On 2018

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The annual tradition! Fourth time I’ve done one of these year-in-review pieces now, and I don’t think I’d ever have really imagined writing this 2018 piece back in 2015. (Not because I didn’t know the order of the years, but, well, you know.) So it’s neat to think I’ve made a least a little nominal progress.

Right, so, 2018. What did I get up to?

Let’s lead, as I did last go around, with my favourite interviews of the year – I actually did these in January, or thereabouts, so they’re as good a choice as any to start a reflection on 2018.

Even if it weren’t for their particular significance, I’d be very pleased with these interviews – certainly, I think among my work they’re in the top tier, with a genuine level of substantive engagement in the questions, a nice level of introspection about the programme, so on and so forth. These interviews in particular, though, are made all the more notable by the fact that they were the first – and actually still only – interviews I’ve ever done in person! That was slightly terrifying, actually, but a lot of fun in the end, and I’m extremely glad that first in-person interview experience was with a group of people who were so attentive and so committed to talking about their work.

In terms of broader writing, there are maybe fewer pieces I’d highlight than I previously would’ve – not because I didn’t write lots of things I’m terribly proud of (I’m proud of them all in their way, even the rubbish ones), but just because I’m trying to be a little bit more exacting in these things. Higher standards, year on year. Hopefully, I’ll still be able to meet them.

My best three of the year, in any case, I think were all pieces for Yahoo (though I think that’s historically always been the case):

They’re not articles about my favourite shows of the year (though A Very English Scandal did make the list) – no, I just think these are the best pieces of work I’ve actually done, in some cases in terms of the actual literal prose, and in others in terms of actually having a good point to argue. (At some stage during the year, I read some writing advice to the effect of “it’s not enough to have an opinion, you have to have a point” – I don’t know how often I was falling foul of that beforehand, but since reading it it’s something I’m a little more aware of.)

Particularly, I suppose, that’s the case with the A Very English Scandal and Genius: Picasso pieces, where I think I’ve got articulated an interpretation of each that no one else did (or at least an interpretation I didn’t see anyone else offer). A few other articles could make the cut – off the top of my head, some others I was very pleased with include this on The Good Fight, this on House and The Good Doctor.

I’m glad, in any case, to have written some articles for Yahoo that I’m genuinely really pleased with, and I think should stand the test of time; my regular contributions there have come to an end, after three great years, and I’m glad to have gone out on something of a high. Well, I say that; in a move I find hilarious in hindsight, I wrote a deeply self-indulgent and mostly awful article about endings, a thinly veiled reference to my own departure. About three weeks later, I returned with the above article about Killing Eve, so it clearly wasn’t that definitive an ending! Still, though, given this is probably going to be the last time in a while I get a chance to talk about Yahoo, I do just want to mention quite how much I benefitted from that position; all this writing stuff has grown into something I never really believed it would, or indeed conceived that it could, and that’s entirely down to Yahoo.

In terms of my own blog, I’ve tried to put a bit more focus on getting some articles on there that I liked. It’s still a work in progress; it’s important to me to try and have ‘exclusive’ content on here, for lack of a better term, so that’s something I’m gonna try and make work again across 2019. (I feel like I’ve said this every year now.) Still, though, there were a couple of good pieces I put onto this blog across 2018 – the most obvious, I think, is when I attempted to engage with Sacha Baron Cohen’s Who is America? and ultimately found it lacking.

Of course, it’d be remiss of me not to link back to Five Years On, the other big reflective piece I did this year. Because 2018 wasn’t just any year, but the fifth year I’ve been doing this nonsense in a row. Still strange to think about that. Not sure I have a lot more to add since the actual anniversary itself; the same thanks still apply – all of them, even to you – and I think they always will. I’m glad I got to five years, anyway. I really hope I make it to ten, in some shape or form.

So, 2018. Let’s try and draw this to a close and properly square it all away. It was… an odd year, broken up into two halves (well, two thirds and another third, I guess) in more ways than one. Again, I’m coming up against my own reluctance to talk much about my actual real life here; most of what defined the year went on around and outside the blog, as you’d expect, but I think spilled into it in a lot of key ways. Ways that’d be obvious from the outside, but not so much the inside. For what it’s worth, though, I think for all the associated nonsense that’s come of certain big choices, I’d probably still make them again.

(Certain big choices, but not all of them. I wouldn’t do that again, good grief.)

Right. That’s about that then. I used to like to set myself some targets for the next year, but I think I’ll opt against that this year.

Better to work it out as I go along.

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My Top 10 TV Shows of 2018

I was trying to work out, before I wrote this post, how many television shows I’d actually watched all year. I am not completely sure the final tally was correct – my memory is awful, and it’s been a long year with a lot of television – but I think it came out to around 60 or so. (That’s mostly new shows, or new content at least, I didn’t include the programmes I rewatched. No idea how many it’d be then.)

Hoping to watch about 75 new programmes across 2019. That feels broadly achievable, I think – even if it’s still only going to be a fraction of the amount of actual television that’s put out. There’s so much of it! It’s like I’m drowning. In a good way, though. Or at least as good a way as drowning could feel, I suppose.

Anyway. Before we get into the 2018 list, here’s a quick recap of my 2017 list, since I never wrote a blog post about it in the end:

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale
  2. The West Wing
  3. American Gods
  4. The Good Fight
  5. Doctor Who
  6. Legion
  7. The End of the F***ing World
  8. Babylon Berlin
  9. Yes, Minister / Yes, Prime Minister
  10. Motherland

The eagle-eyed among you will notice a couple of shows that didn’t premiere in 2017, but that’s when I first watched them, so it counts. (The inverse applies to The End of the F***ing World and Babylon Berlin, both of which had their debut in the UK in 2017 rather than 2018 – hence being on that list rather than this one.)

Looking back, I still feel basically alright with all of these choices. Legion surprised me a little bit, actually, but I suppose I did enjoy it quite a bit at the time, especially while I was still watching a lot more superhero television. And, actually, I’m a little uncomfortable with the inclusion of Motherland, much as I did love it, because of Graham Linehan’s involvement with it.

Anyway. Here, then, is the list of my favourite television shows of 2018.

10). Derry Girls

At the time, I was going to write an article about authenticity, and about how Derry Girls has such a strong voice, and that’s why it was quite as funny as it was. I never did get around to that piece in the end (as long-term fans who can recite everything I’ve ever written surely know) but now… well, it’s true, obviously. But I wonder if perhaps that doesn’t overemphasis certain aspects of the show, over-simplifying its strengths and making it seem as though the jokes are only good because of the accent they’re delivered in.

No, Derry Girls was – and is – so good because of the strength of its ensemble, the precision of its structure, and often quite how willing it is to push a joke and keep going. Granted, you could probably argue that it’s first and last episodes were the most impressive and memorable, with the stretch in the middle never quite hitting those heights – but then, that last episode is home to one of the best TV moments of the year, after all.

(The accents do help, though.)

9). Save Me

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It’s not a show I necessarily expected to put in my top ten at the end of the year, actually, but when I came to compose this list, it was difficult not to include Save Me, I quickly realised. It’s the only straightforward crime drama on the list, and the only missing child programme, in a year when I watched (and wrote about) quite a few of them – just off the top of my head, Innocent, Kiri and Safe all spring to mind. Each of those shows had their strengths, but none of them were particularly special – I gradually lost interest in that sort of crime drama across the year, really.

Save Me stands apart because it managed to do what I didn’t think was entirely possible – it took that basic standard of the crime drama, the missing child premise, and executed it with such confidence and such skill that it made the whole thing feel new again. There was no deconstruction of the genre, no attempt to juxtapose it with something different, just a ruthlessly well-constructed drama, set apart only by its building intensity. I’m looking forward to the next series – I’ve got my doubts, admittedly, about Save Me’s potential as a long runner, but I was so impressed by Lennie James in this that I’ll be paying attention to whatever he does next.

Here’s what I wrote about Save Me at the time.

8). Flowers

flowers will sharpe olivia colman sofia di martino julian barratt daniel rigby channel 4 seeso mental health depression best tv 2018 top 10

I watched each of Flowers‘ two seasons this year, across the course of about a week. It’s difficult to capture exactly what’s so good about Flowers, I think – it’s a show that very much has to be seen to be understood, in a way I think quite unlike everything else on this list. “Olivia Colman is brilliant, Julian Barratt is brilliant, and Will Sharpe is brilliant” is true, of course, but not in a way that necessarily tells you a lot. “This is a brilliant crime drama” conveys a certain understanding of what a piece of television is and what it’s good at – it’s difficult to even explain what Flowers is exactly without being deeply reductive.

But it is brilliant, in its own idiosyncratic and distinctive way. Of the two seasons, I think the second was my favourite – after however many years of watching more and more television, and trying to watch and engage critically, I’ve become more and more attracted to the stuff that’s unlike anything else on television. Flowers series 2 is definitely that, a more confident elaboration on its predecessor, and an obvious choice for one of the best TV shows of the year.

Here’s what I wrote about Flowers at the time.

7). Superstore

superstore nbc america ferrara colton dunn ben feldman nichole bloom justin spitzer best tv 2018 top ten the office community season 4 5 cancelled renewed march return

I started watching Superstore years back, actually, when it first aired – NBC put the first three episodes on YouTube for three, which I thought was a really clever way to draw eyes to the show, but then there was no way to watch it here in the UK. It’s finally turned up on ITV 2, though, and I absolutely loved those first three episodes, so obviously I made sure to sit and watch it each day it was on.

There is a lot to be said about Superstore, I suspect, and how and why it’s so good – like America Ferrara and the jokes (its second series had a better Brexit gag than any British show across the past two years can lay claim to) and the chemistry between the cast and the tone it strikes each week and the way it takes corporate America to task in a way, I suspect, rather unlike a lot of other workplace comedies.

For me, though, what’s probably the defining memory I have of watching Superstore is coming home in an absolutely foul mood and all of that just falling away, because Superstore is just so good and so wholesome and so wonderful.

6). The Good Fight

the good fight christine baranski audra macdonald rose leslie cbs

Perhaps most notable, in this context at least, as the only show from the 2017 Top Ten to survive into the new year – indeed, and I hope I’m not jinxing it by saying it, I’d be very surprised if The Good Fight didn’t also make it onto the 2019 Top Ten. But I’m getting ahead of myself there.

The Good Fight is, in a joke I’ve tried to avoid making before, really, really good. There’s an elegance and a confidence to it, and it’s so much fun to watch. Christine Baranski is inimitable, Sarah Steele is a treasure, and Rose Leslie is so good I feel bad every time I remember she’s a Tory. (Zing!) I’m hoping 2019 is the year I finally get around to watching The Good Wife, but more than that, I’m really looking forward to Series 3.

Because it really, really is just that captivating.

Here’s what I wrote about The Good Fight at the time.

5). Succession

succession hbo brian cox jeremy strong jesse armstrong adam mckay peep show will ferrell julie gardner murdoch best tv 2018 top ten

I’d like to say I was an early adopter for Succession, appreciating it from the start, unlike the droves of people who abandoned it and then returned to it later. Of course, it didn’t air in the UK until months after that narrative had already formed in America, so I was going into the show expecting to dislike it at least a little initially. So, technically, I can’t quite say I was there for the show from the start.

I’m pretty sure I would’ve been, though, because I loved that first episode, and Succession had me in the palm of its hand till the end. And what an ending it was! Oh man. I sort of wish it had aired in the UK at the same time as it did in America, because I would’ve loved the chance to write about the whole series at the same time when everyone was still, you know, actually talking about (one of the more frustrating things about being a critic based in the UK is how totally America still drives the pace of the cultural conversation) because the way that series concluded was… well, there’s a few reasons why this show made it to the Top Ten, but that ending is the reason why Succession is as high up on this list as it is.

Here’s what I wrote about Succession (well, nominally about Succession, at least) at the time.

4). Wanderlust

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Wanderlust started on BBC One in the same week as Press, and I watched them both on the same day. I watched Wanderlust first, because I was expecting to like Press more – the general premise of Press being far more my ballpark than Wanderlust’s, my familiarity with Mike Bartlett and how much I’d enjoyed Trauma, and there were a few actors I liked in Press as well. Plus, Wanderlust seemed to be in the same vein as a lot of recent BBC family dramas (dramas about family, that is, I would hate to have watched Wanderlust with my family) that never quite gelled for me. In the end, I suspect I probably would’ve liked Press quite a lot more than I eventually did if it hadn’t been airing alongside Wanderlust, because the comparison was not at all flattering.

Part of why I watched Wanderlust was the expectation that it’d probably be unlike most of what I usually watched – an expectation that was met and surpassed, because Wanderlust blew me away. It was touching and charming and Toni Collette gave one of the best performances of the year (I know there’s some talk of awards nominations for Hereditary, but she really should win something for Wanderlust – several somethings, really). Not only that, Wanderlust probably also boasts one of the single best episodes of television of the year; I’m still thinking about the fifth episode and its central conceit, even now, months later.

3). The Assassination of Gianni Versace

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I think maybe people didn’t like this one that much? They’re all wrong, of course, but I was surprised to note that, because the strengths of this seem so self-evident to me. Darren Criss was brilliant, the script by Tom Rob Smith was brilliant, Cody Fern was brilliant in a supporting performance that really wasn’t celebrated enough. It was intense, and it was difficult to watch, and to be honest I doubt I’ll ever sit and watch it again – but by the same measure, I’m so glad I did, because it was such a standout series.

Genuinely, I think if you’re someone who likes television (and indeed movies and visual media and so on) and you went through 2018 without watching The Assassination of Gianni Versace, your experience of television this year was incomplete. That’s a big, big omission, and it’s worth going back to watch it as soon as you’re able – you won’t regret it.

Here’s what I wrote about The Assassination of Gianni Versace at the time; I put this piece in my portfolio as well, if you’d like to check that out, but I should probably get around to updating it sooner rather than later.

2). A Very English Scandal

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As is often the way with a Russell T Davies programme, this was obviously one of the best of the year pretty much as soon as the first episode finished airing. (I don’t wholly remember what was on at the same time as Cucumber, but I’m fairly certain it would’ve been one of the best of that year, too.) But, you know, don’t just take my word for it if you don’t want to – though I can’t think why you wouldn’t – it’s been appearing on plenty of year in review best lists for a while.

Rightfully so, because this is brilliant. It’s fun and anarchic and clever and I can keep listing adjectives, but honestly, it wouldn’t do it justice. I’m fairly sure it’s still on iPlayer – go, search it out. Watching these is a much better way to spend the next three hours than whatever you’ve already got planned. For even more fun, read Davies’ script at the same time as you watch the show; I did that with the third episode, and that really highlighted the strengths of the piece in a new way.

Here’s what I wrote about A Very English Scandal at the time, which I think is quite plausibly one of the best things I’ve ever written, and certainly one of the best of this year.

1). Patrick Melrose

patrick melrose benedict cumberbatch edward st aubyn sky atlantic showtime edward berger david nicholls best tv 2018 top ten

I’m still annoyed I didn’t find the time to write about this as it aired. I wasn’t expecting a lot from it, actually; the trailers in the week leading up to it gave the impression that Cumberbatch would be doing a sort of quasi-Sherlock caricature, which didn’t exactly inspire much confidence in the show.

When I watched it, though, I was blown away. It’s surely the best performance of Cumberbatch’s career – faintly reminiscent of Sherlock in a few clear ways, yes, but what Cumberbatch does with the material is far more complex than any comparison might suggest. “Benedict Cumberbatch’s best work” is a high selling point on its own, but that this performance was found in such a stylishly directed character study – a piece about love and loss and addiction and trauma, and coming to terms with them all as much as is possible – as Patrick Melrose is genuinely quite something.

If you’ve not seen it, seek it out; it’ll become very clear very quickly, I think, why I thought Patrick Melrose was the best TV show of 2018.

Honourable Mentions, Runners Up, and Notable Omissions

There are a few different programmes that are worthy of note, even though they didn’t quite make the top ten.

  • Chief amongst them are Sharp Objects and Black Earth Rising, both of which I loved; the only reason they didn’t make it onto the list, frankly, is the fact that I still haven’t actually had a chance to finish them.
  • (I preferred Black Earth Rising to Sharp Objects generally; Amy Adams would definitely be among the top ten performances of the year if I was making a list like that.)
  • I should probably also include Killing Eve here; I wasn’t quite as enamoured by it as everyone else was, but it was still obviously a highlight of the year. Oh, and I was also rather more enamoured by Westworld than everyone else was.
  • On the comedy front, I’d mention Stath Lets Flats, a very odd little show on Channel 4 that I enjoyed despite (and because of) how very odd it was, and Everything Sucks, which was so wonderfully charming. I was really disappointed when it was cancelled. Also, thinking about it, Brooklyn 99, which I’ve only really gotten into properly over the past few months; I was very pleased when it was un-cancelled.
  • And watching Riverdale is consistently one of my favourite things to do each week, because it’s just so mad, and so much fun because of it. No, I will not be taking any comments on how much I love Riverdale, this is my final word on the matter, thank you.

Disappointments

What disappointments were there in 2019? Well, I can think of a couple in my personal life, but let’s sidestep those and stick to the stuff that matters. And the stuff that we’ve been talking about for the past thousand words.

  • I think if I were inclined to be deliberately inflammatory, I might include Killing Eve here – not because it was bad, because it obviously wasn’t, but after Fleabag (one of the best television shows ever, frankly) and quite how rave the reviews were in America, I was expecting a little more. But, you know, that’s just being difficult, and unnecessarily so, frankly. Killing Eve was great.
  • No, in terms of disappointments there’s a couple of obvious contenders. Difficult not to talk about the two shows that fell out of the rankings from last year – The Handmaid’s Tale and Doctor Who, both of which were, unfortunately, vast steps down from their prior offerings. (I’ve not had a chance to catch up on Legion series 2 yet.) I wrote a little about The Handmaid’s Tale at the time, and I never really shut up about Doctor Who.
  • There’s also Jessica Jones, another programme that was a big step down from its stellar first season – indeed, the first series of Jessica Jones is one of the best pieces of ‘superhero’ media there is, and the second is… really not. I suspect the third season is going to be the last. I am not sure I’ll even watch it.
  • And, of course, there’s Who is America, the Sacha Baron-Cohen thing, which was just a load of nonsense really.

What I’m looking forward to in 2019

Let’s not end on a negative note, though! Positivity is a much better way to try and end the year. So, here’s a couple of shows that I’m looking forward to in 2019; I will, almost inevitably, forget something. Probably the one I’m looking forward to most, actually.

  • First and foremost, each of the various returning shows from this list – and my 2017 list, come to that. Quite a few of them will be back – The Good Fight, Derry Girls, I think Save Me, and hopefully Superstore series 4 will turn up on UK television sooner rather than later. From 2017’s list, the main one jumping out at me is American Gods; given all the nonsense that’s gone on behind the scenes, I’m more than a little worried about this series, but part of me is still really looking forward to it, however cautiously.
  • New shows! Gentleman Jack springs to mind first, because – since meeting her – I look forward to anything with Sophie Rundle in it. Otherwise, there’s MotherFatherSon, which I’m interested in because it’s written by Tom Rob Smith, who was also behind The Assassination of Gianni Versace. Plenty of others too, I’m sure.
  • I also, looking back through this list, probably need to try and branch out a bit more. It’s a very white list (and, actually, a pretty male one too) – not getting around to Atlanta this year and not finishing Black Earth Rising definitely didn’t help, but equally, that’s still only two shows. So, yes, something to try and pay a little more attention to over 2019.

Of course, there’s also plenty of stuff from this year I still want to catch up on, like The Long Song or Little Drummer Girl or This Country or Homecoming or Maniac or The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or… oh, man, there is just so much TV, isn’t there? So much.

Have a wonderful 2019, everyone.

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On 2017

2017 year in review

I am cheating slightly.

At the time, I didn’t actually write a proper blog post to draw 2017 to a close, the same way I had in both 2015 and 2016. Various, boring reasons why not, most of which can be attributed to my own deep, deep laziness.

What I did do, though, was… well, send a friend a very lengthy email with what was essentially a very detailed plan for this post. (See what I mean about laziness?) That, in turn, means that I can largely reproduce what would have been my On 2017 roundup, even though I’m writing parts of this almost a full year later.

Fun that, isn’t it?

***

It would be a lie if I said I thought every article was my best; a lie if I said every article was as good as it could be, even under whatever restraints I was under at any given time. I’m proud of them all, though, even the rubbish ones – which I guess is a bit of a “can’t pick your favourite child” kinda thing. I read some advice from a political journalist I like, where she said that if you’re planning to make a living as a journalist then you have to come to terms with the fact that not everything you write is going to be the best thing you can write. It was something I’d already concluded, more or less, but nice to have it articulated anyway.

Anyway. This always requires a bit of a think back; it’s easy to pick my favourite interviews, though, so let’s lead with them:

Why were these my favourites? Chiefly because I think, content-wise, these ones were just the best. Most enjoyable conversations, most interesting end results. Others are good too, for sure; my as yet unpublished one Mark Mangini, the sound designer on Blade Runner 2049, the lost Jim Frohna interview, the Mark Gill interview, etc. Am I forgetting any? My nice Death of Stalin one, with Christopher Willis – actually, generally speaking, the composers have all been very nice and effusive people. Maybe they don’t get interviewed as often so it’s nice to talk about their craft instead of a chore, I don’t know. I’m sure there’s something I’m missing, some nice interviewee who was terribly polite and accommodating or something, but nothing springs to mind. Oh, a quick scroll back makes me think I had Maysaloun in mind, because we struck up a nice rapport. She was lovely. Hope she succeeds.

[Here I excised a lot of complaints about certain publications and editors I worked with, because, you know, I’m trying to maintain at least a vague air of professionalism.]

Turning to my articles, website by website, not a lot stands out necessarily. My best work for Flickering Myth, I tend to think, are the interviews I conduct, and I’ve already highlighted my favourites of those; my favourite piece of my work for Metro is of course my article on Liar, which I think I will always appreciate for having elicited the response it did, and the knowledge that it did, on some level or another, actually help someone. (Which was particularly meaningful at the time, after a run of weeks where I was questioning the value of a lot of the work I did.)

Which brings us onto Yahoo, where I tried to focus on my best stuff. And generally, vis-a-vis, I’d say my Yahoo output in 2017 was better than that of 2015 and 2016. Which is good. I mean, it’s what you’d hope for, really. I don’t know, I always think my stuff is at least decent, if not necessarily good. Today’s Black Mirror piece was decent, even if the second half probably needed more revisions than I put it through, and my clever hot take isn’t actually that hot when it’s the most obvious reading of the episode. (I liked it a lot, actually, there was a lot that could be said about it. It would’ve helped to get the screeners, to be honest, to have the time to actually go through it, but the spoiler agreement they wanted me to sign would make it literally impossible to write about any of the things that made that episode good.)

So, off the top of my head, what did I like?

I’ve grown less keen on how/why etc style titles, I think; I prefer the ones than stand on their own a little more. Did good piece about Atypical and The Defenders, I reckon, though it’s been enough of a while since I re-read them that they could be utterly abysmal. It’s a shame I’ve not done a proper Doctor Who article all year. Ooh, actually, thinking about it, that Sherlock article about why Mary isn’t dead, the one you liked, that was fairly lit. And my Trump article from January is, I guess, vaguely interesting, if not necessarily incisive.

It would be nice I guess to be able to have a list of my favourite articles that other people wrote, but to be honest I just don’t curate them all that well. Perhaps I will next year.

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On 2016

on 2016 twenty sixteen end of year roundup review alex moreland blog

I wanted to start with “At least it wasn’t a leap year”, until I realised that 2016 was in fact a leap year – not only did we get an extra day during this ridiculous year, it’s cruel enough to deny me a silly joke.

So, obviously, this has been a pretty horrible year. There’s not a lot of debate there, and I’m hardly inclined to disagree; I also fear that we’re going to be dealing with the repercussions of this year for a long time. Hopefully, we can find the positives in the coming years – and if we can’t find any, we can make them.

On a more selfish note, though, 2016 was actually a pretty great year for me in terms of my blog, my content production, and in fact my writing career – after all, in 2016 I started it. As of this year, I’m a paid professional writer; long may it continue.

I ended 2015 with one job at Yahoo; it was essentially an unpaid voluntary position. Now, however, my bylines encompass Yahoo (now paid), Heart Beings, Flickering Myth, and CultBox. I’m also soon to start a job blogging with the Metro, as a result of the connections I made with Yahoo. Each of these jobs have provided me with new opportunities; I particularly want to highlight Flickering Myth, though, because as part of my work with that website I’ve been able to interview a series of actors, writers and directors about their work. They were fantastic experiences, and I’m really glad to have done them; I’ve learned a lot about different creative processes, but also, to be honest, it’s just a lot of fun.

I’d also like to draw attention to a couple of my favourite pieces across the duration of 2016:

  • As ever, I did a lot of Doctor Who reviews, looking particularly at David Tennant’s first series – my first full series of the show as well. It was a lot of fun rewatching those episodes, not just for the nostalgia, but also the validation – this show is fantastic, and I was right to love it then and still love it now. Two reviews in particular I’d like to highlight are those for Love & Monsters and Fear Her; the former because I think it’s an excellent defence of a much maligned episode I’ve always loved, and the latter because it’s the closest I came to addressing Brexit on the blog. Re-reading it now, it’s an interesting look at how I felt on the day of the result, and how I engaged with it through Doctor Who.
  • Another thing I did this year, particularly during the summer months, was write a lot about Arrow. I was trying, vainly, to set myself up as something of a definitive voice within what was becoming a fairly toxic fandom, hoping to set both the tone of the debate but also the prevailing interpretation of the programme. I did, of course, fail in this regard, and eventually burnt myself out to the point that I’ve adopted a “No Arrow” platform. However, I did come out with some of my best writing; Defined by an Absence, a slightly esoteric and stylised piece which was, if nothing else, an interesting experiment, as well as Arrow & The Disturbing Trend of Fridging Female Characters, a rather more weighty piece that tackled something that, I feel, is quite important. Certainly, I’m quite proud to say that the latter piece was my first paid article.
  • Another article I was quite pleased with at the time I wrote it was Why Diversity in Television is Important, which has essentially remained a thesis statement for a lot of my later work. It’s undeniably simplistic, but I think it makes the important points in a reasonably coherent and cogent manner – and with a lot of what came later in 2016, I think it’s important that articles like this are written, both by me and people who are far more talented than I.

Now also seems a good time to outline some plans, hopes, and aspirations going into 2017. I think, while I’ve been expanding my career and my output, it hasn’t quite been as consistently nor as reliably as I’d like; something I’ll need to do going forward is work on my productivity and general discipline. I’m also a little bit concerned that, despite everything I’ve been doing, I’ve been neglecting this website a little – while I did get it the shiny new URL of www.alexmoreland.co.uk, I’ve also largely stopped posting here.

So that’s something I’d like to change during 2017. Obviously, there are going to be a lot of Doctor Who reviews, both for Series 10 and Series 3, but I think it’d be nice to have more on here in general. After all, it’s perhaps worth taking an evaluative look at just what this site means, and what it’s for; I don’t really want to simply replicate the same content I’m producing for other websites. To that end, then, an idea: each week, in a 52 part series, I’m going to write a post detailing… whatever’s on my mind. Perhaps a roundup of my week, or of my current work, or simply the important concerns that keep me up at night, like Amy Pond’s career progression, or the fact that Harry Potter should have been Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher rather than an Auror. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all develops, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Another style of post I’d like to do more are those of a more creative vein, where I take an existing story and try to improve it. I gave it a go with the Star Wars prequels, which I actually highlighted in my 2015 end of year roundup; I’ve also partially drafted a series of them on Arrow Season 4, as well as Suicide Squad. I think it’s be a good for thing for me to do more often, actually; I think I’d benefit from it more, and frankly enjoy it more, than simple reviews. So expect to see more of those across the rest of year.

And now, to the sound of fireworks, I conclude this post. Despite everything, I must confess, I’m always going to remember 2016 fondly; it was, after all, the year in which I proved to myself that I could take writing further than just this blog. The year I realised that dream, and realised that I could make this work. That, in the end, I had the talent and the drive to make sure this would all more or less turn out okay. (And, of course, I’m humble too.)

This is to be my 902nd blog post; recently, Grammarly emailed me to say I’ve written 639017 words since I first downloaded it back in July. It’ll be interesting to see how I compare to that by the end of 2017 – a year which, I expect, may come to define me even moreso than 2016 has.

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On 2015

on 2015 twenty fifteen end of year roundup blog update alex moreland handwriting

So, we are now in 2016! I think by this point everyone in all of the timezones should have reached the new year, yes? It’s all a little arbitrary in any case.

Nonetheless, it is a good marker point for reflection! So I figured I’d pick out some of the posts I was most proud of across this past year, because I love taking any opportunity I can to talk about quite how great I am… More seriously, though, I do think that things have gone quite well this year with the blog, and I’m pleased with how my writing style has developed and etc.

Everything in bold is a link to the referenced piece; thus we’ll begin with…

Doctor Who

  • I think my Series 9 reviews, particularly the latter three (Face the Raven, Heaven Sent, and Hell Bent, and ) were amongst the best reviews I’ve ever written. Typically they’re more analytical and focused, and have a better prose style than earlier things I’ve written.
  • One post I’m particularly proud of was my Masterlist of Doctor Who Cast and Crew who support a female Doctor. I kept getting quite involved in debates on the topic, and in the end I did a fair amount of research on who did and didn’t support the idea, and so we ended up with the list. Almost 80 names, comprising actors, writers, directors and producers attached to new, classic and EU Who! (On a related note: Very pleased with my trailer for a hypothetical season of Doctor Who with Natalie Dormer as the Doctor)
  • There’s also this particularly personal post, entitled Some thoughts on Doctor Who fandom, and what Doctor Who means to me. It is, essentially, a response to the more aggressive and cruel “fans” who exist, and why they are The Worst. It is, obviously, entirely superfluous – everyone knows these people are the worst – but I wanted to write my own take on it.

Superhero Stuff

  • This particular review of The Flash 2×06, Enter Zoom. I think it’s one of the smarter reviews I’ve written; I tried to use a non-linear structure, to reflect the way the episode itself is structured. Also, incidentally, I had this one published on the Yahoo TV website – writing for that site is something I’m quite pleased about!
  • Also, this review of Supergirl 1×03, Fight or Flight. I’ve really been enjoying Supergirl, and I’m more than a little disappointed that real world obligations have meant I’ve not been able to consistently review it, but I think with this particular review I did a decent job of articulating some of the series’ main strengths at this stage in it’s development. (I’m glad to say it’s improved further still in the five weeks since that review!)

Books & Writing

Movies

  • Both of these are with regards to Star Wars, and indeed with regards to rewriting Star Wars (oh, I’m so arrogant). The first is Rewriting the Prequels; I’d like to think I managed to create a narrative for some potentially better films. And, similarly, some thoughts On the Identity of Kylo Ren; for fear of spoilers, though, no more on that one. (He’s Jar Jar.)

So! That’s that, then. Obviously more I could pick out (I’m really great), but I think for now these are a pretty good selection.

Hopefully, when 2017 rolls around, I’ll have some more posts to highlight. Here’s to a good year!

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