Only Murders in the Building to Cooking With Paris: Unsung Heroes of TV of 2021 | Television


Resident Alien (Sky Max / Now)

“The sci-fi mystery doctor drama that the Earth needs now!” It was the American marketing blurb for Resident Alien, a brave attempt to turn the show’s bold mix of genre into a marketing angle. While a lot is certainly going on – an alien crashes into a small town in Colorado and tries to evade detection by hijacking the identity of a big town doctor – he never told me. took a few episodes to understand why I enjoyed it. so many. This tale of an outside reveler braving the rhythms of a city full of curious eccentrics is a spiritual descendant of the touchstone of the fish out of the water from the 1990s, with a snowy setting and a bar coveted local.

A winning combination of dark humor and slapstick doofus … Resident Alien. Photograph: NBC / James Dittinger / SYFY

But what makes it really special is Alan Tudyk’s performance as a literal, self-centered ET who begins to sympathize with humans while also plotting to annihilate us all. It’s a winning combination of black humor and slapstick doofus. Graeme Vertu

Breeders (Sky One)

By right, Breeders shouldn’t be a hidden gem: it stars Daisy Haggard and Martin Freeman, two of our best comedic actors, and was co-created by the latter alongside Chris Addison and Simon Blackwell, best known for The Thick Of It. In terms of audience figures, however, it qualifies. Part of that is because it airs on Sky One, a channel that gives its program makers creative freedom, but very few viewers to witness it. But it is also due to the very disconcerting nature of the show itself: it is a comedy about parenthood whose chaos is not cozy. After Ally and Paul’s domestic woes, Breeders unflinchingly lists how well-meaning mothers and fathers can let their children down: The first set involves plenty of trips to A&E, a visit to social services, and Ally mistakenly believes that Paul murdered their insomniac children. In the second season, which airs this year, the action revolves around Paul’s anger issues and the breakdown of his relationship with his son. None of these things make you laugh. Except that in this cathartic, disturbing and gratifyingly complex spectacle, they are in a way. Rachel Aroesti

The doghouse (channel 4)

Perhaps the most underrated mainstay of Channel 4’s prime-time programming, the second season of The Dog House inexplicably went under the radar in 2021. And yet, it was an unadulterated television joy that the matching process between future dog adopters and lovable doggies was like the first dates for pet owners. Think of surprisingly moving interviews with people yearning for the company of a dog – tempered by waving tails and often grateful humans crying. It was a joyful and uplifting spectacle, with redemption at its heart. Alexi Duggins

The Hermit of Treig (BBC Scotland)

Beautiful and redemptive ... The Hermit of Treig.
Beautiful and redemptive … The Hermit of Treig. Photograph: BBC Scotland

When Ken Smith was 26, he was brutally beaten at a party and spent 23 days unconscious. Doctors told him that he would no longer speak or walk. But he did. He actually walked and walked until he finally got to somewhere he felt comfortable. Today Smith is 74 and has lived alone in a self-built cabin in the Scottish Highlands for almost 40 years. In Lizzie McKenzie’s beautiful redemptive documentary, Smith contemplates the possible end of her way of life, and of her life herself – allusions to her mortality are on the rise, and the wisdom of staying in her cabin is questionable. And yet somehow this movie is never sad or regrettable – it’s just the story of a man who made a very unusual choice and seems entirely at peace with it. And seeing him, always amazed, always amazed by the dazzling nature that surrounds him, we understand why. Phil harrison

Cooking with Paris (Netflix)

One of the typically sane chef outfits that Paris Hilton modeled in Cooking with Paris.
Inexplicably enjoyable … Cooking with Paris. Photography: Kit Karzen / Netflix

The Reunion of Friends, the arrival of The OC on All 4, and a reboot of Sex and the City: The Pandemic has proven nostalgic 2000s TV to be hugely popular. And any millennial who grew up watching work-phobic heiress Paris Hilton try her perfectly manicured hand to graft onto The Simple Life knows no one embodies those simpler times better than she does. So when she returned with a summer “cooking” series, it served as therapy for those of us who were looking for a bit of familiar comfort while being trapped inside. It’s inexplicably pleasurable to watch this bizarre being – with his endless resources, state-of-the-art kitchen, and team of staff – struggle to shamelessly serve disgusting and disgusting looking creations such as Frosted Flakes and French toast. Unicorn-oli Cannoli to guests including Kim West and Demi Lovato. We also see a different, sweet side to Hilton – which actually reminds us that she’s a human being, not a caricature – as she talks about wanting to start a family. For the most part, however, Hilton is truly on another planet, and it was a pleasure to escape this plague to join her there for a few scintillating hours. Hollie richardson

Bad Words Story (Netflix)

You have to remember that January 5, 2021 was an incredibly dark day. We were one day away from our third national lockdown. Everything seemed heavy and apocalyptic. So what should Netflix be throwing up? Why, a series called History of Swear Words, where a series of comedians and historians have explored the use of the words fuck, shit, bitch, dick, pussy, and whore. Better yet, he was introduced by none other than Nicolas Cage, his hairline running up his forehead like a hood, apparently for the sole reason that there is nothing as entertaining on Earth as Nicolas Cage. screaming swear words at the top of his lungs. If History of Swear Words had been shown at any other time in human history, it would have been autofill. But January 5, 2021? My god, this was exactly what we needed. Stuart heritage

Hip hop: The songs that rocked America (BBC Four)

Very good value for money indeed… Hip Hop: the songs that rocked America.
Very good value for money indeed… Hip Hop: The Songs That Shook America. Photograph: Anna Kooris / AMC / BBC / AMC Film Holdings LLC

Hip Hop: The Songs That Shook America took one song per episode, eschewing tracks already widely recognized as classics, and dived deep into its provenance, cultural history and the lines it left in its wake. He watched Kanye West’s Jesus Walks and Kendrick Lamar’s Alright, but the two best episodes came later in the race: one that studied Outkast’s elevators, that took us back in time to see Big Boi and Andre. 3000 at the time of high school; and one on The Bridge by Marley Marl and MC Shan, which unfolded as an in-depth alternative history of American rap. He sometimes gave the story the shape it wanted to present, but most of the time you came out feeling like it was really great value for the money. It was chatty, informative, each story introduced quickly, and it was a refreshing change from the usual BBC Four folk / prog music docs. Rebecca nicholson

Only the murders in the building (Disney +)

“There was no more delightful homicide show this year” … Only the murders in the building. Photograph: Craig Blankenhorn / Hulu

What could be scarier than a friend announcing that they are starting a podcast? Only Murders in the Building took that very 2021 concept and turned it into the mysterious gold of murder. Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez starred as true criminal podcast freaks who start their own show after a neighbor died. The affair was quite intriguing, but it was the chemistry of the trio that captivated, making good use of their generation gap (see Steve Martin’s inability to write casual text) with Gomez, famous for his smiley days on Disney. Channel, playing their right to the face. Add in a few celebrity cameos – like Tina Fey and Sting’s compelling true crimes podcaster, playing an insufferable type of pop star – and there was no more delicious homicide show this year. Notably because of its frequent and playful ridicule of true tropes of crime, as well as an intelligently scripted episode whose minimal dialogue plunged movingly into the perspective of a deaf character. Things ended with a cliffhanger – what else? – for a second season. Henri wong


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