Hidden Gems - Digital Treasures; A Year in Retrospect
It occurred to me recently that I've now been writing the Hidden Gems column for a year now, so I thought it worthwhile to look back, crunch some numbers, and see what's stood the test of time.
In the last year I've suggested 53 different TV shows for you to watch, with only one duplicate as Broadchurch got a new series. Of those, Netflix easily came out on top with 25 recommendations, nearly half. Amazon Instant had ten recommendations, closely followed by NowTV's eight and BBC iPlayer's seven. ITV Hub and All 4 managed a total of seven between them, but ITV seems to be upping its game a bit this year. The key will be whether or not they leave things on their streaming service, or remove them as soon as possible to sell DVDs.
Not everything has stood the test of time, some of the recommended shows are no longer available, or the sheen has come off somewhat. I'm still going to stand by the fact that, while twee, Gilmore Girls was surprisingly witty. But to some audiences it's as anathema as Daredevil might be to fans of the Stars Hollow residents. Neither, I hasten to add, made the final cut. So, here we are, my recommendations of recommendations, the five shows that are still available to stream that I'm proud to have suggested.
I listed No Offence in February 2017, describing it as an excellently written, darkly comedic police procedural. Written by Paul Abbott of Shameless and State of Play, this BAFTA nominated show has strangely been flying under the radar, but it definitely deserves a wider audience. Brilliant performances by Joanna Scanlan, Elaine Cassidy and Alexandra Roach make this some fantastic television. Both series still available to stream.
A legal noir, starring Billy Bob Thornton, as well as William Hurt and House of Cards' Molly Parker, I recommended this in November 2016. Billy Bob went on to win a Golden Globe for his performance in this, and deservedly so. Amazon has said it's their most successful series as of early this year, so odds are good for a second season.
This wildly successful nordic noir was recommended in September 2016, and has gone on to raise Ólafur Darri Ólafsson's profile, giving him a starring role in The Missing last year. I described it as 'the show Fortitude desperately tried to be, and fell so short of'. Now that season 2 of Fortitude has emerged, blindly stumbling and generally ignored into the world, this has only been confirmed. We look forward to season 2 of Trapped in 2018.
Hap & Leonard
Again, another criminally under-watched show, from my June 2016 column. I could watch James Purefoy and Michael Kenneth Williams banter with each other forever in this swampland noir. So, naturally I was thrilled to learn that the second season is due out this month!
It was August 2016 that Fleabag arrived on BBC 3, via iPlayer and amazingly it's still on there. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s bleak comedy started life as an Edinburgh Fringe Festival play, before being picked up by the BBC, and adapted by the writer and actress into a TV show filled with comedy cameos. The show has been nominated for Best Comedy Series, Phoebe has been nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy Series, there's serious talks about season 2 and still this show remains criminally under-watched.
It's interesting that there's no Netflix recommendations in there. Netflix have really taken the industry by storm, and are investing heavily, and well. Almost too well perhaps, there are a lot of shows that are either too niche or too much of a heavily-marketed easy win. Not so much Hidden Gems as gaudy fashion jewellery. And of course, Stranger Things, but you don't need me to tell you about that.
In two weeks time, this column will return with new recommendations for your April viewing!