Chris's 2013 Year In Review

I tend to spend a fair amount of time wringing my hands over the appalling state of television these days. Thanks in part to the large amount of horror I have watched for the New Shows column, I bemoan the plethora of reality shows and other junk cluttering up our airwaves.

As I sat down to write this column, however, I realized that there was quite a bit about popular culture I enjoyed, nay loved, this year. Here are the ten things I am most thankful I got to experience in 2013:

10: Award Shows with sunbunny
Love them or hate them, award shows are here to stay. I have always watched them and, this past year, started to cover them for the site. In January, sunbunny agreed to join me and my enjoyment of these shows rose to a whole other level. I love sitting down in my pajamas, pouring myself a glass of wine, and turning on the television to watch the red carpet. I move my computer to the coffee table in my living room and open three screens -- Pages to write the article itself; Safari to tweet; and my email. Why the latter? Because sunbunny and I write emails to each other all night and snark the hell out of what is going on. My goodness, but it is a fun way to watch the shows. So thanks, my friend. I’m looking forward to this year’s shows.

9: Shows New to Me
Every year, I find shows that no longer air and marathon through them. Although I watched some this year that aren’t worth mentioning, two certainly are. The first is Numb3rs. It is a procedural, but it incorporates math in fascinating ways. The relationships between the main characters were beautifully drawn and I was completely enthralled with this show.

The second was Wonderfalls. I stumbled across it on this site and simply fell in love with it. Only thirteen episodes, this is one you can watch in a weekend. I recommend that you do. Wonderful characters, wonderful stories, and a world that deserved a much longer run than it had.

8: Shows I Am Revisiting
This year has been an embarrassment of riches in terms of having the opportunity to re-watch shows I already love. In fact, we are currently reviewing and re-watching five of my favorite shows of all time. Juliette is taking us through The West Wing and I love the fact that her wonderful reviews are giving me an excuse to watch this show for the umpteenth time. Ben and Jess are reviewing The Wire, writing brilliant pieces that raise this already fantastic show to a whole other level. And, I may be part of the reviewing team, but I am really enjoying going through the second season of The X-Files again.

Of course, we are doing the Buffy and Angel re-watch. I have been through both of these several times before, but it is a different experience now. Reading Billie’s reviews and commenting with others is making this re-watch entirely new and entirely enjoyable.

7: Documentaries
My father used to say that the older he got, the more interested he became in nonfiction. I’ve thought a lot about that this year as I have watched countless documentaries. I’ve never been that big a fan, but this year has given us some truly wonderful examples of the genre.

Make sure you see Makers: Women Who Make America (an account of the feminists who started the movement), The Central Park Five (an account of the young men accused of raping the young woman in Central Park in 1989), The March (an account of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington), and Valentine Road (a chilling account of the young man who murdered a young gay man).

Although it is not a documentary, more a reality show, I am currently swept up in MTV’s Generation Cryo. It is the story of a young woman who is the result of sperm donation. She discovers she has fifteen half-siblings and this is the story of her meeting them and searching for her father. A fascinating account of the nature/nurture debate and what it means to be a family.

6: Ad Campaigns
Normally, I do everything I can to avoid having to watch advertisements of any kind. This year, however, AT&T has run a series of ads with young kids just talking to an adult that are simply brilliant. I always stop the fast forward to watch. All of them have made me smile; some have made me laugh out loud.

5: Killers
This has been the year of the killer. Many of the shows I have simply loved have involved the chasing, and not always catching, of a pretty horrible human being. The Bletchley Circle was fantastic, not just because it featured young women in the lead roles. Top of the Lake showed us that Elisabeth Moss is an actor with incredible range and the New Zealand setting was perfectly atmospheric.

The best of this group, however, was The Fall. I sat down to review the pilot and got up five hours later, stunned by what I had just seen. When I am asked what is the one show in 2013 I would recommend, it is this show I recommend.

4: Spies
In addition to killers, it’s been a great year for spies. Spies of Warsaw was fantastic, filled with great costumes, great sets, great acting, and a great story. My favorite new show was The Americans. It is fantastically written. Who is good and who is bad? What makes a marriage? What makes us American? I loved the first season and can’t wait for the second.

3: Crushes
This has been a fantastic year to watch lovely men on television and each of the men that follows has a piece of my heart. Of course, the fact that each of them is acting in a show that is also worth watching makes it all that much better:

  • David Tennant in Broadchurch. Wounded men are a weakness of mine. In this show, Tennant plays a police inspector who is both physically and emotionally wounded, yet he puts it all aside to solve a murder in a small town. Swoon...
  • Nathan Fillion in Castle. While the show itself is becoming a pale imitation of its former glory, Fillion is still a joy to watch.
  • Jonny Lee Miller in Elementary. The man is Sherlock Holmes with tattoos. I mean, seriously, what’s not to love?
  • Jim Caviezel in Person of Interest. Tall, dark, handsome and broody. This man is just my type. Not to mention the show just gets better and better.
  • Timothy Olyphant in Justified. The man wears a hat like no one else and the story is absolutely compelling every season. Can’t wait for the next.
  • Tom Mison in Sleepy Hollow. I wasn’t sure about this show when it started, but it has quickly become one of my favorites. Mison is perfect as the out of time warrior and his chemistry with Abbie, his partner, is a joy.

2: Netflix
I would argue that it is now time to call this streaming service a network. Not only does mere pennies a day provide access to almost every show that I want to watch (if they would only stream Veronica Mars and La Femme Nikita…), their original content has been among the best of the year. House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and The Short Game are all examples of what television can, and should, be.

1: William Shakespeare
The best thing that has happened this year is the resurgence in the genius that is Shakespeare. While I was disappointed in Much Ado About Nothing, I applaud the effort. On the other hand, The Hollow Crown was genius giving us the opportunity to see how these plays should be performed. To top it all off, my favorite book of the year was William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I have already read it many times, finding new tidbits of joy each time.

So, there you have it. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and that 2014 brings you nothing but joy and another year of great television.

6 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

Chris, you really take one for the team on the 'New Shows' front. I can't imagine devoting even five minutes to some of the shows you've sampled this past year! I'm glad the year also brought you a number of gems amongst all the horror. Clearly, I agree with many of your highlights! And Timothy Olyphant definitely rocks that hat. :)

sunbunny said...

Aww! I made your list! :)

Your crushes section has totally inspired me to add a crush section of my own! Although I have to say, I've never found Jonny Lee Miller at all attractive. People seem to just go gaga over him and I don't get it. He's a very talented actor and I'm sure he's a lovely person, but he's not on my list of dream honeys.

I'm SO glad you caught The Fall. (pun!) I never would've watched it if not for you. Such a good show. Darker than I usually like, but really, really well done.

My favorite ads this year have been the ones with James Earl Jones and Malcolm McDowell doing dramatic readings of text messages. I don't even remember which phone carrier it's for, but it's hilarious and I laugh every time. Veteran actors saying "totes adorbs." Perfection.

Anonymous said...

Looove the picture !

drnanamom said...

Thanks for the review and for all you do. The New Shows posts have been one of my favourites. I knew if you liked a new show that I would like it too. I also totally agree with your cute guys list and wish I had thought to add my own! Your cat pictures are always so much fun. I was trying to find a cute dog picture for my review but they just can't compete with your cats.

ChrisB said...

Thanks for the lovely comments. Glad the New Shows column has proven useful. I don't always enjoy what I am watching, but I love finding the hidden gems. I'm looking forward to discovering next year's The Fall.

sunbunny -- I don't find Jonny Lee Miller as handsome as some of the others on the list; but, for me, smart is sexy. The combination of smart and snarky he brings to the character really appeals to me.

CrazyCris said...

Brilliant list Chris! I agree, awards shows are A LOT more fun to watch when you can nitpick them with a friend! :p