The best and worst TV of 2014

Written By komlim puldel on Sabtu, 27 Desember 2014 | 20.01

Carlotta ... Early rumblings suggested this was going to be a stinker. So did it end up on our best or worst list? Source: Supplied

IT was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Our TV gurus Colin Vickery and Holly Byrnes cast their eyes over the year of TV that was.

BEST AUSTRALIAN DRAMA

Carlotta (ABC)

Earlier this year rumours swirled that Carlotta, the ABC telemovie starring Jessica Marais as

transgender showgirl Carlotta Spencer, was a mess. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Marais, best known as Rachel Rafter in Packed to the Rafters, was a knockout as she morphed from tormented schoolboy to Les Girls legend. Former Stingers star Anita Hegh, as mum Evelyn, and Eamon Farren, as friend Danny, were other standouts. CV

Whole (Car)lotta love ... Jessica Marais as Sydney's famous transgender showgirl Carlotta. Source: Supplied

The Code (ABC)

With dramas like House Of Cards and Broadchurch setting the international standard high for TV audiences, this local production met that challenge on every level. From its of-the-moment cyber terror storyline, to an extraordinary cast who all delivered even better performances, The Code was close to perfect TV for me. Absolutely deserving of a second season, now for the agonising wait. HB

Well deserved return ... Dan Spielman and Lucy Lawless in The Code. Source: Supplied

WORST AUSTRALIAN DRAMA

Fat Tony & Co. (Nine)

Fat Tony & Co. wasn't outright bad. It was just totally unnecessary. The Underbelly franchise was well and truly tapped out by last year's Underbelly Squizzy. That didn't stop Nine from dipping back into the well for this look at crime kingpin Tony Mokbel (Robert Mammone). Fat Tony & Co revisited some of the events depicted in the original Underbelly and included some of the original cast, particularly Gyton Grantley as Carl Williams, but it was a law of diminishing returns. CV

Outstayed its welcome ... Fat Tony & Co tried to wring blood out of the Underbelly stone. Source: Supplied

Party Tricks (Ten)

I don't even live in Melbourne and I was over the Victorian elections, let alone settling in to watch a fairly pedestrian drama about it. This suffered because of the real-time election, as well as the fact the audience found it hard to distance Asher Keddie from her popular role on Offspring.HB

BEST AUSTRALIAN COMEDY

Shaun Micallef's Mad as Hell (ABC)

The mind of Shaun Micallef is a wonderful thing and it was on full display in this anarchic send-up of the week's news events. No-one was safe as Micallef and his talented troupe, including Francis Greenslade and Roz Hammond, took aim at the Government, the Opposition, the ABC and everything in between. CV

Shaun Micallef, Frances Greenslade, Mad as Hell ABC Series 4 Source: ABC

The Feed (SBS)

For their spoof sketch series, starring newsreader Lee Lin Chin, alone. Watching this TV icon take on Maggie Beer in a kitchen knife fight; throw back beers with Sandra Sully and Natalie Barr; then triumph in the Broadcast Battleground skit gave me the best ab workout laughing since the Abdominiser. HB

WORST AUSTRALIAN COMEDY

Jonah from Tonga (ABC)

When exactly did Chris Lilley jump the shark? The comic genius who created We Can Be Heroes and Summer Heights High is now trading off past glories. Last year's Ja'mie: Private School Girl was shrill and repetitive. Jonah from Tonga, which revisited rebellious teen Jonah Takalua, was simply puerile. Sad. CV

Jumped the shark ... Chris Lilley's Jonah from Tonga failed to match past glories. Source: Supplied

Soul Mates (ABC2)

If you've been anywhere near Bondi in the last five years, this series is less funny and more past its used-by-date...we've seen it all before. The jokes were obvious, juvenile, unoriginal. Fully sick? More like D.O.A. HB

BEST AUSTRALIAN REALITY SHOW

MasterChef Australia (Ten)

Last year's MasterChef Australia was a dud so I approached this year's series of the Channel 10

cooking show expecting the worst. Turns out I was wrong. Producers Shine stripped the program

back to its basics – amateur cooks creating great food – and reminded us all why we loved it in the first place. No wonder judges Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan looked so

chuffed. CV

Back from the dead ... MasterChef went back to basics with stunning results. Emelia, Laura and Brent were appealing finalists. Source: Channel 10

Changing Minds (ABC)

Television at its absolute best. As the title suggests, this powerful documentary took cameras inside the mental health ward of Liverpool Hospital, where brave patients shared their experiences with this insidious illness. Aunty deserves a huge pat on the back for its commitment to the cause and Mental As programming. HB

WORST AUSTRALIAN REALITY SHOW

Big Brother (Nine)

Remember when Channel 9 told us that its version of Big Brother would be different? That it would be more family-friendly than the Ten original? That philosophy went out the window in 2014. The first eviction, of housemate Gemma Kinghorn, was the TV equivalent of schoolyard bullying, and things never improved. Even host Sonia Kruger seemed embarrassed as ramped up the raunch. Pitiful. CV

The Big Adventure (Seven)

Less adventure, more big boring rip-off of Survivor without the fascinating mind games. For all his youthful enthusiasm, Jason Dundas gave Osher Gunsberg a run for his money as the Ken Doll wax imitation of a TV host. HB

MOST OVERRATED SHOW

Secrets & Lies (Ten)

Bold TV experiment of gloomy bore? I'd punt for the latter even though the critics went wild for this six-part thriller. Suburban dad Ben Gundelach (Martin Henderson) stumbles upon the body of a young boy and raises the alarm. Detective Ian Cornielle (Anthony Hayes) is convinced – inexplicably in my opinion – that Ben is the murderer. So are his family, neighbours and the media. CV

The Voice (Nine)

After being a card-carrying cheerleader for this show, the magic was missing for me this year. Even with the additions of our Kylie and the intensely interesting will.i.am as coaches, it still came down to some lack lustre talent which could not sustain a season so over-worked it limped over the finishing line. Hoping for a MasterChef-style reinvention in 2015. HB

Time for reinvention ... The Voice failed to fire in 2014. Source: News Corp Australia

MOST UNDERRATED TV SHOW

Please Like Me (ABC)

America's Entertainment Weekly magazine has voted Josh Thomas's affecting Aussie comedy one of the Top 10 shows of the year for the past two years in a row. That's right – up there with Game of Thrones, Mad Men and House of Cards. Back here it is relegated to the ABC's digital channel. Go figure. CV

We did ... Josh Thomas in Please Like Me Source: ABC

The Good Wife (TEN)

Ignore the ratings, this was the best season yet of The Good Wife even if it was neglected by local audiences. The performance by Juliana Marguiles was sublime, the writing shocking and sharp, and the production consistent and polished. One to return to over the long summer, if you missed it. HB

BEST OVERSEAS DRAMA

Cilla (ABC)

Is there nothing Sheridan Smith can't do? Smith was compelling as Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs' wife Charmian Biggs in 2012's Mrs Biggs but she upped the ante with Cilla. This three-part British mini-series, which charted the rise of singer Cilla Black from the clubs of Liverpool (with friends The Beatles) to chart topper, was a heady mix of nostalgia and music. Smith nailed the title role – even singing hits Anyone Who Had a Heart and You're My World. CV

All Cilla, no filler ... Sheridan Smith triumphed as Cilla Black in Cilla. Source: Supplied

Rectify (SBS)

The international offerings this year were exceptional - with honourable mentions for The Honourable Woman (BBC First), House Of Cards and True Detective (both showcase). But for mine, Rectify was stunningly compelling. Starring Canadian-Australian Aden Young as a former death row inmate navigating life on the outside, this was heavy-going but unmissable. HB

Heavy but unmissable ... Rectify stars Aden Young and Abigail Spencer. Source: SBS

WORST OVERSEAS DRAMA

Hostages (Nine)

Poor Toni Collette. After wowing audiences as suburban housewife Tara Gregson in The United

States of Tara, she got stuck in this turkey. Collette was never convincing as surgeon Dr Ellen

Sanders, whose family is kidnapped by rogue FBI agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott). Carlisle wants Sanders to kill the US President. I just wanted to kill the remote. CV

Failed to fire ... Toni Collettte's Hostages was a disappointment. Source: Supplied

Scandal (Seven)

This sledge is aimed at one character only (the rest of the show is utterly brilliant)...but for the love of God, could the President at the centre of this Washington thriller man up for just a minute? Fitzgerald Grant (played limply by Tony Goldwyn) is about as sexy as a box of toenail clippings. Every time he goes near the fierce and fabulous Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), I shudder. HB

BEST OVERSEAS REALITY SHOW

So You Think You Can Dance USA (Eleven)

Yes, Cat Deeley really is the best TV host in the world. But there was so much more to enjoy in the 11th season of this US reality show. The standard of dancing never faltered as winner Ricky Ubeda and the other Top 20 finalists tackled everything from Rap to Contemporary to Jazz and Tap. Judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy were astounded – and I was too. CV

American Idol (Eleven)

Our Keef, his bromance with Harry Connick Jr and a weekly hair and make-up master class by Jennifer Lopez. Oh, and there was some pretty good singing as well. HB

WORST OVERSEAS REALITY SHOW

Dating Naked (Eleven)

Why call a show Dating Naked and then pixilate all the nudity on display? Surely that defeats the whole purpose of this brainless series, filmed in Panama. Host Amy Paffrath kept her clothes on. Someone had to maintain some dignity. CV

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (Foxtel)

The cancellation of this TLC series could not come soon enough for mine. The exploitation of minors, the endorsement of obesity, topped off by the matriach's decision to shack back up with the man convicted of molesting one of her children. Just writing that summary makes me want to take a shower. HB

BEST OVERSEAS COMEDY

The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon (ABC)

This late-night US talk show, hosted by the former Saturday Night Live comedian Jimmy Fallon, gave me the most laugh-out-loud moments of any program this year. Emma Stone smashing her lip-synch challenge, Daniel Radcliffe speed rapping, the dancing Hashtag panda, and Cameron Diaz's Empire State photo bombs were just some of the highlights. Add in offsider Steve Higgins and house band The Roots and you've got a winning combo. CV

The Last Leg (ABC)

With our local-host-done-good Adam Hills at the helm, #isitok (that's an in-joke) if we claim this one as our own? What began as a risque Roy & HG-style Paralympic Games panel show has continued on to be as insightful and daring as its original brief. He wins it for his epic slam of the Westboro Baptist Church after they threatened to picket the funeral of comic legend Robin Williams. HB

WORST OVERSEAS COMEDY

The Millers (Ten)

The Millers has great credentials. This US sitcom is created by My Name is Earl's Greg Carcia and stars Arrested Development's Will Arnett. So why is the result so painfully unfunny? Nathan Miller's (Arnett) world is turned upside down when his parents Tom and Carol (Beau Bridges and Margo Martindale) split. Mum moves in with Nathan. Cue no laughs whatsoever. CV

The Millers (Ten)

What Colin said. HB

BREAKTHROUGH STAR OF THE YEAR

Patrick Brammall

What a year it has been for Patrick Brammall. Early feature roles in The Alice, Home and Away, Canal Road seemingly went nowhere but playing Sean Moody in 2012's A Moody Christmas put Brammall back in the spotlight. He followed that with Leo Taylor in Upper Middle Bogan. This year Brammall cemented his stardom playing Leo Taylor opposite Asher Keddie's Nina Proudman in Offspring. CV

Made his mark ... Patrick Brammall kicked goals all over the TV landscape in 2014. Picture: David Caird. Source: News Corp Australia

Luke Arnold

His likeness to Michael Hutchence gave even the rocker's former bandmates the shivers, but Luke Arnold's performance went beyond straight imitation in Seven's hit telemovie, INXS: Never Tear Us Apart. His talent has already helped launch his career overseas, with a strong follow-up role in US pirate drama, Black Sails.HB

WORST TV STAR OF THE YEAR

Blake Garvey

Bachelor Australia star Blake Garvey went from hero to zero when it emerged that he had broken off his engagement to contestant Sam Frost after the reality show's finale. Things got worse when Garvey revealed that he was dating runner-up Louise Pillidge. Now officially the most hated man in the country. CV

Boo hiss ... Blake Garvey's treatment of Sam helped make him the most hated man in Australia. Source: Channel 10

Redfoo

That window where this 'son of' someone famous was worth a fat cheque and a place in our TV spotlight has surely shut by now, hasn't it? His thrashing at the hands of social media over his misogynist song lyrics since The X Factor finale should be all the viewer research Seven needs to send this guy packing. HB

Redfool ... Redfoo made few friends during his Australian stay. Picture: Stuart Quinn. Source: News Corp Australia

GUILTY PLEASURE

Monster Jam (ONE)

Take a bunch of three-metre tall, five tonne monster trucks with names such as Grave Digger,

Bounty Hunter, and Dragon's Breath and let them loose in a stadium filled with giant dirt mounds and you have a recipe for macho nirvana. Guaranteed to bring out the big kid in any viewer. CV

So You Think You Can Dance Australia (Ten)

It won't be back next year and more's the pity, I say. Ratings aside, this show delivered me my magic TV moment of the year when I took my wide-eyed, dancing diva, six-year-old niece to a recording and watched her marvel at the incredible talent on display. At one point, she leant over to me and whispered: "is this real, or am I dreaming it?" Ah, the perks of the job! HB

Guilty pleasure ... Nobody was watching So You Think You Can Dance Australia? but Holly but she loved it enough for the whole country. Source: Supplied


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