December 27, 2013

The Best TV Shows of 2013

Horror was represented fairly well on the small screen this past year, and to varying degrees of quality and success; Grimm, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Dracula, The Originals, Haven, Under the Dome, Dexter, Sleepy Hollow, True Blood, Lost Girl, Being Human... there was no shortage of programming geared towards the Horror-minded in 2013.

Aside from Haven, Grimm and Sleepy Hollow, we don't watch any of the aforementioned shows; some we don't watch because they suck, some we don't watch because we just haven't taken the plunge with them yet. Best of all, Dexter is over now, so thankfully no one has to watch that train wreck anymore.

Let us not forget the other Genre shows out there that, while not being Horror, still appeal to us on some level; Continuum, Defiance, Revolution, Falling Skies, Vikings, Orphan Black, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Atlantis, Arrow... again, there's no shortage of options for the Action/Sci-Fi/Superhero fans amongst us. It can't be all carnage, all the time. Sometimes we need variety.

For us, as both Horror fans and fans of quality TV Shows in general, we need something compelling to keep us on the edge of our seats, something that makes us want invest our time and energy in a show's goings-on and outcome. Action, violence, drama, humor, emotion... we need a solid mixture of things to hook us, and more importantly, keep us on the line.

The following TV Shows were the ones that did it best in 2013. These are the shows that made us itch with anticipation and hang on their every plot twist. Most of these shows floored us with their plot developments and killed us with their emotional impact, while giving us fits by making us wait for 7 days to find out what happens next. Some of them just plain old entertained the hell out of us.

It goes without saying that we whole-heartedly recommend that everyone watch these shows, but here we are saying it anyhow. We like to be thorough. Or it bears repeating, or something.

There's no true "best to worst" order to be had here, just some keen observation and plenty of well-earned praise.

There was no new show in 2013 that hooked us like Hannibal did. We absolutely thought that NBC would botch this one horrendously, because let's face it; most Network TV Shows are very formulaic, bland, safe, and repetitive. So then how could they possibly hope to give us a quality show about Hannibal Lecter, what with the grisly content associated with the character, and ever hope to keep it interesting as well as entertaining? I don't know how, but they pulled it off, and in grand fashion.

It took us a minute to get used to Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter, but once we did, we hardly noticed that it wasn't Anthony Hopkins there playing the role that he absolutely owns. Mads is brilliantly sublime in this one; all quiet cool and smooth on the surface, yet always subtly hinting at the simmering madness lurking just below. Hugh Dancy plays Will Graham perfectly too. He may not have the swagger that William Peterson brought to the role (Manhunter), but you can't help but feel for the guy as his sanity erodes, week after week.

This show is bloody, nasty, eerie, repulsive, and ultimately compelling, and I'm not sure how such a "horrific" show made it to NBC, let alone got away with some of the things that it did. I don't really care how. I'm just really glad that it did.

If you somehow missed out on this one the first time around, you need to correct that misstep immediately. Hannibal is truly one of the best TV Shows of the year.

While Bates Motel is definitely the story of a young, pre-psychopathic Norman Bates, the star of the show here is Vera Farmiga. Her Norma Bates is sexy, creepy, wonky, manic, and intriguing all at once, and we're pretty sure that she has as many, if not more, issues than her beloved Norman does (obviously, that's where he gets it.) Vera was on fire in this show, and she should have beat out Claire Danes for the Best Actress Emmy. She was truly robbed.

It's interesting to us that the show's body count was so low over the course of the entire season, as this is an origin story for Psycho, but it's nice to see that they didn't force the killing just for the sake of killing. We're pretty sure that the body count will rise next season and beyond, but rest assured that there are plenty of bloody good moments in this first season.

We honestly expected Bates Motel to be schlocky mess, but this is a great show crafted with care and treated with respect. Along with Hannibal, Bates Motel was one of the most pleasant surprises of the year for us.

I can't even begin to say how great this show was, although I guess I just kinda did. Leave it to the French to come up a show that messes with our minds like this one did. The idea of the dead reappearing and trying to claim their old lives back is an interesting one, and this show managed to make it a creepy one as well. The Returned is spooky, quiet, and definitely a slow burn. From its opening moments this show hypnotized us, and made us want to know more and more about its mysterious, of which there were plenty of.

It was a unique experience, to say the very least.

The American remake is on the way (because why wouldn't it be?), but don't cheat yourself out of seeing The Returned in its original glory. Yes, that means that you'll have to read subtitles (unless you speak French, fluently), but that's a small price to pay for the payoff that you'll receive. This was absolutely one of the best Television experiences that we had all year.

Ah, Sons. It's the red-headed bastard child of the TV world; no Emmy love, Critics tend to dismiss it more than they praise it, and yet, it's still one of the best shows on TV. Sure, the show hits a rough patch now and then, and it's not without its flaws, but SOA is one of the most consistently entertaining hours on TV... or, 90 minutes, more accurately.

That's right, SOA is so popular with its rabid fan base, and so good in general, that FX lets its creator, Kurt Sutter, just kinda make each episode however long he thinks it needs to be. I don't know if that's a first or not (though I can't think of any other show that gets to run-over however long it sees fit), but it speaks volumes about a Network's faith in a property for them to essentially give a Showrunner free reign as far as content and episode length go.

Like its sister FX show, Justified, SOA boasts one hell of a cast. From top to bottom the show is filled with likable characters that are played by equally likable and talented actors, many of whom spent time on Deadwood & The Shield. SOA, Justified, Deadwood and The Shield are all connected, in a bunch of different ways, and its interesting that all four are top-notch shows... coincidence? No way.

Anywho, this show rocks. It always manages to shock and excite while tearing the heart out of its viewers, and at the end of the day, what more can you really ask for. The season finale this year was... well lets just say that it still has us reeling.

There is no bigger bad-ass on TV than Raylan Givens, and honestly, there's probably no better written show on TV than Justified. When Elmore Leonard passed earlier this year, it hit us rather hard; one of the greatest writers of our time was a local boy, not born, but bred, and so we felt like we had lost one of our own. Justified is based off of Leonard's work, the man was a producer on the show, and it absolutely does his legacy justice, as well as showcases just why he was such a great writer.

The one-two acting punch of Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins is about as good as any duo get on TV these days. Both their characters an their performances are top-notch, and the fact that they're surrounded by an equally talented cast bringing their own great characters to life, just makes the show that much stronger.

Justified is filled with ton of "That was awesome!" moments, most of which come by the way of Raylan Givens and his "I don't give a fuck, I'll shoot you dead!" attitude. Then again, Boyd is every bit as compelling. Hell, we even the villains on the show, and we're supposed to hate them, right? The show is just so well written overall that there aren't many chinks in it armor.

If we had to pick one show on TV that is our absolute favorite, it would be Justified. It's absolutely A+ entertainment, and shouldn't be missed.

This season of TWD didn't really grab us from the get-go. We were all like "why are they introducing a lame-ass flu subplot?" at first, but as the episodes wore on, it evened out, and by the time its mid-season break arrived, it had floored us.

Literally. That last episode made us fall of the floor... crying. Like babies. It was just so powerful and sad... ugh, we still miss who we miss, and so much! *Trying to stay spoiler-free here.

Anywho, TWD is always enjoyable, even when it occasionally seems to be spinning its tires and going nowhere. We live in a time where a TV Show about Zombie Apocalypse is the highest rated show on Cable... and all of Television, for that matter. At least in the coveted 18-49 Demographic. I don't know, LOTS of people watch the show. Anyway, we live in a time where we have an awesome show like this coming into our homes on a weekly basis, and for that reason alone, we do not nitpick this show as much as some folks do. We will most likely never see this type of show (Zombies) at this level of quality (awesome) again in our lifetimes.

We don't really need to explain this one too much. You most likely love it for all of the same reasons that we do; mainly for the Zombies. And Daryl. And Lauren Cohan. Also, the hot blonde sister.

AHS has always been a mixed bag for us. At times, we've hated it, but then again, most of the time we've loved it for its quirky and twisted ways. We originally gave up on the first season about 4 episodes in, only to marathon it in its entirety a few months later, and ended up loving it. Season 2, we found to be an entertaining and frustrating venture.

AHS: Coven has entertained the hell out of us this year. I'm guessing that's due mostly to how great the cast is, because seeing Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett go head-to-head each week on the same TV Show is nothing short of a gift. Lily Rabe and Sarah Paulson are pretty fantastic too. Also, they're hotter, because, youth.

It's also bloody, creepy, and twisted, so that's probably a lot of it too.

And let us not forget Mini-Farmiga; she's so cute and likable, and she's becoming a solid actress just like her big sis, Vera. Although, the idea of Taissa Farmiga having a killer vagina is truly disturbing... Screw it, Mini-Farmiga is probably the main reason we love this season so much this season, killer vagina be damned!.

We loved this U.S. remake of the Scandi Crime Thriller, and maybe even more than the original... in some ways. Diane Kruger is fantastic as Sonya Cross; the High-Functioning Aspie Cop who is pretty much the best Cop ever! Alright, maybe not the best, but she's pretty good. Watching her odd quirks and behavior was a weekly highlight of the show for us. Demian Bichir was great as her partner too, and watching the two of them interact was just perfection. Their relationship defines the show, both for better and worse.

This is a twisted little show, full of action, drama, heart, and even some genuine laughs. It also gets fairly creepy and gory at times. I don't know what's in the water over there at FX, but this is the 4th show of theirs on our best of list, so I hope they keep drinking it. *If you include The Americans (below), that's five great shows from one Network. Not bad at all.

An excellent show from the start, Game of Thrones upped its own ante this year, and left us with one of the most powerful gut-punches that a TV Show has ever given us. The Red Wedding sent shockwaves throughout the show's fandom, and rightly so; it was powerful stuff, and bold as hell.

The Red Wedding, Theon's journey, the evil Bolton's, Jamie's awesomeness (and redemption), The Bear and the Maiden Fair, The Unsullied, Tyrion's awesomeness, Stannis the Mannis, Davos... this season was jam-packed with tons of all sorts of greatness. this is one of the best shows on TV, bar none.

Next year, things get even crazier than they did this year, so prepare yourselves.

With one of the best final seasons (and finales) of a Television Show ever, Breaking Bad killed it this year. It also killed us, and our hearts. Now that it's all over, the Television landscape is a bit less enjoyable.

Having followed Walter White's journey from geeky High School Teacher to merciless Drug Kingpin, we were dying to see how it all ended, and not just for Heisenberg, but for everyone on the show. There were so many great moments in this final season of BB, but for us, the phone conversation between Walt and Skylar in "Ozymandias" is about as good as filmed entertainment gets. This show was truly special, and it will be sorely missed around these parts.

If you've never watched this gem of a show, get on Netflix and start doing so right away... you'll be better off for it. We promise.

Below is our complete list of the 20 TV Shows that we loved the most in 2013. The first 10, we talked about above. The last 10, we left tiny little mini comments about below, because, there's only so much time in a day.

Either way, you now have 20 TV Shows to check out and binge watch, all of which are worthy of your time.

The Blacklist- James Spader absolutely elevates what would otherwise be a mediocre Network show. It's pretty damn solid for what it is though, but especially worth it for Spader's performance alone.

Strike Back & Banshee- Shameless, unapologetic, pure fun. these two are 100% enjoyable action shows, even if they're a bit on the silly side at times. They're a lot like Stallone & Schwarzenegger flicks from the 80's in that they seem dismissible, but you just can't help loving them all the same. Give them a chance if you have Cinemax.

Ray Donovan- Liev Schreiber as a Boston tough guy who roughs people up for a living? Yes, please. This is about as solid as a cable drama gets. Jon Voight is superb in this one.

The Americans- An entertaining, 80's Cold War Spy vehicle, The Americans is really solid entertainment, and Keri Russell is awesome great in it

Homeland- This season started off shaky, but by the end, it was all kinds of great. Worth watching for Mandy Patinkin alone, even if Claire Danes' insanity grates on the nerves more often than not.

Broadchurch- The first of four stellar British mini-series (they keep them short but sweet across the pond), Broadchurch is a twisty little Cop Thriller that we really loved. Of course that means that an American remake is on the way... sigh.

Top of the Lake- This New Zealand/UK mini-series was pretty a top notch Drama/Thriller. Peter Mullan was a beast in this one.

The Fall- Another great British "mini" series. Dana Scully (sans Mulder) playing a DS on the hunt for a vicious Serial Killer is aces in our books.

Luther- ...and yet another British mini, and our fave of them all. We loved Luther, and although this last series wasn't the best of them, it was a fitting end to the whole affair. Also, Alice Morgan needs her own series, mainyl because we think that we might just love her.

Fuck you, Lumberjack. Worst finale EVER.


  1. OMG, I absolutely loved The Returned. Totally agree, slow burn, and so great. I really disliked AHS Coven this year though, I cant quite explain it. I just thought is was so perfect looking, not gritty enough - maybe their version of a witch just doesn't scare me. I really enjoy your blog and style, keep it up!

  2. I agree, those are the best of the 2013

  3. AHS: Coven is an odd show. Something about it is compelling as hell, even though we know it really shouldn't be. Guilty Pleasure maybe?