TV PICKS OF 2017 – Part One – By Lisa Jewell
2017 was another bumper year for television shows – whether on mainstream channels or streaming services. We pick out our high points over the past 12 months – see if you agree.
The Handmaid’s Tale
After causing quite a stir when televised on Hulu in the States, The Handmaid’s Tale made it onto Channel 4 back in May. It instantly became ‘watercooler’ television as it captivated viewers every Sunday night.
Margaret Atwood’s story – written in the 1980s but set in an unspecified future – was eerily on point in 2017 with many critics nodding towards the political situation in the US and the general sense of disparity between the ruling elite and the struggling classes.
The show made for uncomfortable viewing at times but the sense of imagination, the acting and the directing made it a must watch. Emmy awards for Elisabeth Moss, Ann Dowd and Alexis Bledel were well deserved and a second series hits US screens in April.
Only the BBC could produce this epic exploration of our oceans which took four years to film and captured never before seen behaviours of aquatic animals. Helmed once again by the legendary David Attenborough, the series gave us memorable moments like the fish that can jump up to catch birds in its mouth, the tusk fish figuring out how to open clams by breaking them against coral and the octopus using shells to create a cunning disguise to evade a shark.
And who could forget that poignant shot of the pilot whale grieving its dead calf. From the depths of the ocean to the abundant world of the coast, Blue Planet II spanned the globe. It entertained and educated – and you’d have to hope that its conservation message has a lasting impact on all those who tuned in every week.
The HBO drama stormed the awards ceremonies this year and deservedly so. Just like The Handmaid’s Tale, it’s a TV show about women’s lives and is based on a noteworthy novel by a female author (in this case, Liane Moriarty).
Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman were the powerhouses in getting this made and also appear in starring roles. Set in an affluent community in Monterey, California, the series showed that all was not what it seemed when it came to a group of mothers of first grade children. Secrets and lies were deftly uncovered in a storyline that got viewers talking. A second series has just been green lit.
Some similarities here with Big Little Lies although this time we were in a very suburban English setting with a very normal DNA expert and mother, Dr Yvonne Carmichael (Emily Watson).
A chance encounter with a charismatic stranger took her on a path she’d never contemplated. And what seemed like a storyline about an extramarital affair suddenly took the viewer on a shockingly different path they weren’t expecting…and made for captivating viewing on the Beeb.