2013 saw a lot of big things in TV. The end of Breaking Bad, Fringe, The Office, Dexter, and 30 Rock, more Game of Thrones, Arrow got damn good, American Horror Story is still batshit insanely awesome, Marvel has its first big primetime network show in a long ass time, and The Good Wife has gotten more viewers, AS IT SHOULD! Oh and NBC actually has done something daring, have quality programming. So what was the best of all the best on TV? Let’s see.
This will be a spoiler free list.
10. The Americans; FX; 2013-Present
Created by Joe Weisberg
This year we’ve had two shows be set in the 1980s. We have one set in the midst of the Cold War, following two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American family in D.C., following their professional and personal lives among this, using real-life events to its benefits in the narrative of the show and how some can go on with the facade. The other is The Goldbergs. We’ll be talking about the first show. (Side-note: The Goldbergs has improved since the pilot but not worth keeping up with)
Creator Joe Weisberg has crafted a serious whopper of a great show. This helps keep FX on the map as far as it comes to quality programming. With this, Archer, Justified, Louie, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, Wilfred, and American Horror Story, FX has a wide range of quality man. Its fantastic. The Americans hots my joy-spot, spy stories, compelling characters, interesting character drama, high stakes, and some the best use of pop music in any show this year. Phil Collins, Fleetwood Mac, The Cure, and Peter Gabriel among others. Great use of the song choice, timing, and scene placement. But its the leads. Mathew Rhys is just fucking great as Philip Jennings. He’s really good but its Keri Russell’s show here. She’s amazing and incredible. This is her best performance ever. She puts her all into it and helps makes the show captivating. It also helps supporting roles from Noah Emmerich and Margo Martindale are really good. Especially Margo Martindale. Please keep her on. Forever. I want more of her.
9. Masters of Sex; Showtime; 2013-Present
Created by Michelle Ashford
Masters of Sex stood out as the best drama of the new crops of debuting fall shows this year. Also for lots and lots of boning. But mostly is quality programming. The show is based around the lives and studies of Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson at Washington University in St. Louis. The show follows them in their studies, their relationships, and ways around continuing the studies, even without the approval of the university.
Michael Sheen and Lizzy Chaplin are perfect together. They have such great chemistry and wonderful back and fourth with each other, its great to just watch the show for them. But it happens people like Beau Bridges, Allison Janney, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Teddy Sears, Nicholas D’Agosto, and Julianne Nicholson. The writing is sharp and snappy, again this show, a lot of its fun does come from how well Sheen and Chaplin work so well off each other. They are a dynamite team and I can’t wait for season two.
8. Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Fox; 2013-present
Created by Dan Goor and Michael Schur
This to me was the best debuting new show of the 2013 fall season. Yeah, I put this above Masters of Sex, which I still find very, very entertaining, but man its the ensemble here that really works. From one the many great people behind Parks and Recreation, Michael Schur and co-showrunner Dan Goor, this is a show that is a finely tuned swiss watch. The cast is headed up so well by the very surprising chemistry between lead Andy Samburg and the newly brought in captain played amazing well by Andre Braugher. It has stood out among its competition, being so conistent.
The supporting cast knocks it out the park too, by making you care and get invested quickly in everyone. I’m glad Fox has noticed and given the series a full season order and a slot for an episode after Super Bowl XLVIII. Also any show that has Terry Crews lamenting about what kind of castle has wheels, is a solid winner in my book. I’m honestly very happy every time a new episode airs. That’s how much I’ve grown to quickly love and enjoy this show so much.
7. Arrested Development; Netflix; 2003-2006; 2013-Present(?)
Created by Mitchell Hurwitz
My favorite television show ever returned and it was…pretty good. Yeah just because this is my all time favorite TV show doesn’t mean I was wearing rose tinted glasses when its new season debuted on Netflix back in May. Though its great to note how Netflix was able to resurrect the big cult favorite show after having been thought long and gone since 2006. Rumors came up everywhere of a new season and a movie, but nothing truly surfaced, but it did happen.
Now the season had a few ways to go before being amazing. The first couple episodes actually had me worried for structure, pacing, and even writing issues but halfway into the third episode, Arrested Development was back! Now the jokes are more hit and miss than usual but man its still some the funniest and best goddamn writing of television. The cast dynamic is still there, the callbacks are hilarious (well except for a couple forced ones), and I laughed which is all I could want from Arrested Development. The episodes centered on Gob are some the best things I seen of any TV show this year and proves what a great talent Will Arnett is. Shame he’s stuck on a pretty bad CBS sitcom with a more than capable cast, but hey man’s gotta work.
6. Parks and Recreation; NBC; 2009-Present
Created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur
The best comedy of television is Parks and Recreation. I really can’t think of a truly funnier show. Its just so well done in many aspects. the characters are just so well developed and worth following, the humor is spot on, the dramatic beats are great, sometimes better than the comedy, and the performances are excellent. What started off as a mediocre, so-so show has become a beloved TV comedy.
Time called this their best show last year and I don’t feel like disagreeing with them then. It was on fire, and its still on fire, but as you can tell with this list, 2013 was an amazing year for new debuting shows. But regardless, Parks remains among the great ongoing shows. Its made me laugh so many times, its just a damn good show. I love it so and with Pawnee was real so I may visit JJ’s Diner.
5. House of Cards; Netflix; 2013-Present
Created by Beau Willmon
Netflix kicked in the door with its very first original programming, a U.S. remake of House of Cards. 13 episodes, released all at once. Your choice, weekly or just marathon the hell out of it. I took the second option, then rewatched as the first, works ether way. The show is amazing. Now I haven’t yet seen the original, I want to now, but for right now, this version stand out. Netflix was a streaming service only, but its always been a thought if they had original programming to offer in between marathoning episodes of Buffy, Archer, and X-Files.
The production of the show is really good. Its great that David Fincher is behind this show, even directed the first two episodes. Its really great. The direction is so, so good. Not just Fincher, but also James Foley Joel Schumacher, Charles McDougall, Carl Franklin, and Allen Coulter. They work the camera so well, especially on the exterior scenes that show off Washington D.C. But let’s be honest, the drama is what’s great. Man Kevin Spacey honestly deserved that Emmy. This is some his best work ever. He’s incredible here and helped out by some great supporting cast members such as Robin Wright, Corey Stoll, Kate Mara, and Michael Kelly
4. Boardwalk Empire; HBO; 2010-Present
Created by Terrence Winter
Boardwalk Empire came off an amazing third season that saw major character development, a higher body count, a great villain, and a lot of goddamn drinking and good music. Last year Boardwalk Empire had its best season yet and well even though this was a bit of a step down, its still hands down the best show HBO has ever produced to me. Yes I love this more than Game of Thrones, and I will absolutely gush (blood) over why that is one the best shows in years for hours but personally, Boardwalk Empire is just so damn good.
The history of the show and how accurate they are, the detail of production design, the music choices, and what’s the big draw, the characters and their writing. This just has a little something more for me than Thrones does, but I love both shows. This season saw the rising of Chalky White played brilliantly by Michael K. Williams. Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson is fantastic but since day one, Chalky’s held my interest. Ever since that scene with the KKK member telling him about how his dad built bookshelves back in Texas, he’s been the one to pay attention to and this season is Chalky’s season. Great guest turns by Jeffery Wright and Ron Livingston as well as the regular cast of characters helps out too, but man Williams takes every chance he gets in the spotlight this season and owns it all.
3. Orange is the New Black; Netflix; 2013-Present
Created by Jenji Kohan
Netflix started out strong with House of Cards as its first who but to me, it really solidified its spot with the big dogs when Orange Is the New Black came out. Based on the book by Piper Kerman, Weeds creator Jenji Kohan writes an excellently paced and told drama that also happens to be very funny when it needs to me. The biggest strength of the show is the cast of characters and their lives before and during prison. They develop everyone so well. Be it the newbie, the experienced one who knows their away the place, the way crazy far right conservative who only puts on the facade to get jury sympathy, or your ex-lesbian lover who happens to be in the same jail as you.
Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Jason Biggs, and Kate Mulgrew all help lead a wide and expansive cast of characters that you never forget soon. It was fun to watch all 13 episodes over the course of two days and show how well shows structures like this can work so perfectly. Netflix in the coming years will be a strong contender for being the place for original programming, along with AMC, FX, HBO, and Showtime. I mean did you see the deal they just made with Marvel comics? Insane! But enough of about that, Orange Is the New Black proves Netflix has legs. Its one the best shows to come around in sometime and I’m glad its here and getting a second season.
2. Hannibal; NBC; 2013-Present
Created by Bryan Fuller
This is the best debuting new show of 2013. NBC took a risk with Bryan Fuller, creator of many great but cancelled too soon TV shows (Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies) doing a show about everyones favorite cannibal, Hannibal Lecter. They took a risk and it has paid of in spades. This is like NBC throwing down the gauntlet and saying, “Come at me, bro!” Again Fuller has taken a big risk here. A risk I thought NBC would never take. The violence on this show is amazing the gore factor, blood, and how they can get away with this on NBC. I had to ask myself mid-way in season one, “This is an NBC show? I’m not watching HBO or Showtime?” The haunting visuals of this show are incredible.
The show does has a great cast. Hugh Dancy does perfect and Will Graham, who studies serial killers for a living to help the FBI is so close to truly becoming like on himself. He titters on that fine line. Laurence Fisburne is Jack Crawford this time around and is damn good. Being Will voice of reason, his compass, even a friend. But its Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter himself that is the true thing to tae away from it. He takes a different approach than what Anthony Hopkins and Brian Cox has done. He’s still coldy calculating, cunning, even very friendly. He just owns every scene and my favorite thing is when he serves his dishes, also known as human beings, he just has this look as if he wants to tell his guests what they are consuming. He’s so damn good. Caroline Dhavernas, Hettienne Park, Scott Thompson, Lara Jean Chorostecki, and Gillian Anderson all help out round the the cast in their starring an recurring roles respectively. Hannibal has come to TV and its the best thing shown on broadcast network TV right now.
1. Breaking Bad: AMC; 2008-2013
Created by Vince Gilligan
We all knew what the number one answer would (or maybe wouldn’t depending on you, yourself) be. Was there any contest? Breaking Bad’s final eight episodes were the true definition of great television. The story that Vince Gilligan has crafted and told for the past five years came to a big conclusion. What can I say that already hasn’t been to death? The acting is amazing, direction superb, beautiful cinematography, the best writing anywhere, and the ability to truly keep you hooked and talking about it long after its over.
Walter White’s metamorphosis from chemistry teacher trying to do right by his family to meth kingpin, wanting to rule over all for his own selfish needs. Bryan Cranston has put on such a masterful performance for the past five years and see how the journey of Walter White ended was great. Aaron Paul and the rest the supporting cast deserves credit as well for they were standouts as well and each had their moment this season. Now everyone’s gonna try to get the next Breaking Bad, (AMC already tried and failed with Low Winter Sun) but none are gonna be able to capture what made Breaking Bad so pure. They just had the right science.