Sunday 25 September 2016

From the fake Jack Nicholson to anthology series - Top 10 TV talking points of 2015

Published 27/12/2015 | 16:45

The Ray D'Arcy show featured a Jack Nicholson lookalike on Saturday
The Ray D'Arcy show featured a Jack Nicholson lookalike on Saturday

So long, 2015 in television – it was fun. It was also repetitive, stupid and boring at times, but it was fun too. Here are some of things that made us goggle at the box this year:

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Jack Nicholson/not Jack Nicholson

Ray D’Arcy’s much-trumpeted return to RTE hasn’t been a huge success so far, especially on the TV side. The low-point was when he introduced Jack lookalike Norman Deesing (who is the spit of the Hollywood legend, in fairness) as the real thing. The audience booed in derision. Then Ray compounded the first error by saying, “Sorry about that. I feel really bad. It wasn’t my idea.” Noooo – when you’re explaining, you’re losing, dude.

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Caitlyn Jenner came out as a woman

…and instantly became a transgender icon, mostly loved though not by all. Her interview with Diane Sawyer was one of those watercooler moments that had people talking. Granted, these were clearly people who mustn’t have had anything better to talk about, but still.

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Jon Snow died

He definitely “knows nothing” now. Game of Thrones has seen – at the last count – some four billion grisly deaths, so why should this one affect us so badly? Because of those soulful eyes, that fabulous hair, the whole “wounded puppy-dog crossed with Heathcliff” thing he had going on. Also, Jon Snow is one of only a handful of GoT characters who are actually, like, nice? And not weird or insane or incestuous or a zombie. But it’s mainly the hair, to be honest.

Jon Snow, played by Kit Harrington, on the other side of the Wall.JPG

 

Teresa Mannion became a global celebrity

RTE’s Galway correspondent went viral after her doughty reporting, literally in the face of Storm Desmond. There were internet memes, a techno remix, interviews with CNN and other media outlets; even Ariana Grande was a fan. All together now: don’t make unnecessary journeys, don’t take risks on the road…

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Justified came to an end

The most consistently excellent TV drama of all time, for my money, got out while the going was good after six superlative seasons. Loose ends were tied up; we found out how the story ended for all our beloved characters; there was even time for a final High Noon-style quick-draw. And it finished with a super-cool, very Elmore Leonard-esque brief encounter between Raylan and Boyd – frenemies for life.

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Anthology-style drama series dominate

For those of us sick to the teeth of shows which go on and on, for years, with nary a pay-off in sight…this was a most welcome development. Programmes like Fargo, True Detective and American Horror Story tear up the rulebook by telling a complete story over just one season; then returning to a familiar setting, but with a new story, the following year. And Fargo (both series) is one of the finest dramas in TV history.

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Spin-offs of movies emerge on TV

It used to be the other way around – i.e. movies would take “inspiration” from successful TV shows – but now telly is taking it back. We have film-derived spin-offs in all kinds of genres, from Scream, Fargo and Hannibal, to Bates Motel and Steven Soderberg’s forthcoming The Girlfriend Experience. And on that theme…

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Superheroes hit the small screen

Not literally, but that’s presumably on the way. Supes have colonised the cinema, now they have their X-ray vision set on TV. Agent Carter and Agents of Shield were retro fun, Daredevil and Jessica Jones were darker and edgier. Then there was Flash, Supergirl, Arrow…eh, I’m losing the will to live here, so we’ll skip along briskly.

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Fact really is stranger than fiction

Well, it was in Narcos, anyway – the third-best drama of the year (after Fargo and Justified). Based on the real-life misdeeds of legendary drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, Season 1 was intelligent, thrilling and beyond belief. That’s meant literally. I kept checking Wikipedia after Pablo’s latest outlandish escapade (e.g. blowing up a passenger plane to kill one person on-board), convinced that the writers must have made it up. They hadn’t. The guy was loco, esse.

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Aidan Turner’s breakthrough performance

Or at least, Aidan Turner’s cut torso’s breakthrough performance. The latest BBC remake of period drama Poldark was notable for revealing that people of olden times must have had a surprisingly protein-rich diet and lots of time to work out with personal trainers.

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