GregHorrorShow: TV Awards 2012

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A lot of my favourite shows returned in 2012 and a few new upstarts arrived on the block.

So let’s get going – here are the GregHorrorShow TV Awards for 2012 🙂

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BEST NEW SHOW

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Winner: Homeland

Homeland exploded onto our screens early in the year, following lots of press and column inches from the US. For once the hype was justified and its tale of a returning P.O.W from the Middle East had us all gripped through the entire series. Big nod to The Newsroom, which is now one of my favourite shows of recent years and also to great new comedy New Girl, which has been fantastic. Unfortunately my curse of supporting shows that don’t make it to a second season continued as the excellent Alcatraz was canned at the end of it’s run.

Runners Up:

  • The Newsroom
  • Alcatraz
  • New Girl

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BEST COMEDY SHOW

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Winner: New Girl

Zooey Deschanel’s New Girl was another show that lived up to the excitement surrounding it, no mean feat when it comes to comedy. Sometimes things get lost in translation between US and UK comedy so it was refreshing that this one was so good. And it’s not just Deschanel, all of the main characters are really well written. Raising Hope goes from strength to strength and The Middle continues to impress. The Big Bang Theory has become the new Friends, every time I switch to E4 it’s on… which isn’t a bad thing.

Runners Up:

  • Raising Hope
  • The Middle
  • The Big Bang Theory

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BEST SOUNDTRACK

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Winner: Haven – Shawn Pierce

Traditionally this award has gone to a licensed soundtrack of existing tracks but Shawn Pierce’s wonderful, creepy score for Haven compliments the show so well it deserves some recognition. As Haven builds towards the close of the second season (here in the UK at least) the score stands out more and more. You check out some clips here.

Runners Up:

  • The Middle
  • New Girl
  • The Newsroom

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ACTOR OF THE YEAR (TV)

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Winner: Damian Lewis – ‘Nicholas Brody’ (Homeland)

It’s hard to look beyond Lewis this year because his performance as Brody is just so believable. A truly fantastic piece of acting. However he was run close by Jeff Daniels as grumpy, troubled Will McAvoy in The Newsroom. Another commanding performance and I sometimes have to remind myself that this is the same guy from Dumb and Dumber! As Artie started to crumble in Warehouse 13, Saul Rubinek really delivered and Lafayette in True Blood, played by Nelsan Ellis, is still one of my favourite characters on TV.

Runners Up:

  • Jeff Daniels – Will McAvoy (The Newsroom)
  • Saul Rubinek – ‘Artie Nielsen’ (Warehouse 13)
  • Nelsan Ellis – ‘Lafayette’ (True Blood)

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ACTRESS OF THE YEAR (TV)

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Winner: Claire Danes – Carrie Mathison (Homeland)

Again it’s Homeland that takes the award as Claire Danes really gave us a performance to remember. As Carrie disappeared down the rabbit hole Danes’ acting was absolutely stunning – I think some of the besting acting I’ve seen. Allison Scagliotti, as Claudia Donovan, had a much larger role to play in Warehouse 13 this year and Stana Katic delivered once again as Kate Beckett struggled to readjust to life on the force in Castle. Audrey has been dealing with revelation after revelation in Haven and Emily Rose gives a brilliant, emotionally driven performance.

Runners Up:

  • Allison Scagliotti – ‘Claudia Donovan’ (Warehouse 13)
  • Stana Katic – ‘Kate Beckett’ (Castle)
  • Emily Rose – ‘Audrey Parker’ (Haven)

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TV SHOW OF THE YEAR

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Winner: The Newsroom

As much as Homeland dominated in terms of performances and storytelling, the one show I starting looking forward to more than any other was The Newsroom. Setting it just a year prior to current events meant that things felt fresh but the audience also knew how things would eventually pan out. As mentioned above Jeff Daniels is great but Alison Pill as Maggie and Sam Waterston as Charlie were brilliant. Also a big shout out to Olivia Munn who I only knew as a presenter of G4’s ‘Attack Of The Show’ for proving she’s a strong actress as well. It’s not afraid to pull any punches, which is why I think The Newsroom has proved so popular.

Runners Up:

  • Warehouse 13
  • Haven
  • Homeland

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So there we go, another year of TV over. What have you guys been watching?

Just one more set of awards to go now – the GregHorrorShow Game Awards for 2012 should be live on Monday so keep an eye out!

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The Year (So Far) In TV…

There has been a lot of really great TV around this year and the schedules are already looking packed all the way up until Christmas. I’ve found myself lining up more and more shows to watch, which is always a good thing in my opinion!

So here’s a recap of what’s been catching my attention.

I’m just four episodes into The Newsroom and I can already tell you it’s a contender for show of the year. Aaron Sorkin knows how to write a fantastic group of characters and he replicates the formula he had on Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip to great effect. Telling the story of a group of people that work on a news programme, the content here is more political and, for want of a better word, serious. I sometimes feel like the only one in the UK who doesn’t watch trashy, ‘reality’, fame obsessed TV shows and the attitude taken by Will and the gang echoes how I feel… but sadly this hasn’t spilled over into real life yet.

While some have their trash TV in the form I mentioned above, I’m a sucker for a good sci-fi or supernatural drama. While waiting on new seasons of Warehouse 13 and Haven, I checked out Alcatraz. The premise is wonderfully goofy – Alcatraz (the prison) was never shut down, everyone who was on the island just disappeared one night. And now in present day they are reappearing. Continuing my tradition of backing the wrong (albeit excellent) horse (see Dollhouse/Tru Calling/Firefly/Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles/Bored To Death etc) Alcatraz was not renewed for a second season, so we’ll never find out what the hell was actually going on!

True Blood hit season 4 and, again, improved on the previous series. For season 5 I’m hoping they continue to toy with some of the political/social themes of the Vampires and Humans co-existing that they touched on here. Nelsan Ellis, who plays Lafayette, is still the best thing in this show as far as I’m concerned and he looks set to have a big part in the upcoming season.

We’re only a few episodes into the latest season of Nikita but the storyline has already reached some fantastically outrageous heights. The way Nikita and Michael were saved (and by whom) in the opening episode had me chuckling away in disbelief and I almost wished I’d had a bag of popcorn on my lap. But then that’s why I love the show, all the crazy gadgets and cloak ‘n dagger ‘espionage’. I suspect this is what you’d get if you mixed a TV soap with the Splinter Cell games… which can only be a good thing 🙂

Kate Beckett and Richard Castle returned to our screens as Castle also hit season 4. The relationship between the cop and writer is strained this season which has made for a good change of dynamic. Ryan, Esposito, Lanie and Alexis getting more screen time has also made for a deeper narrative all round.

My big disappointments were Touch and Alphas. Alphas (about a secret agency of people with special powers) started well enough but went downhill so suddenly that I never made it to the end of the series, skipping out on the last few episodes. Touch didn’t even last that long – it was about halfway through when I bailed on that one. Again not a bad idea but I think they could’ve done so much more with it, rather than just producing the same story each time. I also didn’t think Kiefer Sutherland was strong enough to carry the show, perhaps with a better supporting cast (although I’ll exclude Danny Glover from that) it might have grabbed me more?

One programme that did grab me and refused to let go until it was over was Homeland. The story of a soldier returning to the US after 8 years as a prisoner of war and a government agency’s suspicion he might’ve been ‘turned’ while there was thoroughly brilliant. Well written and clever with some outstanding acting performances (Claire Danes and Damian Lewis in particular) Homeland is one of the better shows I’ve seen in the last two or three years.

US comedy has been strong in 2012 with both The Middle and Raising Hope bringing their madcap antics back to our screens. If you need to just unwind and watch something that will make you laugh these two do a great job – and if you have kids The Middle in particular will remind you why we go through the hard times for the little ones. New Girl has also made it’s way over the pond and has become one of my favourite comedies on TV at the moment. It has just the right mix of wit and slapstick with a great cast and some clever writing. While Zooey Deschanel as Jess is the star of the show, Schmidt (played by Max Greenfield) is close to stealing it – great stuff.

On the UK front I’ve found things a bit less impressive. Dirk Gently was good fun and I’d certainly watch more of it if it returns. Based on the Douglas Adams novels it’s about a detective who believes he’ll solve every crime by effectively just poking around and seeing what happens – all the while bumbling into clues that unravel the case. I gave Eternal Law a shot but the story of two angels who come to Earth as lawyers was so over sentimental and just poorly written that it didn’t stand much chance.

So there we go, looking back it’s been a great first half (or so) of 2012 and I’m hoping for some more great new shows to accomapny returning favourites such as Warehouse 13 and Haven.

What have I missed TV-wise? Have you seen any of the above shows and agree/disagree?

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Crysis 2 – Review (PS3)

Crysis 2 was one of the games I had played last year at Eurogamer and had been extremely concerned by the quality of the build. It repeatedly froze up or had massive amounts of pop in. So it was with a little apprehension that I put the disc into my PS3.

Thankfully Crytek had done a superb job of tidying up the mess I played. During my playthrough I experienced a few minor issues here and there but nothing out of the ordinary.

Graphically the game looks cool, although there was still some random pop in on a few occasions. A few times stuff ‘popped in’ while I was actually in a room! On the whole though Crysis 2 is a great looking game, though according to a few articles I read it doesn’t quite match up to the graphics of the original PC only game.

Storywise the game takes place in New York in 2023. The city has been overrun by aliens and a military group ‘CELL’ has been drafted in to try and police the anarchy that has erupted.

Following a botched rescue attempt on Nathan Gould, you (Alcatraz) end up wearing a new Nanosuit and head out to meet up with Gould.

Along the way you’ll be taking on both the aliens (Ceph) and CELL members and the story plays out around you. Everyone thinks you’re the suits previous owner and you end up as everyone’s target.

The Nanosuit is a cool idea, giving you lots of options to approach situations (Stealth and Armour being the main two) and as you upgrade it more features, such as bullet trails so you can see which direction you’re being fired at or the ability to walk silently, are available.

It’s great in theory but in practice you probably won’t ever explore the features that much as you’ll find your system and stick to it.

There isn’t much direction from the game on how you should approach situations – freedom is a great asset to a game but here, with no guidance at all, it becomes the game’s biggest stumbling block.

As you’re not forced to experiment there is no need to change your tactics. The moments where you stand on higher ground, bring up your visor interface and the game gives you some options on how you can tackle the situation *should* be great. But this is the only game I’ve known where those areas are open and the enemies below have super sight/hearing.

The amount of times I was considering what to do and was forced to take the opposition on with brute force because I’d been spotted was unreal. Sure you have your stealth cloak but, in my opinion, the game would’ve been stronger if it wasn’t reliant on you cloaking yourself for those parts.

The online multiplayer is fun, with everyone having the Stealth/Armour abilities right from the off and the maps are pretty cool – especially as many of them stretch over many levels. There is your usual upgrade / rank up system in place but I’m afraid the game just didn’t grab me that much on the multiplayer front.

Overall Crysis 2 isn’t a bad game, it just needed to guide the player a little more. Force them to use a few of the different powers so they would be tempted to switch them in and out. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to that’s played it stuck with a system. It reminds me in a lot of ways of Prototype, which was another ambitious game that could’ve done with reigning in slightly.

Rating: 7/10