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Black flowers blooming
January 13, 2010 9:28 AM   Subscribe

After publishing it's 50 Greatest TV Dramas Of All Time as picked by its television critics (but no Brooker) The Guardian launches it's TV Club to discuss those that didn't make the cut. First up: Edge Of Darkness.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (90 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
No Deadwood = FAIL.
posted by nushustu at 9:34 AM on January 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


I was talking up Edge of Darkness just the other day on the Green. It's really a phenomenal miniseries, and I remember loving Joe Don Baker in it. Very moody series, very exciting, and it really blew my mind when I saw it as a kid on public television (NYC--probably the old WNYC). I haven't seen it in years, and it doesn't seem to be available in the U.S.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:35 AM on January 13, 2010


If Our Friends from the North is the third most bestest tv show ever why is it completely impossible to get?
posted by shothotbot at 9:36 AM on January 13, 2010


A list! Everyone is sure to agree with it!
posted by Artw at 9:40 AM on January 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm going to Netflix the heck out of this list, thanks. GrammarSnark.
posted by mecran01 at 9:40 AM on January 13, 2010


13 Jan 2010, 1:37PM

Er, hello? Edward Woodward in the Equalizer? Jesus.
YEAH. And what about Whiz Kids? No Murder, She Wrote? CSI? DAMMIT, PEOPLE. If you're going to do a list, do it right. Masterpieces of the small screen getting no recognition.
posted by norm at 9:44 AM on January 13, 2010


Hoping the TV Club takes a look at The Sandbaggers. Best spy series ever.
posted by grounded at 9:46 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was happy that Grange Hill kept Sex And The City off the list... Do 'em Gripper!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:48 AM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


[checking immediately] The Wire at 14. Consider me not reading this.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 9:48 AM on January 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


At least it has 6 Feet Under.
posted by milarepa at 9:50 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


If it has 6 Feet Under, then I'm not reading it.

Lists!
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:52 AM on January 13, 2010


Someone told me the other day they were re-making Edge Of Darkness with Mel Gibson, how I laughed.... next they'll be telling me they're doing a new version of The Wicker Man with Nicolas Cage or Get Carter with Stallone!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:52 AM on January 13, 2010


I love lists. I looked quickly at it when I opened the paper yesterday. No 'Edge of Darkness', Wire at 14 (as Lacking Subtlety says). Turned to the next article without sparing it any more time.
posted by communicator at 9:52 AM on January 13, 2010


After publishing it's 50 Greatest TV Dramas Of All Time as picked by its television critics (but no Brooker) The Guardian launches it's TV Club

One out of three ain't bad.
posted by kingbenny at 9:52 AM on January 13, 2010


No Deadwood = FAIL.

Sorry, us Brits can't take that seriously, what with Lovejoy acting all mean-ass cowboy. It just isn't cricket!
posted by metaxa at 9:53 AM on January 13, 2010


What's with the super-brief show descriptions in the 21-30 range? I can take Inspector Morse getting beat by the wildly overrated BSG, but to see it described as "This is a show where some guy does some stuff." is hella lame.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:56 AM on January 13, 2010


I know it's pointless arguing about these sorts of lists, but a couple of other glaring omissions were GBH (Michael Palin and Robert Lindsay), and The Cops, which got canned after two series, but was a really believable gritty cop show. whcih has never even been released on DVD.
posted by DanCall at 10:01 AM on January 13, 2010


All "lists" suck BLARGBLARGBLARGBLARG oh wait they actually have The Prisoner on there, cool. BLARGBLARGCLARGBLARG
posted by edgeways at 10:02 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


NO BEACHCOMBERS = FAIL

(partly-eaten hamburger)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:31 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's kind of stupid to argue lists (though mine would definitely include "Deadwood," "The Wire" and "Big Love.")

I am surprised, though, that the folks at "The Guardian" have omitted "I Claudius" and "Upstairs, Downstairs." I'm not alone in thinking of those as two of the best series ever made. And it's weird to me that the same people who like "Brideshead Revisted" are indifferent to those classics. I watch both series every few years (I have since they originally aired) and they continue to pay off.
posted by grumblebee at 10:36 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


No Cop Rock = DOUBLE FAIL
posted by nushustu at 10:37 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


"All of HBO and some british stuff form the 80s!"
posted by Artw at 10:41 AM on January 13, 2010


A little bird let me know that Edge of Darkness is, indeed, available on DVD in the U.S. (and via Netflix). Sadly, he also bore the bad news that it's being remade with Mel Gibson. Curse you, little bird filled with bittersweet knowledge! (Seriously, though, thanks!)
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:42 AM on January 13, 2010


First up: Edge Of Darkness.

I somehow missed knowing that the fantastic Edge of Darkness star Bob Peck had died (in 1999*, tragically early, at 53 - from cancer).

I once interviewed him for the UK press about his role in that political thriller - in my intro I teasingly referred to his 'uncompromising Easter Island statue profile') and adored him - he was a very, very kind, very witty & dry guy.

He was also one of the many brilliant supporting actors in the tv version of the RSC's Nicholas Nickleby (1982).

Like mecran01, off to Netflix! Thanks for this.

*we had moved to the US by 1999. Which might explain my ignorance.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:45 AM on January 13, 2010


All of HBO, no no. As others have pointed out, notably missing Deadwood. But I do get the Lovejoy thing; that took me awhile, too. Glad they included, Oz, though. Seems forgotten in most of these conversations.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:48 AM on January 13, 2010


no I Claudius?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:48 AM on January 13, 2010


There are an extremely large number of shows on this list that I haven't seen. I am pleased. Anyone who is frustrated about The Wire placement (number one with many bullets on my list) or whatever else, just take lists like this as I do, chances for something to take the number two spot behind The Wire.

Grace Dent however thought The Wire "a slog" in parts and said the acclaim had made it "socially ­painful" for people to admit they weren't wild fans. "It's incomprehensible to lots of people."

Makes me think part of the placement was backlash for it being TOO beloved? There is certainly a negative reaction many people get to things which are universally praised, believing the thing is somehow bad because it doesn't live up to the "hype" or whatever.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:55 AM on January 13, 2010


I really could not stand Oz. It seemed as poorly written oh I'm so clever as Joss Whedon, whom I similarly loathe.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:58 AM on January 13, 2010


Gareth Marenghi's Darkplace also deserves a spot on this list. It was so far ahead of its time in the 80s that they actually had to shelve it for 20 years to let society catch up to its genius.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:11 AM on January 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


No MI-5/Spooks? Huh. And:

Sorry, us Brits can't take that seriously, what with Lovejoy acting all mean-ass cowboy. It just isn't cricket!

We Yanks pity the living shit out of you cocksuckers.
posted by tula at 11:15 AM on January 13, 2010


I'll take Cowboy Bebop as my missing classic, since I, Claudius and Deadwood have been claimed.
posted by ecurtz at 11:18 AM on January 13, 2010


Gareth Marenghi's Darkplace

There's no comedies in the drama list.
posted by Artw at 11:27 AM on January 13, 2010


Huh? Darkplace is deadly serious.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:32 AM on January 13, 2010


Their description of The Wire includes this line "This suggests that it is praised and watched by people who don't generally like television" which seems CRAZY to me. Most people I love The Wire to me seem like those who do love television, we just wish more t.v. would use the format and the medium to aspire to these heights. I love film, but film can't give you a 5 season character arc.

Additionally whose idea was it to feature a picture from season 6 to represent The West Wing? It was decent enough, but non-Sorkin West Wing just didn't have that same magic.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:32 AM on January 13, 2010


Yeah, some glaring omissions going on – biggest of which is the aforementioned GBH, as well as John Byrne's still-brilliant Tutti Frutti, which spent 20-odd years languishing in DVD rights hell before finally getting a release last August. Must dig out Edge of Darkness again – haven't seen it in years, but remember loving it.
posted by Len at 11:33 AM on January 13, 2010


Must really get around to watching those The Wire and Mad Men DVD boxsets.
posted by Artw at 11:35 AM on January 13, 2010


Can someone explain the Eastenders and Coronation Street love to me? Those of us from my generation in the U.S.A. only have soaps that no critic would EVER pick as a top 50 drama. Do these really deserve this? Is it nostalgia or what?
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:38 AM on January 13, 2010


Interesting. I don't think "Oranges" has made it to the states, has it? Anybody know if it's scheduled for the US?

Personally, I think "Singing Detective" deserves the #1 spot.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:40 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone told me the other day they were re-making Edge Of Darkness with Mel Gibson, how I laughed.... next they'll be telling me they're doing a new version of The Wicker Man with Nicolas Cage or Get Carter with Stallone!

fearfulsymmetry (& Admiral Haddock)

Then you've got State of Play (2003 BBC mini series - yes on Netflix, #9 on the list) which is - I think - unmissable. Really, really cancel everything unmissable. Trust me.

And State of Play (2009) the risible movie adaptation, ruined by everyone involved but, above all, by Russell Fucking Crowe.

(Nicolas Cage as the entire cast of Upstairs Downstairs would be less insufferable.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:48 AM on January 13, 2010


haveanicesummer: Can someone explain the Eastenders and Coronation Street love to me? Those of us from my generation in the U.S.A. only have soaps that no critic would EVER pick as a top 50 drama. Do these really deserve this? Is it nostalgia or what?

I think they do deserve it, really; in contrast (as far as my limited knowledge of them goes) to US soaps, UK soaps are both grim and down at heel, and tend to be farms or proving grounds for up and coming writers – for example, a good number of the other shows on this list were written by people who cut their teeth writing for soaps. Paul Abbott, for example, who wrote both State of Play and Shameless, spent years writing for Coronation Street; Jimmy McGovern (Cracker; The Street) got his first writing gig on Liverpool-set soap Brookside.

I imagine a US equivalent would be having the likes of Alan Ball, David Chase, or Aaron Sorkin getting their breaks via writing for soaps.

Also, UK soaps often do weird things; there's one episode of Eastenders which centres around Phil Daniels' character making a pilgrimage to the seaside cottage of the late, great, pioneering gay film-maker Derek Jarman. Can't imagine that sort of strangeness flying on primetime US networks ...
posted by Len at 12:09 PM on January 13, 2010


Well as a list it's completely anglo-centric, Asian dramas (especially Korean ones) are wildly popular.
posted by forforf at 12:12 PM on January 13, 2010


Nice to see The Singing Detective getting some love there. Would've liked to have seen Slings & Arrows on that list, though.
posted by Spatch at 12:23 PM on January 13, 2010


36 The L Word (Showtime, 2004-9)

Love and loathing among a tight-knit group of LA lesbians. A ground­breaking concept that has so far run for six seasons.


Please explain how a show about rich, privileged women with no character continuity broke any ground beyond what their stilettos could puncture.
posted by zoomorphic at 12:28 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well as a list it's completely anglo-centric, Asian dramas (especially Korean ones) are wildly popular.
posted by forforf


Any suggestions of amazing ones? Woefully I haven't seen any (non-animated) foreign television of note.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:31 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


No Days of Hope?
No Das Boot?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:34 PM on January 13, 2010


I confused The Edge of Darkness with The Edge of Night (or as it should be written Theee Eeeeeeeedge ... of Night!).
posted by octobersurprise at 12:41 PM on January 13, 2010


Any suggestions of amazing ones?

I've watched a bunch of them this year and the ones people claim are amazing (Coffee Prince, Dae Jang Geum, Time Between Dog and Wolf) were all disappointing.

The one I enjoyed most was Bad Family, but you may have to be familiar with the Korean dramatic tropes to enjoy it as much as I did.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:44 PM on January 13, 2010


Also: No Roots?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:49 PM on January 13, 2010


Can someone explain the Eastenders and Coronation Street love to me?

Although now they are bloated parodies of what they were twenty to thrity years ago these were more like serial character-based dramas (with, in Corrie's case, added doses of comedy) than what you might think of as soap operas. East Enders pioneered some hard-hidden story lines involving teenage pregnancy, prostitution, drug addiction and AIDs; plus produced some memorable television that really had the whole nation watching - most notoriously Den handing Ange her divorce papers over the Xmas dinner table. Corrie has produced some of the most well remembered and loved characters that have ever been on television... even thinking about Hilda unwrapping Stans glasses when she comes back from seeing him die at hospital brings a lump to the throat.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:54 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Cops, which got canned after two series, but was a really believable gritty cop show. whcih has never even been released on DVD.

No Cops on DVD is a disgrace... I was told by a copper that it's the only program that has ever got close to depicting what the police are really like (only missing out on the black humour)

Oddly the only one of the list I've never heard of is How Do You Want Me? which I've added to the rental list

One I'd add would be Band Of Gold
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:00 PM on January 13, 2010


Also: No Roots?

Like Gilligans Island, a show which exists in the UK more by repuation and references in other US works than in actual airings.
posted by Artw at 1:11 PM on January 13, 2010


In terms of home-grown content (from the perspective of the Guardian), I'm a little surprised that Cracker made the list and Life on Mars (the original) did not. I've apparently misjudged the popularity of both.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:12 PM on January 13, 2010


Like Gilligans Island, a show which exists in the UK more by repuation and references in other US works than in actual airings.

Both of these shows screened in the UK at a time roughly contemporaneous with their screening in the USA. We never got the interminable re-runs though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:20 PM on January 13, 2010


Cracker is fucking awesome.
posted by Artw at 1:20 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure some of these people were toddlers in the late 70s.
posted by Artw at 1:21 PM on January 13, 2010


I absolutely loved BBC's Bodies, glad to see it at number 20.
posted by Dragonness at 1:23 PM on January 13, 2010


We Yanks pity the living shit out of you cocksuckers.

That's ok, you can go on worshipping at the feet of fucking Lovejoy and Hugh bloody Laurie whilst you're getting on with all that pitying you're doing.

Seriously, what garnered that response? 'Cocksucker'? I mean, really?
posted by metaxa at 1:42 PM on January 13, 2010


metaxa – you're obviously one of those non-Deadwood watching cocksuckers. You should remedy this.

McShane's character in Deadwood – the all too aptly-named Al Swearengen – is hands down the best swearing motherfucker in the cunting history of fucking swearing on the TV. It's an affectionate use of cocksuckers, in this instance.
posted by Len at 1:49 PM on January 13, 2010


McShane actually proved himself quite good at being a non-Lovejoy badguy in Sexy Beast, a couple of years before Deadwood.
posted by Artw at 1:51 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cracker is fucking awesome.

I'm right there with you but I thought -- well, that, this would now make two of us.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:52 PM on January 13, 2010


Feh.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:58 PM on January 13, 2010


Cracker is fucking awesome. Those of you who liked Prime Suspect put it into your Netflix queues immédiatement.
posted by everichon at 2:34 PM on January 13, 2010


metaxa: Just wanted to double-tell you that there was no insult intended there. McShane's character (and the show in general) drop "cocksucker" allllllllllll the time.
posted by haveanicesummer at 2:39 PM on January 13, 2010


Well as a list it's completely anglo-centric

Damn straight - where is Monkey Magic?
posted by Artw at 2:53 PM on January 13, 2010


In truth, if any bunch of critics regards the inclusion of Edge of Darkness as within the '...hobby horses of fanatics' they've only betrayed their utter unsuitability for the job. State of Play - as nicely pitched as it is - was I feel only Paul Abbott's homage to Kennedy-Martin's vastly superior series and it seems entirely dumb to pass it over.

Clearly, any tosh like this is designed to bring traffic to GMG's site: it's been in their 'most viewed' for a day now, so job done, eh? In the absence of a business model it's probably as good as it gets.
posted by specialbrew at 3:04 PM on January 13, 2010


The Twilight Zone? I feel like that should either shouldn't be on that list at all, or it should be much higher.
posted by quin at 3:48 PM on January 13, 2010


Well I think this list is stupid and you are all for the most part completely wrong about everything, but Bodies and Edge of Darkness have me mightily interested, so thanks for that! ABC Shop ahoy!
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:05 PM on January 13, 2010


Don't watch Bodies if you, or someone you know, is likely to be going into hospital in the near future... esp if it involves pregnancy. It's like the evil mutant twin brother of ER that they keep locked in the cellar.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:24 PM on January 13, 2010


Things you will never hear on Metafilter: “I was actually quite surprised by this list, but then I read the article and thought they might have a point, so I decided to check out some new things that I’d not heard of before, so thanks for posting it!”
posted by Artw at 4:25 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Still, at least TV isn't as bad as comics, where people get upset if Watchmen isn't jammed into everything, whether it fits or not.
posted by Artw at 4:26 PM on January 13, 2010


Brother, I jam Watchmen wherever I can, believe me.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:40 PM on January 13, 2010


Oh, and talking of omissions – and I can't believe I forgot this, given that (i) I recently recommended it in AskMe, and (ii) watched the Soderbergh film version on TV a couple of nights ago – where the FUCK is Traffik?
posted by Len at 4:44 PM on January 13, 2010


Please learn to spell the word "its" before you post again. Anywhere.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:16 PM on January 13, 2010


even thinking about Hilda unwrapping Stans glasses when she comes back from seeing him die at hospital brings a lump to the throat

Oh god, don't do that. It's like an emotional hit and run. That scene made me honestly cry and likely still could.

I grew up watching Coronation Street-- literally, I remember my mother riveted to the old black and while episodes in the 60s, and how she also broke down when Ena Sharples' daughter died of that brain tumour. I can't watch it any longer-- the drama is just too over the top for me-- but for years I checked in to see how the characters were doing. I've still got a soft spot for Ken Barlow, after all these years.

I would have liked to see Upstairs Downstairs, A Very British Coup, and the first few years of ER on that list, myself.

And The Singing Detective was/is genius.
posted by jokeefe at 5:38 PM on January 13, 2010


And now that I've had a chance to brood, I can't believe that tripe like the L Word and 24 made it onto the list before Upstairs Downstairs or a Very British Coup. That's just all sorts of wrong.
posted by jokeefe at 5:41 PM on January 13, 2010


Also: Big Breadwinner Hog
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:42 PM on January 13, 2010


The L Word is the weirdest one. That's like having gossip girl on the list or something.
posted by Artw at 5:53 PM on January 13, 2010


One of the biggest disappointments from my "Year of Brit TV" was Our Friends in the North; I made it through to the end, but it was a slog in parts and it almost became a chore. It probably helps if you are British and actually lived through the times portrayed in the show.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:10 PM on January 13, 2010


ARGH! Do not recommend Cracker to people without making sure they know you mean the UK (Robbie Coltrane) version and not the awful US (Robert Pastorelli) version.

Like all these lists, seems a bit weighted toward what's most recent.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:01 PM on January 13, 2010


unfortunately cracker is an unknown release date, on netflix, for series one. they've got the rest for some reason.
posted by andywolf at 8:47 PM on January 13, 2010


I've watched Roots recently. It doesn't hold up. The first few hours still crackle, but it really wanders after that.

Plus it turns out that Haley made it up/stole it. It's a worthy cultural artifact, but not so great as a modern viewing experience.

Deadwood is nearly the opposite. Crackling all the way through, and then *crickets*. Corporate cocksuckers.

I'm not going to argue that it belongs on the list, but I will say that Friday Night Lights has exceeded my expections most of the time (through season three).
posted by NortonDC at 9:19 PM on January 13, 2010


Plus it turns out that Haley made it up/stole it.

SOP
posted by telstar at 10:13 PM on January 13, 2010


Miscellaneous thoughts:

No love for Dexter or Breaking Bad. Hmm.
They note Entourage might have been higher. I do enjoy it, but don't think it shares the same rarified air with Sopranos, et.al.
I had completely forgot about Smiley's People. May need to revisit that.
I'm awfully surprised that Miami Vice didn't make the cut; seems influential for its time. Though perhaps the list criteria is different.
There are some others I think should have made the list, including Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes, but that's the nature of lists I suppose.
posted by spacely_sprocket at 10:50 PM on January 13, 2010


Maybe I misses something, but if soaps make the list, why not Doctor Who? If they're going to add random British favorites to the list, than you'd think this would be in it.

Oh.. and the "serials only" rule apparently disqualifies things like Threads.

But that's coming from a scifi geek...
posted by Harry at 4:09 AM on January 14, 2010


ARGH! Do not recommend Cracker to people without making sure they know you mean the UK (Robbie Coltrane) version and not the awful US (Robert Pastorelli) version.

I thought that went without saying. Cracker, Life on Mars... I guess The Office ruined that rule. (though I haven't seen the U.S. version, it certainly is popular)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:13 AM on January 14, 2010


I thought that went without saying. Cracker, Life on Mars... I guess The Office ruined that rule. (though I haven't seen the U.S. version, it certainly is popular)
posted by Durn Bronzefist


If you go into The Office U.S. viewing it more as a remix than a remake (and knowing that Merchant and Gervais are fans and they have written at least one episode for it) then there is a lot of enjoyment to be had. That said I haven't seen past season 3 (so I can only actually recommend that far), and due to it not being 12 episodes plus a special and gone, it's a lot more uneven.
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:30 AM on January 14, 2010


Cracker, Life on Mars

Till Death Do Us Part vs. All In The Family.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:53 AM on January 14, 2010


Hey, Sanford and Son was popular!
posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I never knew about Steptoe and Son before your comment. Is there some sort of unoriginality limbo that sitcom producers/writers play or what?
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:06 PM on January 15, 2010


It can go both ways of course - from the 80s until 2003 we had a popular light entertainment show entirely ripped off from the Dating Game.
posted by Artw at 5:26 PM on January 15, 2010


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