Feb 18

The Inaugural FreakyTrigger TV Poll: #24 – #13

Do You See + FT11 comments • 1,055 views

hqdefaultHi we’re the Telebugs, unloved 80’s British cartoon characters who traded on British kids loves of robots and television and still failed to create a following across our 88 tedious episodes. Part of this disdain might be that whilst we a robots with TV’s as heads our TV’s only ever show our faces, which is even more boring than watch 1980’s schools TV. These days the three of us have hacked our firmware and take it in turn to watch prestige TV on each others heads, though since our heads are in 4:3 a lot of it doesn’t fit into our aspect ratio

Thanks B.U.G., C.H.I.P and S.A.M.A.N.T.H.A. Seriously. S.A.M.A.N.T.H.A.* I doubt you’ll be getting a Danger Mouse like remake. Still I am sure you have watched all of these shows on each other fizzogs.

24: Taboo
Yet another version of the ridiculously sexy Tom Hardy mumble, Taboo is all set about with a story that reasserts the darkest side of illicit Empire slaving at a time when most tellings get very self-congratulatory: the Napoleonic Wars. With backstory in Africa and the USA, it goes all dark and Dickens and CGI exploring quite how evil the East India Company probably was. Consciously melodramatic, sometimes very effective, sometimes grisly, sometimes silly.

23: Motherland
Written by Graham Linehan and Sharon Horgan seems like an unbeatable lineage, and whilst there are some very traditional aspects to Motherland as a sitcom, there is enough here to make it stand out. Not least a female comedy line-up which has Lucy Punch and Diane Morgan supporting Anna Maxwell-Martin. What’s more is the show is more than happy to make all of its characters dislikeable, which feels like a small triumph, we can still find these terrible people funny.

22: Rick And Morty
A long wait for the third series and its increasingly nihilistic run perhaps pushed a few people away as did the overall hideousness of much of the fandom. The problem Rick And Morty has is that the lack of hope in the multiverse that it has built up, and the lead characters near absent sense of morality was intriguing as we learnt it, but is potentially exhausting now we are in on it. Which means the show has to work extra hard to engage those of its audience who are not into a dick as a lead character (sadly it seems for much of the fanbase this is the appeal). The show worked extra hard therefore, and more or less pulled it off, but I am not sure how much further it can go on.

21: OJ: Made In America
Epic documentary acting as a cultural counterweight to the more tabloid (though still excellent) American Crime Story version of the OJ Simpson trial. What Made In America does is contextualise who OJ was, how he became a phenomenon and then how his trial almost inevitably had to play out the way it did. In an era when fake news is bandied about so much, to have an epic documentary like this compliment a dramatization in such close proximity (and both be very good) does give a small amount of hope out for nuance and the industry.

20: Love Island
Talking of nuance, Love Island (ex-Celebrity Love Island but they couldn’t afford celebs any more), became the British reality show of choice in 2017. Why, its unclear. Perhaps the sunny climes made a change from Big Brothers increased desperation, it was a summer without a major sporting event, or even it was well made and cast. No matter what, it has now built itself as ITV’s other reality brand, and will probably go strong for a few more years at least.

19: Twin Peaks
Sight And Sounds second best movie of the year… The long awaited return of Twin Peaks – when I gave up on a few episodes into season two – has pleased much of the viewership who basically wanted access to lots and lots of David Lynch. I can’t say if getting this much Lynch material via the continuation of its arcane lore, and mixture of from what I understood was fan service and fan befuddlement. But if befuddlement is your stock in trade…

18: Better Call Saul
Earnest, newbie lawyer Jimmy McGill’s slowly eroding morals create the “Criminal Lawyer” Saul Goodman of Breaking Bad – it could have been shlocky and pointless, a weak cash-in glorying in a feted series’ success. But the brilliant acting, superb script and beautiful cinematography have proven that Better Call Saul is no mere spin-off. Vince Gilligan & team have served up three seasons of slowburn disappointment, betrayal and skulduggery, building up to create an intense world where everybody is awful, but you just can’t blame them. The finale broke my heart into a million pieces – I both anticipate and dread seeing what happens next. (Bec)

17: The Expanse
Mark Sinker said the main appeal of The Expanse is how it underlines that space is boring and deadly. It certainly does the latter, the former it does by treating it as a giant slow motorway where things happen in the end and your battles will be dirty and short. The second series of the Expanse completed the first novel’s arc, and then threw itself into the second, with grubby politics alongside the mystery of the protomolecule. The crew of the Rocinante are arguing, and fighting and its often better in its political scenes, but this is good pulpy stuff.

16: Love
In many ways, your typical boy-meets-girl story, more specifically nerdy boy meets hot wild girl story. Mickey and Gus’s stop-start-stop-start relationship is ostensibly the focus of piece though the supporting cast often shine brighter than the stars – Bertie’s sunny naiveté counters Mickey’s cynicism; she toughens her up. We’ve seen Gus’s friends looking out for him from the start and in many ways this love is the real focus of the show. Having said that, Judd Apatow surely isn’t going make anything easy for anyone. (Bec)

15: Bojack Horseman
Portrayals of ill mental health in the sitcom world are not often helpful or remotely accurate and usually 100% cured within 22 minutes; this gets it pretty spot on. A show about a washed up actor who drowns his sorrows with copious amounts of booze and drugs whilst sabotaging his relationships and still living a life of luxury is fairly tired, but set in a hyper surreal animated world where hybrid animal-humans coexist, it’s both bittersweet and terribly funny, and has a lot to say about success, happiness and friendship. (Bec)

14: The Handmaid’s Tale
TV takes a stab at Margaret Atwood’s chauvinist dystopia and makes a much better fist of it than cinema. This is partially because it has a lot more time and space to breathe, and build its world and characters. Much of this can be put down to a timeliness of theme, for all the leaps and bounds of equal rights we feel like we’re in a precarious moment with Trump in the White House – so Gilead suddenly feels more likely. But more can be but on Elisabeth Moss’s central performance: emphatic yet quietly fierce.

13: Dear White People
There was a lot of faux controversy when DWP was picked up for series by Netflix, but writ large over 10 episodes it has much the same strengths (and weaknesses) as Justin Simien’s 2014 film, with its arch style serving up a student campus political satire for the ‘woke’ generation. It doesn’t always work, but at its strongest (and the show really does revolve around the mid-season episode directed by Barry Jenkins), it dramatises situations that few other mainstream shows are doing. It also highlights a great depth of acting talent, not least stand-out star Marque Richardson’s Reggie, though my heart is with social climber Coco, who in all her contradictions is like a microcosm of the show itself and beacon for the distinctive world it creates. (Ewan)

There you go – the top twelve will almost certainly arrive before the end of February…

*Solar Activated Micro Automated Non-inTerference Hearing Apparatus. This is how bad the show was.


  1. 1
    Alba on 9 Feb 2018 #

    Twin Peaks at #19?? I think I’ll go back to my Twin Peaks fan bubble; this is too weird.

  2. 2
    Mark M on 10 Feb 2018 #

    Voted for:
    OJ: Made In America: I’m generally not evangelical about stuff, but I spent a lot of time telling people they needed to see this. Uses OJ (as others have done before) as a way of examining big chunks of American life. People who hadn’t seen it would often say, ‘What more is there to say about the trial?’, but so much more here than that chunk of the OJ saga. Not saying you couldn’t pick various legit fights with the theories, angles, choices of what to include, but I think overall, an immense achievement.

    Twin Peaks: Was part way through it when I included it on my ballot. I enjoyed it, but easy to see why lots of people gave up quickly (or later on) – and it seemed like Lynch & Frost set out to deliberately use the opening episodes to deter casual viewers. There are lovely bits with many of the original characters but they are held back until later in the series.
    Think I approached with the correct mindset: assuming it would bear less resemblance to Twin Peaks season 1 and more to other Lynch. Maybe Fire Walk With Me plus Lost Highway are the best coordinates I can offer. I thought it has much that is enjoyable (if you like this kind of stuff), some that is astounding, and a fair bit that seems just intended to test the audience’s patience.

    Dear White People: Really liked the movie, despite it’s structural flaws. Interesting how the recasting affects the mood & balance (eg as simple in the film, Sam, who has the provocative radio show Dear White People, is played by Tessa Thompson, whose face makes you expect someone sweeter whereas Logan Browning in the series looks naturally spikier). My memory is that the TV show, which has more time to explore the characters, is far further to the drama end of comedy-drama than the film. It’s also generally tighter and slicker.

    Familiar with but haven’t seen the 2017 series of:

    Better Call Saul: I enjoy it because it’s beautifully constructed but also find it quite painful. So much less fun that I assumed a Saul show was going to be. Will watch S3 in the next couple of months.

    Rick & Morty: Watched a few eps, quite liked, a long way from getting the cult.

    Love: Watched the whole of the first series. Will not be watching any more. Found both main characters deeply annoying.

  3. 3

    Ketchup commentary on items that have so far appeared in the poll:

    GoT (25) and Star Trek D (32=): neither would not have made my final list. I still enjoy watching GoT, though it’s long past its best coups de théâtre I think: it has a handful of actors that entertain me (as well as some awful ones), but too much of it now feels draggy and directionless. STD has a good(ish) concept and I don’t mind the grimness but it’s just not very well realised. My excellent unlocated joke abt it can go here tho: TARDIGRADING ON A CURVE!! i thank yao

    My forgot-about list is a bit longer. Brooklyn 99 (31) I’d binged earlier in the year, and maybe got a leetle bored by its most recent series. OJ (Made in America) (21): As MM says, this was terrific, exemplary in fact, really digging into the backstory and the social backdrop. Better Call Saul (18): I could honestly watch jonathan banks as mike ehrmantraut all day on his own, carefully undertaking one of his tasks and quietly grunting to himself, he is mesmeric. Bojack Horseman (15): I really enjoyed this — so melancholy!

    Taboo (24): don’t disagree w/the blurb above one whit, except perhaps to add that this series probably has the best politics of anything in my own list (including the things just mentioned NOT in my list).

    Rick and Morty (22): picture-perfect dramatisation of nietzsche’s notion of “eternal return” and how we would adapt to that, for good or (more often) bad. I don’t think morty lacks morality — his primary expression is one of appalled terror — and I think the decision to bring beth and summer more into the wilder storylines is abt giving a mix of base-level moral make-ups the opportunity to face the primary horror. As a heartless monster this suits my malicious sense of humour I’m afraid.

    The Expanse (17): less “boring and deadly” per blurb than “boring and bad”. Space is bad not good! It has magical-scary alien stuff at one end, and machiavellian diplomacy (including vicious outbreaks of mass-death war) at the other, but mostly in the middle the fact that space is a practical obstacle like mountains or the sea, and a lot of the protection against its dangers are merely incredibly tiresome admin and rote practice: I think it gets that stuff across well (as Star Trek for example never has).

  4. 4
    Andrew Farrell on 11 Feb 2018 #

    I’m with Alba – I assumed this was basically a fight for second place behind Twin Peaks.

  5. 5
    Mark M on 11 Feb 2018 #

    Oh yeah, Taboo: I watched that the whole way through, occasionally pledging to stop but getting sucked back in. I think the only thing I’ve ever seen Tom Hardy in where his approach was an unambiguous asset to the proceedings is Bronson. (I mean, he’s fine in Fury Road and Tinker Tailor, but they don’t gain from his Tom Hardyness). Taboo, which being a self-designed vehicle is presumably as undiluted Hardy as we will ever get, I found it watchable but ridiculous from start to finish.

    (Lord Sukrat’s weakness for fictional depictions of the evil mercantilist octopus East India Company is a matter of record).

  6. 6


  7. 7
    T on 26 Mar 2018 #

    That fellow above is a twunt

  8. 8

    no argument there

  9. 9
    lonepilgrim on 3 Apr 2018 #

    Will we get the rest soon?

  10. 10
    Andrew Farrell on 6 Apr 2018 #

    I believe it was St Francis of Assissi, who doesn’t post here any more since we stopped reviewing pubs, that said “Where there is uncertainty, let us have an argument”. On that basis, here’s 30-odd TV shows that did well in other end-of-year polls, so we can pick over them.

    Better Things
    Big Little Lies
    Blue Planet II
    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
    The Crown
    The Deuce
    Doctor Foster
    Doctor Who
    The Good Fight
    The Good Place
    Halt and Catch Fire
    The Keepers
    Lady Dynamite
    The League of Gentlemen
    The Leftovers
    Line of Duty
    Master of None
    Mr Robot
    One Day at a Time
    Peaky Blinders
    Pls Like
    Search Party
    Stranger Things 2
    This Country
    Three Girls
    Top Of The Lake
    The Trip to Spain

  11. 11
    Andrew Farrell on 6 Apr 2018 #

    My pick would probably be (1-12) Blue Planet II – The Crown – The Good Place – Glow – Halt and Catch Fire – This Country – Peaky Blinders – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Master of None – Catastrophe – The Deuce – Mindhunter
    but to be honest after Twin Peaks as #19 I have no confidence that I know the FT mind.

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