Welcome back to Bleeding Cool TV's Top 10 of 2020- a look at the year in broadcast, cable, streaming, and online television with our focus on the best and brightest in what continues to be an ever-growing pool of quality content. This year, it's important for us to recognize just how much Television stepped up in the face of a global pandemic as other mediums left their audiences to go it alone. Not Television. Television stepped up to make our lockdown times a little more sane- a bit more bearable. From live-streaming table reads to tweet-a-longs with shows' best and brightest offering fans new content to productions going into massive "bubble modes" to knock out as much content as possible. In 2020, Television proved once again what it's always been. A reflection of what we've been, who we are, and who we have the potential to be in the toughest of times. A series that found a way to reflect our current pandemic times while still giving viewers a moment to smile was Simon Evans and Phin Glynn's Staged.
Premiering on BBC One in June 2020, the series used video-conferencing technology to offer viewers "meta fictionalized" versions of Michael Sheen (Prodigal Son) and David Tennant (Doctor Who) as they attempt to rehearse a performance of Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author– without driving director Simon Evans (playing themselves) totally off the rails in the process. Here's what Bleeding Cool writer Adi Tantimedh had to say as to why Staged was deserving of making the cut:
"'Staged' is arguably the most successful TV show conceived, shot, and broadcast in Lockdown. British TV has leaned in on addressing and portraying life in lockdown than anywhere else. They produced more dramas during and set in Lockdown than the US did, and without treating it as a gimmick. 'Staged' on the BBC is the only lockdown sitcom to not only be a bonafide hit but also get a second season," Tantimedh explained.
"With David Tennant and Martin Sheen playing exaggerated versions of themselves, the show is a spiritual sequel to Good Omens. It's not enough to just slap these actors on a zoom screen and expect them to deliver. There needs to be a script, plots, B plots, arcs, and comedy. Tennant and Sheen's chemistry and ability to bounce jokes off each other. It's a glorious satire of social faux pas, of actor insecurity, of the classic British fear of embarrassment and small acts of bad faith and dishonesty that blow up in people's faces," he continued. "It's the kind of comedy you get from 'The Larry Sanders Show' where the real and fictional blur and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' where minor embarrassing situations escalate into social disasters. The supporting cast also becomes perfect foils for the stars: Sheen and Tennant's real-life spouses Georgia Tennant and Anna Lundberg, Nina Sosonya as an intimidating producer, series creator Simon Evans as a nervous, snivelly and disastrous version of himself all add to the mix as well as the unexpected celebrity cameos. 'Staged' is that rare lockdown comedy that leans into its lockdown gimmick and creates something unique and hilarious."