Thursday, 18 December 2008

Fifth Annual Ralphies (2008 Best ofs)

The bibliobloggers are offering their best ofs for 2008, known as "Ralphies" (Ralph the Sacred River), a tradition now five years old. One of the ideas here is that we are busy blogging boring old Biblical Studies related items all year, and this is the one chance to indulge ourselves and to talk about the stuff we avoid talking about for the rest of the year. In the past, I have done this on the NT Gateway blog (2007, 2006, 2005, 2004) but since The Resident Alien now provides me with the opportunity to blog about any old rubbish anyway, this seems the appropriate forum now for my own best ofs.

Film of the year: Last year I realized that I had not been to many films and resolved to put that right. This year has been much better. The kids are getting older and so we go to see more with them, and not just kids' films, and we seem to have found a bit more time to see things. I didn't like The Dark Knight as much as everyone else, though I could see why others admired it. Quantum of Solace was also, of course, a disappointment. I quite liked Cloverfield, though it made Viola sick; I quite enjoyed watching the film our Emily really loves, Twilight. I didn't mind Iron Man or the Incredible Hulk. Wall E was nothing like as good as everyone said it would be. I quite enjoyed Forgetting Sarah Marshall (especially seeing Russell Brand). My favourite film was probably Mamma Mia (comments) even if it is not that great a film. You have to have seen it to understand what I mean. Best film review of the year is undoubtedly Mark Kermode on Mamma Mia -- almost as much fun as the film itself:

TV Programme of the year: I am of course going to say Doctor Who. The fourth series of new Who may be my favourite since the revival. Catherine Tate as Donna was superb. There were fewer lows than in previous series -- no dud episodes at all. And if there were no single episodes to rival "Blink" or "Human Nature" / "Family of Blood" from the last series, there were still some gems, "Planet of the Ood", "Silence in the Library", "Midnight" and "Turn Left". The only disappointment was the last episode, with its absurd non-regeneration and odd job junior doctor (my comments) -- it's taken me a long time to come to terms with that.

Honourable mentions: Torchwood -- pretty good second series; Spooks -- best series for a while; Little Dorrit-- fantastic; Cranford - almost as good; Tess of the D'Urbervilles -- v. good; Lost in Austen -- sublime; Ashes to Ashes -- thoroughly enjoyable (and we loved Keeley Hawes). The best children's programme was Sarah Jane Adventures -- a super second series, especially "The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith", as good as most Doctor Who. The best comedy was Gavin and Stacey. Viola and I only discovered it this year, and so caught up with the entire run on BBC America and adored it. BBC4 continues to show some wonderful documentaries, and they are part of my staple diet. I especially loved their railway series this autumn. And of course the best BBC mini-series featuring Jesus in which I was involved was The Passion, and one of the most memorable things in my career -- such a privilege and I realize how lucky I am.

Come to think of it, all those are all British. I do enjoy American TV too, especially Desperate Housewives, Chuck and Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles. Like many others, we have given up on Heroes and we have pretty much given up on The Office too. The American Life on Mars is hanging by a narrow thread. It's a shame that the push to make massive 20+ episode runs continues to affect the quality of so much American TV.

Radio Programme of the year: Russell Brand's Radio 2 show, now sadly missed. I listened to every one this year before a spot of bother brought an end to all that happiness.

Honourable mentions: tons of stuff on Radio 4, still my major staple. I particularly enjoyed the latest series of Jon Ronson on and laughed out loud for Count Arthur Strong and Bleak Expectations. On Five Live, I listen to a lot of Simon Mayo.

Podcast of the year: Most of the podcasts I listen to are simply BBC Radio programmes, the Daily Mayo, Mark Kermode's Film Reviews, Weekly Political Review and so on. So I should pick a favourite podcast from "true", non-radio ones, so I might go for The Guardian's Media Talk, closely followed by The Guardian's weekly political blog. And all the Doctor Who podcasts brighten up my commute to work, Podshock, the Whocast and Tindog.

Song of the year: I am tempted to say Human by The Killers, but I've only been listening to that non-stop for about two or three weeks, since the new album arrived. The one I have been listening to since the summer is Coldplay, "Viva La Vida":

Hmm; still think it might be the Killers actually. Can't get enough of it at the moment. Ask me again in six months. Honourable mention: Morrissey, That's how people grow up.

Album of the year: there was a Fall album this year, Imperial Wax Solvent, so of course it is that. I quite liked the album by Elbow, though, and the Killers album is growing on me. There was a new Wedding Present album too, but I haven't had the chance to spend much time with it yet, and I was really disappointed to miss them in Chapel Hill in October.

Gig of the year: Maroon 5 at Walnut Creek in Raleigh -- fantastic.

Sporting Event of the year: the Olympics, of course. Watched it in three different locations, and had the pleasure of catching it with different sets of enthusiasts, which adds to the fun, in England while visiting family, in France (Brittany) while on holiday, and back in America. Great to see Team GB doing so well this time. Looking forward to London 2012.

Most missed: Humphrey Lyttleton. Life without I'm Sorry I haven't a clue will not be the same.

As usual, I have not read any fiction, I ashamed to say, so pass on that one.

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