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Juliette's Best of 2021

Another Plague Year draws to a close. Another year featuring severely disrupted cinema viewing but probably quite a lot of TV. Another weird year. But if they're all weird now, I guess that makes weird normal. However, I absolutely refuse to use the phrase "the new normal" because it's awful.

Also, I spent 8 months of 2021 on maternity leave. While you would think this would mean I watched loads and loads of TV, I haven't really – or if I did, I didn't pay a massive amount of attention to it!

All in all, my TV viewing in 2021 was almost entirely made up of three of my favourite things: Star Trek, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Formula 1.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe


I've had an awesome time in 2021, but one thing I'm sad about is that for the first time in 20 years or more, I haven't been to the cinema at all this year. I had been hoping to get to a parent and child screening at some point, but thanks to Covid those have been few and far between, and by the time anything at all was available, I was back at work and couldn't get to them. I would love to squeeze one in next year, before the baby gets too old for them.

Luckily I have Disney+, (one of the most cost-effective streaming services for us and our tastes, since it gets us Disney, Star Wars and the MCU, all things we love) so I've still been able to enjoy lots of the MCU. I fully support Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit against Disney for suddenly changing their distribution model for Black Widow, but I did also take advantage of being able to get it at home on Disney+ and very much enjoyed it. I've had to wait longer for the other films, so I've also enjoyed Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, but am absolutely desperate to see Spider-Man: No Way Home, which of course isn't available yet. (I'll watch The Eternals as well of course, but I'm less excited about that one if I'm honest).

At least we've able to keep up with the TV shows as they've come out, though we're an episode or two behind on Hawkeye (we'll catch up over the holiday!). I'm so glad Chadwick Boseman was able to record his parts in What If...? before he passed away, though the absence of one episode for production related reasons was rather jarring. I enjoyed The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and very much enjoyed Wandavision, but my favourite was probably Loki, because Tom Hiddleston. I also like multiverse stories a lot, so I'm feeling very positive about the current direction of the MCU as a whole!

Star Trek


The availability of the various Star Trek series in the UK has changed in the last couple of months, which is very frustrating. It looks like we might have to shell out for yet another streaming service, and I think we may have to drop one or two in exchange (I honestly believe the current model of television streaming isn't sustainable, but that's a rant for another time...). This means I'm currently behind on Season 4 of Discovery and on the new series Prodigy, but what I've managed to see of both looks good.

Luckily for most of this year, we had good access. I finally binge-watched all of Deep Space Nine and all of Enterprise at the beginning of the year, meaning I have seen almost every episode of Star Trek ever produced (barring one or two Original Series ones I haven't got around to, and the new ones that aren't available yet). I also finally persuaded my husband to do a Voyager re-watch with me. After that we moved on to Doctor Who, but then we both went back to work and we still haven't quite finished!

Voyager is still my all-time favourite Star Trek series, but I did enjoy both Deep Space Nine and Enterprise a lot. Lower Decks is my favourite of the newer series, but again, the others are great too. I'm super excited about Strange New Worlds coming out next year because it sounds like it will capture some of the spirit of 1960s Trek and 1990s Trek, which are my favourites, because I'm old and stuck in my ways. Discovery is my least favourite Star Trek series, but that's like saying salted caramel chocolate is my least favourite chocolate – it's still delicious and I'll still eat it all!

Formula One


We don't cover sport here at Doux Reviews so I'll try to keep this brief. But I do want to bring it up because this has been really important to me this year.

After a few years of struggling to keep up with my favourite sport because I was busy and my husband wasn't into it, a few things changed this year. My husband watched the Netflix documentary Formula 1: Drive to Survive with me, which follows various Formula 1 teams throughout the year, and actually got interested. He was then furloughed for ages, and then got a new job working for a company that has an F1 team, so over the course of the year, we started watching all the races together, and it has honestly meant so much to me. Neither of us are much into sport, but I do love this one, and I love being able to share a fandom I share with my parents and my brother with my husband as well - even if he insists on supporting Max Verstappen and not, as the rest of us do, Lewis Hamilton!

It was good timing as well because my goodness this season was spectacular! I won't go into details since we focus on TV rather than sport here at Doux Reviews, but suffice to say, it was a spectacular rollercoaster and Lewis was robbed - robbed I tell you! (It was super exciting to watch that last lap though. The dog and the baby couldn't work out what I was getting so worked up about!)

So, a recommendation - if you have a vague interest in racing but haven't really got into F1, watch Drive to Survive. Its editing can be controversial sometimes but it'll give you a really good introduction to the sport and it's a great watch. And the 2020 season featured a spectacular fireball that everyone got out of OK, so it's very dramatic.

Other stuff


As mentioned, we did a nearly-complete Doctor Who re-watch and we watched Flux as well. It was meh. I'll miss Jodie Whittaker and I'm honestly astonished that Russell T Davies is coming back, but I am looking forward to a bit of a fresh start for Who in 2023.

During the early days of constantly breastfeeding the baby, I caught up on a couple of seasons of the French crime drama Spiral, partly to take advantage while the baby was too young to be upset by it. It was good as ever, but I still need to catch up on the latest season, and I think it may be a while before I get back to it! We also binged the first two seasons of A Discovery of Witches, the first right before the baby was born and the second right after, and I read the first book later in the year – as an historian and a fan of cheesy vampire romances, this was right up my street! Gorgeous location filming in that series as well, it made me almost miss living in Oxford.

We're currently binge-watching the sitcom Last Man Standing on Disney+. It's very, very American (my husband is American – I am not!). I find it really likeable though, even though I spend every episode expressing my disagreement with its politics, and the Galaxy Quest shout-out in season two was adorable and made me squee.

I have once again been spoiled on the results of The Great British Bake-Off and and Masterchef: The Professionals before managing to finish them, but they're still useful to put on while cooking.

You can get a pram onto a sandy beach, just about!

Oh, and most the time I spend in front of the telly is now spent watching CBeebies (the biggest UK pre-school channel, for those unfamiliar). I love Go-Jetters and Octonauts is pretty good, and Hey Duggee did an episode on philosophy that was really impressive for a five minute pre-schoolers' show. Bluey has an awesome theme tune and once called a French character 'Jean-Luc', of which I approve (it's also available on Disney+). Bing! is OK as long it's the Mark Rylance episodes. I don't like Tish Tash and Tee and Mo gives me All The Mum Guilt for being a working mum. The baby's favourite is In The Night Garden, despite the many, many questions it raises for grown-ups (where are they? why is it daylight? why do the Tombliboos' trousers keep falling down? why is Upsy-Daisy kissing everyone? how does her bed move around by itself? why is there no ramp for Makka-Pakka's Ogg-Pogg on the Ninky-Nonk? why does everything keep changing size? and so on).

Believe it or not, if you've ever watched CBeebies, some of that will actually make sense!

Awards


Best Dancer

Nominees: Bluey and family in every title sequence; Diana and Matthew in A Discovery of Witches, Season 2, Episode 6

Winner: Zemo in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Power Broker

Best Babysitter

Nominees: Geraldine in Wandavision, Now In Color; Duggee in every episode of Hey Duggee

Winner: Boimler in Star Trek: Lower Decks, I, Excretus

Best Alternate Universe Version of a Character

Nominees: Star-Lord T'Challa in What If...?, What If...T'Challa Became a Star-Lord?; Escape Artist Darcy in Wandavision, Breaking the Fourth Wall

Winner: Alligator Loki in Loki, Journey into Mystery

Most Dramatic Editing of Real Events

Nominees: The Great British Bake-off for any time a cake collapses; Masterchef: The Professionals for the last 30 seconds of any challenge

Winner: Formula 1: Drive to Survive, Man on Fire, for dragging out the real-life fireball even longer than it actually was (again I repeat: everyone was OK!).

TV Episodes of the Year


10. Doctor Who, Flux: Village of the Angels
9. A Discovery of Witches, Season 2, Episode 6
8. Hey Duggee, The Telling Time Badge
7. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Power Broker
6. Hawkeye, Never Meet Your Heroes
5. What If...?, What If... Thor were an Only Child?
4. Wandavision, All-New Halloween Spooktacular!
3. Loki, Lamentis
2. Star Trek: Lower Decks, I, Excretus
1. Formula 1: Drive to Survive, Man on Fire

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.

4 comments:

  1. I watched The Discovery of Witches at my niece's insistence. I enjoyed it a great deal. I told everyone it was because the story was good (which it was), but really it was because I got to stare at Matthew Goode.

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  2. Ooh, I’d almost forgotten about I, Excretus! What a great episode!

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  3. Juliette, congratulations on finally finishing DS9 and Enterprise! I've also seen everything Star Trek except for the animation. I loved what you said about salted caramel chocolate and I feel exactly the same way -- even if Discovery isn't my favorite, I'm one of those Trekkies that is very happy with all of the new Trek.

    While I agree with ChrisB that staring at Matthew Goode is always a good thing, I couldn't get into Discovery of Witches. I don't know why it didn't pull me in since it had Goode and cool, cheesy vampires, but I got to the end of the first season and didn't want to try the second. Everyone's mileage varies, I guess. Maybe something turned me off.

    I'm not a sports enthusiast at all, but I promise to try Formula 1. :)

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  4. This is such a great selection of stuff, Juliette!

    I also tried Discovery of Witches, both the book and the show, but even Matthew Goode and actual Langue d'Oc being spoken couldn't keep me attached. Maybe I should try again. I feel like the Plague Years have altered my taste.

    (That sounds like a Covid joke, but it wasn't meant to be.)

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