The Vicar Of Dibley

In response to Emma Chambers’ passing from earlier this year, I thought it’d make sense that I write this review on the BBC sitcom in which she starred as Alice Tinker/Horton, that is; The Vicar Of Dibley.

The Vicar Of Dibley is set in a fictional village somewhere in the district of Oxfordshire. It centers on Geraldine Granger, played by Dawn French, a female dark-haired busty lefty vicar, who is hired to replace Reverend Pottle who dies straight after a sermon in the pilot episode. Geraldine lives with Alice, the lodger who represents a classic example of a ‘bimbo’. The other major characters include; David Horton – the conservative chairman of the Parrish council; Hugo Horton (James Fleet) – his son, and later, Alice’s husband; Jim Trott (Trevor Peacock) – a senior member with a stammer; Frank Pickle – an elderly secretary; Owen Newitt (Roger Lloyd Pack) – a junior-ish member of the council; and Letitia Cropley (Liz Smith) – a former church organist, who got killed off sometime after Season 1.

The Vicar Of Dibley is a comedy show which goes in the ‘okay’ section. Although I find that it does hold up, I don’t think it’s the strongest sitcom, and I of course am not a religious person. But then, I don’t think you have to be religious to understand The Vicar Of Dibley.

Let’s start with the themes. One recurring theme in The Vicar Of Dibley is Geraldine’s left-wing political views. Her’s conflict with the council’s, led by David, views. During the pilot, David questions having a female, who’s also quite chunky, take over as the pastor, considering that their previous one was male. Geraldine, of course, proves how capable women are in leadership and public speaking. She also teaches David a lesson after he is rude to Alice during a live recording of a quiz show, which also relates to another recurring theme involving her and David’s rivalry. Another example is during the episode Summer when Geraldine chains herself to a church and gets her colleagues to do the same in protest after hearing that the water company will destroy the village. Perhaps the most prominent example is during the finale of 2005’s special, Happy New Year, where Geraldine shows the others a short video produced as part of a Make Poverty History campaign. That is a very strong scene which I shall explore in more depth later on.

Being that The Vicar Of Dibley is about a vicar, as is obviously stated in the title, religious themes and traditions are also covered. There were a hell load of Christmas Specials that were broadcast, which is the same with a lot of other British sitcoms. But many of them still relate to the meaning of Christmas. Winter, which I personally regard as one of the series’ best episodes, had the main cast performing their own version of the nativity play, in a rather pantomimic fashion. Remember when David played Herod and after stating his ‘hatred to children’, he tossed some candy to the kids in the audience? Or the location which was a real-life farm? This is an incredibly memorable sequence in comedy history, considering that Alice is due to give birth, so it was pretty handy that she had to play Mary, wasn’t it? There was also an Easter special in which the council members each give up something for Lent, i.e. Owen must avoid swearing, oh and Geraldine dresses up as the Easter Bunny. Also covered are sermons and of course weddings.

My next topic for this review is the cast of characters. Geraldine Granger is an incredibly strong character. I admire her for her moral values and I feel she’s a great role model for the village’s residents and viewers, though I do question her sense of humour. As a kid, my favourite character was Jim Trott, the one who I always thought sounded like Krusty The Clown. His habit of repeating the words ‘no’ and ‘yes’ in-between sentences always cracked a smile. David Horton is fine, though he could’ve been more interesting as a truly villainous character like Mr. Burns. His son Hugo, I thought was a bit of a cardboard cut-out and represented the classic dumb guy which sells him short. The Three Stooges are dumb too, but they always had a lot of personality. My parents remember the character of Letitia Cropley, but unfortunately I don’t. The fact that she only appeared in Season 1 is part of the reason. As for Owen Newitt and Frank Pickle, I don’t remember them as well as most of the others.

And yes, let’s go straight onto Alice Tinker (later Horton). I was going to leave her till last since it is Emma Chambers’ character. As I mentioned above, she’s Geraldine’s verger, seemingly like the Odd Couple in a way, since Geraldine is the ‘brains’ in the household, whereas Alice is, as I described her, a bimbo. Some viewers/critics have described her as ‘gormless’, ‘clueless’ and ‘a dim-wit’ and who can blame them? She may be cute and naive, but as Geraldine at one time quotes, she simply has the ‘intellectual capacity and charisma of a cactus’. In other words, she does appear too much on the pastiche of the classic dumb character. She’s certainly very much a lady-child, if that is such a word. She believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and even the tooth fairy and get this; during her wedding, her bridesmaids are dressed as a couple of characters from Teletubbies. It’s like they’re just creating a British Female version of Ralph Wiggum. Speaking of which, if I was to compare this show to The Simpsons, I’d say that the latter handled many of their dumber characters really well and put a lot of thought into them.

And finally, let’s bring on the humour. I sometimes wonder whether The Vicar Of Dibley works as a comedy or if it’d be better off as a drama. Each episode ends with Geraldine telling Alice a joke at candlelight, each one which Alice fails to understand, even if they’re the simplest ones. Either that or they have a different sense of humour. Those work. I especially loved the interrupting animal/knock-knock joke from the episode, The Christmas Lunch Incident, where Alice attempts to tell the interrupting rabbit joke, only to forget what sound a rabbit makes.

But aside from that and Jim’s stammering, which is always fun, the humour in The Vicar Of Dibley seems kind of forced. As I was saying about Geraldine and her humorous moments, there are occasions where she laughs hysterically or when she would just literally belt something out. This is almost too similar to Edina Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous – she just cusses in-between her sentences and just raises her voice as if the viewers didn’t get the message and I’m sorry. That really takes us out of the comedy spirit. It’s almost like they rely too much on the humour, unlike other comedy shows such as One Foot In The Grave and of course The Simpsons.

But I will say this. There were occasional dramatic moments in The Vicar Of Dibley. And by far my favourite sequence in the whole sitcom is during the ending of Happy New Year when Geraldine shows the council members a video made for the Make Poverty History charity. The video plays for a couple of minutes showing a couple of orphan kids mourning over the loss of their parents. Afterwards there is a bit of silence expect for a few words from Geraldine apologising for the serious content, David solemnly expressing his understanding of the situation and Jim agreeing. Then the episode ends without the credits and with a mid-shot of each character staring pensively at the screen one-by-one. That sequence is brilliant. Kind of like the ending of BlackAdder Goes Fourth, except that there was more action in it, but what do you expect from a war-related show?

As I say, The Vicar Of Dibley is okay, just not in my personal Top 10 list of comedy shows or shows in general. I think Richard Curtis did make a good effort writing the hymns, I mean scripts, for this one. I enjoyed it better as a kid. It does still get some laughs, even if some of the humour is cliched and/or forced. But what really stands out are the liberal values and Geraldine’s campaigning efforts. I’m glad I saw it and I’m sure you will too. What you see is what you get. But you shalt easily get into the spirit.

Before I say amen to this review, one interesting fact to point out; apparently Dawn French hoped to make a return to the show, this time as the ‘Bishop of Dibley’. However I and probably quite a lot of people doubt that it may happen, considering that some of the original cast members are resting in heaven – Roger Lloyd Pack, Liz Smith, and now Emma Chambers.

Emma Chambers RIP 1964 – 2018

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(Ruddy Hell! It’s) Harry And Paul

This is another review I wrote as part of an application form (the 1st being my review on The Thin Blue Line). Originally it was shorter. But I thought that on this occasion, I extend this review and add a bit more depth to it.

Harry And Paul, originally known as Ruddy Hell! It’s Harry And Paul, is a sketch show, starring long time comedy friends, Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, and based on the themes of class and gender, with occasional spoofs added.

Harry And Paul was broadcast during the period when sketch shows such as The Catherine Tate Show and Little Britain were popular with viewers. This one introduced a variety of characters as Ronald and Pam, The Chocolatier, Parking Pataweyo, the Benefits Family and of course the parody to Dragon’s Den.

Speaking of which, let’s firstly talk about the characters, starting with the ones from Season 1. There are very few memorable characters form that Season. They include;

  • Ronald and Pam – an elderly couple, who originated from America and often behave in a friendly manner towards each person they visit, even proceed to waste their time by showing them a large collection of photographs. My favourite sketch of theirs is from Season 2 when they’re talking to a family in a fast food restaurant and Ronald states to the little boy that “when I was your age, I always wanted to be a pedophile”. It’s a shame they weren’t brought back afterwards, because those two characters had potential!
  • The Chocolatier – basically, the Chocolatier is a street seller of candy and holds out an open box to passers-by. He has a rival who sells high-heel shoes. During a sketch in Season 3, both are outwitted by a seller of champagne.
  • Bono and The Edge – obvious references to them two musicians out of U2. They were okay and I do like U2’s music, but that’s not the point. The only thing I remember about them is when Bono phones up Bob Geldof and asks how Peaches is getting on.
  • the I Saw You Coming sketches – about an antiques store owner who is frequently visited by a wealthy woman and they kiss each other on cheeks through each introduction. The sketches are so repetitive that I feel I’m watching the same sketch over and over again every time I see them.
  • Clive The ‘Pet’ Northerner – one of my least favourites. The joke about Northern English folk, or Geordies as they’re sometimes known, is now wearing thin. Yes, we’re aware that their accents are different to none Northerners, but I’ve always found the idea of an upper-class Southern English family treating a Geordie like an animal somewhat creepy. Thankfully, Harry and Paul stopped with this creation after the only sketch from the third season, which however ended messily. The girl gets a ‘pet’ Northerner of her own named Jack, then that ‘pet’ deliberately replaces poor Clive, but the family throw him out after accusing him of raiding the fridge. Dude, this ain’t funny, it ain’t even charming, this is bloody disturbing. Harry, Paul, what was you guys thinking?
  • the Laurel & Hardy parody –  (sighs) there was one sketch from the pilot episode where Paul plays Stan Laurel and Harry, Oliver Hardy, two comedians who I grew up with through my late great uncle. Thankfully this was their only sketch, because quite frankly, that was just sick. Two respectable comedians, secretly sexually attracted to each other; they even have a shot of Hardy putting his hand in Laurel’s fly. Childhood dead, not only have the homosexual jokes dated. Thanks a lot Harry and Paul!

Onto those introduced from Season 2. Most of the new ones, not so memorable, with the exception of…;

  • Dragon’s Den – a parody to the series of the same name. For those who don’t know, Dragon’s Den is a reality show based on businesses in which each contestant is an entrepreneur who must convince at least one of the multi million dollar investors (or ‘Dragons’ as they’re known) to invest in their company. Those sketches are so amazing! I would also recommend you check out the sketches which were done for Comic Relief in which the entrepreneurs are played by the original Dragons themselves and are pitching products/projects to their Harry/Paul counterparts! My only nitpick would be some of the name changes.
  • The Writer & The Landlady – film noir inspired sketches in which a moustached guy (Paul) enters a bar and meets the landlady (Harry) and they talk about his writing material. Those ones always reminded me of Sin City, particularly because all of it’s in black and white, except for a dead canary which is yellow. It’s artistic, but a little repetitive.

And finally Season 3. I’m stalling there, because I didn’t watch the fourth one which is technically where Harry and Paul ended and the fact that I went to University at the time is not the only reason;

  • The Benefits family – the working-class family consists of three members, each from a different generation. The older two (the dad and the grandpa) are claiming job benefits, which you can easily guess despite the fact that you hardly hear them talking about the benefits. They and the son and their dog, Ghostface, go round to public places, behaving in a rude, noisy and disruptive manner and wanting to purchase lottery tickets and/or items which the places don’t sell. They are without a doubt awesome creations who helped to balance things out.
  • Parking Pataweyo – Parking Pataweyo is a parody to Postman Pat, which I personally have never been a fan of. Though I must admit, this is another awesome creation. Pataweyo in question is an African-born traffic warden, rather than a mailman. The narration, presumably provided by Harry and joined by a lovely synth keyboard melody, also adds a few extra snorts, at one point asking Pateweyo; “are you a vibrant masturbator, Pataweyo?” More of them please!
  • Radio 4 – a producer and presenter travel from location to location to create a show based on an uninteresting subject. Then, they are approached by passers-by who are curious about what they’re doing and they resume where they left off.
  • Is He A Queer? – a couple of upper class elderly guys who sit in a London-based Gentlemen’s Club and discuss various people and their sexualities. Right, so what’s so funny about those guys? Is it the fact that they pronounce ‘queer’ as ‘quair’? Well, not to me it ain’t. More to the point. Just repetitiveness. Nothing funny about them quairs.
  • The Silver Haired Beatles – have you imagined how the Beatles would look had they not taken drugs? I would do if Harry & Paul hadn’t overlooked the fact that half of the band are already dead! One of them took a bullet and another lost a war against lung cancer. Hello?! You’ll probably say Goodbye at that point. I’ll go now, but leave you with some last few words; why not just go back to parodying U2?
  • Mr. Psycho Bean – oh for god’s sake! A parody of another high profile comedy character? It’s like they’re running out of ideas for comedy. What’s next? The Young Ones?

Unfortunately, Harry And Paul does not hold up as well as certain other sketch shows or comedy shows in general. Harry Enfield may have achieved fame through his Television Programme and Kevin And Perry Go Large, but this show is still forgettable compared to the early works. Same with Paul Whitehouse whose credits include The Fast Show and Happiness.

Over its running period and much like Little Britain, Harry And Paul gradually became crude for the sake of being crude, but at least Little Britain had a more unique theme. If a sketch show is to be produced and creative, comedians should try and pick a particular unique theme. Not The Nine O’Clock News for instance focused on news stories, public events and other broadcast formats. Little Miss Jocelyn mainly focused on the societies that some black people come across. Harry And Paul’s theme on class and gender is long-dated. I can’t believe that Harry And Paul even won BAFTA awards for Best Comedy Series. Also reverting back to parodies, i.e. Parking Pataweyo and Dragon’s Den, if they want to take on parodies, they really need to do their research on the original media product and/or really think whether it should be parodied or left alone, please, please!

The Thin Blue Line (1995 – 1996)

This is a short TV review I originally wrote as part of an application form.

The Thin Blue Line is set in a police station in the fictional town of Gasforth based around the London Borough. Written by Ben Elton of the Young Ones and BlackAdder fame, it focuses on a multicultural police department and is basically Hill Street Blues meets Dad’s Army.

The Thin Blue Line stars Rowan Atkinson as Inspector Raymond Fowler. He is joined by his long-suffering girlfriend, Sergeant Patricia Dawkins (Serena Evans), his rival Inspector Derrick Grim (David Haig) who is in charge of the CID, PC Kevin Goody (James Dreyfus), Constable Maggie Habib (Mina Anwar) and PC Frank Gladstone (Rudolph Walker).

The Thin Blue Line is very cleverly scripted. It combines the humour with the police work. Part of the humour is one of the main themes which is the rivalry between Inspector Fowler’s uniformed squad led and the CID led by Inspector Grim. Despite their competitions, Fowler and Grim are on the same side of the law.

But with that said, much like most police-based shows, it also tackles some serious issues, such as juvenile crime and drug use; one example is during a powerful scene from the episode Alternative Culture where Habib finds that her teenage sister has smuggled marijuana and protects her by hiding the evidence. She then faces charges. Fowler, knowing Habib’s work history, does his best to protect her, but Grim is at first reluctant to break the law. There were also themes of racism. An example of this is shown in Kids Today when a far-right-wing prisoner refers to Habib as a “p**i cow”. As a result, Goody strikes him, but ends up facing charges for assault.

Rowan Atkinson may primarily be remembered as Mr. Bean and/or BlackAdder, but The Thin Blue Line is a balanced and underrated sitcom, which provides plenty of laughs and tears of joy, but also teaches us the importance of the law.

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!

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.

Worst-to-Best Adult Animated Series

When we define adult cartoons, what we usually mean is cartoons mainly aimed for the older generation, and possibly some of the younger folk. Not to say that none of them shows are family ones. Some of them are, but roughly around the largest percent who watch them cartoons are adults. That’s my guess.

With no further ado, and before I continue, I’m only listing the ones I’ve watched, here is a personal ranking of what I regard as the Worst-To-Best Adult Animated Shows;

Number #23;

Drawn Together

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We begin this list with an animated take on reality shows such as Big Brother. Drawn Together’s contestants include Princess Clara (who’s a bit like them Disney princesses), a Pokemon-style monster and a lewd pig. Frankly my dears, I don’t care much for reality shows and I ceased watching Big Brother ages ago. As for Drawn Together, it’s just lewd and crude for the sake of being lewd and crude. It’s one I tend to skip.

Number #22;

King Of The Hill

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I was eight when I first saw King Of The Hill, around the time when it was broadcast on BBC2, then the same channel as The Simpsons. Seems like it picked some competition, eh. Well, here’s my result; Simpsons scores 1, King Of The Hill, nil. As a kid, I remember my brother liking King Of The Hill, but myself being bored by it. I ain’t ranking it low, because of its conservative themes. My reason is because the show’s so bland and forgettable, in my opinion. I’m sure many other people remember certain moments, but I can’t. It amazes me that it’s labelled a comedy, but I didn’t find it that funny either.

Number #21;

The Cleveland Show

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The famous and cheap spin-off to Family Guy starring its ex-secondary character Cleveland Brown and his family, hence The Cleveland Show. Much like King Of The Hill and much unlike Family Guy, The Cleveland Show lacks enough humour or even memorability. I don’t tend to follow what critics say much, but I don’t particularly blame them for their negativity on this one.

Number 20;

Rick & Morty

Rick & Morty – currently one of IMDB’s top 10 rated shows. Lots of people love it and to be honest, I don’t get it. It’s an obvious parody to the Back To The Future franchise; Rick is the Doc Brown and Morty is the Marty McFly. I find Back To The Future good, not brilliant, but at least the humour and storyline was decent. All I saw from Rick & Morty was; not-so great animation, which could be as bad as Peppa Pig, and nothing that memorable from the first few episodes I saw. The only reaction I gave to the viewing of this overrated cartoon was my head leaning in a tired mode on my fist.

Number 19;

Beavis & Butt-Head

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The creator of King Of The Hill brings you Beavis & Butt-Head. Its blend between animation and live-action, through the boys’ TV set, is creative, but Beavis & Butt-Head would’ve been much higher on this list if it hadn’t been for the fact that they constantly snigger, even at their own humourous elements.

Number #18;

Popetown

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Popetown is what you describe as Father Ted meets South Park, starring Matt Lucas as one of the cardinals, Bob Mortimer as Father Nicholas, oh and Ruby Wax as the Pope. Apparently the show caused so much controversy around the world that it got cancelled before it even got commissioned (something to do with religious depictions I’m guessing). The show’s okay, it ain’t brilliant, but I really think it deserves a chance.

Number #17;

Headcases

Headcases is much like Spitting Image, except with CGI models. It was broadcast during the time when CGI was proving very popular and many animation studios was switching from 2D animation in favour of the more modern technique. It’s the same humour as Spitting Image, though kinda too sophisticated and slightly more forgettable.

Number #16;

Robot Chicken

Now we come to a stop… -motion animated show, which parodies,… just about everything. You just wonder why they call it Robot Chicken. With that said, the puppets do walk a bit like robots and we have the entire theme tune sung solo by a chicken.

Number #15;

2DTV

Released between Spitting Image and Headcases, 2DTV is an obvious 2D animated satire on politics, celebrity culture and popular TV shows. Lovely caricatures of Tony Blair, John Prescott and a variety of celebrities, though I find George Bush a bit more irritating than I remember him (the way he laughs, ugh).

We had fun watching it, but it did start to fall flat by the last season. The humour was starting to rely more on the censor bleeps and got less funny and I’m not too fond of the cheap intro or theme tune.

Number #14;

The Ricky Gervais Show

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As controversial as it sounds, I was never a fan of The Office or Extras (David Bowie’s cameo aside), but I think Ricky Gervais is a great guy. The music he did with Seona Dancing is top-notch and we share the same political views. The Ricky Gervais Show is based on his radio series of the same name which sees him and Stephen Merchant bullying Karl Pilkington. It’s exactly the radio series, but this time accompanied by the Hanna/Barbera style animation. The ‘pointless’ conversations which are mostly brought up by Karl are so imaginative and well thought out.

Number #13;

Bromwell High

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Set in a high school of the same name which is run by chavs, Bromwell High centers on three eleven year old students named Keisha, Latrina and Natella. Among the cast are Stephen Mangan (of Green Wing fame), Stephen Merchant and Tracy Ann-Oberman (Chrissie Watts from EastEnders). Alas, the show only lasted for one season which is a shame, because I think it held up and I remember me and my brother enjoying it when it came out. Keisha was my favourite.

Number #12;

American Dad

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Good morning USA! / I gotta feeling that it’s gonna be a wonderful day! / The sun in the sky has a smile on his face, / And he’s shining a salute to the American race!

I first saw American Dad the same year it came out and when BBC2 started showing that and Family Guy. There are some similarities between the two shows, except that Stan is a healthier and muscular guy working for the CIA and his family are joined with a talking goldfish named Klaus and an anthropomorphic alien named Roger, who I can tell is voiced by Seth MacFarlene, because he sounds a lot like Peter Griffin.

The thing I admire most about American Dad is the conflict between Stan (the righty, if there is such a word) and his daughter Hayley (the lefty).

Number #11;

Rocko’s Modern Life

I never saw a lot of Rocko’s Modern Life when I was a lot younger. Yes, it’s a Nicktoon, but I had to rely on one of my neighbours in order to watch Nickelodeon, because we never had Sky. Unfortunately around that time, Rocko wasn’t shown that much on the channel. But when I finally got a chance to watch it, it was fun. And yet bizarre, hence that talking foot, the tooth that wrecks havoc in the city and them two toads with the funny voices.

Number #10;

I Am Not An Animal

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I Am Not An Animal is another British sitcom which only lasted for one season. My guess is how expensive it kinda looks – geez, come on guys, nobody moans about the quality of Game Of Thrones. Anywho, I Am Not An Animal, which takes its name from the famous line which was stated by the Elephant Man, is about a group of animals who possess humanoid personalities, partially represented by their clothes and Phillip’s glasses, and are rescued from a laboratory which they were created from. Through the series, they attempt to extend their intellect and face difficulties living in the human world.

The characters are very creative and designed – I’m especially fond of Phillip’s design as a horse and I think Steve Coogan was a great choice for the voice, considering how low he speaks. Much like South Park, I am Not An Animal looks like a kids’ cartoon, but clearly ain’t for kids, considering how dark and foul-mouthed it is.

Number #9;

God, The Devil & Bob

For those who don’t know, God The Devil & Bob is about an every-man called Ball Allman who’s stuck in the middle of a confrontation between God and Satan. And yet, this one again lasted for just one season, and just because some religious fusspots complained about what they was seeing. Get over it, it’s only comedy for christ’s sake!

My favourite episode is when the Devil questions Bob’s attitude and dates his daughter Megan. I shan’t give too much away, but God The Devil & Bob is a massively underrated animated sitcom. I should also mention how God, who wears sunglasses and a simple t-shirt and trousers, and the Devil act like normal people The voice cast is also impressive. God is voiced by James Garner, Alan Cummings is the Devil, oh and speaking of Megan, her actress is Nancy Cartwright, who normally voices boys but we’ll get there later.

Number #8;

Ren & Stimpy

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I talked quite a lot about Ren & Stimpy when I ranked what I personally considered the Worst-To-Best Nicktoons and rated this one number 2. So I’ll try and keep this brief. The possible reason why Ren & Stimpy, or what I once called Nickelodeon’s Tom & Jerry of the nineties, is called ‘adult animated’ despite being enjoyed by children, is because of the adult content included i.e. pus-blows, skin peels and hammering one another and adults don’t need to rely on accompaniment from kids during the viewing.

Number #7;

Futurama

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Futurama is the sister show to the Simpsons and another one which is also popular with the young generation. It was made during the time when animation was becoming more and more epic. You still see the characters standing in straight posture most of the time, but if you take a look at the backgrounds and compare them to the earlier seasons of the Simpsons, geez, look at how huge they are! You just wonder if Futurama was animated using the Computer Animation Production System, the same system used for the 90s Disney cartoons i.e. The Lion King, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame and Beauty & The Beast.

But the epic quality ain’t my only praise for Futurama. The pilot episode (Space Pilot 3000) is one of the greatest pilot eps in TV history; it sees Fry wake up from the 20th Century and into the year 3000 and the rest is history when he joins up with an alcoholic and jerkish robot (Bender), a female human cyclops (Leela) and his elderly and intelligent great (time way over ten) nephew (Professor Farnsworth). The humour; also deserving praise, including for Fry’s knowledge of the century he grew up in despite his limited intelligence.

Fun fact; although Fry sounds young-ish, he’s actually voiced by Billy West who was getting on middle age when he started.

Number #6;

Family Guy

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It seems today that all you see is violence and movies and sex on TV / But where are those good old fashioned values / On which we used to rely! / Lucky there’s a Family Guy / Lucky there’s a man who possibly can do / All the things that make us laugh and cry / He’s… a… Fam… Ly… Guuuuuuy!

Gee I could sing this one all day. Not many people know that Family Guy originally started off as Larry & Steve, an episode of Cartoon Network’s What A Cartoon. Larry and Steve eventually became Peter and Brian Griffin and of course their personalities remained, but not the designs. Add Lois, Chris, Meg and Stewie and voila, you have Family Guy.

Of course, Family Guy is a definite adult animated show. That being said, it does sometimes go overboard on the purely adult content; the bloody violence, the profanities, fart gags… a YouTube personality named Mr Coat once labelled the show as ‘bizarre to be bizarre’ and it ain’t hard to see why. I keep thinking that this may be the reason why there’s mixed feelings among viewers. But Family Guy is a guilty pleasure for me. I find it very difficult not to enjoy that show.

I also give praise for the occasional drama involved, like, remember when Peter grew a nest-like beard and found nestling birds inside it, then had to say goodbye to them, while Brian was looking after an elderly opera singer in hospital? That scene really f***ed me up.

Oh and extra points for Brian’s liberal values.

Number #5;

Wait Till Your Father Gets Home

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I love my mom and dad and my brothers too / and the groovy way we get along / But every time the slightest thing goes wrong / Mom starts to sing this familiar song; / Wait till your father gets, until your father gets, wait till your father gets home

And here we have one of the earliest examples of an adult animated show, this one produced by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home. The show was the first primetime cartoon to last for over a season, since the Flintstones (also by Hanna/Barbera), and the last, until the Simpsons.

Harry Boyle, voiced by Tom Bosley, is a surburban everyman who works as a restaurant equipment dealer. He is married to Irma and has three kids; Alice, a teen boy-mad feminist, Chet, a hippy, and his younger son Jamie who idolises his dad. Many of the episodes, which I recommend you check out, see the conflicts between the conservative Harry and his left-wing kids and Irma attempting to cover for her husband while trying to keep things together.

The first time I saw this one, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home didn’t fail to make me laugh and I totally love Hanna & Barbera. It does lack some detail picture-wise, but it remains colourful and the details don’t distract my viewing.

Number #4;

Angry Kid

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Here’s an unusual example, Angry Kid, created by the same guys famous for Wallace & Gromit. Angry Kid is made up of really short episodes. When I say short, I mean less than five minutes.

We know this show ain’t for kids, but many viewers can relate to Angry Kid himself. Angry Kid is a 14 year-old ginger kid with a foul mouth and obnoxious attitude and lives with his younger sister and irritable cockney dad who is divorced. He spends his time gaining enjoyment by annoying people including his dad. For instance, there’s an episode where he’s in the car eating a candy bar and drinking a cola can, then stating that he feels ‘sicky’, then makes some disgusting pre-vomiting sounds which irritate Dad so much that he harshly stops the car and warns him to stop being childish, only for the Kid to realise he really is about to vomit. There’s another one where the Kid finds out he has a weak bladder and needs to get rid of his urine, but Dad refuses to stop the car, because of his previous trip, and therefore gives his some containers to fill, to no success.

I could go through a long list of classic episodes, but enough said. Long live Aardman!

Number #3;

South Park

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I’m goin’ down to South Park gonna have myself a time / Friendly faces everwhere humble folks without temptation / I’m goin’ down to South Park gonna leave my woes behind / Ample Parking Day or Night, people spouting, “Howdy, Neighbor” / I’m headin’ down to South Park gonna see if I can’t unwind / I like girls with big vagina, I like girls with big fat titties / So come on down to South Park, and meet some friends of mine

I remember when I was a younger kid, South Park was advertised on various things. It sold toys and t-shirts and VHSes, well you get the idea. I didn’t get to watch it until I was 13. The thing was, I would’ve been too young at the time (well duh!). At first, I seemed uninterested; it looked like just one of them poorly animated kid’s cartoons, but being that I hadn’t watched it yet, I was unaware of the content it included. However, some mates of mine saw it (their parents let them get away with it) and I remember listening into discussions about Kenny loosing his head. That made me want to see the show more.

Of course, South Park was so popular that a movie came out. Again, I was way too young to watch it in cinemas. However we taped it when it got shown on Channel 4 and I so wanted to see it. It was the summer vacation at the time. My mom was like; “you can watch it with dad”. She didn’t trust me to see it on my own. Our luck came on my brother’s 16th birthday and we watched it together as a family. It failed to disappoint. It was hilarious!

And so is the show. The fact that South Park does look like a crappy children’s cartoon is so part of the humour. Mix it with the swearing and political humour and the older generation will love it. Hell, did I mention Kenny’s various deaths? They’re always a lot of fun – but on a serious note, one of the gags turned out to be real dramatic. I shan’t give too much detail. But yes, the drama as well, another high point of the show.

Number #2;

Stressed Eric

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Another British cartoon which not many people have heard of. Some of you are probably thinking “what?” “why have you placed this over South Park?”. It’s nothing personal, but I shall explain the reasons later. Like Bromwell High and I Am Not An Animal, Stressed Eric hardly receives much credit, but unlike them, it did last for more than one season (even if it did bring out two seasons).

I know there are some things in South Park viewers can relate to, but as for Stressed Eric, there’s loads, even though it was quite a short span. Eric Feeble is a 40 year old middle-class administration clerk who can’t get over his divorce from his wife Liz. He lives with his two kids; Brian, aged 10 who has the inability to speak and severe learning difficulties and as a result has been put down a few school years, and Claire, 6, who is allergic to a lot of things, plus a teenage Portuguese au pair named Maria with a serious drinking problem. Tell me these ain’t relatable, and poor old Eric, who does love his children, attempts to make the best of the situation, but is forced to juggle things around.

Even his workplace proves to be of no help. Eric shares an office room with Alison, who spends most of her work-time on the phone, even when Eric needs a hand with something. To top things all, and through a bit of British humour, the Feebles live next door to the Perfects, a family of loud mouthed upper-class snobs.

Stressed Eric is one such criminally misunderstood and underrated cartoon. The only reason it got hate mail was due to the fact that Mark Heap’s voice for Eric was dubbed by Hank Azaria for one of the international versions. But clearly the reviewers overlooked the set of emotional issues put into one element of humour, plus the classic gags involving Eric’s pumping vain and Mrs. Wilson’s constant failures to post a letter.

Before I reveal the number one pick, I’d like to give one special mention;

The Flintstones

Now I was debating with myself whether The Flintstones, the first prime time animated show, counted as an adult animated show. Despite it being animated, The Flintstones did contain some of the typical codes and conventions for a sitcom, including a laugh-track, and apparently, it was loosely based on The Honeymooners. It did entertain adults as much as it did to children and I think Wikipedia described it as one (but it’s Wikipedia). I’m wondering if that makes The Flintstones, adult animated. If it does, I’d probably give it a number 2 position.

And the Number #1 adult animated TV show is…;

The Simpsons

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Actually, the Simpsons are neighbours of ours and we find them to be a misunderstood and underrated family!

And Thunderbirds they are go! Some of you probably guessed that I would label the Simpsons as number one. Of course if you think about it, The Simpsons seems to be appearing as number one on a lot of top lists, I won’t name examples right now. However, this ain’t the reason for the ranking. Out of all the adult animated shows on this list, The Simpsons is the show I watched the most frequently and grew up with the most. It has remained a favourite of mine since childhood.

Where to begin on The Simpsons…; totally unforgettable characters. Most of us all know the five main ones; Bart, Homer, Lisa, Maggie and Marge. But also many of the secondary characters including Mr Burns, Nelson Muntz, Krusty The Clown and Principal Skinner, there’s too many to name. Even the episodes are so classic. Well only the ones from seasons 1 to 12, but we’ll get there later.

As the episodes have rolled by, we just couldn’t quit laughing. The Simpsons are definitely in the funny pile. It has had plenty of elements for viewers of all ages. But it’s more than just an animated sitcom. Remember when I spoke about Family Guy and its elements of drama. The Simpsons has also covered some pretty dramatic issues and along with other sitcoms, such as One Foot In The Grave, Birds Of A Feather and The Thin Blue Line, has proved that there’s more to sitcoms than just laughter. The Simpsons made space for tearjerkers at times, i.e. the bit when Homer met his long lost mother and later in that episode had to say goodbye to her because she was on the run.

If there’s one nitpick I have, it’s that The Simpsons has been in TV production for too long. They did a movie as well which I enjoyed watching. However since season 13, the show’s been going downhill, despite some good episodes. It’s not taken my interest away from the show. But the classic era happens to belong to season 12 and before then. That’s where the tone is.

I’m hoping to one day list my personal top 11 episode of The Simpsons. The Nostalgia Critic had a go at that once and it was a really interesting review. There’s so much I want to say about The Simpsons, but that’s enough for now.

So that’s my personal ranking of my Worst-to-Best adult animated TV shows. Some readers may agree, some may not. It’s just my personal opinion.

Thanks for reading and remember, as far as anybody’s concerned, the Simpsons are a nice normal family.