Television – Best Of 2023

27th December 2023 · 2020s, 2023, Film, Books, TV Reviews
I’m notoriously bad at remembering TV shows and when they came out but here’s a selection of ones I’m pretty sure I enjoyed during the past year.

I don’t know how you weigh the concluding season of a big series like Succession, Endeavour or Happy Valley (all of which wrapped up satisfactorily), against a one-off like Hijack (somehow managing the most nail-biting cliffhanger in eight consecutive episodes despite being set entirely within the flight time of a hijacked jet from Dubai to London), or a brand new comedy like Colin From Accounts (definitely the funniest half-hour show of the year) or Dreaming Whilst Black (the most thought-provoking).
True crime brought us Steve Coogan’s creepy turn in the Savile drama The Reckoning, which critics seem determined not to recognise for fear of being seen to endorse his monstrous deeds (or something), and, on the other channel at the same time on the same day – making it a horrible night’s telly for several weeks – the Ripper drama The Long Shadow, which cleverly focused on the women victims as much as the bungling police investigation; so bungling that at times it resembled Life On Mars.
Real life crimes also inspired The Sixth Commandment, with one of the performances of the year from Timothy Spall as a kindly Christian college professor whose world turns upside down when a handsome stranger arrives and… well, if you don’t know the story it’s best not to say. But it’s no problem if you do.
Less creepy, but still based on real life crimes, was The Gold, a splendidly character-led look at the men behind the £26 million Brink’s-Mat robbery and the decade-long hunt for the culprits, whose 80s fashions should have been enough to warrant an earlier arrest. But not nearly as much as the criminal outfits in The Newsreader, an Aussie drama about (you guessed) a TV newsroom in the 80s that weaves the decade’s real news events into its storyline.
There were more cops in Blue Lights, a brilliant new drama about the many problems of policing in Belfast that steered clear of cliches and taking sides, and French cops with dubious morals in Blood Coast, from the team behind the brilliant Braquo but set by the sea in seedy Marseille.
And there were no cops at all in The Last Of Us, a post-apocalyptic thriller with Bella Ramsey stealing the show as the last person on earth immune to a population-destroying fungus that has left America in ruins with its now-tiny population under martial law.
Boiling Point, a spin-off from the one-take film, was a literal kitchen sink drama that managed to make cooking in a restaurant look as stressful as brain surgery – and almost as dangerous. As ever, I have probably forgotten several others (and have yet to see The Bear, Bodies, Vigil or Fargo #5) but for now…
Colin From Accounts
The Last Of Us
Blue Lights
Slow Horses #3
Blood Coast
Happy Valley #3
The Sixth Commandment
The Gold
Succession #4
Boiling Point
The Long Shadow
The Reckoning
Endeavour #9
The Newsreader #2
Lupin #3
The Lincoln Lawyer #2
Black Snow
Dreaming Whilst Black