TV for victory

Have you ever noticed how news reporters always wish us a good evening, then give us a dozen reasons why it isn’t? We’ve had nothing but grim tidings this year: Europe lurches from one crisis to another, the possibility (or is it probability?) of recession hangs over our heads like the Sword of Damocles, those pesky Iranians are up to their old tricks again and Janet Devlin has been booted off ‘X-Factor’ (someone get me a violin!). Frankly, boys and girls, I’ve had enough of the real world and its litany of woes, so I thought perhaps the realm of fiction might lift my spirits, or at least provide some distraction. As it happens, we’re rather spoilt for choice when it comes to quality television, at the moment. Does this ring any bells?

If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out. I’ve already reviewed Series One of A Game of Thrones (see and look forward to Series Two with gusto. Rumour has it that two more seasons have been given the green light – hurrah! I take my hat off to the cast and crew who brought this worthiest of sagas to the small screen.

Politics, intrigue, lust, violence and skulduggery. You’ll find all of this and more in HBO’s The Borgias, starring Jeremy Irons. I certainly did and I’m queuing up for more. I was pleased, therefore, to learn that another series is on its way in 2012, no doubt bringing with it more sex scenes, warfare and classy one-liners. Don’t expect too much emphasis on historical accuracy – they’ve played around with the timelines and characters to suit the script – but you can expect top-notch acting and lavish set pieces.

In the meantime, fans of the horror genre can sink their fangs into AMC’s The Walking Dead, starring Andrew Lincoln. I have and cannot recommend it enough. There’s more to it than simply firing bullets into the rotting heads of shambling zombies, satisfying though that may be. The show explores the group dynamics of post-apocalyptic survivors, how they interact with each other, power struggles, love, envy and betrayal. It’s low on laughs, but there’s more drama there than you can shake a stick at.

ITV1 has blessed us with more genteel fare in the form of Edwardian drama Downton Abbey, starring Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern. Yours truly has it on good authority that, after two very enjoyable seasons, it’s returning for one-off on Christmas Day. Unfortunately, that means it will probably be up against Strictly Come Dancing on the BBC, which my father will force me to watch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed by the dance routines, but those mincing judges and all those tired old clichés may well make me want to throw up. Sorry, Daddy-O, but it looks like you’ll have Christmas pudding-flavoured vomit stains on your sofa this month. To those of you who are more fortunate, I say this: turn on, tune in and watch the drama unfold at the Grantham household. Let me know how you get on.

The new year promises to bring more quality entertainment with a new series of 1960s caper Mad Men. At last! It’s been so long, I might need a refresher course so I can be up to speed when it finally hits our screens. So there you have it, readers: a veritable smorgasbord of fine entertainment  to keep the 21st-century blues at bay and to stop us thinking about our own dreary lives. Happy viewing!


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