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Mark's Best of 2011

Happy New Year, everyone!

With 2011 now finally behind us, and all that pesky Christmas malarkey out of the way, now is as good a time as any to bring you my Best of 2011. But before I start, I just want to apologise in advance for it not being as funny or clever as Josie's Best of 2012. She really set the bar high. Damn her.

Despite being the season that gave us Hitler in the cupboard and Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All, season six has been Doctor Who's most divisive to date. This was Steve Moffat's take of the worlds greatest science fiction show in all its timey-wimey glory. Not surprisingly, it wasn't to everyone's liking. I'm firmly in the 'loved it' camp, even if I am willing to admit that it had its fair share of flaws. But 'The Doctor's Wife', Neil Gaiman's loving ode to that bow-tie wearing mad man and his magical blue box (winningly played by Suranne Jones), was not one of them. In fact, I'd even go as far as to say that this was possibly the greatest Doctor Who story ever made. Even if season six had been terrible it would've made my best of list for that episode alone. I loved it that much.

The second season of Justified was brilliant from start to finish. Okay, there was that ridiculous business with Winona and the stolen money, but let's just try and forget all about that. It really goes with out saying that Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins and Margo Martindale were all brilliant this year, but I think special mention needs to go to Kaitlyn Dever as Loreta, one of the unsung stars of the season.

The Vampire Diaries continued to just get better and better. Never in a million billion trillion gazillion years did I ever think I would love a show like the The Vampires Diaries. But love it I do and season three has been the show's best so far, featuring more twist and turns in a single episode than True Blood can often muster in an entire season. There has yet to be a single crap episode and even the perpetually dull Stefan has suddenly become an interesting character.

While neither has really blown my mind lately, both Fringe and The Walking Dead are still going strong. Being Human and Merlin both had their best seasons yet while Misfits proved that there was life after Robert Sheehan. This was a great year for fans of Euro crime thrillers and knitted jumpers. BBC4 justified if existences by bring us the excellent third season of Parisian thriller Spiral, the Swedish version of Wallander starring Krister Henriksson and two absolutely freakin' brilliant seasons of Danish crime series The Killing.

Game of Thrones was the year's best new show. True, this wasn't exactly a great year for new shows. But even if it had been, Game of Thrones would still be the best. Castle continued to be the most fun crime show on TV. The ending of season three was a doozy and season four has been nothing short of brilliant so far.

I finally opened my heart to Parks and Recreation, and then swiftly kicked myself for not doing it sooner. Never have I fallen so completely in love with a show in such a short space of time. I've come to love and care as much about the citizens of Pawnee, Indiana as I do the students of Greendale Community College. Speaking of which, Community just got better and better this year, while its audience kept getting smaller and smaller.

The Shadow Line, Hugo Blick's stylish thriller, was the year's best mini-series. The first episode may have been a slog to get through but it came to life in episode two thanks to the introduction of Stephen Rea's Gatehouse, unquestionably the year's most terrifying villain. Along with The Shadow Line, the BBC gave us the cancelled too soon Zen, excellent adaptations of The Crimson Petal and the White and Great Expectations (featuring a wonderfully potty performance from Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham), the delightful Case Histories, 50s newsroom drama The Hour and the brilliantly bonkers second season of Luther.


Supernatural lost me this year. I was starting to lose interest during season six (despite the brilliance of 'The French Mistake') and by the time season seven kicked off I finally decided that it was time we started seeing other people. AMC's remake of The Killing had the potential to be great. But it pissed it all away before slapping everyone in the face with that horrendous season finale. True Blood is still as annoyingly inconsistent as it was last year. Were it not for Eric, Pam and Jessica I would've checked out a season ago. After the highs of seasons four and five, Dexter's sixth seasons was a bitter disappointment. And Miracle Day turned out not to be Torchwood's salvation, but the final nail in its coffin.

Hopes for 2012

Besides Awake and Alcatraz, there aren't really any upcoming shows in 2012 that I'm looking forward to. I'm more excited about the return of all my current favourites, which includes the long awaited second season of Sherlock (which is already off to a cracking start). I'll be praying for a a fourth season for Community and a fifth season for Fringe (both long shots, I know).

My Top 11s of 2011

Best Shows

1. Doctor Who
2. The Vampire Diaries
3. Fringe
4. Castle
5. The Killing
6. Game of Thrones
7. Community
8. Justified
9. Being Human
10. Spiral
11. Parks and Recreation

Best Episodes

1. Doctor Who – 'The Doctor's Wife'
2. The Vampire Diaries – 'The Reckoning'
3. The Shadow Line – 'Episode 2'
4. Supernatural – 'The French Mistake'
5. Community – 'Remedial Chaos Theory'
6. Justified – 'Bloody Harlan'
7. Being Human – 'The Longest Day'
8. Game of Thrones – 'Baelor'
9. Castle – 'Knockout'
10. Parks and Recreation – 'Andy and April's Fancy Party'
11. Misfits – 'Episode 4'


  1. What a fun list, Mark! (I'm being polite about the damnation you threw my way...)

    I tried Case Histories because I love Kate Atkinson's novels so very much. I couldn't love the show as much. More novels, Kate Atkinson! Write me more novels!

    I'm very excited about Sherlock's next season. So excited that I won't give you any grief for totally rubbing salt in the wound. (It doesn't premiere in the US until sometime after Judgment Day.)

    And don't forget to congratulate yourself, too: this was your first year as a writer for billiedoux.com, yes? I'm so glad you're on the team!

  2. Thank you so much, Josie (sorry about the damnation but not the salt rubbing, Sherlock was f**king magnificent last night and I'm never shutting up about it). Has it only been a year? Feels like its been longer. But it is great to be part of the team.

  3. I think it's been less than a year. Wasn't your first review of The Killing?

  4. God yes, it was. Now let us never speak of it again ;)

  5. I will speak of it once more ... I just wanted to say I'm ever so grateful that Mark took on The Killing, because it was lovely to not be alone in my growing dissatisfaction and to have a space here to share the pain.

    And I'm glad you opened your heart to Parks and Rec, Mark! 'Fancy Party' was certainly a zany, delightful, and heartwarming episode.

  6. Great list! That top 11 includes 5 of my current favourite shows :o) And the others, well I can't say 'cause haven't seen them (gave up on Being Human at the beginning of s2).

    Question: did you purposefully choose just one episode per show for your episodes list? And funny to see shows there that aren't in your best shows list (and no episodes for some of your best shows)

  7. It seems that Dexter season 6 seems to have disappointed alot of people, personally I loved it.. I guess Dexter is startin to suffer from billie's 6th rule of television..

  8. Actually, it seems a lot of the complaints I read about Dexter these days are the opposite of Rule #6. People want the show to grow and change, but feel it has become stuck in the same old patterns. It is more a desire for change, than a resistance to it.

  9. Actually, it seems like nearly all of the complaints I heard about Dexter this season were that it wasn't like season one or season four. I think they *were* trying to grow and change by making the season less about a monstrous big bad, and more about Dexter's life experiences. And I got that. How can they possibly one-up the Ice Truck Killer or Trinity? What sort of love story could they do that would be drastically different from Rita or Lumen? (Well, yes, they did introduce something completely different, but they didn't pay it off. And maybe they won't.)

    A lot of people whose opinions I respect hated this season of Dexter, so I have to respect those opinions, and I agree that it could have been better. But I still enjoyed it, I still think the show has a lot to offer, and this season wasn't my least favorite.

  10. That's interesting, Billie. Clearly, there is a really wide diversity of reactions to Dexter in the critical community (probably true of most shows). We must haunt different corners of the web, when we aren't here. :)

    I don't have a horse in the race, since I don't watch Dexter, I just found it interesting that most of the negativity I hear about the show comes from folks who wish it would change more.

  11. Well, either they didn't succeed in changing the focus, or it wasn't what the fans wanted, or possibly both.

  12. I think Dexter dragged out the twist too long and then promptly forgot about Gellar and conflicted-Travis. It felt really strange. Also killing Brother Sam marked the decline in quality of the season for me.

    I agree on Miracle Day, agree on The Killing, agree on Dexter, agree on True Blood, i will problaby agree about Supernatural when I come around to watching season 7. Spot on Mark. :)

  13. Great to see some love for Spiral, I love that show! And not just because Pierre looks like Luka from ER...

  14. I just saw Sherlock series 2 episode 1, and I have to admit it was very, very good. Benedict Cumberbatch and Steven Moffat have outdone themselves.

    When is it airing in US?

  15. This is a good list, though I would definitely change the ordering around, but it's your list and I respect it. Dexter was the biggest disappointment of them all, and though I enjoyed True Blood a little more than you did, I can't really argue your point. I have high hopes for both shows next season though, since Deb finally caught Dex in the act, and most of the boring subplots on True Blood carried over from season 3 were finally resolved this season. Breaking Bad is a show you should definitely watch. That's my favorite show on right now.

  16. Josie...

    That sucks. But why don't you just watch it online?

  17. Jess, I'm happy to know something good came out of The Killing.

    CrazyCris, I did limit myself to one episode per show, otherwise half the list would've been made up of nothing but Doctor Who episodes.

    Roman, its my own fault for not stating it, but my top 11s aren't really in any order of quality, just a list of the 11 shows, and episodes, I enjoyed this year.

    On the subject of Dexter, I thought season six started out strong but, as Patryk said, after Brother Sam died it slowly started to go down hill before crossing the river into 'What the Frak!' territory.

  18. "Why don't you just watch it online?"

    It's not available legally, as far as I can tell, and I'm not a fan of illegal downloads. I like to support my favorite shows with a little bit o' money.


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