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The biggest small screen moments in 2015

We mourned the death (or was it?) of a favourite character, welcomed a desi superstar, switched off our TV sets and logged on to the Web – television in 2015 was fast, furious and utterly addictive.

brunch Updated: Dec 26, 2015 19:40 IST
Narcos

We mourned the death (or was it?) of a favourite character, welcomed a desi superstar, switched off our TV sets and logged on to the Web – television in 2015 was fast, furious and utterly addictive.

The Game got tougher

Game of Thrones became massive this year: over eight million people tuned in for the fifth season finale, it was also the most discussed on social media, according to Facebook’s annual ‘Year In Review’. A quick recap of a few of the biggest GOT moments [spoilers ahead]:

* Shortly before the first episode was set to simulcast on HBO in 170 countries, fans were sent into a state of hysteria when four episodes were leaked together online.

* The nail-biting eighth episode ended with a) Jon Snow fighting whitewalkers. And b) this meme (below) of the Night’s King reanimating dead wildlings in the perfect Shah Rukh Khan pose.

*The season finale ended with Jon Snow being stabbed to death. “But is he really dead?” speculated social media for months until Kit Harrington (who plays Snow) was spotted on the sets of season 6, giving us a sliver of hope.

When TV went online

For generations to come, 2015 will be fondly remembered as the year when television went online. From two shows (House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black) in 2013, to 11 original shows this year, Netflix decided to go all out with exclusive content for the Web. Our favourites from the lot:

Narcos (Drama): A crime drama that tells the true-life stories of the notorious Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar and DEA agent Steve Murphy, sent on a US mission to capture and kill the druglord. Shot on location in Colombia, with a heavy dose of rapid, colloquial Spanish woven into the script, intense acting by the lead cast, and riveting storyline, it has gathered an IMDB rating of 9/10.

Master Of None (Comedy): Created by American-Indian actor and comedian Aziz Ansari, who essayed the role of an underachieving idealist in Parks And Recreation. Rib-tickling and sharply written, it follows the life of Dev (Ansari), a 32-year-old actor in New York, who has more trouble deciding what to eat than how to figure out his way in life.

Bolly glam went global

Priyanka Chopra managed to clinch the lead role of protagonist Alex Parrish in ABC’s new thriller series Quantico, making her one of the hottest newsmakers this year. It wasn’t all smooth for her though, first with ABC mixing her up with ex-Miss World Yukta Mookhey while introducing their new face, and then with the show itself getting mixed reviews. Chopra’s portrayal of an FBI trainee accused of plotting a terrorist attack on New York has been called OTT, with the storyline – a Grey’s Anatomy meets an amateurish Homeland – being perceived as a teeny bopper drama.

A poster of Quantico.

Goodbyes of the year

Mad Men: The cult American period drama, chronicling a fictional advertising agency in 1960s, came to an end, and with it, all the politics and drama in the lives of our favourite admen, set against the backdrop of one of the most tumultuous decades in American history.

(Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMC)

Downton Abbey: Another period drama, this one British, it depicted the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwarnian era, with major historical events like the sinking of the Titanic to the First World War affecting their lives.

Hannibal: The psychological thriller series was terminated abruptly after its third season raked in low ratings. Much to the disappointment of his fans, the cannibalistic forensic psychiatrist Dr Hannibal Lecter will not return. Looks like, dinner is over.

Promising new series

Empire: Much of America was hooked to this musical drama about a former drug dealer-turned-hip-hop mogul. In order to choose a worthy successor to his empire, he must pit his three sons against each other. The show is intense and downright addictive.

Wayward Pines: This American series, revolving around a US Secret Service agent (Ethan Burke) investigating the disappearance of two fellow agents, marks Indian American filmmaker M Night Shyamalan’s successful foray into the small screen.

Big dud of the year

True Detective, Season 2: When it released last year, True Detective blew our mind. But it appears that the first season had set the bar way too high with stellar performances by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. The second season starring Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams, with interweaving stories from three police departments was too complicated and vague, and thus, very disappointing.

Indian TV online

Echoing the developments in the US, a few production houses in India decided to follow Netflix’s suit and come up with shows made specifically for the Web.

Pitchers is about a group of Delhi-based youngsters launched by The Viral Fever.

As the November 29 Brunch cover story More On The Web illustrated, while online entertainment company The Viral Fever launched Pitchers, a group of Delhi-based youngsters were behind the hip web series Baked. These shows were so well loved and so widely followed – largely because of their relatable content – that big banners like Yash Raj Films came up with two of their own: Man’s World and Bang Baaja Baaraat, opening the floodgates to a deluge of such shows in the year to come.

- Satarupa Paul

*

Hindi television

Though saas-bahu soaps continued to reign on Indian television, there was a spate of historical serials. We bid farewell to some long-running shows and embraced new ones. Here’s a look at what made news on desi screens.

The word is ‘Epic’

The ‘soap operas-reality shows-talent hunt’ cocktail took a backseat. Indian TV, in 2015, was star-studded (literally):

On Epic channel, Anurag Basu told stories by Rabindranath Tagore, enacted by the likes of Radhika Apte and Amrita Puri (Stories by Rabindranath Tagore), Javed Akhtar shared anecdotes about the evolution of Bollywood (Jaane Pehchaane With Javed Akhtar) and Naseeruddin Shah talked cricket (Mid-Wicket Tales With Naseeruddin Shah).

Radhika Apte in Stories by Rabindranath Tagore.

Bollywood’s horror queen, Bipasha Basu made her foray into television as a host with Darr Sabko Lagta Hai, a series of short stories about the paranormal.

Winds of change

We may be inundated with music reality shows. But we finally had a first-of-its-kind English music reality show in India (on Colors Infinity): The Stage. Judged by four musicians – Vishal Dadlani, Monica Dogra, Ehsaan Noorani and Devraj Sanyal – it declared the winner based on the judges’ verdict.

If only the show had invested in a band that could play the music live, it wouldn’t have looked like the contestants were singing at a karaoke night.

A grand affair

Opulent sets, grand settings, intricate costumes and weapons – history came alive on the silver screen in 2015.

* Chakravartin Ashoka Samratis the first series on India’s greatest king, Ashoka, written by Ashok Banker (of Prince of Ayodhya fame).

* Two popular shows, Bharat Ka Veer Putra – Maharana Pratap (on Sony TV) and Jodha Akbar (on Zee TV) came to an end this year.

Adaptations

The transition from books to the screen can be tricky. Two of our favourite books – Dharamvir Bharati’s Gunahon Ka Devta and Anuja Chauhan’s Those Pricey Thakur Girls were adapted for the small screen. And were we heartbroken or what! To take a really good storyline and butcher it the way Ek Tha Chander, Ek Thi Sudha and Dilli Wali Thakur Gurls (yes, gurls!) did is simply sad.

Ek Tha Chander, Ek Thi Sudha.

Shows we’d love to say good-bye to

The biggest complaint against Indian shows: they go on for eternity!

Balika Vadhu: India’s first drama series crossed the 2,000-episode mark! Anandi’s no longer a balika, but her daughter is now caught in the child marriage trap. Same story, new packaging.

Balika Vadhu serial hd wallpapers

Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai: Running (successfully) for five years now, it has had all possible permutations and combinations of sub-plots.

Saath Nibhana Saathiya:Unreasonable characters, over-the-top acting and an absurd storyline. We’ll pass. Thank you.

- Atisha Jain

From HT Brunch, December 27

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