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The best series of 2022

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In a bumper year for TV shows CONSTANTINOS PSILLIDES picks his favourites

 

What a year. Covid is still with us, Russia invaded Ukraine, the Queen died, and the world population exceeded 8 billion. In a year full of turmoil, we also saw a rise in series and film production, making up for the lost years of Covid lockdowns. Some stood out, some were a disappointment, and most were just ‘eh, I guess it’s ok’.

Today we will look at the series that made the gold star list, that had the most impact on us this past year.

 

Severance (Apple +)

In the age of brand recognition IPs and weaponised nostalgia, original shows are few and far between. Good sci-fi shows are also hard to find, as most of them fall into familiar and easily recognisable tropes; robots bad, society is doomed, don’t touch anything with tentacles.

Severance took on those chances and came out as a winner. Starring Adam Scott as Mark S and directed by Ben Stiller, Severance has a deceptively simple premise: what would life be like if work and home could be separated? Mark is an employee at a high-tech company called Lumon Industries, and he has undergone a medical process where his brain was ‘severed’. He is essentially two people, one who only has memories of work and the other who only has memories of his personal life. Everything was going fine until one day he meets someone who tells him that the ‘severance’ process is reversible and that Mark knows things that could bring the company down.

 

Stranger Things, season 4 (Netflix)

Hey, don’t look at me; I wasn’t expecting this either. After the over-bloated season 3, Stranger Things looked like it was going the way other great series had in the past: excellent premise, great first season, run out of steam and fizzle out. In this fourth season, a series of unexplained deaths plague Hawkins, and it all leads to a DnD club, Eleven is trying to acclimate to a world where she is powerless while Joyce is desperately trying to get to Hopper, who is alive and in jail somewhere in Russia. Somehow, the Duffer Bros pulled off a miracle and delivered a season by far the best, with engaging and loveable characters and moments that went down in TV history (Eddie Munson, you are a legend in my heart).

 

Better Call Saul (Netflix)

Here’s why Better Call Saul is great: it exceeded expectations and cleared a bar so high that it probably did blue meth. When Vince Gilligan announced that his next project after the universally critically acclaimed and massively successful Breaking Bad was a sequel on a minor character, everyone scoffed. Six seasons later, it became apparent to everyone that Better Call Saul is a fantastic series and arguably better than the original one.

In this sixth and final season, viewers see how McGill evolved, settled into the Goodman persona, and finally find out what happened to him in the present day. The best part of the series was the finale, a masterclass in sticking the landing.

 

Andor (Disney+)

Anything set in the Star Wars universe does not usually concern me.

But Andor is a massive deviation from the SW norm and canon. Much darker, grittier and serious than anything else, Andor tells the story of Cassian, a cynic worker who gets radicalised and leads a rebellion against the Empire. Focusing on the everyday life in the Empire, far away from epic space battles and fanciful lightsaber fights, Andor is far more grounded and could work as a stand-alone sci-fi drama, SW references be damned. Also, Andy Serkis.

 

The Bear (FX)

My best pick for the year, The Bear, came out of nowhere and filled my heart with joy. A chef drama, The Bear tells the story of Carmen, a renowned chef de cuisine who drops out of the glitzy world of fine dining to take over a rundown beef sandwich restaurant previously owned by his brother, who died by suicide. The Bear is painfully honest and raw. There’s no fancy CGI, no quipping, with the action mainly taking place in the back of the restaurant.

Its pace is refreshingly fast, with the creators refusing to pad down the rundown to the standard 45-minute episode. Set at a tight 30, The Bear never lets up and never stops, hitting you with some unforgettable TV moments including an exposition dump by Carmen at an AA meeting that sees him talking, single shot, for seven whole minutes. What this series lacks in CGI budget, it makes up in directing brilliance, featuring a 17-minute one-take that should be taught in film school, one of the best moments of the series.

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