As we say farewell to 2014 , Andy ( My Geek Heart ) Younger looks back over a fabulous twelve months for geekdom...
Man of the Year - Peter Capaldi
" I'm the Doctor. I'm not your Mam! "
What can you say about Peter Capaldi? We all knew he'd be good, but did we really envisage such a universally positive response?! Owning the TARDIS from the final moments of Deep Breath, Capaldi - like Tennant and Smith before him - is the perfect champion for the show. Whether it's recording video messages for young fans, or offering advice to Whovians with designs on employment in the entertainment industry - Peter seems to have time for everyone. A fan since childhood, Capaldi is clearly relishing playing at being 'Doctor Who' for real. Spikier, sharper and less user friendly - the 12th Doctor seems a thousand steps ahead of those around him, while frustrated by the limits of their pudding brains. Yet perhaps behind the abrasive exterior, there lies a deep insecurity, masking his fear of losing a companion he clearly cherishes. A faultless performance with notably highlights including Listen, Time Heist, and the two part finale - the 12th Doctor is compulsive, almost single minded in his efforts to vanquish evil. Amongst all the talk of a darker, feistier Doctor - let's not forget the neat comic touches displayed by Capaldi - with Robot Of Sherwood and The Caretaker showcasing some particularly splendid delivery and timing. As this years Christmas special proved, it is possible to warm the 12th Doctor's hearts, and with he and Clara now reconciled - another season of highs and highs seems assured.
Woman of the Year - Jenna Coleman
As Steven Moffat has stated, sometimes it takes a change of leading man to truly bring a companion alive. Sparking into life from the moment they sat down together, during that ever so creepy restaurant scene in Deep Breath, the 12th Doctor and Clara's relationship has been explored at fascinating length in Series 8. With a greater focus afforded the character, and some truly exceptional scenes written for her, Coleman has truly wowed this year. Reaching a pinnacle in Dark Water, as Clara takes desperate measures to save the man she loves, Coleman heartbreakingly conveys Clara's desperate state of mind. The Doctor's response to Clara's betrayal is just as astonishing, as he shows tremendous kindness and the depth of his true feelings, by agreeing to help the grieving Oswald. A truly exceptional first series from this new pairing, who else could be our man and woman of the year.
TV Début of the Year - The Flash
Possibly the strongest début for a new series in recent years, The Flash has pulled in record audiences for the CW network in the US. A spin off from the excellent Arrow, The Flash has built on Oliver Queen's universe and created an equally believable Central City. Grant Gustin heads the likeable cast, as Barry Allen - the police forensic scientist turned superhero who faces threats from all sides, of the past, present and future. While several DC villains have been teased or appeared already , the arrival of the Reverse Flash in the mid season finale was breathtaking. Preceded by the epic Flash vs. Arrow episode, the series entered its mid season break on a high. While other shows may have waited an entire season to introduce such an important confrontation, the makers of Flash and Arrow have gone straight for the jugular, and delivered some noteworthy, epic moments. Having pulled out all the stops so early, my only worry is they could run out of steam, but as Arrow has shown over its three seasons - the writers and producers are nothing if not consistently inventive.
Movie Event of the Year - Guardians of the Galaxy
Proving blockbusters can be as good as they used to be, one of Marvel's lesser known properties deservedly became the biggest movie of year. Thanks to its eclectic mix of comedy, space action and funk rock soundtrack - it is the most enjoyable piece of superhero cinema this side of the first Iron Man. Following young Peter Quill, who is abducted from Earth within moments of his mother's death, we next meet the now self proclaimed Star Lord 25 years later - as the young boy has grown into a Han Solo-ish space outlaw - who else would a child of the eighties model themselves on! Amid all the quips, spectacular action and special effects, at its core, Guardians of the Galaxy is the story of a group of loners and outsiders who come together, after finally finding something and someone to believe in - each other. With a message that may have been lost on the larger audience, I'm pretty sure it struck a cord with those of us who feel they have just, or are yet to find, their own place in this galaxy of ours.
Comic Book of the Year - The Star Wars
As the Dark Horse era of Star Wars comic books sadly drew to a close, they were at least able to bow out on such a high. This timely adaptation of George Lucas' rough draft for The Star Wars from 1974, contains many elements which he reworked for the final Episode IV screenplay, and interestingly also present are the political themes derided so much in the prequels. Fascinating reading, it does however appear to give some weight to Lucas' own observation - that when left to his own devices, or able to produce exactly as he envisioned, " no one seems to like it! "
Episode of the Year - Listen ( Doctor Who )
Narrowly pipping the excellent Time Heist and the series 8 finale, Steven Moffat's exploration of fear is My Geek Heart's TV episode of the year. Featuring a satisfyingly surprising twist, which left my son and I agog, Clara finds herself at the middle of yet another paradox, as her influence over the Doctor’s life shows no signs of waning. Expertly directed by Douglas Mackinnon, and featuring Peter Capaldi's strongest display up to that point, the episode will be fondly remembered for its examination of the Doctor, and what it truly means to be afraid.
Trailer of the Year - Star Wars The Force Awakens
There was only ever going to be one winner now wasn't there?
A trailer which has now been view a staggering 51 million times on You Tube alone, Star Wars fandom cried out in relief, as J.J. Abrams delivered a pitch perfect tease of what to expect from the eagerly awaited sequel trilogy. As my brother commented , that opening moment with John Boyega as Finn, provides more realistic expression than the entire prequel trilogy put together. Bodes well for this time next year!
Misstep of the Year - The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Having totally bought into Marc Webb's reboot of the Spider-Verse with his first outing, how disappointing it was to see almost everything which made that movie work, discarded in a botched attempt to launch a shared universe. Why are Peter and Gwen suddenly back together, only to break up again in the opening act, surely their eventually reconciliation - would have had greater impact - had it continued where they left off at the end of the first movie. And what happened to the hunt for Uncle Ben's murderer?! The threat from Electro coupled with the search for Ben's killer, should have formed the main focus for the movie, with the goblin either teased for a third outing - or appearing to provide an Empire Strikes Back of an ending. Andrew Garfield, Webb and co deserved better, and to be left alone to finish what they had started. The whole sorry affair may at least end with Marvel regaining control of their greatest superhero - and hopefully restoring him to his proper place - at the top of the superhero tree.
The Ones to Watch in 2015
ABC's mid-season replacement for Agents of Shield, as it continues production, could Agent Carter pull a Xena and out perform its sister show? Peggy Carter is an extremely popular character, and Hayley Atwell’s turn in Captain America left fans and new admirers wanting more. Just as the BBC excel with period dramas, this ABC and Marvel effort seems to have nailed an authentic 40's feel, while the trailers and clips released so far - hint at a fine blend of action and comedy.
Rivers of London
It remains to be seen whether the adaptation of Ben Aaronovitch's highly successful PC Grant novels, will enter production in time for a 2015 broadcast. If not, it would at least give those unfamiliar with the series, time to discover the world - of a special branch of the London Metropolitan Police dealing in magic, murder and the downright unnatural - for themselves. Aaronovitch wrote one of finest Doctor Who stories of its later years ( if not of all time ) in Remembrance Of The Daleks, and you can certainly feel the influence of that show here - as if part of his DNA. Featuring subtle references to genre favourites, and a knowing acknowledgement of the world of Harry Potter, Rivers has the potential to be the next big franchise of genre TV. Fingers crossed for this one.
With many of our favourite shows due back in January, and a bevy of genre movies to be launched throughout the year, can 2015 pip 2014 to deliver the greatest, geektastic twelve months of our lives?
See you in the Force Awakens queue!