You don't have to assume the worst in me

The personal likes of a music loving, book reading, film watching obsessive geek who spends way too much time watching TV and getting emotionally attached to fictional characters.

This is not a spoiler free blog

Obsessions (Autumn 2014 edition)

• The Affair • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D • A to Z. • Boardwalk Empire • Bob's Burgers • The Bridge (US) • Brooklyn Nine-Nine • Bruce Banner • Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers • Cast & Crew of Marvel Movies/Shows • Doctor Who • The Good Wife • Guardians of the Galaxy • Marry Me • Matthew McConaughey • Mark Ruffalo • Marvel movies • The Middle • Reading • Selfie • Sleepy Hollow • The Strokes • Time-Travel • True Detective

Albums of 2013 / TV Shows of 2013 /
Comics of 2013 / Films of 2013
Who I Follow
Posts tagged "tv shows of 2013"

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

1. Breaking Bad

I did it for me, I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really… I was alive

I’ve written nearly 12,000 words on the subject of Breaking Bad’s final season. I’m not sure I’ve written that much about a TV Show since my university days and I certainly haven’t theorised a show in that way since Lost. I’m not sure I even have anything else to say about the series only that watching it come to its conclusion over the course of two months was a TV experience one rarely has these days.

It wasn’t just that every episode built on this unbearable tension that ended up leading to the devastating events of Ozymandias and then in fall out in the final two episodes - it was that everyone was talking about the show and there was a sense that something special was happening on screen as well as off as the cast and crew embarked on their farewell tour. Breaking Bad became a phenomenon in 2013, yes there are shows with bigger audiences or more obsessed fanbases but Breaking Bad was the show of the year.

It certainly feels that the male anti-hero genre is coming to an end on TV with Mad Men and Sons of Anarchy heading into their final stretches. One of the kings of the genre Walter White is now gone and he went out in a self destructive blaze of glory, a man who had ruined everything and everyone in his life. There was no fade to black ambiguous ending like The Sopranos, there was no surviving but being rendered powerless like Vic Mackey in The Shield. No Walter White was well and truly dead. A fate that he deserved.

I’m still deeply satisfied and happy with the way Breaking Bad ended, I think about it quite a lot since the show finished (though the final season was so tense at times I’ve yet to rewatch it). It certainly deserves the title of an All Time Classic series and much like with other shows whether it be The Wire or The Sopranos, Breaking Bad will have a lasting impact on TV for years to come and a lasting impact on its viewers. Now the gold standard of final TV seasons will be whether a show can match the sheer intensity and thrill of Breaking Bad final eight episodes. I wouldn’t want to compete with that.

Favourite episodes: Ozymandias / Felina

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

2. Justified

I’ve come to a conclusion. I don’t like you Raylan. Never much liked you neither Boyd.

After a string of big bads, TV’s most entertaining drama went for different approach in S4 with the mystery of Drew Thompson. Justified took us and its characters on merry chase around Harlan as the good guys and the bad attempted to figure out who Drew was, what he knew and how to find him. You won’t find 42 minutes of TV as fun as Decoy which was like watching a Shane Black movie - the back and forth between Tim and Colt, the tense showdown in the high school between Raylan and Boyd and Constable Bob surviving a beat down in the only way he knows how.

Justified often gets overlooked in end of year polls or Emmy nominations and that is a real shame because it is a show that is so confident in what it does well that it is a genuine pleasure to watch every week. Every new character seems to be introduced in such a way it feels like the audience has known them for years. The dialogue is the best on TV and the characters of Raylan and Boyd especially revel in their choice of words. Words matter as much as actions do in this show.

The show finally gave more screentime to Tim and Rachel and if it can build on their character development in S5 then we are in for another winner. We also got to deepening relationship of the most unlikely couple on TV Ava and Boyd and the sad inevitably of Ava’s fate will make for troubled times next season.

At the heart of Justified is the ongoing feud and friendship between Raylan and Boyd, two characters whose paths keep on crossing and whose fates could mean the end of the other. Sometimes Justified feels like its heading to a brutal conclusion where either Boyd or Raylan kills the other or they both die, other times it gives a little bit of hope that both men and their families can get out of Harlan alive just as long as they learn not to be their fathers sons.

With S5 starting next month the show is heading into its final stretch (S6 is likely to be its last) but whether the show ends tragically or not it will certainly take its audience on one hell of a ride, full of interesting bad guys and quotable dialogue.

Favourite episodes: Kin / Decoy

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

3. Game Of Thrones

what do we have left once we abandon the lie? Chaos, a gaping pit, waiting to swallow us all.

Considering A Storm of Swords is my favourite A Song of Ice and Fire novel I had huge expectations for S3 of Game of Thrones and thankfully the series delivered its best season yet. Not only is it becoming more adept at juggling the huge cast and various plotlines but it is also becoming really great at expanding characters who don’t get much to do in the books as well as adding in much needed humor.

Yes it seems strange to mention the humor in a season which gave us the devastating Red Wedding but prior to that there was definitely some light relief in most episodes. Whether it be Edmure Tully’s repeated failure to fire the arrow correctly, Tyrion and Sansa trying to find some common ground or the ongoing banter between Ygritte and Jon and Brienne and Jaime. There were even moments of rare happiness like Davos learning to read or the incredibly sweet relationship between Gilly and Sam.

It would be so easy for Game of Thrones to wallow in all the awful shit that happens but it allows these moments to show us there is some kind of hope still left in the world of Westeros. We get to see Dany have her moment of absolute power when her dragons lay waste to Astapor. We get to see Jaime show his true colours when he saves Brienne. We get to see Davos defy his King to save the life of a young man. There isn’t a lot of goodness left in this tale of death and destruction or many moments we can genuinely chear but when they happen it makes the ongoing journey worth following.

Game of Thrones will never be able to please everyone with its adaptation choices but I’m more than happy with what it has achieved so far and with more crazy events and bloodshed due in S4 I hope it can keep the balance between despair and hope. There has to be characters worth following and moments of triumph otherwise what is the point?

Favourite episodes: And Now His Watch Is Ended / The Rains of Castamere

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

4. Parks & Recreation

I love you and I like you

For the fourth year running Parks and Recreation is my favourite comedy and really it is down to two simple things - it is incredibly sweet and it is incredibly funny. We know the characters so well now every episode is like watching old friends do funny and often wonderful things. Clearly the highlight of the episodes aired this year was the wedding of Leslie and Ben, an event so perfect that the show could have have ended there (which it nearly did).

Oh who I am kidding I never want to say goodbye to this show even if every year the threat of cancellations looms. I just love it too much, even if it’s not as consistently amazing as it was in S3 or S4 it is always good and often great which really for a comedy in its sixth year is pretty damn impressive.

There have been a lot of changes this season with Andy being stuck in London and with Chris and Ann due to leave next year but despite this the show always manages to cope. This year Donna is being used a lot more and whilst I can never see her as Leslie’s new best friend I do really love their dynamic together. We also get to see both Ron and Chris tackle impending fatherhood and Ben once again take on another job.

Central to the show though is Leslie and her dreams. Though Parks and Recreation can be an optimistic show, it is not afraid to show the reality of trying to change things for the better. The truth is the citizens of Pawnee resent Leslie and whilst it is hard to watch as she continually battles them and then eventually loses the recall vote it does feel true to the show. Leslie has her dreams and she always has to fight for them and that is what makes her Leslie Knope, she doesn’t give up, she keeps on fighting and we keep on cheering her on. She is our hero in an age of cynicism.

Favourite episodes: Leslie and Ben / London

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

5. Orphan Black

I’m the biggest mess there is. I’m not even a real person.

After Fringe finished in January I realised the only sci-fi show I was now watching was Doctor Who. Sure there were lots of fantasy, supernatural and horror shows on my watch list but sci-fi had struggled in the ratings in recent years or just wasn’t to my taste (shows like Revolution)

As I’m a fan of the genre I usually try to watch new sci-fi shows, with Orphan Black I hoped it would be good if not great just as long as it wasn’t awful that would be a real bonus. What it ended up being was my favourite new show of the 2013. Funny how small shows with no pre-air hype can just come out of nowhere and make that kind of impression.

I knew it was a clone show because of the rather spoilery trailers but it was seeing Tatiana Maslany in action that had me hooked. As soon as Sarah starts impersonating Beth the show opened up a world of possibilities and mysteries. I know so much praise has been given to Tatiana but really the show could have been a complete failure in the hands of another actress – she really does bring so much to the series.

One of the great things of watching Orphan Black as it aired was seeing the fanbase slowly grow over the course of the first season and then the summer as more people marathoned the show and the media became obsessed with getting Tatiana’s an Emmy nomination (it didn’t work but hey she has a Golden Globe one so that is pretty damn cool). Back in April it was a little show on a small network with an unknown cast, now it’s making critics and TV sites Top Ten lists and getting awards buzz. Never have I’ve been so proud of a show for making such an impact in a small period of time.

I’m proud because I think Orphan Black is terrific and I just love people discovering it and realising how much fun it is, how much heart Tatiana puts into all the different characters and how compelling the mysteries are.

Favourite episodes: Variations Under Domestication / Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

6. Rectify

I know you didn’t do it. Because I know you.

How is a person meant to live in a world they spent 19 years isolated from? How does a community react to the release of a man they were convinced was a killer? How is a family meant to adapt to the return of man who was barely an adult when they last saw him? Rectify asks many questions but to its strength decides to answer them when it is ready and goes for a deliberate reflective approach instead. It refuses to answer what in other shows would be the central mystery – is Daniel Holden (Aden Young) innocent or not (the evidence that helps his appeal gets him out of jail but doesn’t exonerate him completely)

Rectify is a masterclass in focusing on character than plot, this doesn’t always work for shows and in theory Rectify should be boring , its pace is glacial at times and the six episodes comprising S1 only follows Daniel’s first 6 days released from death row but it really works thanks to the beautiful direction and the absolutely outstanding performances. Aden Young is hypnotising in the main role, a largely unknown actor before this series he gives a performance which makes it impossible not to fall under the spell of Daniel. He isn’t charming, the kind of character that audiences would naturally be drawn to but he is a thoughtful one, and a man who is slightly odd and whose strangeness may have always been a part of him rather than a result of nearly two decades in prison.

Even if it is revealed that Daniel is truly guilty I still think it is impossible not to feel something for him as he ventures out into the real world again he is faced with such changes. It is easy for us to forget how advanced technology has become for example or little things like naming bottled water ‘Smart water’ which leads Daniel to question whether it works. Daniel is not only dealing with a new world he is facing the scrutiny of the town and the possibility that new charges could be brought against him.

The season comes to a brutal but inevitable conclusion and in a way the show could have ended that way but it is going to be interesting to see where the story of Daniel goes and whether the show will eventually give us firm answers on his guilt (and whether that even matters)

Favourite episodes: Drip, Drip / Jacob’s Ladder

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

7. Boardwalk Empire

The only thing you can count on is blood. The blood that’s in your veins and the blood that’s in mine.

Boardwalk Empire has never been a show about happy endings, not just because it is rooted in real life history but because events in the show are all about the brutality of the 1920s. The characters are trapped in a cycle of violence and when someone as powerful as protagonist Nucky Thompson can’t get out then people in way worst circumstances have no chance.

When characters try to better themselves it usually goes wrong, look at loyal dependable Eddie who just wanted a bit more respect and responsibility and ended up taking his life. Or Richard Harrow, not the most likely of heroes considering he was an assassin for hire the majority of the time but a man the audience loved and wanted to be happy with his new wife and family but of course this couldn’t happen because getting out is impossible.

Gillian is another person desperate for her fairytale ending and the saddest thing about her storyline this year is that she came so close to it, she actually even decided to let Tommy go for his own good and hers but alas she had to pay for the sins of her past and everything came falling down. Even Chalky White found happiness outside of his family and his dream of running a club but at the end of the series is a completely broken man with a dead daughter and the woman he loves far away.

Now this all makes Boardwalk Empire seem like a very downbeat show but despite all of the sorrow and deaths it is still hugely entertaining. The ever expanding cast of characters and locations means that even if one storyline isn’t really working for me another one usually is. The show has also become adept at unusual pairings; even though she spent minimal time on screen this season I can’t wait to see what Margaret’s partnership with Rothstein will bring or Eli working with Al Capone and Van Alden.

Boardwalk Empire really enjoys reveling in the atmosphere of the 1920s, it will happily spend countless scenes dedicated to Daughter Maitland singing and that really brings the show to life.

It is also a rare show where every new season truly is better than the previous. It has its own formula of the slow burn, of spending time with characters which seems pretty pointless at first but gradually everything comes together. Boardwalk Empire isn’t’t a show I obsess about all year round but when its on air there is something so compulsive and wonderful about it.

Favourite Episodes: Erlkönig / Farewell Daddy’s Blues

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

8. The Americans

I made a terrible mistake. Terrible mistake. So many things have gone wrong for us

In The Americans we know our central duo, the married Russian spies Elizabeth and Phillip will ultimately lose their battle against the US because history tells us how the Cold War ends. Yet there is something really compelling about watching them on their missions every week and I ended up caring for the characters. By the time The Americans ended its first season I was rooting for those spies to fix their once fake marriage and keep on surviving another day.

What I really love about the show other than the superb acting, the amazing 1980s soundtrack and those endless wigs is how both sides of the war are equally interesting. Whilst I often want the Jennings to win I also want the same for FBI Agent Stan Beeman. He has his own storyline and intrigue with Russian embassy spy Nina and his own marriage problems.

It would be easy to make the show very black and white, but the bad guys are never clear cut. Even Claudia who at first seems like real trouble for the Jennings has layers and depth, she may fight for the Motherland and trick her agents but she has her own need for revenge and perhaps even cares for them.

In the end The Americans is about both sides struggling to survive, questioning their loyalties and it doesn’t matter what happened in reality, it matters than maybe Elizabeth and Phillip can get out, that maybe Stan can stop one of their plans, that they all live another day even as everything around them slowly falls apart.

Favourite episodes: Only You / The Colonel

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

9. Hannibal

I am who I have always been; the scales have fallen away from my eyes. I can see you now

Whilst I always hoped Hannibal would continue Bryan Fuller’s run of glorious TV shows I have to admit to being a little be wary when I first heard he was bringing such an iconic character to the small screen. Would the absolutely horrifying murders which were such a huge part of the character, the books and the movies really work on network TV? Would Mads Mikkelsen be able to make Hannibal Lecter his own? And damn would it even last the season.

Turns out any doubts I had were firmly discarded early on. This adaptation might actually be my favourite. Not only was the show beautifully filmed in true Fuller style but the performances were outstanding. Hugh Dancy’s twitchy and increasingly unstable Will Graham gave the show heart and a character to root for. Mikkelson completely owned the psychopathic serial killer. The supporting cast all done incredible work and as for the gore well Hannibal pushes the boundaries all the time.

I’m not usually one for violence, especially when so much of it is against women on TV but unlike fellow serial killer show The Following in Hannibal violence really has a price, it has consequences – like the mental stability of characters like Will and Jack Crawford. Sure it’s bloody and horrible but it feels essential to the show rather than gratuitous.

Another thing Hannibal does so well is making the most terrifying thing on the show not the mutilated bodies but the manipulation of Will Graham by Lecter. A great fear of mine is losing my mind and being set up for something I didn’t do. Seeing both things happen to Will by someone he trusted is horrible, compulsive viewing. Will knows he isn’t completely sane but he knows his own kind of madness, watching his sanity stripped away by a friend scared me more than any of the gruesome murder scenes.

Hannibal had an exceptional first season and let’s hope it has many more.

Favourite episodes: Relevés/Savoureux

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

10. Southland

In their hearts they know, everyone has their breaking point

Sometimes season finales have to serve as series finales and that was the fate of Reckoning, the 10th episode of what would be Southland’s fifth and sadly final season.

Despite this though it really worked and even though I was bitterly disappointed when TNT cancelled the show it felt like the right ending. Even if it was completely soul destroying and proved that being a cop will either change you completely or destroy you for good. Sometimes both.

I know so many people have never even watched an episode of Southland but its a show I desperately want more people to experience because it really wasn’t just a procedural cop show. It was about these ordinary characters who tried to make a difference every day but in the end the job just got to them. Maybe that is nothing too original in the genre but I doubt you will find anyone half as good as Michael Cudlitz in the role of Cooper or Regina King as struggling Detective and mum Lydia Adams. They were the two linchpin performances of the show and ones which made every episode rewarding.

Southland ended the only way it could have, there are no chances for happy endings (though out of all of the characters Lydia gets closest to one) and sadly for the show no chance of escaping cancellation once again.

Favourite episodes: Chaos / Reckoning

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

11. Enlightened

Well, if caring about something other than money is dopey, I’m a fucking moron

Amy Jellicoe is the embodiment of the virtues and problems of being a believer in social justice. She desperately wants to do right and help the little people but constantly rubs people the wrong way or takes a naive approach to whatever new cause she is championing. She is awkward and really has no idea how irritating she can be. Yet Amy Jellicoe is a hero for this age because she doesn’t give up, because her desire to make herself and the people around her better ends up being her strength.

Amy really can be a polarizing character and when I first started Enlightened I was really unsure about her and the show but then the whistleblower storyline happened and the series became one of my favourites of the year.  Amy plots and conspires with the hapless and shy Tyler to take down the evil corporation they work for, it goes about as well as you can imagine for Amy doesn’t really think about the full consequences of telling all to opportunistic journalist Jeff.

In the final episode that sadly became the series finale Amy says screw it and stands up not only for the little people, the drone workers of Abaddonn but for herself. She has been repeatedly cast as crazy by the company ever since her breakdown at the start of the series but in the scene in which she faces the CEO Charles Szidon Amy just accepts who she wants to be and that is someone who cares and fuck the consequences. It is better to care and fail than not bother at all.

All around Amy her friends changed for the better because of her positive influence. Ex-husband Levi finally got clean, Tyler managed to find enough confidence to find love and even Dougie became more than just the slightly creepy boss.

Amy was idealistic and naive but she actually stood by her principles and she gets her well deserved victory at the end.  I’m going to miss that confusing, frustrating and ultimately kind of wonderful woman.

Favourite episodes: The Ghost Is Seen / Agent of Change

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

12. Orange Is The New Black

I’m not going crazy. I am around crazy and I’m trying to climb Everest in flip-flops… But I am not going crazy, okay?

For the first half of 2013 Netflix spent all their money and hype on prompting House of Cards, Hemlock Grove and the return of Arrested Development but it turns out their best show and the one that captured the attention of critics and fans alike was to be Orange Is The New Black.

OITNB felt like it came from nowhere, I saw a trailer for it maybe a month before its launch but knew little about it until it became the show of the summer.

There are so many reasons to love this show but for me it was the focus on women of all ages, race and background that got me hooked. It is so refreshing to see a female dominated drama and one that takes on the brutal and unfair prison system all whilst being funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking and damn well interesting.

The show could have very easily decided to stick with Piper’s point of view throughout but she is merely our guide to this world full of bright, messed-up, often innocent women. Some of the most delightful moments in the series involve characters forming unexpected bonds with one and other - whether than be Sophia and Sister Ingalls or Yoga Jones and Janae.

I really can’t wait for OITNB to return because there are still so many stories to be told, stories I am really invested in and interested by.

Favourite episodes: Fucksgiving / Can’t Fix Crazy

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

13. Veep

This is a man’s world we live in. Because of the axis of dick.

After a good first season comes a fantastic second one. Veep built on its freshman year with a more serialised season two and was all the better for it. Selina’s attempts to wield more power resulted in a hilarious arc involving foreign policy.

Armando Iannucci has always been one my favourite comedy writers, he gets the cynical nature of politics and continually delivers devastatingly brutal put-downs.

Now Veep doesn’t have anyone near as maniacal as Malcolm Tucker but it has a very strong group of characters who back stab each other and swear their way out of cataclysmic situations. This season they all got to shine in the best possible way.

Favourite episodes: Helsinki / D.C.

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

14. The Good Wife

It’s kind of weird. Everything’s ending. Beginning, too

Watching a 100 episodes in just over a month is certainly one way to fall under the spell of The Good Wife and I have fallen pretty hard. There are always a couple of shows I have my watch list just waiting for the right time and after all the praise S5 of the show was getting I had to check out what the fuss was all about.

When The Good Wife is on top of its game it is such a pleasure to watch, some of the best episodes are when events are moving at breakneck speed, the characters all scrambling to beat one and other - sometimes it is to save a client from death row, other times its to bet out a rival law firm.

Without doubt though the decision to make Alicia and Cary leave Lockhart & Gardner to start their own practice has been such a creative boost to the show. Five years in and it is having its best season yet by making former lovers Will and Alicia square off against each other every week. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Will/Alicia love story but as bitter rivals they are amazing to watch.

The Good Wife is not the kind of show I usually watch but its way above its network rivals because of its attention to characters, its ability to shake things up and the superb acting.

Favourite episodes: Outside the Bubble / Hitting The Fan

Top 35 TV Shows of 2013

15. Spartacus: War of the Damned

Spartacus. That is not my name. I shall finally hear it again. Given voice by loving wife.

Oh this great show how I miss your exaggerated approach to storytelling, everything in Spartacus was overblown at times, the ridiculously bloody violence, the orgies, the constant screams of ” Jupiter’s cock!”

Everything was in excess in this show because Spartacus was about life and death and all those precious moments in-between really mattered to the characters for they could always be their last.

Spartacus always pulled of the fantastic action scenes with intimate character moments, we got to see these characters grow, fight among each other, fall in love, fight for that love and it was at times incredibly hard watching the final season because of the weight of history. History told us already that the rebellion would ultimately fail, that the characters we love would be slaughtered and that there was no chance of hope.

Yet the show refused to end in complete despair, even when those we loved died on the battlefield they allowed a few to survive and Agron along with Nasir led those people through the mountains and allowed the legend of Spartacus to live on.

Favourite Episodes:  Blood Brothers / Victory