Saturday 31 December 2016

"Get ready, kiddos. It's 2016: Year of the Monkey"

The year the apocalypse was due to begin in 12 Monkeys has been a trying one for many. 2016 was the year of the Brexit referendum, the election of Donald Trump, the entirely undemocratic accession  of Theresa May and as many people have pointed out celebrity deaths seem anecdotally to have been at an all time high.

So it seems strange to say that 2016 has been a pretty good year for me. We bought a house, I've had some work published in two books, my work situation has changed in a way that allows for more writing, and in a move that benefits us all, none of my predictions came true.

These are a few of my favourite things from 2016:

The X-Men films get a much-needed kick up the arse. Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccharin and TJ Miller are wonderful. You haven't seen a superhero movie like it.

10 Cloverfield Lane
John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher, Jr. are excellent in this tense thriller semi-sequel. This is a phenomenal examination of claustrophobia and paranoia that expertly takes a tour around the genres.

Captain America: Civil War
Once you get past the notion that the Avengers disassemble over a contract dispute, this is a great team-up movie and the welcome appearance by Ant-Man and Spider-Man make this movie sing.

Louis Theroux's My Scientology Movie
Louis attempts to peek behind the veil of this bizarre religion and despite not getting an interview with anyone in Scientology still manages to expose the temperament, the entitlement and the sheer bonkers nature of the cult of Hollywood.

Star Trek Beyond
The thirteenth Star Trek film is fantastic. John Cho, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin and Sofia Boutella are all wonderful in film that manages to pay tribute to fifty years of Star Trek whilst forging ahead.

War And Peace
A brilliant adaptation of Tolstoy's epic. Beautifully shot, wonderfully adapted. This is how you make television. Why this famously long novel was six episodes, but Dickensian was permitted to limp on for twenty shows what a bizarre TV landscape we have.

The X-Files
Mulder and Scully return for an excellent tenth season, which ends on a cliffhanger which demands an eleventh. I demand an eleventh. I demand it now.

12 Monkeys
The second season of the series based on the Terry Gilliam's 1995 film time travel builds on the story of the first and exudes confidence as it rewrites it.

It's a relief to have the world's greatest secret agent back on our screens.

Better Call Saul
Jimmy McGill's life before Breaking Bad is expertly explored in a way that always leaves you wanting more. Prequels are never normally this good.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's semi-autobiographical one-woman play become a six part sitcom with ease. Scathing and witty, this is Miranda with balls.

Red Dwarf XI
The cast slip effortlessly back into their roles as the boys from the Dwarf return for six more episodes that see them tangle with a society that outlawed technology and undercover speakeasy scientists, a ship upon which morality is punished, a time travelling organ thief, a 3D printed Rimmer monster, a mid-life Krysis, a mid-life crisis and that rarest of creatures: a female cat.

Planet Earth II
Phenomenal wildlife photography that kept the nation glued to its screens week after week.

This Is Us
Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz and Chris Sullivan are wonderful in this brilliant series about people who share the same birthday. The storytelling is inventive, the dialogue sparkles and within seconds you know these people, despite this a few seconds later these people surprise you. A rare commodity in TV at the moment.

Patrick Ness' Doctor Who spinoff set at Coal Hill School successfully bridges the age gap between The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood. The first five episodes In particular are excellent. Greg Austin, Katherine Kelly, Jordan Renzo and Aaron Neill are wonderful, but it is Vivian Oparah that gives the standout performance and needs far more to do.

Doctor Who: The Return Of Doctor Mysterio
With only one Doctor Who episode on television all year, it had better be a good one and thankfully The Return Of Doctor Mysterio didn't disappoint. Peter Capaldi, Matt Lucas, Justin Chatwin and Charity Wakefield are all fantastic as Doctor Who takes on the Superhero genre and the results are wonderful. It was a long overdue return to fun. Doctor Who hasn't been fun for about six years, it's been clever, witty, dramatic but it hasn't been fun.

Inside No. 9
Once again Pemberton and Shearsmith have outdone themselves, The Demon Of Christmas is a fantastic fourth wall rattling replication of seventies television which exposes the depths of their obsession, and if you laugh, yours as well.

Cunk On Christmas
Just brilliant. Hopefully this will be on every Christmas.

Ultrasound: Real Britannia
The band's third album boasts another shift in tone, but once again they pull it off.

Doctor Who: Demon's Quest
The sequel to Hornet's Nest is a wonderful meandering journey through time taking in some brilliant historical highlights and doing it with aplomb. Tom Baker, Susan Jameson are fantastic.

2000AD & Judge Dredd Megazine
Far too many highlights to list, but the thirty-ninth year of the galaxy's greatest comic is another belter and sees the prog reach its 2000th edition.

Noiseless Chatter
As always, Phil Reed provides the best, most in-depth and thought-provoking site on the internet. Also, the only one that claims to have been online for thirty-five years.

Here's to a happy 2017...

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