Top 10 Dramas of 2013
For the past few years, I have made it a point to rank my favorite shows of the year. As a TV podcaster, I feel it is important to give my opinions about what I've enjoyed in a longer format than I could do a podcast episode. Feel free to agree or disagree. I welcome your comments as always.
Parenthood – Parenthood continues to be a well written show. In the last episodes of their shortened season four, we saw more amazingness from Monica Potter as her character finally got a clean bill of health and in season five got her life back by running for mayor. Her husband Adam was not totally on board with that plan, but after she lost the campaign he was there to help her release her feelings by throwing eggs at her opponenent's billboard. It was truly a joyful scene.
Jasmine and Crosby welcomed their baby and Crosby struggled to learn how to care for an infant (which he missed on with Jabar). Sarah rejected both the men in her life, and this season started working as a building supervisor and part-time pet photographer. Her daughter Amber moved out, started working for her uncles and rekindled her relationship with Ryan. Unfortunately when he returned from Afganistan he didn't heal from his issues in the past and instead of facing those issues head on, he instead reenlisted and broke off his engagement to Amber.
Sarah's son Drew started college and tried his hand at a casual sex relationship but decided he wanted more (good on you!) and broke it off only to find his ex Amy at his door. Julia quit her job and now found herself as a full-time parent which didn't go well. Her frustration lead to her leaning on another man and her marriage has begun to disintegrate. Joel has said that he is committed to their relationship, but that didn't stop her from kissing the other guy! They have some major issues to work out before they can fix things. Max started working with Hank and is developing some great photography skills. I still adore this family and I'm excited that NBC has finally given it a quality time slot and a full season order so we have many more exciting stories to experience with the Bravermans.
Broadchurch – It is no secret that David Tennant is my favorite Doctor from Doctor Who. When I heard he would be in another series I was on board straight away. Tennant plays a detective sent to a small town to investigate murder. It would only run for eight episodes and there would be a conclusion at the end. They wouldn't meander around and you needed to watch every episode (unlike The Killing where you could skip a few and be just fine).
Tennant's character was flawed but did his job well and found myself partnered with a woman who was connected to the family of the murdered child. It also differed from The Killing because it was beautifully lit. I was greatly invested in the case and even I couldn't figure out who did it. Everyone seems like a suspect and when I was shocked by who ended up doing it. The series was very successful in the UK and is set for a season two in 2014. It is also set to be remade in the US starring Tennant again. I don't know why they feel the need to remake it. Just because it's successful in one country doesn't mean it will be successful in another. That's just my opinion though.
Downton Abbey – Downton Abbey is another very successful British series that I have enjoyed throughout the run. They faced a challenge with series three because it was announced that the actor playing Matthew would be leaving the show. Unfortunately he was part of a very popular couple, so how they wrote him out was going to be upsetting no matter how they did it. Series four is set to debut in the US this weekend, so we will soon learn how the show continues without him. It a very well written show and I look forward to seeing the show for many seasons to come.
NOTE: I almost put two Netflix original series on this list, but unfortunately I haven't finished season one of House of Cards yet. Hopefully I'll get there before season two debuts.
Orange is the New Black – This series I mainlined pretty quickly because it was so engrossing. As you would expect since this is an online series, it is not family friendly. In the first scene of the first episode there is full frontal nudity in a shower scene, there is language, sex and violence. However, despite all of that the story has a lot of heart. Throughout the first season, the backstories for each of the prisoners is explored so that when you reach the end you have a new appreciation for these woman and what happened to them that led to them being in prison. The main character is explored the most, although I wasn't a huge fan of her character, and you get to see how her fiance and family is faring while she is away. She becomes more savvy and creative as time goes on in prison and the bond amongst the woman is both tested and strengthened. It is a very worthwhile series to watch and I look forward to seeing the characters further developed in season 2 in 2014.
Orphan Black – This is a series that heard very good things about, but I didn't give it a chance at first. I watched the first episode, and it was good, but it didn't intrigue me much so I dropped it. As the weeks went on, I kept hearing and reading more and more good reviews about but I thought I had lost the opportunity to see it because I was several episodes behind. BBC America heard my pleas (maybe) and decided to air all of the episodes in the day that the finale would air so I jumped on that opportunity and recorded all 10 episodes. I watched them over the span of a day and I was completely blown away. Who knew a series about clones would be so amazing?
The main actress Tatiana Manslany is stunning as an actress. The way that she is able to play so many different characters with such nuance is amazing. She's able to make every version unique and you have to see it to believe it. I recently acquired it on Blu-Ray and season two doesn't debut until April so there is plenty of time to get caught up before that. Unfortunately, it is not available to stream anywhere but the discs are worth investing in (unless you don't buy DVDs any more). Also of note is Sarah's best mate Felix because he is also very unique and adds a lot of interest to Sarah's life (and the other clones once they meet him.) Season one ended with a huge cliffhanger and I can't wait to see how it plays out.
Arrow – Arrow made the list last year for just the first half of the first season. It's higher on the list this year because they really kicked it into high gear in the back half of season one and first half of season two. They added more details about Oliver's time on the island and they featured Felicity more prominantly by promoting the actress to recurring in season two. They also promoted the actor who plays Roy and got him more involved in Arrow and progressed his relationship with Thea. They also added the characters of Sin and Isabel in season two, both played by TV veterans and throughout the episodes peppered in other characters as guest stars to round out the episodes. Season one ended very dramatically when a main character was killed off and Moira Queen confessed to the crime that caused the earthquake that killed said character. She was working with Malcolm Meryln who appeared to have also died in the season finale.
In season two Moira is fighting for her freedom in court and the outcome of that decision will lead to many more twists and turns as the season continues. Laurel in season two became a secondary character by taking a job with the D.A. We were also introduced to the Alderman of Starling City in season two and he's not as innocent as he appeared with what has been recently been revealed about his character. This season we also had the two-part appearance and development of the character of Barry Allen who awkwardly flirted with Felicity and was very interested in Arrow. His transformation into The Flash happened at the end of the second episode and leads to a potential spin-off series for him in the future. Personally I'd rather have him on this show, but I guess the show only has room for one superhero. Arrow continues to get better and better each episode and I can't wait to see what happens in the future.
Suits – This is my first time putting a USA show on the list but it is well deserving of a place on the list this year. Gone are the days of hiding the truth about Mike. Since Jessica found out at the end of season one, they have just moved on (with seemingly no consequences). Season two was their first splitting the season and it was very successful. We saw the return of Daniel Hardman, Rachel applies to law school, Louis hired an associate, we learned why Harvey left the DA's office to work with Jessica and how close Mike came to getting his degree (in a brilliant flashback episode), the partnership of Pearson Darby Specter was on the line, and Mike and Rachel finally got together (!) but they were tested when she got into law school (right after he asked her to move in with him (ouch). Lawyer shows are usually not very interesting to me, but when you have such a diverse group in an office together it's bound to make it more interesting. I dare call it a fun law show. It's definitely worth a look if you've never checked it out before. Season three will continue this Winter and I look forward to many more good times with these lawyers.
Grimm – Last year Once Upon a Time took this position, but I had too many problems with its second season to put it on the list this year. Instead, I share my love for its fairy tale counterpart. In many ways it is the better of the two series. I've grown to enjoy it more this season because I now host the TV Talk show for the series. In the second half of season two through the first half of season three, the stakes have gotten higher, the characters are interesting and the creatures more spectacular.
I enjoyed the additional traits that Nick has developed this year to make him better at tracking the Wesen. He has gotten smarter, stronger and even became a Wesen himself. The end of season two was a major cliffhanger with Nick getting attacked and shipped off, but of course the Scoobies came through and rescued him (but not until Nick fully transformed and did a lot of damage). Juliette FINALLY recovered from her Nick amnesia and now is a vital part of the team (vet knowledge is pretty helpful with these creatures). Adalind became pregnant by one of two royals and went through some crazy tests to get her powers back (and now is being watched by the royals). Monroe and Rosalee are more and more adorable together and are now living together. I'm looking forward to more episodes (starting this Friday) and to talk about it with my co-host Justin on TV Talk!
Bunheads – I first became interested in this show when I read that Amy Sherman-Palladino was creating a show about her past as a dancer. I am a Gilmore Girls through and through so finding out that my favorite showrunner from one of the best shows of the 2000s was making a new show made me very happy. Unfortunately, the show never had good ratings and it was canceled months after the first season ended. It was a show that so much heart (and dialog). It featured many stars from Gilmore Girls and the banter and chemistry between Kelly Bishop and Sutton Foster was off the charts. The girls in the show were so talented and I hope we get to see them be successful elsewhere in the future. It was obvious that they all had a lot of dance skill and bright futures ahead of them.
If you are still smarting from this cancelation (as I am!) then I hope you have seen this. Sherman-Palladino never got a chance to write a Gilmore Girls series finale, but at least she got to direct the Bunheads in a Farewell Dance choreographed to an Elton John song. We'll miss you, dear Bunheads.
Doctor Who – As I mentioned above David Tennant's doctor is my favorite, but there is no denying that Matt Smith as the doctor was something special also. Series 7 had its ups and down but there were some very special things that happened. We said good-bye to Amy and Rory in a very tragic way that broke at least one of the doctor's heart, and then we had the introduction of “the impossible girl” who would have to put it back together. Who was this Clara Oswald we wondered. How could she have appeared as three different characters with the same face (and died twice)? That mystery was finally solved in a long explanation by Clara herself throughout the episode The Name of the Doctor. I was puzzled by her, but I went with it and the payoff was well worth it.
Then at the end of the episode we saw “Introducing John Hurt as The Doctor” which led us to the next puzzle that would play out in the 50th Anniversary special. There were many theories floating about but it became clear who he with the youtube prequel that was released before the special featuring the 8th doctor. I was blown away by the 50th anniversary and all my expectations were greatly surpassed. Steven Moffat (current showrunner) managed to create a gripping story to explain how John Hurt fit into the story and accompanied him with two other doctors and a former companion to tell an fantastic story of the Time of the War on Gallifrey. It filled in many gaps that have existed in the story and it set up amazing things for the future. The year ended with the annual Christmas special, which would be Matt Smith's final episode as the Doctor. Again, Moffat did a fantastic job. This was Smith's finest hour.
Each doctor has a famous last line before they regenerate into a new body (when a new actor takes over the role.)
Eccleston (#9): You were fantastic, absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? So was I.
Tennant (#10): I don't wanna go (sob!)
Smith (#11): I will always remember when the doctor was me.
And with that there was a sneeze and the next doctor in the form of Peter Capaldi appeared. Fantastic.
Switched at Birth
Again, it's only my opinion. I welcome yours..