Tuesday, February 11, 2014

End-Of-Year: Favorite 2013 TV Shows, Part 2

Sensing a pattern here as I posted Part 1 of my TV rankings more than two weeks ago, which I posted more than two weeks after I picked my acting winners. And it's already the middle of February, so without further a due...

My Top Fifteen TV Shows of 2013

15. Trophy Wife - Like Cougar Town, the title of this little-seen sitcom hides the gem within. Malin Akerman plays Kate, the titular wife to Bradley Whitford's Pete, his third wife to be exact. His relationship with his previous two ex-wives (with kids) are friendly enough that he still keeps in constant contact with them and it's this hilarious and awkward family unit that is on full display. The cast is uniformly wonderful from little show-stealing Albert Tsai to the deadpan genius of Marcia Gay Harden.

14. Doctor Who - I'm probably ranking this show a bit higher than I really think it deserves as a whole mostly because I was quite impressed by the 50th Anniversary episode, which really was the moment the show has been working towards for the past couple of years. The rest of the episodes, including the Christmas finale, ranged from meh to good to no fault of the departing Matt Smith who was game for so many things in his last few episodes.

13. Shameless - The last season aired more than a year ago and I still can't get certain scenes out of my head such as Fiona fighting to get legal guardianship of her siblings in court or Kevin having sex with Veronica's mother in an attempt to get a baby or Mickey's dad finding his son making out with Ian and the violence that follows. But it less about these unforgettable moments, which the show has in spades, and more about this talented ensemble of mostly young actors led by an exquisite Emmy Rossum that I find most worthy of praise.

12. Broadchurch - This is a perfect example of a show that was a slow and steady burn with a tight script, wonderful cast, and breathtaking production values. The whodunnit aspect  may have been the hook for the show, but it's the deft way the show handled the complexity of its grisly plot (a young boy's murder in a tight-knit small community) that impressed me. The emotionally gratifying resolution was simultaneously shocking and organic, a rare combination. It's no wonder a US remake is on the way.

11. Masters of Sex - Who knew adapting the real life work and personal lives of famed sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson would make for some compelling TV? It certainly helps that Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan are both so good as leads with the latter doing some career-best work. But as great as they both are, the show's supporting characters really does elevate the show from the heartbreaking story arcs of the elder Scullys to the more lighthearted situations with Teddy or Jane.

10. Orphan Black - Tatiana Maslany was the breakout TV star of last year for me and she is the main reason why this BBC America sci-fi show became a crossover hit. The obvious hook was seeing one actress playing multiple characters, which Maslany deftly handles, but the show also goes deeper forcing viewers to examine their notions and preconceptions of identity, family, privacy, individuality, free will, and spirituality. Oh, plus lots of bonus ass kicking.

9. In the Flesh - This three-episode British miniseries about a post-zombie apocalypse world is definitely one of the smartest and most affecting show of its kind that I've seen. Newcomer Luke Newberry is brilliant as Kieren Walker, one of the millions of former "undead" who've been rehabilitated and allowed to resume their "normal" lives. Seeing the world, in this case Kieren's family as well as everyone in his small village, react to his return was something to behold. Plus I truly loved all of the various emotional twists and turns the story took leading up to a engrossing finale I couldn't have even imagined.

8. Parks and Recreation - If the entire year just consisted of Leslie and Ben getting married, it probably would've still been in my top 10, but thankfully the show is still doling out great episodes after another featuring one of the least celebrated ensembles on TV. I've quite enjoyed seeing Leslie go through the wringer this year--fighting with her fellow representatives, going through a recall vote, working with Eagletonians, accepting the fact that Ann is leaving--as well as seeing all of the other characters grow and evolve.

7. The Americans - I thought the pilot was quite good and it just got better and better as we got more entrenched in the lives of these two KGB agents, played magnificently by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, living in secret as a married couple with kids in the height of the Cold War. There's much to love about the show such as its superb cast, its subtle period stylings, and its rocking musical score. But it's its ability to balance the cool spy stuff with its fake wigs, assassination attempts, and crazy gadgets, with the family/personal lives of the characters that really elevate the show for me.

6. Veep - My pick for my favorite new show of last year moves up the ranking delivering a sophomore season that was just as funny and crazy, if not funnier and crazier, as its first brilliant outing. This time around I wasn't as shocked at the insane things the show would have the cast, especially a game Julia-Louis Dreyfus, do but I still couldn't help but laugh. I'm just really looking forward to seeing what off-the-wall stuff they try to do next season.

5. Game of Thrones - With its sophomore season, I feared the show was already spreading itself too thin. Thankfully, the show came roaring back with its strongest season yet last year doing a much better job of juggling and mixing its myriad characters, locales, and stories. It wasn't perfect (Theon's unending torture), but a season that brought us the infamous Red Wedding with its jaw-dropping development is something to be celebrated. And that's just one of a dozen or so plot developments the show unveiled this past season that made me so excited to know what's to come that I *almost* considered starting to read the books!

4. Brooklyn Nine-Nine - A sitcom about cops on FOX starring Andy Samberg? What in the hell? Thankfully, I listened to the critics on this one and gave it a shot, because if I didn't I would've definitely missed out on such a hilarious show. Samberg plays a cocky detective who butts up against the new gay captain with a penchant of deadpans reactions played by Andre Braugher. They work SO well together, but the genius of this show is how every character and every relationship/interaction seem fully realized and most importantly for a sitcom, funny.

3. Orange is the New Black - *BEST COMEDY* *BEST NEW SHOW* I went back and forth on this and Brooklyn Nine-Nine for my top new show/comedy, but I had to give this show the edge both for breaking new ground (along side House of Cards) with its Netflix debut and for its predominantly large female ensemble. And what an ensemble it is (my favorite of the year) consisting of mostly unknowns or newcomers brimming with talent and charm. The actors and the writers together make it nearly impossible to pick a favorite character, which is a sign that you're doing something good.

2. The Good Wife - Everything I love about the show is still present--the interesting court cases, the superb ensemble, the envious roster of guest stars, the interplay between work and home--but their decision to pit Alicia and Cary against Will and Diane catapulted the show to whole new levels of awesome shifting everyone's relationships and allegiances and giving new energy to many of the characters and thus the show. The episode when Will found out about Alicia leaving the firm is one of the best, and most tense, hours of TV all of last year.

1. Breaking Bad - *BEST DRAMA* This was almost too easy. How could I not give one of my favorite shows the top spot especially after it delivered an almost pitch perfect final season? From the get go with Walter threatening Hank, you knew the last eight episodes would take no prisoners and thankfully it all lived up to the deafening hype and buzz. I watched the final season finding myself holding my breath or on the edge of my seat as Walter's and everyone else's situations got worse and worse. And yet the ending was pretty much what it should have been and I still can't believe the cast and crew of the show pulled it all off in the end. TV will have big shoes to fill.

Final Note: Netflix has 3 shows in my top 35 including one in my top 3 while other new networks on my list include FX, History, MTV, and Pivot. The network with my most shows is CBS with 5, but it only has one show in my top 15 while BBC America is second with 4 shows, all of them in my top 15, but in terms of British shows there are a whopping 6 in my list. The big winner, however, are freshman shows with a tally of 15 overall and 8 in my top 15. The future looks good!

1 comment:

  1. BROOKLYN NINE NINE is just so good. Marathoned the episodes last week and it's just SOOOOO GOOOD.

    I can't even deal with the funny.


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