Friday 1 January 2016

Cult TV highlights of 2015

I watched a lot of cult television in 2015. In fact 383 episodes’ worth, dating from 1956 to 1976. So what were the particular highlights? It’s not easy to chose from so many episodes but here’s my attempt. They’re in chronological order - I couldn’t possibly attempt to put them in order of merit.

First up was the Killer in Town episode of M Squad from 1957, one of the great 50s crime series and Lee Marvin’s only television series. Despite incredible shooting schedules (they shot each episode in two days) the overall quality of this series was remarkably high. It also had some definite hints of film noir.

Next is A Chorus of Frogs from 1963, universally recognised as the best of the Venus Smith episodes of The Avengers and a very fine episode by any standard.

Colony Three was perhaps the most ambitious of the one-hour Danger Man episodes and was a kind of dry run for The Prisoner.

The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth was the episode that really put The Wild Wild West on its feet after a shaky start.

The Bishop Rides Again was the pilot for one of the most unjustly neglected British comedies of the 60s, All Gas and Gaiters.

The offbeat 1967 British detective series Mr Rose has been one of my most exciting discoveries of the year. Picking a standout episode is almost impossible but if pressed I’ll go for The Jolly Swagman or The Tin God.

All Done With Mirrors may well be the best of all the Tara King episodes of The Avengers but my particular favourite is Look - (stop me if you've heard this one) But There Were These Two Fellers...

This year I rediscovered The Persuaders, and great fun it is too. A Death in the Family, with Roger Moore playing multiple roles, is hard to beat.

Public Eye is an old favourite of mine and Who Wants to Be Told Bad News? sums up the quirkiness of this series extremely well.

I’ve always had a soft spot for The New Avengers. The later Canadian episodes have a poor reputation but Forward Base is actually superb, and it’s classic Avengers stuff - an outrageous plot, bizarre characters and more than a hint of the surreal. The slow-motion swan boat chase is a wonderful touch.

Another major discovery this year has been Paul Temple, a series I will definitely be posting about in the neat future. Cue Murder! is an especially fine episode.

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