final space

Top 10 favourite TV shows of the decade

Continuing on from my favourite films of the decade, here’s my favourite (not necessarily best) TV shows! Alphabetically, of course, and illustrated with gifs.

Adventure Time

Honestly Adventure Time is a masterpiece. A surrealist masterpiece, an animation masterpiece, a masterpiece of children’s television… call it whatever you want but “masterpiece” needs to be in there somewhere. It was weird, touching, occasionally terrifying, and never lost sight of what it wanted to do…for nine years. I’m sad that it’s (mostly) over but so, so glad it happened.

Brooklyn 99

Come 2013 I was suddenly seeing this show everywhere. I knew the names of all the characters before I ever sat down to watch it, and most of the best jokes. That didn’t dent my enjoyment in the slightest. Brooklyn 99 is so, so good in just about every way. It’s funny, it’s smart, it has people in it who you just don’t see as main characters, like Captain Holt. The fact that Fox *spits* cancelled it and then it was almost immediately picked up by NBC just goes to show how much of a impact it had.

Call the Midwife

Call the Midwife has only been going since 2012 but it feels like it’s been so much longer. (That’s a good thing.) This is a pro-NHS, pro-feminism, pro-LGBT show that goes out prime-time on the BBC and I’m so grateful it exists. It never shies away from the rough parts of history, but instead pulls them out into the light to remind us of our responsibilities. It angers me no end that critics sometimes dismiss this show as frivolous nostalgia for the past, because there is nothing nostalgic about this show. It DESPERATELY wants you to know how horrible it was being a woman even within living memory. It’s a sucker punch to the gut with occasional upbeat ’50s music and some neat dresses.

Final Space

All the praise to Netflix, because if it hadn’t existed and advertised this show on its front page I would never have discovered it. And I love it. This is an adult cartoon done right, i.e. using animation to tell a story of vast scope instead of using it to tell fart jokes. (Though there are probably a couple of those, even if I don’t remember them.) It’s like… how can I even describe this show… the ambition of Star Wars meets the themes of Guardians of the Galaxy meets the zest of Futurama. AND it has a adorable squishy space pet/planet-destroyer! This show not having a much bigger fanbase is such a dang injustice.

Gravity Falls

I’d heard of Gravity Falls, and heard nothing but good things, but I didn’t actually see it until several years after it came out. And I’m SO CROSS because the show was set up as a big mad mystery to be solved, and it would have been great to be able to trade theories and decode the end messages along with everyone else. But as it stands… I got a fantastic experience anyway. I knew all the major twists, but I’d never really met the characters properly. So now I love them all, especially Soos. And I also love the show’s central theme, which is that growing up is hard as hell and you need a good support system.

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale has always been one of my favourite books and this adaptation was more than I could ever have dreamed of. It took characters I already knew and built them backstories and new futures. It cast unbelievably talented actors for even the smaller roles. And my god the visuals, the punch-you-in-the-face visuals. The red-and-white Handmaid uniforms are seen at political protests a lot now, and they should be. This show demonstrates how unforgivably close we always are to losing everything we hold dear.

His Dark Materials

I read all of the His Dark Materials series as a kid and I remember liking them, especially the third book. This TV adaptation brought all of that crashing back and then some. I have some qualms (it’s obvious that the budget couldn’t stretch to one visible daemon for every human, for example) but my gosh, what an absolutely beautiful job they’ve done with everything else. And the acting is wonderful, although Ruth Wilson is the standout the child actors are like… clearly the best in the business, holy hell. I can’t WAIT for the next couple of seasons.

The Last Man On Earth

The Last Man on Earth massively lit up my life… for the few years it was on. My god, Fox had no idea what they had on their hands. After the dodgy first season it suddenly turned into this amazing, beautiful, touching tale about life after the end of the world. Characters underwent development! They got married! They had kids! And then all of a sudden… end of show. Right after a cliffhanger ending, a major one. Sigh. I’ll always miss LMOE but I’m grateful I was around at the same time it was.

Superstore

I’d wanted to watch Superstore for ages but I only finally got to see it when it came on British TV. And even then I managed to catch only the season one finale before anything else. But it hooked me instantly and I quickly went back to the beginning to see what I missed and then forward again to season two. By the season two finale I had utterly fallen in love with it. It’s hilarious but it pulls no punches about how inhumanly terrible the American retail systems are – how inhumanly terrible a lot of systems are, in fact. Also, Mark McKinney’s “Muppet voice” for Glenn is possibly the best comedy voice that has ever been created, EVER.

Unbelievable

This show. Rarely have I seen anything so bleak and depressing and yet so triumphant at the end. Marie, who is very VERY closely based on a real person, goes through an amount of trauma and distress which would destroy most people (and very nearly destroys her) but she gets to walk away vindicated, thank god. The intervention of two female detectives saves not only her but a multitude of other women. It seems to me to be so rare that such a terrible story has a happy or just ending, so thank god this show arrived with its pointed message: when it comes to rape cases, we need to be better. So, so much better than we currently are. Please watch it.

Honourable mentions: The Good Place, Steven Universe, the Moffat and Chibnall eras of Doctor Who (not eligible because the show itself started last decade…), Broadchurch, Orange is the New Black, and probably a few more that I forgot, sorry.

A homemade Final Space poster!

As a Brit there’s not a lot of Final Space merchandise I can get hold of, alas. So I thought, why not have a shot at making my own poster? It’s far from perfect, but it highlights my favourite scene, and also I like how the green light is touching Gary and Quinn. (That was a complete accident.)

What I’ll do with it now, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just keep going back to it as I get better at graphic design.

EDITED a few minutes later to add: Ahhh! Olan Rogers saw it and he liked it!

The Lion’s Blaze, by Olan Rogers of Final Space, gets picked up by TV — Geek Native

The character death is the result of the GM stepping in and objecting to something a different character had done.

The Lion’s Blaze, by Olan Rogers of Final Space, gets picked up by TV — Geek Native

I’m so pleased for Olan Rogers! He’s so talented and seems like such a nice guy. Also I have had approximately two whole interactions with him, wheee!

I will be watching this, although god knows it’ll probably be even harder to get hold of over here than Final Space is. But look at the character designs! I am so glad there’s at least one person working in adult animation who doesn’t purposefully make their character designs obnoxiously ugly.

A tiny tribute to the Final Space creators and fans

Apparently season three is all but a done deal now, thank god! And I was delighted to encounter this notification on my Twitter yesterday:

It’s really rare for me to be in a fandom where the creator can pop up at anytime and thank you, and I love it.

Final Space fandom on reddit is terrible, because it’s reddit, but on Twitter things are more sedate and much nicer. I also get to see lots of gorgeous fanart:

(I meant to stop at around three, but there were so many good ones.)

I wish I could contribute more to this fandom, as all I’ve done so far are a handful of silly memes and a polymer clay Mooncake. I can’t draw, you see, and although I can write my fanfiction brain has just been turned off for months. Still, perhaps I can just soak everyone else’s great work in until I get some inspiration. (Maybe one day I’ll make something as good as Final Space, but I doubt it.)

Final Space 2×13

We’re here!

Overall, that was a good finale. My main qualm with it is the qualm I have with the overall season: I don’t like that Avacato’s back from the dead. Yes it’s plausible and yes it took sacrifices on the part of the characters but Avacato’s death was massive for the show. It turned the whole thing around. Suddenly no-one was safe anymore. To bring him back, and have him be pretty much apparently fine now, it negates all that and that makes me sad. I really loved the episodes where Little Cato deals with his grief and now they’ve lost a bit of their impact. Not all, but enough.

I do have an episode-specific qualm and that’s how fast and implausible Sheryl’s heel-face-turn was. A glance at an alternate past, put before you by people you don’t even know, that shouldn’t reaaaaally be enough. And I loved Sheryl as a total asshole. You don’t really get many female Total Assholes, especially not ones who are also mothers, so I adored her character for that reason alone and now… hmm. I suppose there’s the possibility that her semi-redemption might not last too long, but also: I hope Gary doesn’t completely forgive her. It would be in-character for him to do so, of course, but she doesn’t deserve it. She deserves nothing. Man I love her.

I didn’t see Nightfall’s death coming but it made sense, partly because it doesn’t really seem like a death. Her alternate self still exists and has finally been rescued. (Was anyone else expecting everything to go horribly wrong at that moment?) But wow, it was gorgeously animated:

The fact that she was calm and serene about it (plus, well, requested it) made it less tragic but spare a thought for poor Mooncake. He had to kill one of his friends! Strange to think those two even wound up friends.

I loved, LOVED that Nightfall’s (technical) last words were (sort of) to Ash – “You’re gonna be awesome”, ow my heart. I know, that was really more of a flashback, but I like to think it was still Nightfall saying it, in that moment, somehow.

That’s the other qualm I can think of with this series, considering how pivotal the Ash/Nightfall relationship turned out to be, why didn’t we see more of it?! I’m 100% willing to bet that’s not Olan’s fault, but oh god I wish we had. Ash holding Nightfall’s helmet at the end was really touching.

Hmm, that’s three qualms overall. Everything else was wonderful. This whole season has been wonderful, even if it hasn’t quite reached the heights of season one. Hopefully I’ll see you shortly for the rest of the story!

Final Space 2×12

Hooray, another excellent episode! Tribore was tolerable so it’s a win from me! There were moments between Gary and Nightfall and Ash and Fox. However the standout was…

Nightfall/Gary vs Sheryl! Lightsaber fight, essentially! And here’s where I simultaniously admire Gary and think he’s making a big mistake. Sheryl is a flat-out monster. Maybe she loves John in some strange twisted way but after all the shit she’s done she did not deserve to be rescued. I love Gary for being unable to kill her, the same way I love Luke Skywalker for being unable to kill Darth Vader, but I feel his compassion is gonna rebound on him in the worst way. Or maybe not! Let’s see.

A few questions and more stray thoughts:

  • Have we really seen the last of Todd? Based on some bits and pieces I’ve read from Olan I don’t think so but who knows.
  • I guessed at one point that Sheryl was an alcoholic. I was right! Poor Gary.
  • WHERE IS AVOCATO? I’m absolutely sure that soon we will see him die again.
  • The shot of Nightfall landing on the planet as her spacesuit flickers out is one of the coolest shots Final Space has ever done. Why’d ya have to ruin it, Gary?
  • I love Gary stealing the key from Sheryl last second. Dude was a thief after all.
  • What exactly does Sheryl think will happen when she gets John back? “Hi, honey, I heard you mistreated and abused our son for years after I died, plus a lot of murder. Fuck you.”
  • God I hope that happens. I love to hate Sheryl so much.

Final Space 2×11

Ah okay, so this is a Clarence episode. Dammit… wait, it’s about how much Clarence sucks and is awful. Okay, I’m back in!

This episode confirmed a couple of theories that everyone was pretty certain of already (honestly, Sheryl’s motivation has been kind of a given for ages now) but it also threw in some lovely bits of character detail and development which I appreciated. I love that Ash when told to lavish praise on someone went straight to Nightfall, I love that Gary always tries to minimise collateral damange, I love that Fox’s first instinct was to protect the rest of his family by shooting Clarence (even though he couldn’t do it in the end) and I love KVN’s final sacrifice.

KVN is the opposite of Clarence in a way. Both of them started off as annoying obstacles to Gary and things he outright hates, but while Clarence got worse and worse KVN became more and more part of the family, eventually giving up pretty much his mind so that Fox could live. Poor KVN. I hope Gary comes to appreciate you more, you little yellow ball of weird.

No such luck for Clarence. He’s left crying as everyone he’s ever cared about walks away. And I don’t feel sorry for him one bit! Like Gary says, too little too late. Oh, I’m sure he’ll be back for the finale and maybe he’ll attempt to redeem himself then. But I kind of prefer him as a cautionary tale.

He was however right about him and Sheryl being similar. Neither of them gave anywhere near enough of a damn about their children and both are lying, cheating assholes, no matter what seemingly noble path Sheryl is currently heading down. I wonder if she’ll meet an even worse fate than Clarence, because she thoroughly deserves it too.