWD, well fucking played.