Best TV Shows of 2013
Doctor Who, Agents of SHIELD, Arrow, the Walking Dead, Under the Dome. What shows made the list? What shows didn't?
A little delayed...I know. But here they are. My top 10 picks for best TV shows of 2013...chosen out of 76 shows I watched for the year.
#15- ARROW- Season 1 & 2
A show that took a while to grow on me, I found the first four episodes to be cringe inducing with some lackluster acting, and loose plotting, but like many action drama’s it just took a little while to find its rhythm. Quickly trading out its dull actors to highlight the more enjoyable ones (Diggs & Felicity over Laurel, Thia & Tommy), the show brought in some much needed late game chemistry to complement the downright awesome fight scenes. The start of Season 2 only improved on the first. Overall this DC adaption maintained an engaging long arc plotline and an was unexpected treat. This is how you do a superhero show right. Take note Marvel.
#14- Broadchurch- Season 1
This “who-done-it” drama is the kind of detective story that I really can sink my teeth into. It gives you enough mystery to form your own theories and suspects while at the same time constantly dishing out new information. Featuring past Doctor Who lead David Tennant, the show is packed with great performances, suspense, and drama. Unlike many of these murder mysteries, this one keeps things interesting without ever feeling too stretched out or relying on half-baked twists (like The Killing devolved into). However, just seeing Tennant back on the small screen is worth giving it a look.
#13- Orphan Black- Season 1
2013 was a good year for science fiction. With Under the Dome, comic book properties, Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary and this surprise thriller that features a group of clones trying to find the truth behind their past and creation. The main clone is a con artist attempting to rob her fellow duplicates. How’s that for a concept! Featuring multiple strong performances from the main actress, Orphan Black was riveting from start to finish and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.
#12- The Blacklist- Season 1
Out of left field for me. This show is awesome for several reasons. First and foremost is James Spader who will soon appear as the homicidal robot “Ultron” in The Avengers 2. The show features some fun- albeit cheesy- storylines akin to what you might see in Burn Notice more than Homeland (which made in my Top 10 last year). They are fast fun and feature the shared chemistry of Spader and relatively unknown Megan Boone. That coupled with underlying mysteries surrounding Redington’s motives, Lizzy’s husband, and the overall Blacklist makes you want to tune in for the next episode. Bring on the next episodes already!
#11- Luther- Season 3
BBC knows how to make detective dramas, this much is for certain. There may have been no Sherlock this year, but that’s fine if John Luther gets to take center stage. The series features a morally grey detective with anger management issues. He chases down all kinds of crazy serial killers and culprits of the worse kind. It’s just as good as ever and features the additional threat of Luther’s own livelihood being on the line. As always Idris Elba chews up every single scene and the writing is both creepy and, unlike many detective shows, it is more about HOW the detective catches the culprit, rather than who did the crime.
#10- Doctor Who- Series 7
This has been on my list of the top 10 for the last three years and this year it almost dropped off. Like every season the show has it’s ups and downs in the episodes. Some are jaw dropping fantastic and others embarrassingly lame. However, due to its history as a serial based show, I’ve always found that one of the charms of the program. Even when the plot drops the ball, the characters are still a whole lot of fun to watch. What lowered it this year was the horrible choice to put a 6-month gap in the middle of an already short series, making it feel disjointed and even shorter than normal. Yet overall the series was a whole lot of fun with a “blockbuster” theme that stretched its entirety. If you’re looking for overflowing creativity, then this is it. Let’s also not forget to include the fantastic 50th anniversary celebration that harkened back to the long history of the show before finishing off with a bang in saluting the end of the eleventh doctor’s era.
#9- Brooklyn Nine-Nine- Season 1
I was torn between which comedies to include on this list, as it came down to Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I ended up landing on Brooklyn Nine-Nine if only to shed some light on a newer comedy that is written by the same team as the US Office and Parks and Recreation. It stars Andy Samburg as the lead. Let’s face it. It was only a matter of time before he got his own show. His rising popularity from Saturday Night and Loney Islands made it inevitable. The show is fast paced, funny, and with killer chemistry in the cast, this is easily the best new comedy of the year.
#8- Legend of Korra- Season 2
There is no denying that I am a major animation buff and there is no American action animation that even comes close the absurd quality of Legend of Korra. This offshoot of Avatar: The Last Airbender might not be as tightly plotted as the first season of the show but it picks up in the second half and offers drop dead gorgeous animation to make up for the sometimes lackluster writing for the beginning episodes.
#7- House of Cards- Season 1
If the resurrected Arrested Development definitively proved the model of online shows could work, then it was House of Cards that showed that Netflix could put out a show just as good as anything from HBO, Showtime, or AMC. House of Cards features big name Kevin Spacey doing what he does best—portraying a morally grey character. House of Cards is intense, gorgeously shot, and wonderfully acted. It helps when David Fincher directs your pilot. It’s also worthy to note that it is one of the few remakes of a foreign show that is better than the original.
#6- Attack on Titan- Season 1
I honestly didn’t expect two animated properties to be in my top ten but when it comes to Attack on Titan, it would be a sin to leave it off. This grim anime concentrates on a mythology that has become a joke. Giants. Usually silly and goofy in media—see Jack the Giant Slayer—Attack on Titan not only makes them cool again…it makes them damn horrifying. The show works by having a slick premise and by not being afraid to kill off characters in droves. It might have learned from the Game of Thrones model that nothing will make a scene more tense than knowing anyone could die at any moment.
#5- Boardwalk Empire- Season 4
When it comes to quality acting, production design and elaborate set pieces- few shows can compare to Boardwalk Empire. Though their lead character seems pushed off to the side for the first few episodes and it lacks the moral center of the Margret- the show still keeps up the stellar scripting and gorgeous cinematography it has been known for, even if it seems a little confused on who should be the main villain.
#4- Justified- Season 4
Another season of our favorite sharp shooting, smart talking lawman. Justified represents a modern retelling of western tropes. It stars Timothy Oliphant as US Marshal, Rayland Givens—a shoot first, ask questions later lawman. Justified continues its sensational run. Givens is still stuck in Harlem county and facing the worst hill Billy criminals and black hat crimelords that cross his path. This season focuses on the mystery of a dead skydiver and missing drugs, while at the same time building up to that inevitable showdown between Givens and his old friend Boyd Crowder.
#3- The Walking Dead- Season 3 & 4
One of the biggest shows on air today, The Walking Dead reached new heights in its third season. After the budget cuts and painfully drawn out second season, the third wraps up a great concept for it’s third run and gets a good start for season 4. It really is when the human villains show up that the show reaches the potential it only hinted at for its premier run. Now we can’t wait to tune in to see who’s going to get torn apart by Zombies and how Rick is going to out maneuver his nemeses the Governor.
#2- Game of Thrones- Season 3
This one almost took my top spot. Anyone who has read A Song of Ice and Fire know how hard it would be to adapt it to film. With the multiple POV and plot threads, making a loyal adaption to the big screen would have been near impossible. However, the books seem made for the small screen. With ace production designs and effects that look like they belong in a summer blockbuster, the show is gorgeous. But the real appeal is the sharp writing that keeps the readers/watchers on the edge of the seat, waiting to see who out maneuvers who, and who makes a critical mistake and dies. It again demonstrates the advantage of having a property with no main character. It means you fear for everyone’s safety at every moment.
#1- Breaking Bad
Was it really going to be anything else? So many shows have fumbled the ball in their series finale. Lost, The Sopranos, Evangeleon…. Without spoiling anything- you can rest easy Breaking Bad fans. The show ends in fine form. It features some of the most tense episodes and builds to a fulfilling climax that will keep you guessing. Most of all though, these final episodes solidify Breaking Bad’s place as one of the best shows of the last 15 years.
So what were your favorite shows of last year? Leave a comment below.
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