I spent most of 2012 thinking that there wouldn’t be a year better than it for quality films and television and then 2013 came along and blew me out of the water with a wealth of new dramas from Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake to the US remake of The Bridge with Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir. Each crafted a dense crime plot and mixed in some subtle political commentary to keep things interesting while providing some spectacular visuals to feast your eyes on. That being said neither managed to crack the list proving that despite some truly great new dramas, there were but a few that proved too good to miss. Here are the first 5 shows on the list and why there were unforgettable.
10. Orphan Black – Science fiction has gotten a little dry, espeically on television and when Fringe finally closed up shop in January the list got even shorter. Orphan Black brought Sci-Fi back into the forefront with a story closer to reality with a fine grasp of the fantastical. The series follows Sarah (Tatiana Maslany), a grifter returning to her home to reconnect with the daughter she left with relatives years ago. However when she sees an exact replica of herself walk in front of a train she is put in danger as she must face off against clones, mysterious assassins and people from her complicated past. Maslany makes the show as she brings to life multiple versions of herself in a variety of different ways from original flavour Sarah to off the wall, bat shit insane Helena, every version of her is special. The series’ first 10 episode season is fast paced, smart and undeniably funny when it wants to be. Currently airing on BBC3 in England, this show will hook you from the start.
9. American Horror Story – Unlike most of the shows on this list American Horror Story both wrapped up its 2nd season in January of this year and it kick started its 3rd in October giving viewers more scares than they knew what to do with. However I will stick to the shows current run, a season filled with witchcraft, demons and some crazy voodoo. Starring Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates to name but a few, Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck, Glee) has crafted a season of intense showdowns and monstrous characters including that of Madame Lalaurie (Bates), a racist immortal landowner who was buried and left to rot until she finds herself dug up in modern day New Orleans. Filled with some snappy dialogue, a wealth of strange powers, this season has been cooking with gas right from the beginning and hopefully it won’t let up until January’s fast approaching finale.
8. The Blacklist – The Blacklist doesn’t so much reinvent the procedural crime drama as it does augment it. Starring James Spader as notorious terrorist Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington, the series follows Red as he surrenders to the FBI and begins helping them aquire a series of dangerous criminals he has been tracking for years. Tense and fast paced, the show mixes together a complicated serialized story into a regular good guys vs evil story and mixes them together with a fun, unpredictable anti-hero played to perfection by Spader. The show recently finished its first run of episodes with a two parter reminiscent of Alias’ first season cliffhanger which only further complicated the shows dense mythology in a way that makes me excited for more.
7. Bob’s Burger – I wasn’t sure what to think of Bob’s Burgers when it first started in 2011 as it was unlike other animated shows with a much more risque yet oldly family friendly sense of humour. From the uncomfortably sexual ramblings of the 13 year old Tina to the camp ideals of middle child Gene, it’s a different kind of sitcom with a wealth of quirky and wonderful side characters. Every year I expect a drop in quality but the show only seems to get better and its recent season has been exceptional with the fantastic ‘Turkey In a Can’ episode making a mockery of Thanksgiving in a unique and puzzling way. While my go to animation used to be Archer, Bob has convinced me with its ever high quality and its obscure jokes and references.
6. The Originals – This Vampire Diaries spin off wasted no time in differentiating itself from the mothership with a darker tone, a wealth of new and more interesting characters and enough blood to make even Jigsaw happy. Starring Joseph Morgan as vampire werewolf hybrid Klaus, The Originals follows his exploits in New Orleans as he tries to regain his home from centuries old vampire Marcel, an old friend of his. Complicated by members of his own family, the shows story twists and turns always looking to surprise you in some way or another. Only 9 episodes into its first 22 episode season, The Originals holds plenty of promise and a cast that truly embrace the out there premise of the show. Rarely mindless and always entertaining, The Originals trumps The Vampire Diaries thanks to its fearless storytelling approach and ability to mess with the shows core dynamics in a way the dated Vampire Diaries rarely does anymore.