Top 11 Darkest TV Shows in TV History

Hey guys, happy Hallowe’en. Hope you’re all having the greatest thrills of your life.

Today, I’m counting down what I consider the eleven darkest television shows that have ever been broadcast. Why eleven? Because I like to go one step beyond. For this list, I’m including those that have a lot of the time sent shivers down the spine, included elements of black humour/drama and/or just plain not exactly been sunshine, lollipops or rainbows throughout, regardless of target audience and whatever the genre. Plus I’m only including those that I’ve seen enough episodes of to convince myself that they can make this list.

Also, to discipline myself, I shall keep this post as short as possible. Any spoilers I give, I shall highlight in red.

So here is my Top 11 Darkest TV Shows.

Number #11;

The Animals Of Farthing Wood (1993 – 1995)

This list begins with a European cartoon based on a series of novels about a group of wild animals who are forced to flee their home-forest, Farthing Wood, after it’s destroyed by careless human construction workers spilling their building ingredients on the land, to cut a long story short, human negligence.

The Animals Of Farthing Wood experienced numerous characters getting killed off, during their trip to their new home and afterwards. The deaths occur mostly due to human negligence (again!), i.e. via acid spillage in the river, getting shot or falling in traps and/or animals killing each other. There’s a scene where two hedgehogs are crossing the road and get so paralysed with fear that they end up getting run over. In another clip, Adder injects her venomous teeth in Scarface’s leg, which of course takes his life. These scenes are one of the reasons why I personally rate The Animals Of Farthing Wood so high. It ain’t like many other children’s cartoons. Rather, it relies much less on comedic elements and is told from a brutally realistic point of view of the animals.

If you thought Bambi’s mom’s death was traumatic enough, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Number #10;

Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons (1967 – 1968)

If Stingray and Thunderbirds were more light-hearted, Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons took a much darker turn. I talked quite a lot about this show during some of my previous blogs, but for those who don’t know, Captain Scarlet is about a worldwide organisation called Spectrum who are at war with the Mysterons, mysterious aliens who reside on Mars and possess the ability to duplicate an object and/or person which they must destroy first. Meanwhile, Scarlet, one of the agents, gets duplicated himself. However, after some events, he sides back with Spectrum and is declared indestructible.

Captain Scarlet is loosely based on the then-on-going events of the Cold War and represents the Mysterons as terrorists – that theme being extremely rare in children’s television. Unlike many of Gerry Anderson’s previous shows, this one lowered down on humour. There is humour in it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s mostly unintentional. During the original broadcast, some viewers got incredibly shocked; Francis Matthews’ (the voice of the title character) kids apparently got scared and even the producers was like; “what have we done? We’ve created something that children ain’t going to watch.” As a kid, I most certainly remember enjoying each viewing of Captain Scarlet, but of course, who can blame some viewers? Good guys getting killed and turning into sort-of zombies. Some of the characters die in incredibly violent ways. For instance, there’s a scene where a Spectrum agent suicide-bombs the building. Ya know, for kids! And I’m sure the Nostalgia Critic would agree if he was watching it right now.

 

Number #9;

The Incredible Hulk (1978 – 1982)

Don’t make me angry, you won’t like me when I’m angry

Next, we have a show which is based on a superhero created by Marvel Comics. There have been many versions of The Incredible Hulk. This TV show is one of them. I call The Incredible Hulk dark, not only this series, but in general, because it’s about a guy, named David Banner, who is haunted by the time he failed to save his wife from a car accident. But that’s not all, each time somebody or somethings burn him up, he transforms into the Incredible Hulk, a giant green creature, and sometimes wrecks havoc.

The Incredible Hulk may not sound too dark, but try and imagine if you was that guy and forced to try really hard to control your anger. Not easy is it? Plus it could unintentionally lead to creating enemies. It’s kind of like being a werewolf who can’t control oneself each time a full moon rises. In the Hulk’s case, it’s his anger management. Think about it.

Even the theme tune contributes to the drama.

 

Number #8;

Game Of Thrones (2011 – Present)

Most readers of this post have probably got the feel of Game Of Thrones by now. I have to admit I’ve only seen the first two seasons so far. But my excuse is that I don’t have the appropriate TV channels to keep up, so I’ve had to get DVDs. And I have to admit, Game Of Thrones is a great show.

Speaking of The Animals Of Farthing Wood earlier on, a YouTube user once said that it was “a kiddie friendly version of Game Of Thrones”. By that, the user meant that numerous characters have been killed off as the series progressed, plus let’s not forget the many confrontations.

But the deaths in Game Of Thrones (I won’t say which characters die, because I don’t want to spoil it) are not the only thing dark about the show. It’s how they die and the filming techniques that are used. One of the story arcs involves numerous families fighting over who’s going to claim the throne.

I could go on and on and on about Game Of Thrones, but I should let you watch it and see for yourself.

Number #7;

The League Of Gentlemen (1999 – 2002)

The League Of Gentlemen is a BBC sitcom set in a fictional Yorkshire town called Royston Vasey. Unlike many other comedy shows, it’s mainly inspired by horror movies/media-projects, and yes, there have been some quite horrific scenes throughout its run time.

The characters certainly contribute to the darkness of The League Of Gentlemen. I would especially say Tubbs and Edward Tattsyrup, who both own a Local Shop which they only target for local people and do away with any non-local who enters. Another example is Papa Lazarou, an evil clown who causes a number of wives to mysteriously disappear. And let’s not forget Dr Chinnery – a veterinarian with an inability to cure animals (see clip above).

 

Number #6;

Sonic The Hedgehog/Sonic SatAM (1993 – 1995)

Sonic The Hedgehog, also known as Sonic SatAM, was made the exact same time when another cartoon based on the video game character of the same named called Adventures Of Sonic The Hedgehog. The Adventures Of is an incredibly feel-good TV adaptation. Sonic SatAM on the other hand features a more dramatic and dark story.

What’s the story?; Dr Julian Ivo Robotnik has pretty much dominated the planet of Mobius. He uses some sort of device which ‘roboticizes’ the inhabitants of the world. Sonic and the Freedom Fighters, including Miles “Tails” Prowers, Sally Acorn, Bunnie Rabbot and Antoine Depardieu do their very best to liberate Mobius.

One recurring plot through the series is that Sonic’s Uncle Chuck, the inventor of the device, is one of those who got robiticized and finds it very hard to side with the Freedom Fighters.

 

Number #5;

Twin Peaks (1990 – 1991)

Twin Peaks certainly scared its viewers during broadcast. The pilot certainly started it all. It begins with a local logger discovering a corpse wrapped in plastic by the river. The next thing, Agent Cooper who investigates has a feeling that the girl’s death relates to a murderer of another girl from the previous year and therefore, it’s possible that the killer lives somewhere around Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks was created by David Lynch, the same guy who directed the Elephant Man and Blue Velvet. He was very known for portraying surreal imagery and/or story-lines and Twin Peaks is no exception. It’s theme tune may be relaxing and fit the atmosphere of the establishing shots of the town during the intro, but then, its slow-pacing does make some of us feel that something horrific may happen later on in the episode. Even the establishing shots don’t show any people on-screen, kinda like a ghost town. It ain’t really, but with the amount of deaths covered, it may soon be.

 

Number #4;

One Foot In The Grave (1990 – 2000)

One Foot In The Grave is one of them incredibly unique BBC sitcoms. It combines elements of comedy, farce, drama and a bit of thriller. When David Renwick wrote the series, he included MacGuffins, many which were indeed funny, but some which were extremely haunting.

One Foot In The Grave is no stranger to controversy. Remember the episode where Victor and Margaret found a frozen cat in the freezer (see clip above)? Apparently that bit got viewers complaining to the BBC. If that wasn’t enough, there was another episode where the couple are looking after a friend’s pet tortoise and Victor accidentally incinerates it with a pile of garden trash, leading the couple to debate whether to come clean or to stay clear from upsetting the friends. Unfortunately, both things occur leading to the owners of the original tortoise to bury the replacement one alive. Black comedy at its best!

Probably the darkest episodes of One Foot In The Grave are Hearts Of Darkness (when Victor, Margaret, Mrs Warboys and Mr Swainey get lost in the middle of nowhere and Victor seeks help from a nursing home, only to find that the residents are being abused), most of the Christmas Specials and of course the final episode, Things Aren’t Simple Anymore (in which Victor gets killed through a hit-and-run accident and the culprit turns out to be the person Margaret least suspects).

 

Number #3;

South Park (1997 – Present)

One more comedy programme. I talked quite a bit about South Park when I ranked what I considered the worst-to-best adult animated series, so I’ll try to keep this short. South Park may look like a crappy children’s cartoon, but that was part of the comedic idea. It is in fact pure adult.

South Park contains a lot of swearing, sexual references and political humour, but also much like The League Of Gentlemen, most of the episodes contain subjects considered taboo. For one thing, Kenny dies in nearly every episode due to a hilarious if indeed violent consequence. One occasion, he’s picked up by a heavy metal musician and gets his head bitten off. But that’s not all. In another episode, some citizens in a suicidal way slingshot themselves on a building in protest against an obnoxious TV show. Dare I need to mention more?

Number #2;

The X-Files (1993 – 2002, 2016 – Present)

Mark Snow’s well-known theme tune is not the only thing spooky about the X-Files. If you dig deeper into the episodes, you’ll certainly feel chills to the bones.

The X-Files is about two FBI agents; Fox Mulder, who believes in aliens and anything considered paranormal, and Dana Scully, a medical guru/scientist who’s more skeptical on the existence of alien/paranormal life. Each episode sees them investigating strange cases which apparently involve them lifeforms and which they experience certain conspiracy theories. It’ll take a bit of rocket science to explain a bit more about it, but they’re certainly smartly written.

The X-Files is what you call a sci-fi/horror/drama/mystery/thriller/supernatural series and putting them all together, you can certainly get the feel of the darkness. Occasional shades, but that ain’t the darkest part. Deaths included, that’s a contribution, but that ain’t the darkest part. Actually, it’s how the witnesses and/or victims witness the events which lead to the cases and the build-ups which differ episode-by-episode.

I shall give you an example; in the 1998 Christmas Special (How The Ghosts Stoke Christmas), the duo take on a case which takes place in a haunted house. Yeah, exactly, taking place at what’s supposed to be the happiest time of the year. They come across some ‘spirits’ of the long dead residents who soon turn Mulder and Scully against each other. Geez!

There’s another episode (The Calusari) where a two year-old kid is killed by a train. His older brother doesn’t grieve and appears to be psychologically troubled.

I could go on and on about this show, but I shan’t bore you with the details.

 

Before I reveal the number one pick, I’d like to give some honorable mentions;

Luther (2010 – Present)

Family Guy (1999 – 2003, 2005 – Present)

Psychoville (2009 – 2011)

Batman: The Animated Series (1992 – 1995)

 

And the Number #1 darkest TV show is…;

Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013)

“I am not in danger, Skyler, I AM the danger”

And Thunderbirds are go! Yes folks, the show that was created by the same guy who was executive producer on the X-Files. Breaking Bad remains a hugely popular TV show of all time. However, this is so not the reason why I consider it the darkest show I’ve ever watched in my life.

Let’s start with a few fun facts. Fact 1; One of the inspirations for Breaking Bad was that X-Files episode, Drive, which also starred Bryan Cranston – he played a guy who has a mysterious illness and kidnaps Mulder forcing him to drive a long distance. Fact 2; This was kind of the reason why Vince Gilligan wanted to cast Bryan as Walter White, but some of the AMC executives was doubtful about him fitting the part due to their familiarity only with Bryan’s character Hal in Malcolm In The Middle. Indeed, Malcolm In The Middle, a more light-hearted family friendly sitcom. Rather different to a purely adult drug-related crime drama like Breaking Bad. But then, after researching the X-Files episode, the executives was eventually like “okay, let’s give Bryan a go”.

For those who ain’t seen Breaking Bad, it’s about a chemistry teacher, named Walter White, who develops lung cancer, so he teams up with former student Jesse Pinkman and manufactures drugs to sell in order to secure his family’s financial futures when he eventually passes on.

Breaking Bad is a sort of modernised version of Macbeth; by that, I mean the protagonist becomes the antagonist; in Walter’s case, he becomes ‘the danger’. Don’t get me wrong, Walter doesn’t turn all bad. He still thinks about his family, but he does get driven to do some really evil things and I ain’t just talking about making/selling drugs, hence when he kills Krazy 8. Deep down, you do feel for this guy. All he wants is his family to be okay and the salary he gets through his teaching job isn’t exactly contributing to the support. Plus, you can actually feel the pain of the cancer Walter’s suffering from.

Breaking Bad is a nightmarish, yet interesting experience. I’m sure some viewers may not want to watch it every day, but episode by episode, they’d certainly feel invested with the storyline.

 

So this was my Top 11 Darkest Shows in TV History. Some of you may agree, some may not, but if you feel there’s a few shows I missed out, feel free to comment below.

Again, I wish you a Happy Halloween!

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Top 11 Most Overrated TV Shows

Do you ever get the feeling that certain television shows are receiving way too much credit and aren’t even that good and/or they’re so widely liked, but you don’t like them as much? Well I certainly do and these are what I consider the most overrated TV shows in TV history.

For this list, I’m excluding non-fiction shows (i.e. X-Factor and Big Brother) for I have another list for them ones. However, this list does not regard the genres or what the target audience is. Also let me make clear that I don’t hate all of these shows. Just some of them. I’m judging them on how much credit they receive and that I don’t understand why. Here is my personal Top 11 Most Overrated TV Shows. Why Top 11? Because I’m going one step beyond.

Number 11;…

The Walking Dead (2010 – Present)

I put this one low on the list, because I only watched the pilot episode and boy, it didn’t do much for me. The Walking Dead is just your typical zombie horror programme. I’m not a huge fan of zombie horror, not that I’m too frightened to watch them. I did enjoy Shaun Of The Dead and 28 Days Later, but that’s the thing. They were at least unique! Most other zombie films/shows, much like romantic comedies and teen dramas, don’t differ much to each other and this is why I don’t get how Walking Dead became to be hugely popular, even with reviewers. Maybe I’m over analysing or that I just need to watch more eps, but I remember being bored by that one viewing and thinking; “ooh zombies, big bloody deal!”.

Number 10;…

Doctor Who (1963 – 1989, 2005 – Present)

Doctor Who has remained popular ever since its first broadcast back in 1963. Following its cancellation in 1989, the BBC just had to revive it in 2005; their excuse being that they wanted to rival ITV each Saturday night. To be fair, I’d take Doctor Who any day over the X-Factor (keeping in mind that I’m excluding reality shows from this list). I’m well aware how much of a cash cow Doctor Who is according to the Boston Matrix, but it has been going downhill for some time. Today’s episodes, mostly forgettable. Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant was both fine, but Matt Smith wasn’t that interesting.

I wish the BBC would repeat at least some of its older episodes. The original series had finished a year before I was born and so I wasn’t able to catch up with any of it. I’m sure they’ll be better than I thought, but until I get a hold of them, I can’t rate this show above, say, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The X-Files or most of Gerry Anderson’s shows.

Next one please.

Number 9;…

The Inbetweeners (2008 – 2010)

During my three years between when I finished my A-Levels and before I attended university, The Inbetweeners seemed to have a huge impact on many people my age and/or near my age. I remember at one point when some of my media college mates filmed a female version of the show and basically replaced the male characters with female counterparts.

When I caught up with it on Channel 4, or some TV channel networked with the company, I felt kinda bored through it. The Inbetweeners is a sitcom, but I didn’t get any of the humour. I couldn’t even laugh. Because I went to such a lovely school, I hoped for a nostalgic phase and to reminisce happily about the good old times. But all I got was stuff about boys discussing “pulling girls” and stuff. Yawn! This has so been done to death.

This is why I didn’t bother going to see the movies when they came out, even though so many people threw their money away on the tickets.

Number 8;…

SpongeBob SquarePants (1999 – Present)

I did say I wasn’t excluding kids shows and here’s one for you, SpongeBob SquarePants. One of the most obnoxious and irritating cartoons to have ever existed. There’s one more cartoon on this list, so I’ll call this the most overrated Nicktoon.

I’d talked quite a lot about this SpongeBob when I wrote one of my previous blogs (Worst-to-Best Nicktoons), so I’ll try to keep this short, though I shall give a few reminders. I give SpongeBob credit for its underwater setting, which I’ve never seen before, except on the Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, Shark Tale, some to name, one exception being that it’s more about primitive sea creatures. SpongeBob is a sponge, duh(!), Patrick’s a starfish, etc.

Now here’s what I find overrated about SpongeBob. Firstly, the title character. Oh my god, he irritates me; his voice, the way he acts, he’s like almost on the same category as them minions from Despicable Me. Every time I look at him, I want to turn off the TV. Also, I don’t like how most of the episodes are written. They’re so unfunny and are just too in-your-face. I don’t get why WatchMojo.com placed this show on the very top of the list of Top 10 Nicktoons, and above Ren & Stimpy, Rugrats and especially Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, the latter which they didn’t even mention. Those were fantastic Nicktoons compared to SpongeBob.

I don’t fully understand the popularity of SpongeBob. It still remains admired. Fun fact, I remember when my mom watched an episode of SpongeBob once while she was ironing, because there was nothing else on at the time. Fair enough, I had no objection. But quite frankly, SpongeBob will never be my favourite cartoon.

Number 7;…

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Absolutely Fabulous (1992 – 1996, 2001 – 2004, 2011 – 2012)

The next show stars Jennifer Saunders, the wife of a comedy guru who starred in two forever awesome shows; The Young Ones and Bottom. Is Absolutely Fabulous more fabulous compared to the other two put together? My answer; nuh-uh!

Don’t get me wrong, I think Absolutely Fabulous is okay. It’s had its fun moments, but it’s a sitcom I wouldn’t place in my top lists of sitcoms or programmes in general, like most reviewers seem to be doing. What? Ab Fab is basically about a middle-aged fashion-obsessed lady named Edina Monsoon who much like her best friend and colleague Patsy drinks heavily, is constantly high and attempts to stay as young and hip as possible. She has a sensible daughter named Saffron who I sometimes feel sorry for and who is often forced to look after her mom, considering how much trouble she gets into. I should also mention that Eddie is twice divorced and I sometimes wonder how her ex-husbands coped.

Just about half of the episodes are not interesting to watch. Fat (Season 1, Episode 2), for instance, sees Eddie obsessing over her weight, done to death. Nearly the whole of Season 5 sees Saffy expecting a child, a cliche which I’m so sick of seeing on TV. And there’s hook-ups. Oh come on, Bottom had more amazing storylines compared to this! On the subject of the cast, I think Jennifer Saunders is a fine actor. She was great in that Friends episode, in them two episodes of the Young Ones, as the voice of the Fairy Godmother in Shrek 2 and she was okay in French & Saunders. In Ab Fab though, she kinda overacts. It’s like a poor attempt to raise the amount of laughs. One minute, there’s a calm conversation, but then she just raises her voice and growls for the sake of it.

Much like the Inbetweeners, Ab Fab gained so much popularity over the years that there just had to be a movie, another one I dodged. Maybe it’s because I’m male and the show’s more of a girls’ thing. I don’t know, but I don’t get the impact.

Number 6;…

The Office (2001 – 2003)

I know, I know. Some of you are probably going to hate me for including The Office, a BBC sitcom which has become a worldwide phenomenon, even admired by Americans (including the bloke who created the Simpsons), hence why an American remake, which I still have yet to watch, was born.

I think Ricky Gervais is a great guy. He’s a fantastic musician, a member of the crowd and we have similar political interests. He’s one of them people who I’d like to be stuck on an island with. Imagine us two bitching about the illegal hunting, Donald Trump’s harebrained schemes and stuff. He’s the kind of guy who one can create an easy flowing conversation with.

I guess that’s one of the reasons why The Office is admired so much. I want to love this show, but for a number of reasons. When I was in my pre-teens, my older brother told me about The Office and introduced me to a viewing of the show on BBC2. He obviously enjoyed it, though I didn’t really get the humorous side of it. It’s possible that I may need to watch the whole series again, because I can’t remember much detail from its episodes. I can only remember certain scenes such as David Brent wearing a duck-float, putting a stapler in some jelly and oh yes that dance, which to its credit looked like it was improvised.

As a kid, I remember being bored by The Office. I personally prefer Ricky’s later shows i.e. An Idiot Abroad. Maybe when I rewatch The Office, I may like it better. But many people love it, so I’ll just shut up and move on to the next show.

Number 5;…

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003)

One more horror themed show joins the list, that is Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Not about zombies this time, duh(!), but about a lady who possesses the ability to kill vampires.

I remember as a kid, Buffy The Vampire Slayer was broadcast on BBC2. I’d watched a few episodes. However, after those viewings, I had totally forgotten what happened in each one. It’s amazing how the fans can remember so much from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but I always found this show bland and forgettable.

Although it doesn’t do much for me, I’d obviously take Buffy any day over Twilight

Number 4;…

Rick and Morty (2013 – Present)

I did say there was one more cartoon due to appear on the list and here it is; Rick & Morty.

What to say about what is currently IMDB’s top-rated animated series in general? Hmm… Okay what’s the story? Rick & Morty refer to a mad time-travelling scientist and his teenage grandson who lacks much intelligence. Together they travel through various different universes leading to insane consequences.

Some of my friends love this show. Quite frankly, I can’t get into it. I’ve seen worse adult-animated shows. But for me, Rick & Morty is just a badly-animated (backgrounds aside) and cheap parody to the Back To The Future franchise. We get it. Back To The Future has led a huge impact and continues to do so. It doesn’t mean that Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland have to shove it right in our faces. Also, Rick’s constant belches in-between words are just plain obnoxious for the sake of it and are nearly just as bad as Beavis & Butthead’s giggles.

If I want to see time-travel on an animated show, I could just watch Futurama and/or Family Guy, thank you.

Number 3;…

Sex and the City (1998 – 2004)

How glad I was when Sex & The City ended production. Boy was it so uninteresting!

Sex & The City is just your basic romantic sitcom. All we see is a group of women banging on about sex lives. We get it, we want a bit of love, we want to make love. Don’t shove it down our throats.

As you can imagine, I’ve never been a fan of romantic comedies. There’s not much creativity within them. All we see is boy meets girls and we know there’s going to be a break-up and we know they’re going to realise how much of idiots they was and get back together. Hook-ups as well. This is worse than Ab Fab!

So this is what I basically hate about Sex & The City; no creativity, too many typical rom-com cliches, forgettable episodes, nothing but clap trap.

Number 2;…

Thomas The Tank Engine/Thomas & Friends (1984 – Present)

I ain’t gonna lie. I’ve longed to erase Thomas The Tank Engine (or Thomas & Friends as it’s also known) from my memory. However, certain people constantly bring it up. So I thought I might as well place this rubbish on the list and get it over with.

Firstly, I give Thomas The Tank Engine credit for its cinematography, including low-angle shots, but what do you expect from a TV show which is constructed entirely out of a simple train set? Another bit of credit goes to the different vehicle designs used. But that’s about it.

Thomas The Tank Engine has remained popular ever since that vicar guy began writing them books sometime after World War 2, years before the TV show came out sometime near the mid-eighties. The show’s still in production and it’s still selling merchandise. Like seriously, I’ve seen little kids with backpacks that have Thomas pictured on them and so forth. It also surprises me that it’s also got an American market. So considering that even though I remember watching it, I can’t feel any nostalgia for Thomas & Friends whatsoever, it made sense for me to rank this one at number 2.

So what elements from Thomas & Friends made me enough of a cold-hearted jerk to call it overrated and, worse, to strangle it? First of all, the characters. Apart from Thomas himself, the show is home to many other characters; Gordon…, James…, Percy…, I shan’t bother naming the rest, because there’s no point considering that Britt Allcroft constantly brings in new characters and as a result, Thomas is absent from certain episodes. And the title includes his name. What? That is so false naming. The Simpsons may have introduced new characters, but at least Matt Groening and co made an effort to ensure its title characters wasn’t excluded from each episode.

What else brings this show down the line? The audio, and that includes the dialogue. Obviously, the dialogue is entirely spoken by a narrator, who sounds like he’s reading from a book. But the trains repeat their lines way too much. It’s so annoying. It’s like they want to shove it right into our ears, in case we’re like deaf or something. And don’t get me started on the music, which annoys me the most!

I also question today’s children’s views on TV shows for their generation. If they find the puppets in Thunderbirds so ‘dated’, why don’t they think the same about a train-set-animated show? Train sets are as old as since before the war, as old as marionettes.

Thomas The Tank Engine is always brought up in conversation every time Ringo Starr is mentioned. Geez, I don’t need reminding! And so what? Ringo’s a great musician, but it doesn’t change my mind about this show. I wouldn’t go back and revise it even if Bruce Springsteen or even David Bowie was doing the narration.

I hate the dialogue, I hate the music, I hate the episode structure, even the characters ain’t likeable. They’re just as annoying as hell. I never used to hate Thomas The Tank Engine, but now I do and it deserves to be labelled as overrated. I’d rather watch Cars than this pile of road, or should I say, ‘track-kill'(?).

Now I feel better. Let’s move on, but…

Before I reveal the number one pick, here are some Honourable Mentions;

 

Beavis and Butt-Head (1993 – 1997, 2011)

 

Glee (2009 – 2015)

 

King Of The Hill (1997 – 2010)

 

The Royle Family (1998 – 2000, 2006 – 2012)

 

And the number 1 most overrated show is;…

Friends (1994 – 2004)

Yes folks, Friends. The favourite US sitcom of so many people across the globe. The one that so many people label the funniest of them all, even after over-watching each episode.

And to be perfectly honest, I don’t get it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Friends. I think it’s okay. I definitely remember watching it as a kid and enjoying it. Friends has had some comedic moments and memorable episodes. So why do I consider it overrated? Well, let’s take a look.

Firstly, I mentioned that I’m not a romantic comedy bluff. In my opinion, the writing falls flat at certain times. I have to sit through affairs and obsessions with romantic relationships. Yet, through all ten seasons, all six characters; Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross have remained together. At times, a part of me wanted them to leave each other. It’s like “come on, you know the relationships ain’t working out.” Remember at the end of Season 4 when Ross was marrying a British lady? The final episode ended during the reception when Ross thought about Rachel and stated that he’ll “take thee Rachel” instead of Emily(?). I thought it would close the double bill. But no, by the start of Season 5, the aftermath continued and boy, I so wanted it to finish.

Next, the humour. “Friends is so funny”, many mates state. As much as I’m going to sound like Tommy from Goodfellas, but funny how? How is Friends funny? How can it be possibly be the funniest show in history? I’ve seen The Simpsons and The Young Ones and Bottom and, er, Malcolm In The Middle. I could name more comedies, but them ones was funnier. If you think over-wise, please back it up. Talk to me like a child. It’s not that I don’t find Friends funny whatsoever. Like I said, it does have some amusing bits. For instance, when Joey’s struggling to speak French, that got me laughing. But there are some occasions where we hear the laugh-track during the bits where I’m like “wait a minute, that bit wasn’t/can’t have been that funny, they just dubbed that sound on.”

Another low point I give to Friends is the cliches it includes. Apart from the various romances and affairs, I’ve also had to sit through the many pregnancies each female character came across. I appreciate that Lisa Kudrow was pregnant in real life and so the writers had to make Phoebe pregnant, but not only did hers and Rachel’s pregnancies take up part of the seasons, but you hardly saw much of their babies again. Ross did also have a kid named Ben. But with that said, Ben was the only kid related to a Friend who remained. That being said further, I did find the father/son relationship between Ross and Ben interesting. I often feel that maybe the show should’ve been based around that.

High points; I think the cast does have talent – I’ve seen them in other shows and certain movies (i.e. Courtney Cox as Melissa Robinson in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective), though I don’t rate this show as their strongest. Friends does have some great episodes – i.e. The One Where They’re Up All Night, The One With The Holiday Armadillo and of course the final episode. The music is also fine and the show does contain a ‘feel-good’ flavour.

I just don’t think Friends is the best show in the world and I have yet to wonder why viewers and critics love it so much other than just “it’s funny”. Funny how? Oh please don’t get me started again.

 

So that was my personal list of what I found to be the eleven most overrated TV shows. I may have upset some readers, but that’s just a silly personal opinion and I’m sure everybody else has gone one too.

See you on the next blog post.

Black Adder

Black Adder is one of the most popular British comedy TV shows to have ever been broadcast, with audiences and with critics. It may not be any of the cast or crew’s birthdays, nor have their been any recent deaths, but there’s no reason why I can’t review this series of period of sitcoms.

Is Black Adder as great as many people say so? My answer in my opinion; of course it is! Sure the series changes period by period and viewers maybe like “what, I thought Black Adder and Baldrick was living in the Medieval era. How can they possibly be interacting with Elizabeth I?” and so forth. But on the other hand, every family has different generations and it’s possible that the protagonists may have been related to each other (i.e. Prince Black Adder (from the 1st season) being Lord Black Adder’s (II) great great uncle or something, or maybe older) if you get what I mean. It’s possible that King George I may have been my great (x15) grandfather. I’ve yet to observe my family tree much much further.

For this review, I shall review the whole series, season by season, separating the specials, in chronological order, starting with the earliest.

Any spoilers I give will be highlighted in red.

The Black Adder

Period Setting: End of Middle Ages, 15th Century

Air Date: 1983

Overall Rating: 86%

We begin with the very first season of the franchise, The Black Adder. The Black Adder in question is Prince Edmund, Duke Of Edinburugh, the nephew of King Richard III and the son of the next-in-line king, Richard IV, played by the growling Brian Blessed. Set in the alternative history of the famous Battle of Bosworth, Edmund mistakes his uncle as a horse thief and as a result kills him. It is only when he looks at the head that he finds out it was Richard III all along. Following the hilarious accidental murder, Edmund, with the partial help of Baldrick and Percy (Duke of Northumberland), forms a new alias, the Black Adder, which so began his origin.

As a kid, The Black Adder was my favourite season. I absolutely adore the medieval humour that was included and the occasional Shakespearean dialogue. William Shakespeare was one of them guys whose literacy arts I admired growing up. The bit where Edmund meets the three witches in the first episode paid homage to MacBeth, my favourite play by Shakespeare. That was totally great.

Surprisingly, The Black Adder seems to be the least popular season of the franchise. Some of the criticism was directed to the fact that it looked expensive. My response; “And Game Of Thrones doesn’t look pricey I suppose?”. I guess viewers wasn’t ready for incredibly high budgeted TV shows. Mind you, it’s probably one of the reasons why most of Gerry Anderson’s shows lasted for quite few seasons; Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, hell even Space 1999 was the most expensive show around that time. But the budget shouldn’t really affect the quality within The Black Adder. It has great comedy, and speaking of which, the bit where Edmund ends up marrying a princess who turns out to be a little girl is genius – also taboo, but of course, it’s set back to when this was ironically considered tolerable (in them days, people married at early-ish ages, because many of them had shorter lives). There’s also great action sequences, it’s a purely enjoyable experience.

The season finale’s quite sad as well. It does provide some giggles in between, but I’m saying no more, because I know there’s certain readers who may not have viewed the season yet.

Black Adder II

Period Setting: Elizabethan Era, late 16th/early 17th Century

Air Date: 1986

Overall Rating: 71%

So after the many fusspots moaned about the previous season being obviously expensive and blamed that fact on how it got lower-than-expected reviews, the producers decided to tone things down and decrease the production budget a bit. Other changes included when Rowan Atkinson ceased writing; Richard Curtis still wrote, but his new partner was Ben Elton, also known for his work on The Young Ones and The Thin Blue Line. Obviously, the setting also changed and some of the cast.

Black Adder II stars the same three guys, reprising their roles, same old characters, but with slightly different positions. It also stars Miranda Richardson (Mrs Tweedy from Chicken Run) as Queen Elizabeth I and Stephen Fry (presenter of QI) as Lord Melchett. The season is considered to be an improvement to The Black Adder by many reviewers and fans of the franchise. I have to be honest, I think over wise.

I ain’t saying that Black Adder II is a bad season. It still holds up. But we see less of the exciting action we got from The Black Adder and as for the humour, it still provides giggles, but it sounds more in the style of The Herbs – that’s some long dead kid’s show which had an obsession with gardening and which I was never a fan of. I also question the ending of the last episode, Chains, which occurs after the closing credits, and if you compare it to the previous season, that one at least contained a mix of emotions and humour which I at least understood. This one is a bit too over-pantomimic.

With that said, Black Adder II does contain some good writing. For instance, remember in the episode Potato where Edmund and Rum, played by Tom Baker, took a voyage and afterwards, Edmund reported to Nursie that Rum had been killed? I also add extra credit to the music, which only required a clean electric guitar and a recorder. Oh and one of the episodes guest-starred Hugh Laurie, who would later join the series full-time.

Black Adder The Third

Period Setting: Regency Era, late 18th/early 19th Century

Air Date: 1987

Overall Rating: 76%

Black Adder The Third saw a few more changes. This time, we enter the Regency period, the same time when King George III was on the throne. His mental health was of course demonstrated through the 1994 film The Madness Of King George.

Black Adder this time serves as the head butler for George, Prince of Wales, also known as Prince Regent, and the son of George III. He’s played by none other than Hugh Laurie, with his trademark low voice. Tony Robinson remains as Baldrick, only he’s now what you call E. Blackadder Esquire’s ‘dog’s body’. Gone however is Tim McInnery, known as Percy in the first two seasons. He does return as another character, but that’ll have to wait till another season. Also absent are Stephen Fry and Miranda Richardson, guest roles aside.

I like Black Adder The Third better than Black Adder II for a variety of reasons. Of course there’s not much action compared to The Black Adder, but compared to Black Adder II, it’s more amusing and even the characters, especially Prince Regent, are more creative, no offense to BlackAdder II. Hell, the dialogue sounds a bit more modern. Notice how Edmund refers to Baldrick as ‘Balders’.

Howard Goodall’s music’s quite different as well. The theme used for the closing credits reminds me of them songs from Paul Simon’s Graceland album. The opening; so Amadeus. I’d say the same for the surroundings.

As for the ending, although I don’t think it’s as strong as The Black Adder, but I like it better than the ending to Black Adder II. We do see the some of the cast getting killed. With that said, it’s the only season in which Black Adder himself doesn’t die, ironically. We do see at least one main character die; that being Prince Regent and boy, in a hilarious way. I say no more.

Black Adder: The Cavalier Years

Period Setting: English Civil War, 1648

Air Date: 1988

Overall Rating: 70%

Now we go to one of the specials, Black Adder: The Cavalier Years.

We go a few years between Black Adder II and Black Adder The Third for this 1988 Comic Relief special. This one being set during the English Civil War and with Blackadder and Baldrick as allies to King Charles I. Stephen Fry stars as the king.

Quite short at around 15 minutes run time, but not as memorable as the last few seasons.

Black Adder’s Christmas Carol

Period Setting: The Victorian Era, 19th Century

Air Date: 1988

Overall Rating: 90%

Another special episode of Black Adder and a knock-off to Charles Dickens’ famous festive novel about a Victorian successful businessman who resents the vacation and is married so much in his work, but then realises the errors in his ways through the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present & Future. Ebeneezer Blackadder, as he is known in this special, represents the opposite to Ebeneezer Scrooge.

Basically, Blackadder starts off as a kind and generous guy, which is exactly how Scrooge turned out at the end of the original story. Due to his highly positive traits, people take advantage of him, his earnings go to charity and to con artists. Soon, Blackadder is visited by the Spirit of Christmas (played by the British John Goodman himself, Robbie Coltrane), who reminds him of his previous two descendants from the last two seasons. Come to think of it, Ebeneezer looks a bit like Mr. E from Black Adder The Third.  Very soon, Ebeneezer’s ways change.

Although ideally, Black Adder’s Christmas Carol should be watched around December/January-time, I’d recommend you take a look at this special. It’s a hilarious parody of the Christmas Carol and one such episode which after you watch it, you can look back on the experience and it’s like “gee, that was a great ep”. Maybe this Christmas, if you’re planning a playlist of what to watch over the vacation, put that on the list.

Black Adder Goes Forth

Period Setting: first few years of World War I

Air Date: 1989

Overall Rating: 94%

And so we come to what seems to be the most popular season of the Black Adder series; Black Adder Goes Forth. This was made during the time when comedies set during the First World War was still quite rare (not forgetting Charlie Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms). Black Adder Goes Forth got so much credit that it appeared on the British Film Institute’s Top 100 list of Best UK TV shows and is currently one of IMDB’s Top 250 TV shows.

I have to admit, whilst growing up as a teenager, I  had watched all episodes from all the seasons of Black Adder, except this one. Unfortunately, around that time, BBCs 1 and/or 2 didn’t repeat enough episodes of Goes Forth. Around that time, The Black Adder was my favourite season. But I recently managed to catch up with the whole run-through for Goes Forth and I have to admit that this one now takes the spot. Black Adder Goes Forth is a lot better than I remember it. On this occasion, I agree with the reviews.

Black Adder Goes Forth is set in 1917 and focuses on the British army facing the horrors of World War 1. Among the army are Captain Edmund Blackadder, Private S. Baldrick, Lieutenant George (played by Hugh Laurie), General Melchett (Stephen Fry) and his bureaucratic assistant Captain Kevin Darling (yes, it’s Percy from the first two seasons).

Unlike the other three seasons and although it doesn’t steer away from the comedy, Blackadder Goes Forth is much darker and does take its subject matter more seriously. It subtly represents war as hell, not in the style of Saving Private Ryan of course, but there’s a lot of reference on the subject of death, which was very common during that period, because hardly anybody was surviving back then. For instance, there’s a scene where Edmund surveys the thousands of men getting killed and adds “Who’s gonna miss a pigeon?”. Not to mention occasional ceiling bombings above the trenches. As you can imagine, Blackadder Goes Forth, much like other sitcoms including One Foot In The Grave, The Simpsons and Birds Of A Feather, cleverly blends comedy and drama together. Ben Elton would later write the Thin Blue Line, another great example that combines the two elements.

And speaking of drama, I can’t talk about this season without mentioning the iconic ending, one of the classic TV tear-jerkers. The season ends with Blackadder saying his last line “Good luck everyone”, blowing his whistle and the soldiers charging out of the trenches ready for the huge attack. During that point, the action occurs in slow-motion, bombs are landing and all that’s accompanying the action is a slow piano melody played to the theme tune and slow drums, all of which contribute to the devastation and the sadness of the war. It’s actually what I personally consider one of the greatest endings to a TV show, right up there with One Foot In The Grave and Breaking Bad.

Ideally, this would’ve been a great finale to Black Adder as a whole, but there’s one more episode left to review…

Black Adder: Back & Forth

Period Setting: The dawning of the second millennium

Air Date: 1999

Overall Rating: 70%

…And I was referring to this one. Black Adder: Back & Forth is very much different to the previous seasons and specials. Blackadder is living in the present day and is represented as a regular Doctor Who. What I mean to say is that he’s a time-traveller. It doesn’t exactly go by the franchise’s traditional period settings, does it?

Black Adder: Back & Forth came out during the time when people were preparing for the then-new millennium and the year 2000 was about to begin. Some people were paranoid about the rumour that an apocalypse was to happen as soon as the year commenced, when in fact it was a huge myth. Basically, this is a new years special.

We still come across the codes and conventions of the period genre. Blackadder does travel back in time to various time periods. He meets Robin Hood (played by the forever awesome Rik Mayall), Queen Elizabeth I (with Miranda Richardson reprising her role) and William Shakespeare (Colin Firth). In fact, they should’ve represented him as something similar to Merlin The Magician or something. Well, he was a time-traveller in the Disney version to The Sword In The Stone.

I’m all for sci-fi and Robin Hood and the humour Rik Mayall provides. Though they could’ve brought back Brian Blessed for Richard IV and time-travel has nowadays become a bit of a cliche. We’ve seen it in Back To The Future, The Terminator films and The Time Machine.

It’s enjoyable, but not a great follow-up to Black Adder Goes Forth. If you think about it, that ended on a real dramatic note. I more or less expected the producers to pick up on that, but oh what the hell.

 

So that’s all the Seasons and specials from the franchise reviewed. Thanks for reading.