Best of Lists Smugglivus

Smugglivus 2012: Ana’s Best of the Rest (Movies, TV, etc)

Clearly, both Ana and Thea are bananas, and in addition to reading and reviewing obscene amounts of books, we also obsess over multiple television shows, movies, video games, and all other manner of geekery. With that in mind, we needed to create ANOTHER list (we are list makers, yes we are) for our end of the year celebration. We give you our very own BEST OF THE REST (everything that isn’t a book).

Well. Well, well, well. I knew this moment would arrive one day. And that day is here: books and TV shows have taken over my life! I simply have no free time to dedicate to another hobby. Games WHAT? Movies WHEN? Movies are so outside my radar I actually had to Google to make sure that Avengers was a 2012 movie (and it was AWESOME, loved it). I only watched a tiny number of movies (including the last Batman, which I shall pretend it never happened) this year and as such I don’t really feel like I have a lot to say.

The Avengers

But TV? Holy moly! I watched loads: from old favourites (The West Wing rewatch!! ALL AGATHA CHRISTIE’S POIROT AND MARPLE!) to those I have been watching regularly for a few years. I still find Castle extremely amusing and I love Modern Family. I am (begrudgingly) still watching Dexter and I am so NOT happy about the direction the show has taken this last series. Game of Thrones (AKA Kill the Little Shits Named Joffrey and Theon Greyjoy) was pretty cool as expected but I guess I wasn’t head over heels in love with it. Of the new batch of shows, I really tried to watch Arrow, I really really did. But no. NO. It was SO BAD. The only new show I am really enjoying is, surprisingly, Nashville for all of its female characters, their arcs and interactions (also, drool-worthy Deacon).


Interestingly, of my top 5 shows from last year’s Best of the Rest, I stopped watching 3: Revenge (got SO BORING halfway through season 1); Doctor Who (I KNOW. But I couldn’t bear to see Rory and Amy go. Plus, reviews of the first few episodes were not that exciting so I just didn’t feel like watching it) and Once Upon a Time (I got kind of tired of it more than halfway through season 1). I am not even going to mention series 3 of Downton Abbey because of REASONS. [1. Ok. FINE. It was somewhat better than series 2 but still overall, the series was a mixture of hopeful watching and bitter disillusion. Will I watch series 4? HELL YES.]

All that said, there were ten series that knocked my socks off this year (and we might just go ahead and call it the Year of Danish TV):

10. Homeland

Homeland Season 2

If there is one show on this list that makes for some conflicted watching, Homeland is IT. I sat down one day to catch up with season 2 then all of a sudden is hours later and I am still glued to the TV. This is the type of show that is BOTH frustrating and amazing. There were times over the course of season 2 that I felt I was watching an episode of 24 and at some points the thriller-like developments were a bit too much but then there comes Brody and Carrie meeting up and I am like: WHAT IS HAPPENING. Seriously, half the time, I do NOT TRUST what is happening before my eyes. And yes, I dislike intensely any show that goes “BUT THE TERRORISTS” because it is so easy to associate and reduce entire cultures, countries, religions and peoples to this one single thing and that is so often a slippery slope of Doom and I am not sure I like where this is all going with Brody, etc. BUT then that last scene with Saul and Carrie?


9. Moone Boy

MOONe boy

Moone Boy is a Sky TV semi-autobiographical sitcom written and co-starred by Chris O’Dowd who plays the imaginary friend of the cutest boy ever – it is all about growing up in Boyle (Ireland) in the 80s. And it is so funny but also lovable and the fact that a lot of storylines are inevitably historical (feminism! religion! politics!) is the cherry on top. ALSO: Irish accent, why you so awesome? And I will never forget the Pavlova Tuesdays dinner scene.

8. Horrible Histories

Horrible Historieswould inevitably be here: season 4 was hilarious as usual, and I constantly rewatch sketches on Youtube. This latest series also had FABULOUS songs and my two favourites this year were:

7. Scott & Bailey


Scott & Bailey is a police procedural on ITV (British channel) featuring two female cops – Rachel Bailey and Janet Scott – who are cop-partners and close friends. The show features these two complex characters as good, competent (if fallible) cops, struggling with cop-life and personal-life and it is all so well done and engaging. I do enjoy police procedurals but most of the time it is all so male-focused (even when the main character is female she is often partnered with a male character) that it is extremely refreshing to see one focusing 100% on these two fantastic women. Actually, make it three: the amazing, demanding, tough police chief Gill Murray almost steals the show every single time. Series 3 stars in May and I cannot wait.

6. Sherlock


Whenever I think about Sherlock I always think back to the article How to be a Fan of Problematic Things. This show is AWESOME. This show is EXTREMELY problematic (omg the treatment of Irene Adler and every single female character in the show this season? No). But I love it: both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are so incredibly talented and that last showdown with Moriarty was sheer genius.

5. Mad Men

Mad Men Joan

I think season 5 was my favourite yet? Maybe. I felt like Don Draper took a backseat this year and we saw less of his self-centred arc? In any case, I loved Megan’s arc, loved to loathe Pete Campbell (Another Little Shit) and to root for Peggy Olson. This season though was stolen by Joan’s arc and I don’t think I have ever seen anything as heartbreaking as the storyline involving her climbing to the top via sexual favours. It was so fucked up, so sad and so freaking UNFAIR and I loved that this was portrayed so well, in a way that was so complex: Joan was portrayed as both victim of the system/sexism culture and not victim (if that makes any sense?). Wondering if any of you felt the same way? I know I was a slobbering mess by the end of that episode with the injustice of it all at the same time that I was like, Go Joannie!

4. The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Another one for the “I can like problematic things” list. Despite the treatment of the PoC and female characters (the fact that someone decided to change Andrea, the most awesome character, into someone unrecognisable; despite the fact that Michonne’s performance so far seems to be reduced to grunting and staring), I still felt that this season of Walking Dead was my favourite yet. I loved it because it was tense and heartbreaking, because I never knew what was going to happen, because Rick and Karl’s reaction to Lori’s death were heartbreaking, because The Governor is freaky, and because all of a sudden Glenn and Maggie were superheroes.

3. The Killing

Sarah Lund

Now, we finally get to the Danish shows. A bit of context: I am in the UK and the past year has seen the BBC bringing over tons of Danish TV shows over here. And.They.Are. AWESOME.

The Killing is a police procedural featuring, the serious, driven, extremely smart detective Sarah Lund. The show has three seasons (the third just finished and it was the last one ever) and each season features one crime – the plot has twists and turns and on top of the investigative work it often follows the victim’s family’s struggles as well as the politics of the country – often around the Prime Minister’s office. It is just so good, despite it being dark, gloomy and cynical and Sarah Lund is an amazingly dysfunctional character.

I still don’t know how I feel about how it ended though. Part of me thinks that Sarah WOULD NEVER DO THAT. Part of me doesn’t think anything because mind=blown.

And please, if you have watched The Killing US, please know this: it is nowhere near as good as the original.

2. The Bridge

The Bridge

The Bridge is another crime drama, co-produced by Denmark and Sweden. It follows a police investigation following the discovery of a dead body on the bridge between Denmark and Sweden and two lead detectives – one from each side. Just like The Killing It is another twisterific show that follows not only the investigation but also the lives of the characters involved with it and it also observes and criticizes politics and social injustice in the countries it depicts. One of the lead detectives – Saga Norén – is an extremely competent cop who also happens to have Aspergers Syndrome.

1. Borgen


I saved the best for last. Borgen was my absolute favorite show of 2012. Another Danish drama, this one is all about politics featuring the life of the first (fictional) female Prime Minister of Denmark, Birgitte Nyborg. Over the course of its two series (series three – its last – starts next year in UK) it follows Birgitte, as she navigates the treacherous waters of Politics at the same time that she tries to juggle her married-with-two-kids life (and fights overwhelming sexism in the meantime) with the top job in the country. Secondary storylines include the troubled Spin-Doctor Jasper and the ultra ambitous and awesome journalist Katrine Fønsmark. This show has everything: interesting politics, an amazing plot with great storytelling, lots of heartbreak and a side of great romance too. I seriously don’t think I can wait for season 3.

So there you have it. My favourite non-bookish things of 2012. Thea will be posting her own list soon. What about you? Any TV Shows and Movies that rocked your world in 2012? Do share!


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  • Ana @ things mean a lot
    January 1, 2013 at 6:25 am

    I finally finished Borgen, so we can talk about it at length when you come back 😀 The last two episodes of S2 were so amazing. Also, I’m definitely using this list when I try to decide what M and I are going to watch next.

  • Ana
    January 1, 2013 at 6:29 am

    Yay and also: I TOLD YOU SO! 🙂

  • Joanna
    January 1, 2013 at 8:03 am

    I need to watch The Killing already, the US version was a disappointment (despite the surprise Tahmoh Penikett).

    Also, since you care about the treatment of women/fetishism/privilege in fiction (which is one of the reasons I love your reviews so much), I think you should give Elementary a go. It has yet to let me down.

  • KT Grant
    January 1, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Walking Dead is my crack. This season was amazing. David Morrissey as the Governor really makes for incredible viewing.

  • Karen Mahoney
    January 1, 2013 at 9:47 am


    *ahem* I apologise for using the ALL-CAPS-of-excitement. 🙂

    I ship those two, big time. And I have loved Glenn since we first saw him getting Rick out of that tank… <3

    Great post, m'dear!


  • Amy @ My Friend Amy
    January 1, 2013 at 11:40 am

    despite the fact that Michonne’s performance so far seems to be reduced to grunting and staring

    aw, I don’t see her this way at all, I loooove her. I ship her and Rick so hard it’s not funny (I know I know Lori just died) I agree it has it’s problems, though. I don’t know I read an interview with the actor playing Tyreese and he said people will be more pleased with the second half on that front I guess we’ll see. He’s not exactly going to say anything else is he? As far as Andrea goes, I find her arc kind of interesting, like, I don’t particularly like the way she just dropped Michonne, but it is understandable and speaks to the way physical comforts affect us in a way that challenges hard earned trust and friendship. Plus, I think it’s kind of interesting how Andrea consistently seeks freedom by aligning herself with powerful men. I think that convo she had with the Governor about liking the fights was about this in a way…and how she rebels against being stuck in the kitchen (ugh that convo with Lori last season that almost made me drop the show!) and craves a measure of power herself. It will be interesting to see what happens when the show comes back.

    and omgggg Borgen season 3 starts in Denmark tonight and I want it nowwwwwwwwwww. And, I’m really eager for The Bridge 2, as well, I guess they’ve just finished filming the fourth episode, but Saga <33333. The Bridge is so spectacularly written (I mean it was a tiny bit predictable, but I mean in other ways!) I wish more people watched it. At least Borgen seems to be catching on more and more! Anyway yay fellow lover of Danish TV 🙂

  • Ana
    January 1, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Amy: I don’t know. I kind of miss Assertive Andrea. Although I sympathise with wanting comfort (good point there), I still think she is trusting too easily when up until that point she would never have. And don’t get me wrong, I love Michonne too, but I just wish she had MORE to do other than look and act badass. She had very few lines of dialogue so far!

    AND OMG BORGEN !!!!! I can’t WAIT for season 3 either

  • Anonymous
    January 1, 2013 at 12:14 pm – Moone Boy is great !!

  • Tilly
    January 1, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I got really sick of Once Upon A Time and Arrow too, they were such a disappointment. But I agree with Joanna, If you like Sherlock, you should try Elementary.

  • Estara
    January 1, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Horrible Histories is a hit of fun and incredulousness when I show it in lessons that I have to hold for a sick teacher (and I don’t have the class). Even the younger kids, though they hardly understand the language have fun with the slapstick bits or the songs. The older ones enjoy stupid deaths a lot.

  • Stephanie
    January 1, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    It is so sad to see Amy and Rory go but they did so well… You really should watch it. It was absolutely fantastic. I’m glad they did it right instead of dragging it out like I felt like they did with Rose. And the Christmas special fills you with hope. If you decide to catch up you should have it ready.

  • Tamara @ Shelf Addiction
    January 1, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    You’ve got a fun list there. Thanks for sharing! I also really liked The Avengers, Homeland and The Walking Dead. I heart both of those shows! This is not on your list, but I also still LOVE Grey’s Anatomy. It was hit or miss last season, but they writing is back on track this season.

    Happy New Year,

  • Amy @ Turn the Page
    January 2, 2013 at 4:05 am

    I was upset about Amy and Rory leaving as well but it was a fantastic end. Also you definitely need to watch the Christmas special because the new assistant: all kinds of awesome. I love her already.

    If you like Sherlock you should give Elementary a try. I think I love both just as much.

  • Karen
    January 2, 2013 at 4:52 am

    Great list! I’ve never seen The Walking Dead because I don’t like zombies, but maybe I shoudl try it anyway.

    My best friend in London keeps telling me how wonderful Borgen and The Killing (Danish version) are. Anyone know how Americans can see them?

  • Cindy
    January 3, 2013 at 1:08 am

    I liked “the Killing” (the suspense was killing me!) and I LOVE Borgen (Birgitte is such an amazing character!) Thanks to ARTE in Belgium for broadcasting them otherwise I would never have the opportunity to see those shows.

  • Celine
    January 4, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Borgen Borgen Borgen BORGEN! Ahem. Can’t wait for new season.

    Totes agree re the end of the final season of the Killing. It was completely out of character for Lund and, if I’m honest, ruined the series for me.

    I agree with everyone who’s told you to watch Rory and Amy’s farewellep (NOOOOOOO! I loved those two!) You have to turn your brain off to several massive plot holes but it just doesn’t matter because *sobs* the emotions (Much to my amazement I also agree that you should give the Christmas episode a shufty.I have hope for interesting things happening in this season!)

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