2010 Critics’ Choice: The best in Aussie TV

Once again TV Tonight turns to the some of the nation's TV critics for their picks on the 2010 year in television.

Once again TV Tonight has consulted with some of the nation’s leading television critics for their bird’s eye view of the 2010 TV year.

Here in this first of two articles, they have chosen their picks for some of the year’s best television.

Clear favourites included Tangle, Offspring, Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, Grand Designs Australia, Spirited, MasterChef Australia, Rake, Yes We Canberra!, Modern Family and Glee. All worthy choices.

Some were divided over the genre that best suited shows. Not all categories were mandatory.

Participating in the survey were:

Colin Vickery: Herald Sun
James Manning: Media Week
Amanda Meade: The Australian
Greg Hassall: The Sydney Morning Herald
Holly Byrnes: The Daily Telegraph
Richard Clune: The Sunday Telegraph
Andrew Mercado: TV Week
Nicole Brady: The Age

Colin Vickery: Offspring – not because it always hit the mark but because in a year when there were a lot of crime retreads, it at least tried something different.

James Manning: Offspring. Producer John Edwards rarely makes a misstep and the talent he has assembled on-camera and behind-the-scenes has delivered what is arguably his best series yet.

Amanda Meade: Packed to the Rafters.

Greg Hassall: Spirited. Not perfect but it was funny, wonderfully acted and – most importantly – not another bloody cop show.

Holly Byrnes: John Edwards takes the double for me and for two brilliantly diverse productions: Tangle and Offspring. Tangle got under your skin, the dark suburban plotlines and personalities staying with you from one week to the next; Justine Clarke was a surprise and superb. In contrast, Offspring was quirky, neurotic and deliciously fun; and Don Hany made watching oh so easy. Am I right, ladies?

Richard Clune: No brainer – Tangle – a brilliantly written, realised and acted drama that proves a depth of small screen talent we should all be proud of. Justine Clarke has well and truly buried Roo Stewart (with a helping hand from Georgie Parker), this a glorious showcase of her deft skills. I’m not sure when John Edwards sleeps, but I’m glad he doesn’t’ so long as he continues producing such standouts as this.

Andrew Mercado: Rake

Nicole Brady: Offspring

Colin Vickery: Aussie comedy was in very short supply this year – no Chris Lilley or Kath & Kim – but Wayne Hope and Robyn Butler managed to generate strong laughs with the third series of The Librarians.

James Manning: Hamish and Andy. Not sure if they should be Light Entertainment? But these guys provide the most laughs-per-minute on TV, even though they were not actually on a lot this year. Fascinating to see what they come up with for 2011 and if they tackle a weekly TV career alone or team up with a production house.

Amanda Meade: Yes We Canberra!

Greg Hassall: Review With Myles Barlow. Series two continued to deliver intelligent satire with a wonderfully bent streak.

Holly Byrnes: Rake, for its wicked mix of beautifully written black comedy, committed cast and the belief Australian audiences were up for something so left field and intelligent.

Richard Clune: Maybe it’s because he has a tangible knowledge of the inner-workings of Sunday tabloid – but I found myself laughing out loud at Adam Zwar’s Lowdown… Solid stuff in a year that was generally devoid of laughs.

Andrew Mercado: Yes We Canberra!

Nicole Brady: Gruen Nation, so much better than the original, makes me wish there were elections every year and they should definitely have done one for Vic election

Colin Vickery: The Hamish and Andy specials. They were good daggy fun. The pair makes it look so easy but there were plenty of laughs.

James Manning: Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation. Granada Media Australia have managed to keep this fresh and funny throughout the year as TEN moved the show from Tuesday to Sunday to Tuesday without chasing the fans away. The show works mainly because of the onscreen chemistry between Micallef, Keller, Pickering and Thomas. They are supposed to representative warriors from different generations but they could easily all be the same age. The show captures what Aussie comedy stands for better than anything else on the box. Special shout out to the talent booker too as they get the best guests – although TBYG isn’t brain surgery. Special extra mention for TEN’s other big franchise – Good News Week – which has been shuffled around the schedule on different nights and in different timeslots yet still manages to satisfy the fans.

Amanda Meade: Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation.

Holly Byrnes: Spicks and Specks. I’m a sucker for a quiz.

Andrew Mercado: So You Think You Can Dance.

BEST AUSSIE REALITY: MasterChef Australia
Colin Vickery: MasterChef Australia – yes the second series was tougher and bitchier than the first series – but that didn’t make it any less compelling.

James Manning: Australia’s Next Top Model. Despite the over-examined winner announcement mix-up, this show delivers year-in year-out and seems to be a text book example of if you have a good format don’t f**k with it – keep it simple, in the same timeslot and lavish attention to detail about you put on the screen. Maybe next year we’ll see how much the producer was crucial to the mix. However as long as whoever takes over reads the rule book carefully there should be no problems.

Greg Hassall: MasterChef Australia. Delivered the goods again.

Holly Byrnes: MasterChef Australia. For me, it’s still all about the food, the skills and the feel good factor.

Richard Clune: MasterChef – its an obvious choice but I thought it may struggle second time ‘round – how wrong I was… I am happy to admit my love for SDYTYCD – it was always slick and, like MC, promotes people with obvious skills… I will be a little lost without it next year.

Andrew Mercado: Masterchef.

Colin Vickery: Who Do You Think You Are – an Aussie version of this genealogy series didn’t seem like a good idea but three series in and it is providing fascinating insights into Aussie celebrities who we thought we knew everything about.

James Manning: Border Security and The Force – Seven programs this combo all over the schedule in the 7.30pm slot and they are rarely beaten – all people. Nine’s The Block gave them a scare this year in the key demos though.

Amanda Meade: RPA, Bondi Vet.

Greg Hassall: Grand Designs Australia. The best local version of an overseas format since MasterChef. Excellent production values, fascinating stories and a laidback, knowledgable host in Peter Maddison, who doesn’t seem the least bit fazed stepping into Kevin McCloud’s sizable shoes.

Richard Clune: Family Confidential, as a series, has proven destination TV.

Nicole Brady: Every Family’s Nightmare, SBS.

Colin Vickery: Glee – again not because it was always spectacular but because it is trying something different. Ryan Murphy has triumphed in a genre – tv drama/musical – that very few people get right (remember Viva Laughlin anyone?).

James Manning: Fashion Police on E! The funniest show on TV by a considerable margin. Second funniest probably The Soup also on E! Also admit to loving E!’s Giuliana and Bill. Why doesn’t someone try a simple, low cost reality show like that here?

Amanda Meade: Real Housewives of NYC.

Greg Hassall: Modern Family (showed TV could be conventional and clever, edgy and sentimental) and Mad Men (season four was the best yet).

Holly Byrnes: Glee. Sue Sylvester is one of the greatest comic characters ever written.

Richard Clune: Modern Family – OMG, LOL… Thankyou America for finding your funny bone.

Andrew Mercado: Mad Men.

Nicole Brady: a tie – Modern Family and Glee.

(Aus prdn): Grand Designs Australia / Tangle
Colin Vickery: Grand Designs Australia – in a year when spin-offs of overseas formats didn’t always work (eg Top Gear Australia and The X Factor), Grand Designs Australia showed how it should be done.

James Manning: The Playlist with Andrew Mercado (it’s sometimes embarassing what he manages to achieve in less than 10 minutes compared to the waffle on a Mediaweek podcast that lasts over an hour!)

Amanda Meade: Tangle.

Greg Hassall: Spirited / Grand Designs Australia.

Holly Byrnes: Tangle, mad for it.

Richard Clune: No brainer – Tangle – another brilliantly written, realised and acted drama that again proves a depth of small screen talent we should all be proud of.

Nicole Brady: tie – Spirited and Grand Designs Australia.

Colin Vickery: The Seven Ages of Britain. David Dimbleby is a fantastic storyteller. He can take what would appear to be a pretty dry subject and make it absolutely fascinating. A very close second was brother Jonathan Dimbleby’s three part series on modern Africa.

James Manning: Calling this a gem might be overcooking it – but SBS’s Letters and Numbers is a great way to chill out after a day of drama in the office.

Amanda Meade: Australian Story.

Holly Byrnes: The Big C. Laura Linney made cancer sexy. Who knew?

Richard Clune: Rake – it snuck-up in the back end of the year and proceeded to blow us all away. Take note Nine’s drama department – pushing boundaries can be rewarding.

Andrew Mercado: Tangle.

Nicole Brady: SBS, Jenny Brockie show, think it is called Insight – so hidden I have forgotten the title.

STARS OF THE YEAR: Don Hany, Richard Roxburgh, Asher Keddie, Justine Clarke
Colin Vickery: Shaun Micallef – this year Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation really hit its straps and it is because the show more than ever allows Shaun to just do whatever comes into his head.

James Manning: Paul Murray became a hot property late in the year. [Disclaimer: I am a part-time guest on PM Live. Bridie Barry, Janine Perrett and Peter Switzer – all on Sky Business [Er, ok been on their shows too!]. Brooke Corte and Ashleigh Gillon (Sky News). Just about every guest chef on MasterChef. Richard Reid on Nine’s Today show. Jason Dunstall on Fox Sports – for another hilarious year – is there a more entertaining sports commentator working on TV?

Amanda Meade: Matt Preston, Tony Jones, Dave Hughes.

Holly Byrnes: Best new talent hands down Peter Maddison on Grand Designs. Effortless on camera with a genuine warmth. Laurie Oakes, the big man of news still lead the election agenda. Masterful.

Richard Clune: Richard Roxburgh, Adam Zwar Jessica Marais, Firass Dirani, Don Hany, Asher Keddie, Justine Clarke.

Andrew Mercado: Richard Roxburgh, Don Hany, Kat Stewart, Justine Clarke, Asher Keddie, Louie Spence (Pineapple Dance Studios).

Nicole Brady: Asher Keddie – both for Hawke and Offspring.

TOMORROW: Part II: The Worst in Aussie TV, plus the Trends of 2010.

17 Responses

  1. Spirited was my favourite – the ending was a bit flat but it was the only must-see show except to the new series of Doctor Who – I thought Moffatt and Smith really delivered the goods!

  2. The best and yet mostly underrated and unwatched show on tv this year came from Channel gem: The Big C. About a lady who has discovered that she has cancer, this show is very funny and yet at times very sad. It revolves around this dying lady’s family and friends, and shows the repercussions or her keeping her sicknesss to herself. The only thing I hate about this show is that when it ends I have to wait another week to see another episode!!

  3. Community definitely needed a shout as best Overseas show. Languishing on GO!, it’s probably my favourite show ever at this point. Consistenly brilliant – just did their Christmas episode entirely in stop-motion clay-mation. So good.

  4. @DavidA, completely agree. I wonder how Spirited may have fared if Channel 10 had been the broadcaster and gotten behind it the way they did Offspring … I think it might have done very well.

    @Ed, nothing wrong with appreciating beauty, whether the compliment comes from a man or a woman. Sexist would be saying Ms Marais had a great set of t*ts.

  5. I thought Spirited deserved more respect from the critics. Claudia Karvan + Matt King delivered the best performances on any tv show this year!
    Nice to see kudos for Offspring + Tangle though!

  6. I haven’t missed an episode of Offspring and I agree that there are indeed a few eps that kinda stunk, but the rest of the show is bloody awesome! Both Kat Stewart, Asher Keddie and the rest of the ensemble are great. Asher really does well in a role that is ultimately quite unlikeable (annoying).

    She got my vote for the Gold Logie (though Emma Booth would have been my first choice).

  7. I don’t often bash shows but I don’t think offspring or Asher keddie are that great. There I said it. The telemovie premiere was great I thought we were in for a great show but then it just went downhill. I’ve been catching up on the latter eps that I recorded hoping it would get better but it didn’t.

    And Asher is a bit like Vince colossimo great in one role but then they are spoiled by overexposure. Give someone else a shot.

  8. While offspring definitely has potential I think it’s first season had far to many misses to be named best new show of 2010!
    It producers can get it right and make some drastic character and plot changes for season 2 it just may be good enough for this accolade next year but not now.

  9. Apart from Offspring, I think they are spot on. I tried to watch Offspring but I think it misses the mark. I’m sick of stories of women with good jobs acting like idiots to try and get a man. Give them a bit more credit. I have trouble remembering the name of this show so it clearly missed the mark with me.

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