The Returned (Canal+, Channel 4) was hands-down my favourite TV programme of the year, and up there with my favourite ever. Its glacial pace, the steady gaze of the camera, terrific performances, Mogwai’s perfect soundtrack, made every situation gripping. Not since Twin Peaks have I felt such a familiarity with each location in a TV series. The ending may have baffled, but I have high hopes for the next season, whenever Canal+ choose to broadcast it.
Count Arthur Strong (BBC) is a very traditional sitcom, the likes of which would be hard to imagine being commissioned before Miranda Hart’s repopularisation of the form. Despite the show’s long gestation period, the first episode is as perfect a sitcom script as I’ve seen. Middle episodes flag a little, but the warmth of Steve Delaney’s Arthur allows for some surprising turns, resulting in heartbreaking scenes in episode 6.
An Adventure in Time and Space (BBC) Easily my highlight of Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary year. Mark Gatiss found the perfect throughline in William Hartnell’s reluctance and later warming to the role of the Doctor. David Bradley’s performance was eerily perfect and the reconstructions of classic scenes were exactly the type of nostalgic trip that I’d been hoping for.
The summer months of 2013 were bizarrely filled of weighty, risk-taking television. Jane Campion’s The Top of the Lake introduced us to seedy New Zealand rednecks with a mystery that remained fascinating until the disappointing final reveal. Channel 4’s Run ventured into experimental territory with four interconnected tales, each reflecting different aspects of London communities. Christopher Guest’s Family Tree was a genial ramble led by Chris O’Dowd and featuring aimless cameos from everybody funny ever. The final half-season of Breaking Bad began to creak at the edges but still retained all of its promise until the final episode where it inevitably frayed at the edges, unable to support the weight of its own complicated lore. And Arrested Development Season 4 remained a vast disappointment, despite being more-or-less everything that a long-serving fan might have wished for.