I bet you thought I’d forgotten all about this, didn’t you? I’m sorry–I know this is shamefully late, but it turns out that, annoyingly, toddlers don’t raise themselves and novels don’t write themselves, so other things end up sliding. But hey, at least I got to it before December, right?
Ok, let’s get on with it. Here are the winners of this year’s Golden Armchair Awards, as voted by you! Thanks to everyone who participated!
Best New Miniseries or Show
Readers’ Pick: Poldark
Oooh, it was close this year, but Poldark just managed to squeak out the win. I’m sure those fine, fine abs had nothing to do with it.
My Pick: Wolf Hall
This one fell just one vote short of Poldark’s total, and while I really enjoyed Poldark, Wolf Hall is, to me, a sublime adaptation of a book I adored, so I have no choice but to give it all my love.
Most Badass Moment
Readers’ Pick: Avril runs off the horrible matron of the maternity home (Call the Midwife)
As if life weren’t hard enough for these ladies, they then get stuck with a complete bitch running their lives and making them feel worse? Thank God for Avril, who was sooo not taking any of that lady’s shit.
My Pick: Vanessa defeats the devil (Penny Dreadful)
The devil, people! We know Vanessa’s special and all, but damn, that’s pretty hardcore!
Hell, Yeah! Moment
Readers’ Pick/My Pick: Edith grabs her daughter and abandons her horrible family for a life in London (Downton Abbey)
We Edith fans (abused though we are) had been waiting for this moment for years. Why did Edith continue to hang around Downton and put up with her family’s neglect and outright abuse? Especially since she had a completely amazing life waiting for her down in London? Go, Edith! This brilliant moment was marred only by the fact that she almost immediately went back again, after Cora came to town and threatened to basically ruin Edith’s life if she didn’t come to heel. Sigh.
Readers’ Pick: Edith’s entire family clearly doesn’t care at all that Michael is dead, and heads out for a nice picnic and day at the races (Downton Abbey)
What in the name of God is wrong with these people anyway? And not only are they utterly unfeeling here, Cora actually scolds Edith for calling Mary out on attention whoring. Is this really the time? These people…
My Pick: Dany rides Drogon to safety from the sons of the Harpy, but leaves all her closest allies and confidantes behind (and astonishingly, they aren’t killed) (Game of Thrones)
Much as the above enraged me, it was at least in line with how these people have been behaving all this time. But this moment from Game of Thrones had me scratching my head and thinking that something important must have been left on the cutting room floor. It seems unlike Dany to just abandon her friends and allies like that. And how the hell did they get out of there alive? Did the Harpies just give up? Walk away once Dany was gone? That seems unlikely.
Readers’ Pick and My Pick: The investigation into Greene’s death (Downton Abbey)
Oh, GOD was this not the WORST? Even if you know nothing about the justice system you could tell this was idiotic in the extreme. Total waste of time, and I’m pretty sure it made me stupider just from watching.
Most Shocking Moment
Readers’ Pick: Stannis burns his daughter at the stake (Game of Thrones)
Wow. GoT the show has been going off-book for some time now, but even so, it didn’t seem like anyone really saw this one coming. Probably because it didn’t really make much sense and painted Stannis into such a corner they really had no choice but to kill him off.
My Pick: Brona/Lily reveals she remembers everything and has been playing everyone this whole time (and is also fairly homicidal) (Penny Dreadful)
I’m going with this one not only because it was surprising to find out how much she’d been playing a role that whole time, but also because of the incredible tour-de-force monologue Billie Piper delivered on the reveal. I don’t often find myself staring slack-jawed at the television at the end of a scene, but I sure as hell did here.
Best Example of Suicidal Stupidity
Readers’ Choice: Mary and Tony check into a hotel for a clandestine sex weekend using their own names (Downton Abbey)
Granted, neither of these two would be described as much of a brain trust, but come ON! Was anyone surprised when this came back to (briefly) bite Mary in the ass? It’s just amazing it didn’t turn out worse for her.
My Choice: Cersei gives a group of religious zealots a huge amount of power, believing she can control them (Game of Thrones)
Oh, Cersei. Again, not much of a thinker, and boy did that show here. Thinking you can control religious zealots ever is pretty foolish. It’s even stupider when you can’t control anything–not even your own son. And when you have the sort of history Cersei has, how can you not think these people are eventually going to turn on you?
Readers’ and My Choice: Cynthia takes care of Trixie when she’s right about to go over the edge (Call the Midwife)
One of the great things about CtM is that it’s unashamedly a show about women: their strengths, weaknesses, and relationships with each other. The interplay between all the nurses has always been lovely, but few moments have been as touching as this one, which found a desperate Trixie calling the Samaritans, then being gently rescued by Cynthia.
Readers’ Choice: The three neglected children are apparently shipped off to a miserable life of exploitation in Australia (Call the Midwife)
CtM rarely pulls its punches, but this one was so awful it felt downright unnecessary. These children have already been through so much horror, to have JVO tell us, over scenes of them joyfully, hopefully boarding the ship for Australia that they were just going to a place where they’d endure more dreadful abuse was just depressing as hell and one of the most downer endings I think the show has ever offered up.
My Choice: Sansa Stark is married off to Ramsay Snow (Game of Thrones)
Sansa should frustrate me, because she’s basically a helpless girl who keeps waiting to be rescued, and yet, I just keep feeling for her. The poor thing has been dragged through the wringer again and again and again and she’s trapped in a situation she simply doesn’t have the skills or natural abilities to cope with (unlike, say, Arya). Watching her get married off to the sadistic Ramsay Snow (and their subsequent wedding night) was just icing on the horror cake that is this girl’s life.
Storyline with the Most Wasted Potential
Readers’ Choice: Edith decides to move to London, only to return after about a week (Downton Abbey)
Show of hands, who would love to watch a show about Edith living fabulously in London, balancing single motherhood and a career at a time when both those things were fairly unusual (especially amongst the upper classes)? Yeah, I thought so. Much more interesting than watching Mary taunt men or Carson intone CHAAAAAANGE! yet again.
My Pick: The Sand Snakes (Game of Thrones)
Maybe I was expecting too much, but I was all prepared for some amazing women kicking ass and avenging the man they loved. Instead we got a poorly choreographed fight scene and a bunch of childish interactions in a prison cell.
Fridge Horror Moment
Readers’ Choice and My Choice: A baby with brittle bone disease is going to be raised by parents who don’t believe in even the most basic pain relief (Call the Midwife)
Yeesh. I guess we’re supposed to be all happy that the parents were cleared of abuse charges, but that doesn’t change the fact that they denied their injured baby aspirin, for God’s sake. The show completely ignored the implications of these people’s nutso beliefs on this child’s life, but I couldn’t help but dwell on it long after the credits rolled.
Readers’ Pick: Ross and Demelza (Poldark)
Their relationship has its troubles, to be sure, but they get through the tough times together, and though Ross might be reluctant to admit it at times, she probably is the best partner for him.
My Pick: Claire and Jamie (Outlander)
It was a marriage of convenience, but damn, is there heat or what? And tenderness and understanding. It might not be entirely realistic that a man of Jamie’s time would be so willing to open up to a woman and listen to her council and opinions, but it’s nice that he does, and it’s also nice that, when things get tough, both of them are more than willing to step up.
Readers’ Pick and My Pick: Sarah Bunting and Tom Branson (Downton Abbey)
I don’t think we had any choice but to go with this, since Sarah Bunting was so clearly designed to be hated. Why is it so hard for Fellowes to give us characters with a little nuance? I don’t mind the lifestyles and beliefs of the upper classes being questioned, but it’s hard to do anything but align with them when the person doing the questioning is so relentlessly horrible. Farewell, Sarah. We were not sorry to see you go.
Readers’ Pick: The Nonnatus Crew (Call the Midwife)
They head out day and night to minister to the needs of London’s East End, and they always have the time and energy to support each other as much as they do their patients. Ladies, we salute you.
My Pick: Tyrion, Jorah, Grey Worm and Daario (Game of Thrones)
In a pretty grim season, these guys made me both laugh and cheer. I hope we get to see more of them together, because they were probably my favourite part of the season.
Best New Character
Readers’ Pick and My Pick: Demelza (Poldark)
She’s almost too good to be true, and yet, you don’t quite get tired of her, do you? Demelza is sweet, giving, affectionate, and tough. She’s just what Ross needs, and it’s nice to see him acknowledge that from time to time.
Worst New Character
Readers’ Pick and My Pick: Sarah Bunting (Downton Abbey)
It wasn’t even close, and no wonder: Sarah, as I said earlier, was designed to be hated. Thank God she didn’t last long–if Fellowes had forced us to put up with her much longer I think some of us would have revolted.
Character who Needs a Good Slap
Readers’ Pick: Mary Crawley (Downton Abbey)
Oh, Mary. You never change, do you? I mean, not really. You’re a petty, selfish creature who can’t stand to let anyone have the spotlight (or even grieve properly when you have a new haircut to show off!). Why, why hasn’t anyone told her off yet? And why does Carson continue to think the sun shines out of her backside?
My Pick: Francis Poldark (Poldark)
Mary drives me nuts, but Francis–oh, heavens, Francis. His insecurity complex is bad enough, but gambling away the family’s mine? Honestly, boy! Your father was right about you.
Best Villain (Tie)
Readers’ Pick: Ramsay Snow (Game of Thrones)
Yeah, he’s pretty villainous. This little psycho is a sadistic nutjob so extreme I’m pretty sure Hannibal Lecter would tell him to ease up. Torturing Theon was bad enough, but then raping and abusing Sansa Stark? Not at all acceptable, even on this show.
Readers’ Pick: Pretty much all of life in the 18th century (Banished)
Life just sucked for everyone on this show, didn’t it? The prisoners were shipped off to a godforsaken island, some of them for extremely petty crimes, and the soldiers and higher-ups who accompanied them didn’t have it too much better, what with the isolation and fear and inability to find someone who will just understand you! Anyone who’s wanted to travel back in time really might want to reconsider after watching this.
My Pick: The Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair (Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell)
He wasn’t insane like Ramsay, he just didn’t operate by any sort of logic or moral code that humans would recognise, which made him unpredictable and impossible to control. Add to that the fact he’s a hugely powerful magical being who just takes what he wants, and you have the makings of a pretty scary adversary.
Best Application of the ’30 British Actors’ Rule
Readers’ Pick and My Pick: Eleanor Tomlinson as Isabel Neville in The White Queen, Georgiana Darcy in Death Comes to Pemberley, and Demelza in Poldark
Where did Eleanor Tomlinson come from? It seems like she’s all over the place all of a sudden, and really doing a spectacular job in a fairly wide range of roles. Don’t believe me? go and watch her play the frail victim in The White Queen, coarse but loveable Demelza and then an unbelievably creepy young woman in The Labours of Hercules. And keep in mind: she’s only 23.
Take a bow, everyone!