THE BEST OF 2019 BEGINS... WITH TV

after dropping out of the Tory leadership campaign, he joined the Dublin Murder Squad...

2019 is no one's idea of a good year, and enough nonsense, high crimes, and yes, conduct unbecoming, has washed under the bridge so far to make it a low-water mark of the new century, so far. But, as often happens, when the times are darkest, the popular culture is best (see the 1940s and American film).

Television has been having a golden age for so long now, it is almost trite to mention it, and Netflix is offering so many great movies on TV (including the latest Breaking Bad semi-squib), it is hard to keep up. In a year of absurdly-superb televised plenty (and then there's that odd guilty pleasure, Evil...) a few shows stood out, even so, from the pack (though others came close, morally or aesthetically and could and will make many end of year lists).

The three that struck me most were:

1. Chernobyl
The sense of dread, horror, realism, and scientific and political accuracy was rendered so forensically, it was hard to ever turn away from the most informative nightmare you will hopefully ever experience.  The acting, especially from Jared Harris was at near-genius level, and the acts of idiocy and stoic heroism so gripping, each episode was both inspiring and deeply dispiriting. At one point it was ranked at IMDB as the best TV show of all time. It will probably never be bettered in terms of its genre, whatever that comes to be called.

2. Euphoria
HBO hit the zeitgeist's nerve this year like a needle striking a deep vein in a junkie paradise. From the eerie brilliance of its soundtrack, to the breakthrough acting, no TV show has ever exposed the dark heart of the teen years in such bleak, nihilistic, and frankly, erotic, enraged and engaged ways. Not only funny, but also deeply scary, this was like one trigger point after another, a constant unsafe foray into the art of darkness, the darkness of young hearts, and minds, and bodies, and perhaps even souls. All identities, fluidities, needs, desires, perversions, and digital intoxications, were present and accounted for, no hashtag left unturned, no soiled peccadillo ignored. This will be the time capsule of the American 2019 - what it was to be alive here and now. Probably amorally-ethical, like Dostoevsky, it was like Rebel Without A Cause and Blue Velvet. Zendaya's BRILLIANCE makes her the star of this time.

3. Dublin Murders
The BBC offers so many murder shows, one wonders if the British are all killers deep down; maybe; or armchair detectives. Based on the clever and popular Tana French literray mysteries, enigmatic, mournful and intelligent, this was unlike any other detective show we've seen since The Killing or True Detective - existential anguish, supernatural possibilities, and perverse inhibitions - all whispering in the leaves of the improbably lush Irish woods. Particularly striking was the male lead, a lean, gaunt, impossibly beautiful Killian Scott, who could be the next James Bond. Conleth Hill (from Game of Thrones) was a surprise as a grumpy boss-copper; and Sarah Greene was also excellent.

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