GregHorrorShow TV Awards 2009

Continuing the awards season, we arrive at the TV section.

While I think TV has tailed off over the last few years, and been replaced in a lot of quarters by gaming, there are still great shows out there.

So here’s what I thought was worthy of a look in 2009…

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BEST COMEDY SHOW

WINNER: Flight Of The Conchords (BBC2)

Flight Of The Conchords is such a great show, jam packed with quality songs that it just can’t overlooked. The story of Brett and Jermaine, along with manager Murray, as they try to make it big as a band in New York. Brilliant.

RUNNERS UP:

Gavin And Stacey (BBC1)

Mock The Week (BBC2)

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BEST FACTUAL SHOW

WINNER: Hairy Bikers Tour Of Britain (Cookery – BBC2)

As I’ve said before, I love the Hairy Bikers and this show was a wonderfully informative look at the various counties around the UK. Showing a traditional dish from each region and having a ‘cook off’ against a local chef really gave you a flavour of each part of the country.

RUNNERS UP:

Queens Of British Pop (Music – BBC4)

Match Of The Day 2 (Sport – BBC2)

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BEST SOUNDTRACK

WINNER: Flight Of The Conchords (BBC2)

As I said above this show had such great songs that I couldn’t not give it the gong here. “Hurt Feelings” was a particular highlight for me 😆

RUNNERS UP:

Ashes To Ashes (BBC1)

Hairy Bikers Tour Of Britain (BBC2)

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WORST TV SHOW

WINNER: Demons (ITV)

I was pysched for Demons, as I thought it could be a UK version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer – instead we got a half assed show which started badly and faded from there. Avoid. 😦

RUNNERS UP:

Merlin (BBC)

The Rise And Fall Of Reginald Perrin (BBC)

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BEST NEW SHOW

WINNER: Dollhouse (SciFi)

Already being a fan of Joss Whedon I was predisposed to like Dollhouse from the start and while the first few epiosdes were a bit shaky the show soon hit it’s stride and never looked back. Telling the story of an undercover operation that takes volunteers, wipes their memories and then implants new memories to cater for whatever engagement they are assigned to. Fantastic. 😎

RUNNERS UP:

True Blood (Fox)

Warehouse 13 (SciFi)

Flash Forward (Five)

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ACTOR OF THE YEAR (TV)

WINNER: Philip Glenister (DCI Gene Hunt – Ashes To Ashes)

Ashes To Ashes was really enjoyable and the highlight was the tension between Hunt and leading lady Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes). Glenister is probably always gonna be known as Hunt and for good reason. His performances are brilliant and some of the one liners/terminology the writers give him are awesome.

RUNNERS UP:

Fran Kranz (Topher Brink – Dollhouse)

Jack Coleman (Noah Bennett – Heroes)

Eddie McClintock (Pete Latimer – Warehouse 13)

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ACTRESS OF THE YEAR (TV)

WINNER: Summer Glau (Cameron – Terminator Sarah Connor Chronicles)

I was so disappointed that this show got cancelled as it seemed to be really finding it’s feet. Summer Glau’s performance as Cameron, the female Terminator was especially convincing and I thought she caught the innocence of the role extremely well. Her banter with John Connor seemed fairly natural as well.

RUNNERS UP:

Dichen Lachman (Sierra – Dollhouse)

Jennifer Love Hewitt (Melinda Gordon – Ghost Whisperer)

Joanne Kelly (Myka Bering – Warehouse 13)

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TV SHOW OF THE YEAR

WINNER: Dollhouse (SciFi)

The premise of Dollhouse (see above) sounds as crazy as it is but the show really came together for the latter part of the first series and the second series has also started strongly (despite poor ratings and a cancellation). I literally could not wait for this show every week. And that is the sign of a brilliant TV show.

RUNNERS UP:

Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles (SciFi)

Heroes (BBC2)

Warehouse 13 (SciFi)

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And there we have it. Any stuff I missed that I should check out? (Except The Wire, which I’m working on) Give me a shout.

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“I’m Not Crying, It’s Just Been Raining On My Face…”

Ghost Whisperer

NOTE: This piece contains potential spoilers regarding the following TV Shows and Games: 

  • Ghost Whisperer
  • Firefly/Serenity
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer
  • Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles
  • GTA IV
  • Dead Space

If you plan to watch/play these DON’T READ THIS ARTICLE!!!!

So now that’s out of the way let me explain.

A few weeks ago a main character died on a TV show that I watch and I found myself a little choked up. That in itself is not really a surprise as I’m not the most difficult person to get an emotional response from – though we’re talking lump in the throat as opposed to actual tears.

It got me thinking about the reasons I would feel these emotions about fictional characters – was there some sort of checklist the programme-makers tick off to evoke these feelings? Or is it just that the makers/actors create the illusion differently each time?

Likewise with games, although it seems harder to trigger that same response (for me personally) – I haven’t really choked up over a game but I have often found myself shaken, or perhaps stunned is more accurate, by characters deaths.

Emo2

I discovered that research into this sort of thing has been going on for decades.

Back in 1956 an article entitled “Mass Communication and Para-Social Interaction” was written by Donald Horton and R. Richard Wohl. They discussed how the general public (or audience) felt connected to the TV presenters at the time because they were addressing the screen (and therefore the viewers) directly.

Research continued in the 70’s and 80’s and the term ‘Para-Social Interaction/Relationship’ came to mean the affection that viewers feel with the characters or personalities they see on screen.

So why was I upset when Jim died in Ghost Whisperer? Or knocked for six when Kate got shot at the end of GTA IV? I am a rational person – I have no delusions that these are real people, so what’s going on?

The answer it seems lies in further research…

Viewers attach themselves to characters – that is an obvious statement. If no one cared about the characters no one would watch the show. However it’s the depth of the attachment and the reasons for it that seem to cause these Para-Social Relationships.

Some people identify with characters, or at the very least facets of them, and invest emotionally because they feel a sense of familiarity when watching.

Emo3

Others idolize the characters or see them as role models. Someone they look up to perhaps, or aspire to be like.

Either way you’re drawn to these works of fiction and invest a great deal of emotion and time (especially in TV shows and games which can both last for hour upon hour) in them.

That is certainly a reasonable explanation – especially looking at something like GTA IV where you have crafted out a relationship with Kate for Niko (the character you control) by actually spending time with her and going on ‘dates’ etc. 

Several deaths in Buffy The Vampire Slayer shocked and moved me but for very different reasons.

The death of Buffy’s mother Joyce was possibly more to do with the way it was handled – with Buffy finding her stricken on the sofa, eyes wide open but unresponsive following a brain tumour. It was powerful stuff anyway but the bleakness and honesty of the scene was both upsetting and slightly disturbing. The fact that they showed the scene repeatedly during the episode also made it hit home harder.

Whereas the death of Anya, right at the end of the last season was upsetting in that a) she was a main character and b) in the chaos of the fight she was struck down almost without a death scene as the action continued.

Anya

Having said that Joss Whedon has a history of killing off main characters unexpectedly – in Serenity the ships pilot Wash is killed during a crash landing but at least with that death we got to see his wife’s reaction and emotion.

In Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, Derek Reese is killed quickly and while the shock did hit home it wasn’t as emotional as the other deaths I mentioned, say Jim in Ghost Whisperer, which had a longer build up.

So is there a reason some deaths effect us more than others? Is it solely down to our relationship with the characters and how we feel about them? Or do the makers of these programmes have some tricks up their sleeves? 🙂

I suspect it’s a mixture of both. Of course the director can use certain shots/angles or a powerful piece of music under the scene to help things along but if the actors don’t put the performances in the response won’t be as strong.

Maybe the groundwork has already been laid by the director in revealing the character to you in a certain light to motivate you to like and identify with them?

Going back to the former point about actors, perhaps that is why the emotions I feel during games are weaker than TV/Film? As great as the graphics are in games these days they are not entirely lifelike and often the person voicing the character is doing so months before the character is even properly created.

I expect you would get more of an emotional tie to a character you’d created, say in something like World Of Warcraft. If a character you’d built up from scratch and moulded however you wanted was killed it would hit you harder I would guess. I don’t play those types of games so I couldn’t answer that question directly.

The closest I’ve ever come to that is when I tried the Sims in 2 player with my wife. We created ourselves but unfortunately I died in a house fire 😮 I certainly wouldn’t play that again 😦

Emo6

Either way I’m glad to feel those emotions watching. It restores a little of my faith in TV/Film that these shows can evoke feelings of emotional shock or choke me up – especially when so called ‘reality’ television seems to be taking over the TV schedules more and more all the time. Certainly a worrying trend if ever there was one.

As for games I look forward to increasingly improving stories – more of stuff like Fahrenheit, Bioshock, Infamous, GTA IV and Dead Space. Games that made me feel something.

As the world of gaming evolves even further I think we have plenty of great stories to look forward to playing through. 😎

 

Note: I found the website below really helpful in researching this article and I’m not one to take unwarranted credit so please check it out if you’re interested or want more information:

http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/6428/Attachment-to-Media-Characters.html

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TV: Cancellations And Catching Up

sarahconnor

TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES

Wow. Just can’t believe this show has been cancelled. I know it’s down to bad viewing figures but I suspect it’s Friday night slot didn’t help matters.

Apart from one episode (the “Spiritual” one, seriously what were they thinking?) Sarah Connor Chronicles has been bang on the money every week.

The (slightly creepy) relationship between Cameron and John Connor really delevoped and. Summer Glau was brilliant as Cameron. Some of her delivery was the highlight of the show for me, it was like having a kickass version of Will Ferrell’s Buddy The Elf. 🙂

I really enjoyed this show and still have a flicker of hope it might be picked up by another network.

If not I’ll be waiting for some sort of Blu-Ray boxset of all the seasons so I can relive it all again!

 

primeval

PRIMEVAL

Season 3 of Primeval is scooting along at a great pace and the episode involving Abby’s brother visiting the future was probably the best one I’ve ever seen.

On the whole despite losing a main character or two the show is developing nicely and should be the source of some good old fashioned family fun going onwards.

The special effects deserve a mention as well as they are a vast improvement on previous series and hopefully this standard will be kept as the series continues.

I think there is still plenty of mileage in the format – especially with regard to them being able to go through the anamolies as well.

 

pushingdaisies

PUSHING DAISIES

Ah Pushing Daisies.

Brilliant start to the first season, so-so end of first season but this season has been immense and while I agree the show’s arching storyline hasn’t fascinated me the individual storylines per episode have been great.

Very well written and the comedic timing of all the actors (especially Chi McBride who plays Emerson Cod) has been excellent.

I’m still not sure how this had declining viewers and got cancelled – this season has been really good.

Looking forward to seeing how they wrap the storyline up – this is one show I’m really hoping does have a happy ending.

 

earl

MY NAME IS EARL

Looks like I’ll be trying to find something to watch next year with all these shows being cancelled 😡

Again I thought this season was a return to form for My Name Is Earl and whilst I can understand that the list idea might be getting stale for some people the scope for where this can go – even at this stage of the show’s life is a positive thing for me.

Someone has started the traditional ‘save our show’ campaign but is it too little too late?

It will be a shame to see Earl leave our screens but it’s been a fun few seasons.

 

dollhouse

DOLLHOUSE

Well at least one of these bad boys has been renewed for another season! 😎

Eliza Dushku stars as Echo, one of several ‘dolls’ in the aforementioned house.

Basically people who, for one reason or another (yet to be revealed) are now human shells.

They are hired by high paying clients, who dictate who they want them to be abd how they want them to act.

A specific set of ‘skills’ are imprinted into the them and off they go. None the wiser, doing whatever they are supposed to before returning to the Dollhouse to have their imprints and memories wiped so they can start all over.

Coming from Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly, Dr Horrible) I was expected it to be good but it’s exceeded expectations and it’s nice to tuck into a new US show knowing it’ll get a second season.

 

ghostwhisperer

GHOST WHISPERER

Melinda (Jennifer Love-Hewitt) and Jim (David Conrad) return to our screens picking up where they left off.

Melinda is still helping people with their nearest and dearest who won’t move on to the other side.

Professor Payne (Jay Mohr) has left, which I feel may leave a void as Mohr’s comedy brings a nice light touch to proceedings usually.

One thing that confused me – the tears when he left from Melinda, worried about a friend or something more romantic?

I thought the former but a fair few others think the latter.

Have only seen one episode so far so can’t judge the season just yet but it’s nice to have it back on the Sky+ planner 😎

 

flight

FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS

New Zealand’s fourth most popular folk parody act return with a second series that sees the band managerless but getting into the usual scrapes – before Murray returns to… well get them into more scrapes to be honest. 😆

The songs are still just as strong and the episode where Jermaine becomes a gigolo was wickedly funny.

I heard this will be the final season as they don’t want the songs to weaken which I can understand but it’ll be a sad day when Brett, Jermaine and Murray hold their last band meeting.

If you’ve never seen Flight Of The Conchords before check out the video below from season one to see what you’re missing.

What You Watching?

Well to be honest what with the release of certain Playstation 3 first person shooter I haven’t really been watching much in the way of films but I’ve still been managing to keep on top of TV stuff, so here’s what has been gracing my television screen recently…

HEROES

Well it’s back after it’s mid season hiatius following Christmas and Heroes is back with a bang.

I love the route they are taking it down, with what appears to be the government looking to lock down all the people with special abilities and the Heroes themselves having to fight back vigilante style.

Last night’s espisode saw the untimely death of one of my favourite characters – who I won’t name for those who are yet to see it 😥

The survivors of the plane crash desperately tried to escape from the wreckage before manhunt style secret agents got to the scene.

It’s cool to see the character’s abilities developing as well – have to say how cool was it to see Parkman force that SWAT dude to shoot his colleagues 😎

I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the season pans out and was boosted by news from the US that Heroes has been green lighted for a 4th season.

NB. Any Heroes fans out there should follow @wendilynnmakeup and @jamesprops on Twitter – they work on the show (sure you can guess in what dept by the names!). These guys are SUPER nice and happy to answer questions about their jobs on the show and about the cast/crew etc.

DEMONS

I had fairly high hopes for this ITV1 Saturday night supernatural drama, especially as it features the excellent Phillip Glenister from Life On Mars.

Sadly Demons has been a real let down.

The whole thing feels too contrived and you don’t really sympathise or relate to any of the characters in the show.

It just feels like they have tried to take the best elements from lots of different shows and just chucked them together.

There have been a few good bits and a couple of laughs along the way but this has been a disappointment.

THE GUILD

Been a fan of The Guild since discovering the first season via Felicia Day, who was in Dr Horrible and who stars and writes this as well.

Just as a heads up The Guild isn’t strictly for geeks only but it certainly helps to understand the references and terminology the characters use.

It’s about a group of people who all play an online computer game and the majority of the dialogue is played out with each character at their computer screen discussing their personal problems while playing the game.

It’s very well written and I would recommend giving it a watch – each episode is about 5 minutes long and you can find them here:  http://www.watchtheguild.com/

TERMINATOR: SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES

Another series that has really picked up following the writer’s strike is Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Things have taken a more sinister turn with the arrival of John Henry – a supercomputer that can think for itself and has been ‘plugged in’ to a deceased Terminator.

Alongside this Riley’s role as simply John Connor’s girlfriend has come into question after a series of revelations. Along with Reece’s apparent loyalty issues it seems no-one (least of all the audience) is sure who they can trust.

It all adds up to a great viewing experience and hopefully it will continue to impress as the season goes on.

ANGEL OF DEATH

Finally a shout out to something that looks like it could be extremely cool.

Angel of Death stars Zoe Bell – of Death Proof fame – as Eve, an assassin who following on from a near fatal knife wound to the head decides to right all the wrongs she’s done. Her injury means she’s getting visions of past victims.

I watched the first two episodes and I thought it was pretty good. It’s dark and fairly gory but most watchable – you can check out the episodes here: http://crackle.com/c/Angel_Of_Death and there’s a trailer below as well.


So there you go – let me know what you think if you check them out or if you can recommend any good stuff to watch!