The joy of watching a show on SBS quite often is that you feel like you’ve found a little vein of gold. You keep watching, thinking it can’t be as good as you think and it only gets better. Sadly that’s also the problem for the broadcaster specialising in multicultural programming: not enough people realise it’s got some of the best free-to-air TV going around.
For those that aren’t true believers let’s take a look at what you missed this year…
2014 World Cup – The biggest sporting fixture in the world delivered with aplomb What a spectacle. Add to that the A League coverage is the only live weekly sport in HD and you’ve got a network that’s serious about what it delivers for the fans.
Borgen S03 – Those incredible Danes do it again, this time with sexy, solid political drama. Farewell, friend.
Dateline – SBS’s important flagship international current affairs program underwent a mutiny of sorts at the end of the year with funding cuts forcing changes and the team behind the show not being happy with the direction. Here’s hoping when it returns the product on screen hasn’t suffered from these losses.
Drunk History S01/S02 – When tipsy people recount history and it’s re-enacted by some of Hollywood and comedy’s finest? GOLD.
Eurovision 2014 – Zemiro, Pang, and for some reason Jessica Mauboy reminded us again why it’s great to not be part of the European Union and just be visitors. So. Much. Fun.
Fargo – A risky move making a TV series based around a cult film, but they nailed it. Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman and Martin Freeman brought the Minnesotean nice just right.
First Contact – Tucked away almost at the end of the ratings year this is a perfect partner series to Go Back To Where You Came From. The six participants all experienced something life-changing, Ray Martin brought credibility, and an oft-maligned people offered grace and forgiveness.
Food TV – This is an SBS specialty, be it Australian, Indigenous or international. Foodies watch because they know it’s the best stuff going around.
If You Are The One – There comes a time in a young Japanese man’s life where he must subject himself to the most horrible dating ritual known to television… and it’s perfect.
In The Flesh S02 – It got deeper and darker and set itself up perfectly for season three. The undead have feelings too, you know.
Insight – Jenny Brockie and co continue to deliver the goods when it comes to compelling and topical discussions with bite and without remorse.
Legally Brown S02 – More Nazeem Hussain comedic brilliance, surrounded by a fun ensemble cast. His talking his way into the homes of some of LA’s weirdest and craziest made for some delightful awkwardness.
Living With the Enemy – When the immovable opinion meets the opposing force. A brilliant insight into segments of Australia and their thoughts, feelings, prejudices and opportunities for redemption.
Masters of Sex S02 – While it may not have kept up with the original series Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan still delivered stellar drama (not the first great OS buy for SBS either).
Nathan For You S01/S02 – One part anarchy, one part comedy, one part the Apprentice, one part “did he really just do/say that?!”.
Rectify – Aden Young stars as a man released from jail after many years when it’s determined he didn’t commit the crime he was incarcerated for. The kudzu and humidity sat heavy on this southern American drama the had viewers glued. Put it in your diary – S02 in 2014.
SBS On Demand – On more platforms than ABC iview, and now delivering a bunch of movies for your bingeing pleasure. It continues to set the very high standard for catch up TV services.
SBS PopAsia – It’s worth the education. Warning: clips may induce seizures and a strong desire for K-Pop.
The Fall S01 – We all knew whodunnit and it was made all the more better by seeing Gillian Anderson try to track him down.
The Feed – More rock solid surprises mixed liberally with hilarious seriousness means Marc Fennell, Andy Park, Patrick Abboud, Jan Francis, Nick Hayden and team gave us everything we expected and more with this excellent weeknightly current affairs program (including an expanded late night Feed).
The Marngrook Footy Show – If you love AFL you’re probably already onto this. A gem in NITV’s multi-jewelled crown.
The Walking Dead – The toughest season of this show slow-tracked to SBS2 allow so many more pick up on the best relationship drama with zombies going around.
Vikings S02 – When the Norse go to England it’s not all tea and scones, and that’s only part of the charm.
Community – Still fun, just showing its age.
Who Do You Think You Are S06 – Stellar talent discover their family’s history but it’s really only for the history buffs (the Denton and Goodes episodes were pretty captivating).
RocKwiz S12 – Lining it up for Monday night just didn’t feel right and the audience knew it. Returns to Saturday nights for 2015 where we’ll again see some incredible musical talent shine and rock hard.
Once Upon A Time in Punchbowl – Pulled in the lead up to launch after it was discovered one of the key participants may have just been in it for the self-promotion. A re-edited version went to air though sadly the damage was well done.
Overall result: B plus. Full of surprises and so much gold to offer. Press 3-something on your remote sometime and you’ll be surprised with what pops up. The SBS team work very hard to deliver some incredible programming all for your benefit.