Year In Review: Twelve Of The Best Things We Saw On TV In 2018

on Tuesday, January 01, 2019
Words: Saam Das

It's been another bumper year for television, and we're here to provide you with some of our favourite TV shows of 2018. Of course, it's never possible to catch everything we've wanted to - recent additions to that list include John Malkovich's new iteration of Hercule Poirot, 'The ABC Murders', and Netflix's new choose-your-own-adventure 'Black Mirror' episode from the caustic genius that is Charlie Brooker. Nonetheless, here are our twelve best TV programmes of 2018, in alphabetical order and spoiler-free.

'Collateral' (BBC)

Sir David Hare is effectively a British institution at this point, a two-time Academy Award nominated screenwriter as well as a prolific playwright. So it comes as some surprise that 'Collateral' is his first original TV series but the wait has been very much worthwhile. This nuanced take on a police procedural saw Carey Mulligan impress as a lead detective in a case surrounding the murder of an undocumented immigrant. While pregnant. And as a former elite level athlete. Standard.

'Daredevil' Season 3 (Netflix)

To say that the cancellation of 'Daredevil' was shocking is something of an understatement - both an audience and critical hit, the move seems to have been motivated by business interests, which may come at an artistic cost. The latest Marvel superhero season delved further into the origins of Charlie Cox's Daredevil as well as birthing a new villain and wisely bringing Vincent D'Onofrio back to the fold as the fearsome Wilson Fisk. As is the Netflix M.O, there were too many episodes to sustain the brilliance but we'll be sad if this is the final installment of 'Daredevil', which has been one of the best Marvel TV series.

'Doctor Who' Series 11 (BBC)

An all new team for 'Doctor Who' this year delivered an above par performance, ranging from Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor and 'Broadchurch' creator Chris Chibnall as its new showrunner. Many cited 'Rosa', his 'Quantum Leap'-esque Rosa Parks episode co-written with Malorie Blackman, as a high point of the series - not so for this writer. Instead, it was Vinay Patel's 'Demons Of The Punjab' that was our pick, a devastatingly emotive story centred around the Indian partition in 1947.

'The Football Club: Artist In Residence' (Channel 4)

There's been a surprising wealth of documentaries about football this year, including Netflix's recent 'Sunderland 'Til I Die' and Amazon Prime's 'All Or Nothing: Manchester City' but it was Marcus Plowright's 'The Football Club: Artist in Residence' that "won the ball" for us at least. Following non-football fan/artist Tai Schierenberg as he embedded into the culture of West Bromwich Albion, during one of the most turbulent seasons in their history. Alexander Parsons' scene-setting score perfectly captured the mood amid a backdrop of emotion and drama, with his kaleidoscopic synth.

'GLOW' Season 2 (Netflix)

It's still a bit disconcerting to see Kate Nash as an actress rather than her status as a musician but she again plays a pleasingly prominent role as one of these Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling, starring alongside Alison Brie and Marc Maron. It's more of the same mix of comedy, melodrama, and athleticism that were characteristic of the first season, and we love it. Indeed, it proved considerably more enjoyable than ITV's 2018 foray into professional wrestling, WOS Wrestling.

'Inside No 9' Halloween Special 2018 (BBC)

We've always felt that horror sitcom 'Psychoville has been one of the most under-rated British TV series of the last decade or so, and it's little surprise that Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton's similar follow-up anthology 'Inside No 9' has achieved wider popularity. The Halloween special (entitled 'Dead Line') was one of the live TV events of the year, which baffled and delighted viewers in almost equal regard - Shearsmith tweeting mid-show being a prime example of their expert handicraft.

'Jack Ryan' (Amazon Prime)

Tom Clancy's popular CIA character has seen 21st century big screen action in the form of Ben Affleck ('The Sum Of All Fears') and Chris Pine ('Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit' to mixed reaction, but this Amazon Prime original version successfully opted for 'The Office' (US) star John Krasinski. His Jack Ryan meshed particularly well with Wendell Pierce, perhaps best known as Bunk from 'The Wire'. Renewed for a second series, we hope that its writers have learned from the mistakes of the first series, including transphobia.

'The Little Drummer Girl' (BBC)

A John Le Carré spy thriller, helmed by acclaimed Korean auteur Park Chan-Wook, with the acting talents of Michael Shannon and Alexander Skarsgard among others. 'The Little Drummer Girl' almost couldn't fail. And while its six episode run dragged on occasion, it failed to dull the star of Florence Pugh, who has dazzled ever since her breakthrough in 2014's 'The Falling'. The sumptuous period visuals were similarly dazzling.

'Love Island' (ITV)

That's BAFTA-award winning reality TV series 'Love Island' to us mere mortals. The show which places a bunch of attractive young singletons in a fancy villa in Spain and films them for flipping ages returned for its fourth series this summer. And as ever, was the talk of town. How much like her actor dad was Dani Dyer? Was Georgia "loyal"? What happened to Niall? Its most important contribution however was a national discussion on gaslighting over pantomime villain Adam's disrespectful behaviour toward former lover Rosie.

'Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj' (Netflix)

Formerly a correspondent on satirical late-night US programme, 'The Daily Show', Hasan Minhaj stepped into his solo series on Netflix with ease. A topical, political comedy show, Minhaj's affable manner and impressive takedowns can be appropriately compared to 'Last Week Tonight With John Oliver' and fellow American comedian of South Asian origin, Aziz Ansari, whose 'Master Of None' series so impressed over the last couple of years. Hopefully 'Patriot Act' will be met with a similar level of acclaim.

'This Country' (BBC)

Channelling the mockumentary format popularised by 'The Office' (UK) and the quaint rural comedy of fellow BBC sitcom 'Detectorists', 'This Country' arguably surpassed its excellent first series with the 2018 second series and one-off special that followed. Capturing the lives of Kerry and Kurtan Mucklowe (Daisy May Cooper and her brother Charlie Cooper) as they negotiate village life with a series of misadventures with their eccentric local neighbours, and the support of their excessively patient local vicar, played adeptly by Paul Chahidi.

2018 FIFA World Cup (ITV & BBC)

"It's coming home, it's coming, football's coming home." For a brief moment there, this summer felt a sense of unity and spirit not seen since the 2012 Olympics, held in London. In a time of such political uncertainty, where unsavoury views regarding people's backgrounds (racial and otherwise) have been emboldened, things temporarily felt better as England made an unexpected run to the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup.

For more of our top things from 2018, click here.

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