Best TV Drama 2009

The golden age of television continues and as it does it more often eclipses film both in terms of boldness of subject matter and its ability to unfold a story over weeks rather than the constrained 95 minutes.

Frankly I’m half tempted to abandon the cinema altogether and spend every night in.

Californication II
Californication II – Showtime
This show maintained the momentum built up by series one but with the introduction of the Lew Ashby character actually surpassed the debut season in terms of both debauchery and sheer enjoyment.

Mad Men II
Mad Men II – AMC
Similarly Mad Men took off from an already solid base to achieve even greater heights. Peggy’s relationship to her priest, Don’s to his new car and Betty’s to her father all get explored while episode 9 features perhaps the greatest double take of all time.

Red Riding Trilogy
Red Riding Trilogy – Channel 4
The boldly ambitious take on David Peace’s trilogy spanning more than a decade in which Police corruption, child murders and much else builds up and poisons every character in the fine ensemble cast.

In Treatment
In Treatment – HBO
This took a while to come to British screens but it was well worth the wait. Perfectly bite-sized at 24 minutes per episode, we were led through nine weeks of therapy, five nights a week with five different patients.

The Thick of It
The Thick of It III – BBC
Just when you thought this could get no better, or indeed the producers had finished the idea with the triumphal In the Loop, Nicola Murray takes over at DoSAC and this becomes by far the funniest and sharpest TV of the year.

Derren Brown : The Lottery
Derren Brown : The Lottery – Channel 4
This may have only lasted ten minutes but it proved to be the biggest watercooler moment of the televisual year. Who cares how he did it? It was rivetting.

The Shield
The Shield VII – FX
So Farewell then Vic Mackey, finest and dirtiest cop in LA. Farewell Ronnie, Lem and Shane his noble and debauched myrmidons. And farewell too, Dutch & Claudette – the finest detective duo ever to grace TV screens.

Psychoville – BBC
The difficult second album syndrome is overcome with ease by (two third’s of) The League of Gentlemen. Also proves Steve Pemberton is one of the finest actors working today.

Collision – ITV
Much like a stopped clock is right twice a day ITV does – occasionally – make decent programs. Last year we had the very enjoyable Whitechapel and ten months on came this perfectly written and beautifully crafted five-parter centering around a motorway pile-up that reveals much more about each participant than they want to let on.

True Blood – HBO
Alan Ball give vampires the Six Feet Under treatment. Whether you want to read this as an allegory for civil rights or just revel in the neck biting, undead power plays and glamouring it’s terrific.