Top TV of 2013 (10-6)
2013 – the year we said goodbye to two much-loved characters in Walter White and Dexter Morgan. Breaking Bad and Dexter certainly took two very different paths in their finales, one of which was universally praised while the other polarised audiences around the world. TV is a revolving door and as some people leave our lives, others come crashing in. We’ve had the chance to meet some other addictive personalities who will no doubt keep us entertained for years to come – from James Spader’s scene-stealing Red in The Blacklist to the incredibly versatile Tatiana Maslany as numerous clones in Orphan Black.
As well as Breaking Bad and Dexter, we also saw finales of UK shows Misfits and Being Human. We’re still struggling over the loss of US comedy Happy Endings, as well as Ben & Kate and Go On, both of which showed promise but were cancelled after a single season. Other shows such as CSI: New York and Private Practice simply came to a natural end, while Robert Knepper’s Cult hardly got a chance to find its footing. This is the risk you take with TV – you give your heart and soul to your favourite shows, and they can be torn from you without warning. Not only do shows get cancelled outright, but others simply take pleasure in killing off your favourite characters. I’m looking at you Game of Thrones!
The good news is that all hope is not lost, as revived show Arrested Development showed this year. With Netflix quickly becoming a competitor in the TV industry with its original programming like Orange Is the New Black, we’re spoilt for choice. 2013 has been a strong year for new shows and networks have been forced to up their game and take risks. What has been the best on offer though? We take a look at what we think were the top 10, and feel free to leave comments about your own personal highlights this year!
New Girl – Without Happy Endings on air, New Girl has taken on the mantle of the best buddy comedy on television. How I Met Your Mother is beyond its best, and while we love Barney and co, they struggle to compete with the amazing Schmidt and angry Nick. Even if you don’t like Zooey Deschanel, there is so much more to this show that will keep you smiling.
The Fall –Gillian Anderson has really picked up her game, hasn’t she? No longer in a post-X Files funk, Anderson had a stellar year with her performance here as a police officer alongside Jamie Dornan before he became Mr Fifty Shades. Throw in her recurring role in Hannibal, and the future looks bright for Scully.
House of Cards – Kevin Spacey and Netflix teamed up for an adaptation of the original political BBC series and received praise all over the board. A second season is incoming.
Luther – Idris Elba. Alice Morgan. We don’t need to say anything else.
Utopia – Another great example of British drama on Channel 4. A tense conspiracy thriller featuring some promising young talent. Well worth catching up with before the second series.
And now on to our Top 10…
10: Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Yes, we’re sneaking in a show here that hasn’t even aired on UK television yet! American comedies are ten a penny and many get cancelled after a single season, so to see a new one debut this season with such strong writing and overall casting is a pleasure. Andy Samberg (The Lonely Island), Terry Crews (Everybody Hates Chris) and Andre Braugher (Homicide) all shine brightly and certainly bring the laughs. It isn’t setting the ratings alight, but it comes highly recommended when it appears on E4 early next year.
9: The Blacklist
Not since the early seasons of 24 have we seen a drama that plays out as crazily and unpredictably as The Blacklist. Some of the performances may be rather weak, but James Spader is a sole reason to tune in each and every week. We’d go as far as to argue that the rough-around-the-edges feel of the show is what makes it so fun, so tune in without expecting a tight and sensible storyline, and instead go along for the ride.
8: The Americans
In a year where Homeland decided to slide off the scale and self-destruct in a bizarre fashion, The Americans stepped up and became many people’s new addiction. It’s a non-stop crazy train, one that doesn’t promise to make sense all the time, but much like The Blacklist it’s fun to watch, and isn’t that important? Homeland became a chore to get through every week when it used to be something we couldn’t wait to see again. The Americans manages to keep your attention and intrigue enough to warrant returning every episode. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys excel in their roles.
7: Orange Is the New Black
Part-comedy and part-drama, many didn’t know what to expect from this Netflix original series, yet after an episode or two they were totally hooked. Taylor Schilling appears in a career-making role as inmate Piper Chapman alongside American Pie’s Jason Biggs and That 70s Show’s Laura Prepon. We haven’t seen a new show get such buzz and word of mouth in a long time. Netflix may not have much original content at the moment, but what it is picking and choosing is top drawer. With OITNB coming back for a second season, and Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul appearing exclusively on the site, everything’s coming up Netflix.
6: Game of Thrones
Was Season 3 the show at its best? It was certainly at its most popular. When looking back at the show, there are always a number of memorable episodes per season, so it’s hard to pick a favourite. Yet when you think about Season 3, there was only ever going to be one thing that stuck in the minds of the audience – The Red Wedding. A moment that fans of the books had been waiting for, and that many poor unsuspecting viewers never saw coming, The Red Wedding earns Thrones a spot in this list all by itself. This is the first of David Bradley’s appearances in this article, and as Walder Frey, by far his most sinister. A truly unforgettable moment in television, and one that many will never forgive George R. R. Martin for. (Don’t forget to click here to see our interview with David Bradley about playing Walder Frey. And you can check out all our Game of Thrones interviews by clicking here.)
Stay tuned for our top 5!