by Mieke Trudeau
After the decorations have been put away and the last of the confetti swept up, there is some time for reflection as we look forward to what the New Year will bring. In TV land, the holidays mean festive specials and traditional fare but also a long hiatus for most running shows. Fortunately, the next few weeks will bring the return of our favorites and also the premiere of some brand new projects.
For me, personally, any look back to 2013 would not be complete without a listing of the year’s “best” TV shows. Of course, this list is all my opinion; though I watch a lot of television, I did not watch ALL shows. I am sure I left out some of your favorites, so please feel free to add them in the comments below. Here are my picks, counting down:
10. Almost Human (Fox)
This new futuristic cop show by the creators of Fringe, really captured my attention when I saw the pilot screened at New York Comic Con. The two main characters, played by Karl Urban and Michael Ealy have easy chemistry, and the underlying societal themes make it more than a procedural. Check out the excellent review of Almost Human by DNM staff writer Stacey Gillard.
9. Top of the Lake (Sundance)
The moody mystery created by Jane Campion (The Piano) and starring an excellent Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Holly Hunter (The Piano) is beautifully shot and acted. The layered story is an allegorical interplay between male and female in a small New Zealand town.
8. Masters of Sex (Showtime)
One of the best new dramas of the Fall season, the story of groundbreaking human sexuality researchers William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), manages to be about much more than sex. Reminiscent of Mad Men in its examination of society and gender issues in 1950s America, Masters of Sex breaks down human relationships to their most basic layers.
7. The Good Wife (CBS)
In its fifth season, The Good Wife, starring Julianna Margulies (ER), managed to not only upend the law firm of Lockhart Gardner, but also its audience. The show, always good, is sizzling this season!
6. Game of Thrones (HBO)
The Red Wedding. Nuff said.
5. Shameless (Showtime)
This remake of the British series is set on the Southside of Chicago and tells the story of the Gallagher clan. To call this large family, headed by patriarch Frank (William H. Macy) and oldest daughter Fiona (Emmy Rossum), dysfunctional is to understate the understated. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Shameless truly is shameless. It pushes so many boundaries that sometimes you don’t know if you should blush, gasp or laugh.
4. The Walking Dead (AMC)
In its 4th season, the series based on the brilliant graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, is as good as ever, if not better. The writing and acting are simply stellar and even though the zombies get goopier every season it is really the human drama that makes this show so compelling.
3. Orphan Black (BBC America)
I was ready to dismiss Orphan Black as yet another show about a conspiracy involving genetically engineered/cloned humans until I decided to give it a chance and watch an episode or two. The astonishing accomplishment of Tatiana Maslany’s portrayal of no less than 10 distinct characters, made me stick around and marathon the rest of the series. There is never a doubt which character of the many we are watching, even when one is pretending to be another.
2. Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
This dark comedy (based on Piper Kerman’s memoir) about an upper middle class woman who lands herself in prison for one year after doing an illegal favor for her lover ten years prior, is not just about the “fish out of water” story of Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling). Her story is scary, compelling and funny, but much more interesting is the world of women with whom she is confined. The incredibly rich and nuanced cast of characters will leave you wanting more.
1. Breaking Bad (AMC)
Walter White (Bryan Cranston) made his final transformation in the series finale of the show I would put in the number one spot of my “best of” list every year it was on the air and probably beyond. Creator and showrunner Vince Gilligan gave us a beautifully realized world full of morally compromised characters and choices. Walter White, his true alter ego Heisenberg and his reluctant side kick Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) will not soon be forgotten. Read my review of the final episode here.
This list would not be complete without some important “honorable mentions”. There are a few shows that may not have made my “Best of 2013” list but should not be overlooked for various reasons. One of those is Sleepy Hollow (Fox). The breakout hit feels somewhat derivative, but mainly due to charismatic lead Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane, it is on my favorite new shows of 2013 list. Orlando Jones, who plays Captain Frank Irving, has made an art form of social media promotion of the show and his overtures to the fandom should not be missed.
Second on my list of honorable mentions is Beauty and the Beast (CW). I found this show through its passionate fandom and I enjoy writing about it and interacting with its fans tremendously.
Last but not least, I cannot overlook Supernatural (CW). Now in its ninth season, this show has not only increased its viewership, it has managed to breathe new life into its long running storyline. Its cast and crew have come to mean something to me personally and I will be forever grateful for what it has brought me.
I am looking forward to some of the new shows premiering in the next few weeks and months. Shows such as True Detective (HBO) starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson; Believe (NBC), a new series by Alfonso Cuaron; Rake (Fox) starring Greg Kinnear; and Helix (SyFy), make me think there may be some new shows on my best-of list for 2014.
Finally, I want to wish all of you and yours a very happy and healthy New Year full of fabulous TV. Please feel free to share your favorites below!