Friday, December 27, 2013

Top Ten TV Shows of 2013

Not exactly breaking news to say TV is different now than it used to be. Growing up, you'd choose at any given primetime hour one of the shows three networks or perhaps an old movie on an independent station. But you could be pretty sure when you went to school the next day that a number of your friends watched the same thing.

Now, few of us watch the same things at the same time. We don't even have cable TV at our house. I watch most things on Hulu or Netflix or perhaps on DVD. So I may watch something that airs on TV the next day on Hulu or months later on Netflix or DVD. So these are my rules for my list. Shows on my list have to have been broadcast in 2013 and I have to have seen the show in 2013 (even if I'm watching them later then people with cable do.) So here are my top ten, five comedies and five dramas.

Sadly, none of the shows below are really family friendly ("Moone Boy" comes the closest.) But these are things that I liked and the drams particularly show the need of a fallen world and fallen people for a savior.


5) "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (on FX and Netflix) - Highly offensive material performed by vulgar, degenerate characters. I cannot in good conscience recommend this show to anyone. The Christmas episode featured prostitution, thief, violence, mild cannibalism, and Danny DeVito nude. But is is funny. Very funny.

4) "Arrested Development" (Netflix) - I watched the first three seasons of this show "live" when it played on Fox. Apparently, I was one of dozens that did and then it was canceled. But it got a following on DVD and Netflix brought it back for a season and there may be more. Many complained it wasn't as funny as the original series, but when you start with one of the best sitcoms ever, not as good can still be pretty good. Nothing funnier this year to me than Will ("Getaway") Arnett and Ben ("Wonder") Stiller finishing each other's word groupings.

3) "Brooklyn 99" (Fox and Hulu) - One of my favorite sitcoms was "Barney Miller". Set in a police station, there are police officers that say it was the most realistic show ever to portray their profession. I'm sure they won't say the same about this show, as realism is not a priority, but it's almost as funny. And it shares an actor from my all time favorite cop show ("Homicide"), but now Andre Braugher has been promoted from detective to captain.

2) "Moone Boy" (BBC and Hulu) - A show about the imaginary friend of a young Irish boy growing up in the 1980's. Rather like the great "Malcolm in the Middle" except Martin Moone had sisters rather than brothers. The worst thing I can say about it is it only has six episodes so far. But more will come.

1) "Parks and Recreation" (NBC and Hulu) - From entries #4 and #5 on this list, one might get the impression that you need to be mean and cynical to be funny. But this show features a whole lot of nice. There are married couples that really love each other, friends that will go to elaborate extremes to help each other and people who try be excellent in there jobs. Most everyone on the show would make a good friend. Except Jerry...I mean, Larry...He's the worst.

Honorable Mentions: "New Girl", "Veep", "Modern Family" and two shows that ended this year, "30 Rock" and "Don't Trust the B"


5) "The Walking Dead" (AMC, Netflix and DVD) - Arguably the most popular show on TV, it certainly has its ups and downs. It can be slow at times, but it is important to remember it is not chiefly a show about zombies, but rather a show about how people deal with zombies or any kind of catastrophe. It has moments as powerful as any drama on TV. (Cute dogs and even cute children are not safe on this show.) And Daryl is the best redneck ever presented on the air.

4) "Ripper Street" (BBC and Netflix) - How rough was it for the police force that didn't solve the crimes of Jack the Ripper? This show answers that question. It is a procedural of a kind, with stand alone episodes, which can be nice. It's characters are people I enjoy spending time with. (But it does have that old BBC blessing and curse of not many episodes.)

3) "Mad Men" (AMC, Netflix and DVD) - People have complained that season 6 of the show was the weakest in the series. But I watched season 5 this year and it had great episodes in the life of this mid twentieth century ad execs and their family, friends and lovers.

2) "Justified" (FX and DVD) - Raylan Givens is a 19th century lawman who happens to live in the 21st century. I listed it as my favorite show last year, but this year it was beaten by...

1) "Breaking Bad" (AMC, Netflix and DVD) - There are people writing now that this may be the greatest TV series of all time. I'm not ready to go that far, but than again I've still not seen the series final episodes. But I loved those I watched this year. Sure it's about a cancer patient turned meth maker but that doesn't mean it can't at times be fun. One word that proved that true..."Magnets".

Honorable mentions... "Almost Human", "Game of Thrones", "Luther", "Top of the Lake", "Sons of Anarchy", "The Blacklist"

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