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So what was good this year, folks?

December means reviews of the year, so as ever – what was good and bad this year in movies, music and the ever so glamorous world of technology? Did anyone else find Gears of War 2 strangely boring? Am I the only person who likes the new Lily Allen single? Did The Dark Knight have eleventy-two unnecessary endings? Is InstaPaper the best iPhone application? Is The Wire really the best TV programme ever made? That sort of thing.

What were your highlights?

17 replies on “So what was good this year, folks?”

Cipher by Slim Cessna’s Auto Club
Hey Boy, You’re Oh So Sensitive by The Just Joans
Can’t work out if I’ve just not bought any (new) music this year or it’s been a poor year. I know that I’d not recommend either of Julian Cope‘s two releases to anyone without a huge proviso and ensuring they were fond of the further recesses of his output (and they’re the best stuff he’s done in a while). And, The Supersuckers album was a bit meh.

No Country For Old Men

I watched what was available of The Shield enjoying but wondering what all the fuss was about, until I realised my mistake. Watched all five seasons of The Wire about as close to back-to-back as you can and still function as a human being. Great stuff (but, then Homicide was always head and shoulders above NYPD Blue). Watching the last season of Vic Mackie et al afterwards was kinda like shoving on a cartoon.

Other telly highlights have been the 21st century A-Team ‘for adults’ that is Burn Notice. Great fun (and it features Bruce Campbell, Cagney and some girl from Press Gang). And, Adam Carter buying the farm. Yes!

30 Rock. Frankly, one of the greatest comedies of all time. Watched the whole box set in very few sittings and hysterics.

And The Big Bang Theory. Can’t understand why more people aren’t raving about it. Some genius figured out that if all your protagonists are science geeks you can make them say funny things in every single sentence.

Ratatouille. Obviously, with computer animation, you expect it to keep getting better, but this was just taking the piss. Yes, it was funny and well cast and engaging and all of that (Brad Bird has become one of the great writer-directors, as far as I’m concerned), but it was also by far the greatest animation ever, technically utterly wiping the floor with anything even Pixar themselves have previously managed. And they knew it: they even put in a Pinocchio pastiche to make it clear just how pleased they were with themselves.

Peppa Pig. Great animation in a different way. Keeps Daisy entertained for hours without boring us. I’ve seen every episode like a hundred times now, but they’re still fun. And they’re all drawn in the style of the Ancient Egyptians, bizarrely. Daddy Pig is my hero. Really.

Iron Man. Loved it.

Knocked Up. Was expecting something far less sophisticated and touching than it actually was.

Ashes To Ashes. Even better than Life On Mars, and Life On Mars were good.

The Wimbledon final. “Greatest Final Of All Time” is pushing it, but it was very very good.

Don’t buy much music any more. Seventh Tree by Goldfrapp is my favourite of the year, followed by The Seldom Seen Kid. Laki Mera’s album is also quite wonderful, though I’ve forgotten what it’s called. Portishead’s comeback was amazingly amysmal. Really, I can’t believe it managed to fight its way through any sort of A&R quality control. What were they thinking? Well, I know what Geoff unfortunately wasn’t thinking: “Must learn to play drums.”

My new car: a 1994 Mercedes C180 Automatic. My mother-in-law says it has “elements of faded grandeur”.

Corsica Ferries. For anyone used to the Irish Sea or English Channel ferries, it’s like booking into an Ibis and finding yourself unexpectedly in the Hilton. Wow.

The Channel Tunnel. Went on it for the first time this year. So difficult to sum up in words how cool it is. I mean, we knew in advance what it was: we were going to drive the car onto a train, and the train would then go through a tunnel. But, when you actually do it, it’s like Wow! We Are Driving The Car Onto A Train! And The Train Is Moving! With Our Car In It! Wow!

Course, anything American could well be from 2007. Especially since I never go to the cinema anymore, so all film-watching is via DVD. But it’s stuff I discovered in 2008.

‘Battlestar Galactica’ continued to be fantastic, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ came good after a slightly weak first episode, ‘Lost’ picked up the ball after dropping it so spectacularly, and ‘Ugly Betty’ continued to charm.

‘The Sinking of the Titanic’ by Gavin Bryars, Philip Jeck and Alter Ego, was definitely the album of the year for me.

And, obviously, my book was the best thing on paper ;)

Oo, nearly forgot. Well, did forget. The Naked Jape by Jimmy Carr. A very surprisingly good book.

The Paul Weller and Adele BBC6 session is closing out 2008 in style (it’s on the red button on the telly.)

Ah, yes, Ashes to Ashes, the show that made me sit up and say: my god, I’m falling for Gene Hunt.

@mcgazz:
> Best song: “Put A Donk On It”.

I’m scared to seek that one out in case I like it :)

@tonyK:
> Watched all five seasons of The Wire about as close to back-to-back as you can and still function as a human being. Great stuff (but, then Homicide was always head and shoulders above NYPD Blue).

I’ll agree with you on the wire, but slagging off NYPD round these parts is fighting talk, heh. I’ve been reading more Joseph Wambaugh… some of it’s pretty trite, but it’s still great. And “The Wire” Simon’s book Homicide is ace. About 1 million pages, but ace.

@squander two:
> Daddy Pig is my hero. Really.

I totally get that, it’s a great wee programme. I’m still endlessly amused by Night Garden too – thanks for the tip on that one. And despite all my efforts, I enjoyed the Jimmy Carr book. I hate it when you’re right.

@Alex:
> ‘Ashes to Ashes’ came good after a slightly weak first episode

I haven’t seen any of that, or of Life On Mars. Worth seeking out?

@Heather:
> The Paul Weller and Adele

I can’t listen to Weller, I just can’t. It’s entirely prejudice – I loved the Jam, liked the style council a lot less, hated the stuff he did when Oasis were ascendant and developed a massive hatred of him through reading interviews – but I can’t get over it. Not too sure about Adele, either, she strikes me as a great voice in desperate need of some songs.

Then again, I like Alphabeat and the Saturdays :)

808s & Heartbreak by Kanye West is Fantastic.

No, seriously. Best electronic album I’ve heard in years.

> I haven’t seen any of that, or of Life On Mars. Worth seeking out?

Definately. When I heard the premise, it made me think the whole thing would be quite silly and possibly even cheesy. But it’s superbly done. The time-travel stuff is actually more frightening than fun.

I just remembered another highlight. Back in February, so I’d forgotten it was this year. The Vast gig at Tut’s. Cost me a fortune ’cause I had to get over to Scotland to see it, but is was so worth it. First time he’d made it back to Britain for eleven years, which was a bloody long wait. Was it as good as eleven years ago? Not quite. But still pretty damn good; thoroughly worth the journey. The only gig I have ever been to where half the audience have spontaneously started to sing the backing vocals from off the record. Particularly impressive, because those backing vocals are a Bulgarian choral sample.

It was funny seeing the crowd, actually. Eleven years ago, Donna, Alun, & I were part of the tiny handful of people not wearing spiked collars and buckets of eyeliner. This year, you could have been forgiven for mistaking the crowd for a group of geeks at a software convention. And I bet it was all the same people.

Still the best rock band in the world.

OK, one more. Got a bar of Niederegger marzipan for Christmas, which, as eny fule no, is the best marchpane there is. And this one is a brand new flavour they’ve released this year: ginger. It is absolutely fucking marvellous.

I’m at work till midnight. Happy New Year!

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