The year that was

2018 had more TV highs and lows than a hike up Mount Ever­est. Here’s a re­cap of what’s hot and not, the movers, the shak­ers and every­thing in-between that kept us glued to our screens for 12 months.

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PRISON WARS

Prison Break’s 2017 re­boot was a flop but it set a trend for lo­cal shows this year. Sea­son 3 of Mzansi Magic’s Lock­down (2017- cur­rent) re­turned with more be­hind-bars brawls than ever at the Thabaz­imbi Women’s Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity – they even flew in US ac­tress Tichina Arnold (Rochelle in Ev­ery­body Hates Chris, 2005-2009) as new­comer Paulette. “This other world is es­capism for the or­di­nary per­son,” says Tichina. “It’s part of modern so­ci­ety, so you can’t es­cape it and there are so many sto­ries to tell. It makes for com­pelling sto­ry­telling be­cause the char­ac­ters are di­verse and you will find your­self in one of those peo­ple in the show.” Just about ev­ery lo­cal soapie fea­tured a prison sto­ry­line too, like Isidingo (1998- cur­rent) who’ve thrown The Deep’s crime queen­pin Nina (Khabon­ina Qubeka) in the slam­mer to add in­sult to su­per­nat­u­ral in­jury in her war with Lin­coln (Lin­dani Nkosi).

SIZ­ZLING COM­PE­TI­TION

Un­sur­pris­ingly, re­al­ity shows came out tops, whether it was re­turn­ing Sur­vivor SA (2006- cur­rent) af­ter a fiveyear hia­tus, throw­ing in­gre­di­ents into a pan to wine and dine pro­fes­sional food­ies on sea­son 2 of My Kitchen Rules SA (2017- cur­rent) or prick­ing fingers with a sewing nee­dle in the first sea­son of Project Run­way SA (2018- cur­rent). They did so well that it was a no-brainer for DStv to re­new them all for new sea­sons while also bring­ing in new shows for 2019, like The Bach­e­lor SA. “The con­tes­tants are you and me,” says M-Net head of pub­lic­ity Lani Lom­bard. “Or­di­nary peo­ple who make magic. It’s en­gag­ing and the so­cial me­dia in­ter­ac­tion makes feed­back im­me­di­ate. Re­al­ity rules.”

BEAM US UP, SCOTTY

Stream­ing ser­vices have blasted to the front of TV land lo­cally. You want a show? Chances are ex­cel­lent that you can stream it and to any de­vice – smart TV, lap­top, even your cell­phone thanks to apps from stream­ing ser­vices like Show­max (see our bonus hol­i­day fea­ture on p8). Watch episodes on the go no mat­ter what you’re do­ing. No ad breaks. No re­peats. No miss­ing the episode be­cause you’re stuck in traf­fic. And Show­max is do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent to ev­ery­one else lo­cally – thanks to part­ner­ships with chan­nels like Mzansi Magic and kykNET, they’ve got orig­i­nal con­tent and ex­clu­sives that are avail­able to view right af­ter they air on reg­u­lar tele­vi­sion, in­clud­ing The House­keep­ers (Mzansi, 2018- cur­rent), Water­front (2017- cur­rent) and the ridicu­lously ad­dic­tive Tali’s Wed­ding Di­ary (2018- cur­rent).

SO­CIAL STORM

TV big­wigs don’t care if fans are up­set when they can­cel shows – if a pro­duc­tion isn’t per­form­ing, it gets axed like cop com­edy Brook­lyn Nine-Nine (2013cur­rent) and dark fan­tasy se­ries Lu­cifer (2015- cur­rent). They were cut off in the mid­dle of the year but sur­pris­ingly found sal­va­tion in their masses of fans. Lu­cifer was bought by Net­flix for a sea­son 4 in 2019, while fan favourite Brook­lyn was picked up by NBC for an ex­tended sixth sea­son.

Tichina Arnold (third from left) came all the way from the US for her role in prison drama Lock­down.

You can stream lo­cal drama House­keep­ers if you miss an episode.

My Kitchen Rules was a re­al­ity hit.

Lu­cifer was saved from can­cel­la­tion.

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