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Juliette's Best of 2020

Well, ummmm... well. What do I say about 2020?

Let's skip all the obvious drama and focus on the impact of Everything That Was 2020 on screen media. Which is, basically, we all watched a lot of TV and didn't get out to the cinema much. New TV was often delayed, but old TV has been a lifesaver during hours, weeks and days at home, and thankfully there's plenty of that! Between the new and the old, 2020 for me ended up becoming the Year of Star Trek. As a lifelong Trekkie, I'm very much OK with that.

Films

2020 was going to be such a good year for films, and it started out so well. Little Women, Jojo Rabbit, 1917, The Personal History of David Copperfield, and Emma were all great and there were so many more films due for release that looked really good. But then, of course, all the cinemas had to close. I did see Tenet in the cinema, which was good but not amazing, and Bill and Ted Face the Music was a welcome distraction - but then cinemas in the UK closed down again. I refused to pay an extra £20 to Disney+ to watch Mulan and haven't got around to catching it since it moved off premium, and Wonder Woman 1984 hasn't been released for streaming over here yet. So all in all, there's not much more to say about 2020 in film - let's just hope 2021 gets back on track!

New Shows

I didn't watch many actual new new shows this year, though I did enjoy sci-fi comedy-drama Upload. The New Shows category for this year, though, belongs to Star Trek, as both Picard and Lower Decks premiered this year. And I loved them both! Seeing familiar faces in Picard was so, so lovely - the episode in which he vists Riker and Troi was like a big warm hug, plus I can finally cosplay one of my favourite characters - Seven of Nine - in an appropriate, non-catsuity way! Lower Decks is also great. The first episode is a bit madcap and it feels weirdly like canon satire sometimes, but by the end of its ten episodes its really found its groove as a light-hearted but sincere entry into the Star Trek universe.

I'm Still Enjoying...

Lots of good shows are still going, I'm glad to say - Brooklyn Nine Nine, Outlander, Star Trek: Discovery, Doctor Who, Inside No. 9, The Umbrella Academy and The Mandalorian, all had good years this year. The Mandalorian's finale was especially satisfying, even to a dyed in the wool Trekkie like me! I also enjoyed The Haunting of Bly Manor a lot - OK, it wasn't quite as brilliant as The Haunting of Hill House, but it was still a great, spooky series.

New to me is Amazon's The Boys, which is good fun, if a bit gross sometimes. The showrunner, creator etc. on The Boys is Eric Kripke, original creator and show-runner of Supernatural - Jim Beaver (aka Bobby Singer) has already made a couple of appearances and Jensen Ackles is due to join the cast next year for season 3, which I'm looking forward to. And which brings me rather neatly to...

Bowing Out

Supernatural has finally ended. After 15 years with the same two leads (and poor Jensen Ackles getting second billing all that time!) it's gone. At one point, it looked like the show truly couldn't die, as filming on its last couple of episodes was halted by the coronavirus pandemic. But they made it to the end by the autumn, though the absence of actors who couldn't be brought up for mere minutes of screen time amid all the virus control regulations was palpable. I didn't really like the final season's arc plot (it derailed one of my favourite characters, and wasn't to my personal taste anyway) but although the final episode was controversial, and extremely unpopular with a lot of fans, I did like the finale. For once in my life, I actually predicted what was going to happen fairly accurately, so I was feeling very pleased with myself!

Another former Supernatural showrunner, Sera Gamble, finished out a show this year as well. I only got into The Magicians late in the day, but already I miss it horribly. There are so few dramas out there that have a sense of humour, that can balance comedy and lightness with tragedy. Hopefully one of the legacies of 2020 will be the realisation that audiences - or me, anyway - don't want darkness and misery all the time in every show. Sometimes, some lightness mixed in with the drama is a good thing.

Lockdown Viewing

I've been working from home all year, but my husband has been furloughed for months at a time, and we've also had plenty of time to sit around at home in the evenings, unable to go anywhere. So of course, we've watched a lot of TV! I finally persuaded him to watch through Farscape and Rome, and thoroughly enjoyed re-visiting both myself. We also watched through Future Man, a sci-fi comedy series starring Josh Hutcherson, Eliza Coupe and Derek Wilson, which was a bit mad in places, but very good fun. When I did have some time alone, I watched my way through all of Black Mirror. I like the anthology format, and although it can be pretty depressing, that makes the occasional heart-warming episode all the more valuable.

At the moment, we're watching our way through Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which neither of us have watched all the way through before. I had always been put off by the idea that it was darker and grittier, as I like my Star Trek optimistic and idealistic (the latest season of Discovery is much more to my taste than the first was!). We were also both put off by the fact the station doesn't go anywhere. We're both really enjoying it, though, and having seven almost-fresh years of Star Trek to watch is pretty awesome! The only downside is spending the whole time waiting for plot developments we know are coming, but can't remember exactly which season they turn up in...

And Yet Somehow I Still Haven't Fitted In...

Despite all this extra time, somehow there are still shows I haven't managed to fit in a viewing of - partly because we've been busy watching four different series of Star Trek, partly because we're both home all the time so I don't get time to watch anything by myself! I really want to see The Queen's Gambit, which I've heard great things about. We've both been wondering if we could just leap in at season 4 of The Crown - I've seen the first few episodes, but I know the basic outline of events, so that would work OK, surely?!

Starship Captain of the Year


Nominees:

Captain Carol Freeman of the Cerritos
Captain Saru of the Discovery
Cristobel Rios of La Sirena

And the winner is...

Captain William T. Riker of the Titan, and the Zheng

William Thomas Riker has been in nearly every series of Star Trek (assuming you count his accidental transporter clone as him as well), with the Original Series and Discovery the only exceptions so far. And yet I never get tired of seeing him. It's always lovely to see his familiar face, often accompanied by Counsellor Troi - Star Trek's best and most enduring romance. And although he didn't do anything like as much as his fellow nominees in 2020, he did perfect the art of turning up at the climax to cheer everyone up.

TV Episodes of the Year

10. The Umbrella Academy: 743
9. Outlander: Famous Last Words
8. Supernatural: Carry On
7. The Magicians: The Mountain of Ghosts
6. Brooklyn Nine Nine: Trying
5. The Haunting of Bly Manor: The Altar of the Dead
4. Star Trek: Discovery: Terra Firma, Part 1
3. Star Trek: Lower Decks: No Small Parts
2. Star Trek: Picard: Nepenthe
1. The Mandalorian: Chapter 16: The Rescue

2020 was unpredictable, to say the least, so all I'm going to say about 2021 at this point is... Fingers crossed!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Juliette Harrisson is a writer, Classicist, Trekkie and ghost story enthusiast. Her monthly blog, Creepy Classics, re-tells ancient ghost stories accompanied by historical info on their origins.

3 comments:

CoramDeo said...

Ooh! Glad you liked Terra Firma I! Hopefully I’ll get around to reviewing it eventually.

Josie Kafka said...

This is the second time in a week (the first was a Bernadette Banner YouTube video) that the David Copperfield movie has popped onto my radar. I should probably watch it, because it sounds delightful.

Patrick said...

Glad you're enjoying Deep Space Nine, it's my favorite Trek series. Yeah, the station doesn't go anywhere, but keeping the story centered on a specific place gave them the ability to tell a much bigger story over the course of those seven years. They couldn't just show up, make a mess, try to clean it up, then fly off into the sunset. The things they did had long-term consequences. Plus, it let them create a much richer set of secondary characters, who had their own growth and story arcs over the course of the show.