Tag Archives: Review

The Year in Review: The Top 10 TV Series of 2013 Part 2

The final 5 shows on this list vary from a deeply emotional religious drama to a modern day reimagining of a superhero story. Each series has gained a spot on this list because they have kept viewers attached to their screens in a way few other shows have managed. So without further ado here are the best 5 series of 2013.

5. The Good Wife – While I lost interest in The Good Wife during it’s 3rd season I recently returned for it’s 5th and I have not been disappointed. Following on from last seasons game changing finale, season 5 has shaken the core of the show in a way that has breathed new life into the show. This season’s ‘Hitting The Fan’ proved one of the best episodes of television and one the show will have a hard time living up to. However I will keep lapping up this terrific series any chance I get.

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4. Arrow – Not only did Arrow finish up it’s fantastic first season this year but it kickstarted it’s 2nd season with a gripping central mystery, some shocking twists and more than a few suprising guest stars. However what really made Arrow shine this year was how it fleshed out and challenged it’s core characters. Not only has the show grown past it’s procedural elements, the series has grown up and poses some decent anti hero questions of it’s audience. Easily the most accessable of the shows on this list, Arrow is a mature look at our superhero culture with some killer fight scenes and must watch storylines.

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3. Breaking Bad – By the time Breaking Bad ended it’s first batch of season 5 episodes, they had set up one hell of a final run and creator Vince Gilligan did not let audiences down at all. Tense and unexpected, Walter White’s drug oddessey came to a close with more than enough blood, mayhem and broken families to last viewers a lifetime. Bryan Cranston managed to turn the increasingly derranged White into the ultimate anti hero everyman  and it was good to see him go out on top, just one last time.

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2. Rectify – Ray McKinnon may not be a well known name but his new Sundance series Rectify should put him on the map as a master of the relationship drama. Set over the first few days of Daniel Holden’s (Aden Young) release from death row for the rape and murder of his then 16 year old girlfriend, Rectify takes it’s time in dissecting every little aspect of it’s characters lives, from the opinionated ramblings of Daniel’s sister Amantha (Abigail Spencer) to the tender religious beliefs of Tawney (Adelaide Clemens), Daniel’s sister in law. The series is rich in character and is filmed beautifully. The overhanging question of Daniel’s possible guilt only adds more depth to this story making me excited for the shows 2nd season in 2014.

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1. Boardwalk Empire – Some might have assumed but here it is, the best series on television right now is almost certainly this Martin Scorsese produced gem. Created by Terrence Winter and starring Steve Buscemi as Atlantic City bootlegger and all round criminal Nucky Thompson, the show unleashed it’s 4th season in September and it just happened to be the shows best yet. The addition of hypocritical mobster Dr Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright) and the concentration on side character Chalky White (Michael K Williams) made the season flow with tension as the boardwalk started slipping from Nucky’s fingers and allies became enemies. Flawless television made better by some devestatingly good performances.

The Year in Review: The Top 10 TV Series of 2013 Part 1

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.

The Year in Review: The 5 Worst Shows of 2013

Considering the number of high profile dramas that launched this year and the many returning shows that took audience by storm last year that there would be very few shows that people should outright loathe…and yet, there are plenty. Here are the five worst series of the year and some reasons why.

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5. True Blood – Lets face it, True Blood has been in freefall for years, it’s ever expanding character base, its increasingly out there story ideas and its not so thinly veiled political satire has been ruining the show for years, ever since the shows season 2 finale. However this year took the biscuit. Not only did they turn Bill (Stephen Moyer) into an all powerful super prick but for the first time in series history the shows lead Sookie (Anna Paquin) felt like a character in a different show. The writers have lost their compass and have no clue of how to find it again. Considering that the show is ending next year with its much anticipated final season, one can only hope that someone might be able to reign in a once proud and powerful show.

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4. Beauty and the Beast -There are many series out there that do not need to be remade, shows like Breaking Bad and The Sopranos (although Bad is being adapted in Mexico), but one show that could use a revamp is the classic 80s series Beauty and the Beast. The original starred Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton as Vincent and Catherine, the titular duo and was a fun bit of 80s cheese. The revamped version, set in modern day New York City stars Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan. While Perlman’s Vincent hid in an underground community of other creatures, Ryan’s interpretation of Vincent is an army experiment gone awry, a soldier on the run who collides with Kreuk’s Chandler and together they solve crimes. However this year, the show entered its 2nd season and without the procedural element the show has lost its focus and the show has become a series of repetitive declarations of love and other shmaltzy gimmicks designed to make female viewers flock to the show like flies to shit.

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3. House of Lies – This American comedy series is probably the most self absorbed and idiotic series to air this year. Having finished airing its 2nd season, House of Lies has taught a lot of people how not to be terrible people, by showing characters so horrible and repellant that watching them do anything is akin to ripping your own skin off. It’s just painful. Starring Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, House of Lies follows the people running a firm, what the firm does? Well I don’t think the shows creators can even tell you that. Badly written with no clear idea of where its heading, this comedy sucks all the fun out of laughing because when you do you are laughing at how horrible these people are. That would be fine if the shows lead didn’t have a child. The show shoehorns in this child to give him a redeeming feature but by doing so have invited the idea that this is a family show when it’s just plain wrong.

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2. Bates Motel – This prequel series takes extra special care to look after the legacy of Psycho. I’d appreciate that if I didn’t think Psycho was a overhyped piece of dated rubbish. That being said I was willing to see where Bates Motel was headed after all it’s showrunner is Carlton Cuse, one of the co-writers of Lost. What I came to watch was a pointlessly bleak, overly plotty story of people corrupting each other. Starring Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga as Norman and Norma Bates, the series doesn’t have a destination as much as it sets out to cause as much destruction as possible without reason. The show opens with a grisly murder only for another one to happen moments later, effectively removing the stakes from this gothic series. There are no consequences when you don’t care and thats what Bates Motel made me do, stop caring.

1. Betrayal – Here it is, the worst show of the year. It isn’t the fact that the series is based around one woman’s desire to have an affair. It isn’t the terrible acting by the two leads Hannah Ware and Stuart Townsend or the pointless mystery plot that the shows writers cobbled together to keep some kind of mute tension in the air. It’s the fact that when I started watching I could see every little twist, every line of dialogue, every character trait and how it was envisioned to work in the shows favour. The problem was there was no story because it had already been laid out in the shows opening 40 minute episode. I mean sure the insensitive plot makes no sense on a marketing basis (probably why the show tanked as badly as it did) but a good show made well is a good show and Betrayal ladies and gentlemen is a bad show, a really bad show, one worth buying on DVD only to burn it outside with the rest of your rubbish.