[WARNING: Spoilers are abundant]
As resident TV expert for the St. Louis KTRS-AM radio show, The Night Shift with Scott Sherman, I was asked to come up with my top ten shows of the year. So I did.
But before I share it and go all list-y on you, a few disclaimers: 1. This list is derived from the shows I actually watched in their entirety in 2013. Sorry, Breaking Bad (and a few others). 2. Supernatural is not on my top ten list but it’s a hall of fame drama for me — my favorite of all time. I feel at this point, it’s in a class all its own. Even when I don’t agree with everything that’s going on, I still feel an immense amount of love for it. More than any other show on TV. Hands down. 3. My criteria? I just go by what gave me the most fun, addictive, emotionally satisfying television experiences in 2013.
And while I didn’t put my top ten in any particular order, I did have a number one in mind. So I’ll lead off with that one.
When a show can up its game as much as this one did in season five it’s a big deal. And the thing is, it wasn’t even necessary. The second half of season four was captivating. But looking back, it pales in comparison to what we’re getting now. In 2013, The Good Wife aired my most favorite episode of any TV show this year. “Hitting the Fan” was crazysexycool on every level. I thought I was going to hate the fact that Lockhart Gardner imploded when the fourth year associates left the firm to start their own. I thought I was going to hate how things veered towards Alicia vs. Will instead of Alicia + Will. What happened was exactly the opposite. Alicia and Will make better adversaries than lovers. Josh Charles and Julianna Margulies have been giving us some epic performances that better be capped off with Emmy nominations in 2014. If you’re not watching right now, I feel bad for you. You’re missing greatness. And to achieve this feat in season five is particularly impressive. I practically salivate over anticipation of the next thrilling Good Wife episode. That’s the mark of a series doing just about everything right. Although, I do have a couple issues. Kalinda needs to be a bigger part of the action. And Will needs to stop trying to make “LG” happen, am I right?
The Rest in no Particular Order
Scandal is a bats–t crazy show I can’t get enough of. The only thing that’s predictable about it, is that we know we’re going to witness insanity unleashed. At all times. What do Shonda Rhimes and the writers do to come up with these seriously off the wall plots and story arcs? Inquiring minds want to know. It’s like they make it their mission to mess with our heads. I would have never envisioned Quinn ending up in B613. Or that Huck would actually torture her and pull her teeth out. Mama Pope’s alive? Damn. And she’s one scary woman that makes Olivia’s dad — B613’s (ex) Command — look like father of the year. Finding out about Olivia’s past and her relationship with her parents has been a fascinating journey. Fitz and Olivia continue to share a twisted relationship and I wouldn’t have it any other way. By the way, I love that Fitz is the biggest fangirl for the Olivia/Fitz relationship. He built a house for her! For them! If there are any negatives, I sometimes wonder if this show can get TOO crazy. And Harrison needs to be more part of the action. He’s been on the sidelines for far too long.
I binge watched Orphan Black in about two days. And I have no regrets. The Good WifeÂ may have given me the best episode of TV this year. ButÂ OB‘s Tatiana Maslany gave the best performance of any actor in 2013. She pulled off playing several roles seamlessly. She disappeared into the individual clones so perfectly every once in a while I thought different actresses were playing each version. It was a joy to watch Maslany nail each facial expression and line of dialogue. She got to be tough and brilliant and effing creepy and hilarious and badass. Sometimes all in the same episode. I’m not sure who my favorite clone is. At first it was Cosima and then Alison but I think Sarah might be my favorite because she pulled us into this world. Felix is the best BFF ever. And I didn’t think I’d like Sarah and Paul but it turns out I adore them. It’s such a weird relationship but they work. And I’m scared to see what’s going to happen to them in season two. I hope (Hot) Paul gets to be even more part of the action in the episodes to come.
Sleepy Hollow is easily my favorite new series of the year. I don’t think anything else comes close except for Orphan Black. I even wrote an article describing the ten reasons why I’m so thankful for this show. Some of them I”ll rehash here because the FOX supernatural drama took me by surprise in 2013. I didn’t expect to like it this much. I even put off watching it for a few weeks and then kicked myself after I decided to catch up. Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison are the perfect leads. As Abbie and Ichabod they are glorious. There was an instant rapport that simply made me happy. The Revolutionary flashbacks didn’t turn out to be cheesy. They’re one of my favorite aspects of the show in a time when every series relies too heavily on flashbacks. I worship the diversity of the cast. It’s refreshing. And if the powers that be continue to hire such talented individuals as Orlando Jones, John Noble and Amandla Stenberg, than I will forever be a fan. What I don’t like is how season one is only 13 episodes and it comes to an end in Jan. 2014. On the positive side, at least we already know we get a second season.
I really should take Person of Interest off my best of list. After all, this show hurt me more than any other show this year. Yes, I’m still crushed over Carter’s tragic death. She was the heart and soul of POI. And I’m as devastated as Reese is over losing her. But I’ll step back for a little bit and shove my hurt aside in order to objectively talk about the trio of episodes that led to the detective’s death. They were wonderfully emotional — it felt like I was watching a movie. Carter wanted to take down HR on her own, despite what it would mean for her, but she quickly learned she couldn’t do it alone. She had to rely on her friends. The Reese/Carter scenes in the morgue that culminated in the one kiss? Amazing. This wasn’t a scripted moment. Jim Caviezel and Taraji P. Henson worked it out and I’m so thankful they did because it was so satisfying for Reese/Carter fans. It was perfection, really. As for the rest of the year, the show went hardcore on the Machine and what it’s capable of and we were also introduced to a new character. Now I’m still getting used to Shaw but her intro was beautifully executed. She and Root won’t ever be able to replace Carter in my mind, but they are both dark, interesting characters. As for Reese, Finch and Fusco? They can do no wrong. I love how Fusco took it upon himself to try and get Reese out of his Carter-induced funk. Can’t wait to see what EPs Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman have in store for us in 2014.
Yes, thisÂ is the only comedy on my list and I’m completely surprised by this fact. I mean, I watched and loved other comedies like Parks and Rec, The Big Bang Theory, Happy Endings and New Girl. But in 2013, they were all hit and miss for me. Community was Dan Harmon-less so there was something missing there. And while I’m digging Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Crazy Ones, they are both too new to include. The Mindy Project is it for me on the comedy front. Mindy Kaling is a superstar. I love the way she interacts with the various characters on the FOX series. She also has a knack for making me fall in love with her boyfriends of the week. And then I’m left devastated when it’s time for them to break up with Mindy and go on their way. The storyline between Mindy and Casey was so ridiculously fun and provided a ton of laugh out loud moments. But when they broke up, I truly felt the loss. Anders Holms was brilliant. Mindy already has me loving Cliff, but at the same time, I’m dreading the inevitable separation because, come on. We know Mindy and Danny will get together one day. Kaling and Chris Messina are magic together. I love love love The Mindy Project. I’m even starting to love the supporting characters. But, really, it’s all about Dr. Mindy Lahari for me. She’s smart. She’s shallow. She’s also a bit delusional but that’s what makes her such a great character.
This was the year of the British invasion on Suits. It was an invasion that affected some of my favorite relationships on the USA Network drama. Jessica and Harvey worked against each other. Donna fell in lust with the British Harvey, which in turn, affected her relationship with American Harvey. It would have been so easy for me to turn the channel and run from all this turbulence. Especially since one case took up the better part of the summer. But I didn’t change the channel. It all made for fascinating TV. These characters had to get over themselves to get what they want. Forget about Pearson Darby. Long live Pearson
Darby Specter. Donna’s no longer distracted by that dastardly Stephen Huntley. Although, to be fair, I enjoyed this little dalliance of Donna’s. That is, until Huntley showed his true colors. Rachel and Mike had their own issues. She knows the truth about him, which I quite like. What I didn’t like was how he dealt with her possibly going to Stanford. But he came around. And now Rachel’s set herself up for a legal life at Jessica’s firm, despite the fact she won’t be going to Harvard. Louis was also amazing this year. And now he’s on the verge of knowing Mike’s secret. I can’t believe USA is making us wait until March to get the final six episodes of season three. That is beyond cruel.
Season one of HISTORY’s Vikings was brutal and beautiful to watch. I fell in love with the characters almost instantly and couldn’t wait to see how the relationships developed. When the show killed off Gabriel Byrne’s character, Earl Haraldson, I was crushed but this was necessary to depict Ragnar’s rise to the top of the food chain. Even though he’s seen as the leader, which is often the hero of the story, we quickly find out he’s not all hero. Not even close. The guy is beyond flawed. I find myself having to remember that he’s a Viking. He’s not this paragon of virtue. By the season one finale, he actually becomes rather unlikable. But before that, I really enjoyed his striving to be the best. His wife, Lagertha, is this tough, fierce, vulnerable woman, mother and warrior in her own right. I wonder who she’s going to become in the face of Ragnar’s affair? This is part of the reason why I can’t wait for season two. The other reason? Athelstan, the monk who’s taken from his home and forced to live in a harsh new land. I want to see him become a bigger part of the second season. The chemistry that exists among Vikings stars Travis Fimmel, George Blagden and Katheryn Winnick is a winning combination that’ll keep me coming back for however long this show is on the air.
Arrow makes me giddy. The action is stellar. It totally satiates my need for knockdowns, smackdowns and chases. Stephen Amell has grown into the perfect leader for the show. His Oliver Queen is disconnected from life but at the same time he shows he has a lot of heart for his family, for his friends, for Starling City, a city he feels he’s failed. I can’t rave enough about the supporting cast as well. I think my favorite trio on television — other than Supernatural‘s Sam, Dean and Cas — has to be Ollie, Felicity and Diggle. It’s them against a dark, sinister world and along the way they have each other’s backs and are often snarky while doing so. One of my favorite episodes had to be the recent Diggle hour of television where they went to Russia to rescue his ex-wife. Diggle got to take the lead and Oliver was his second. And he had no problem doing that. And Â yes, eventually I’d love to see something happen between Felicity and Oliver but I’m truly enjoying their friendship and her Ollie crush right now. There’s no need to rush anything there. Arrow is becoming more gloriously comic book-y with the Flash origins story and the reveal that Slade is one of this season’s big bads. Thea is more mature, Malcolm Merlyn is back and there are a ton of awesome villains looking to make Oliver’s life hell. The most improved character? Detective Lance. Now that he’s accepted the vigilante’s presence, it’s been so great to watch him work with him not against him. I’m wondering if he’ll find out Arrow is Oliver by season’s end. The only weak link (at least for me) continues to be Laurel. But that doesn’t hinder my enjoyment of this show. And thank you, thank you, thank you, for the glimpse of Tommy we got in “Three Ghosts.” What a fabulous mid-season finale that was. I’ve watched it three times and will probably hit rewind one more time before the show returns in Jan. 2014.
#10 The Walking Dead
Okay, I lied. I did have a number ten in mind and it’s called AMC’s The Walking Dead. I thoroughly enjoyed series this year. I actually watched seasons 1 – 3 this summer and tuned into season four with everybody else. But I’m giving this the number ten slot because even though I enjoyed the first half of The Walking Dead season four, I know the back half that’s coming in 2014 is going to be so much more epic. In 2013, we lost Andrea and The Governor and I was totally okay with those losses. I hate that Hershel died, too. That was a blow to me. He was one of my all-time favorites. But I did like the fact the group had a bit of a reprieve at the prison. Of course, the reprieve didn’t last long when the virus hit and The Governor discovered where they were. It scares me that everyone’s going to be out and about again. And many of them are going to be separated. But what gets me through this show is not just all the zombie-killing, although that’s pretty damn fun. What gets me every time are the characters, led by Rick, the (not so) reformed leader. He keeps making decisions for the entire group he has no business making. I’m still hoping we get more Carol fallout. She’s out there in the world. Will the awesome Daryl run into her when season four returns in 2014? I hope so. I want to know what she’s been up to since being exiled.
My weekly TV segment on The Night Shift with Scott Sherman airs almost every Monday night at 10pm Central. Audio can be downloaded at the KTRS-AM website.
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