As promised, here is Part II of the 2013 Terriers Memorial list, where we will look at my top 10-6 shows of 2013. This year has been oddly defined by new shows. Sure, the likes of Breaking Bad and Mad Men remain here to set the bar high, but unlike most years, there was a surprising number of new, great shows. My guess is that this has to do with the sheer number of outlets for storytellers. Even as recently as 10 years ago, the options were so limited. You either had to come up with 22 hours of story for a network, or you had to convince HBO that you belonged. That’s simply no longer the case. The outlets available are basically infinite. Not only that, but we are also no longer limited by geographical borders. We are getting shows from the UK, from France, New Zealand, all over, only making the TV experience that much greater!
Moving on to the list, and coincidentally enough, we start with an import from the UK.
10. Luther (Episode #3.4)
Picking a favorite episode of the 4 episodes series 3 of Luther was very challenging. As I watched the third entry of this 3rd series, I was astonished with how good the episode was. It was probably my favorite episode of the show to date. But, one thing kept creeping in the back of my mind. As much as I loved that episode, and has heartbroken as I was watching it, I still knew that Alice Morgan was coming back, and there was only one episode left. The genius of Luther has never been the crimes Luther has been working to solve. It’s always been completely and totally dominated by Idris Elba and Ruth Wilson (BTW – I just saw Ruth Wilson in “Saving Mr. Banks,” where she was also exceptional). The complicated relationship between John Luther and Alice Morgan was what made this show pop back in the beginning, and the absence of Ruth Wilson was always so obvious. Luther and Alice are two sides of the same coin. Both broken, both willing to do whatever it takes, but one as an officer of the law, and the other as a murderer. However, their connection was always undeniable, and the resolution of their story in this 3rd series did not disappoint. I really hope we get more Luther in the future.
9. Orange is the New Black (Episode 105: The Chickening)
The second Netflix original show to make the 2013 Terriers Memorial list, Orange is the New Black was one of the best new shows this year. What makes it so wonderful is a truly diverse and well used cast of characters, with no one being wasted. OitNB was a show that started out and appeared as if it would just the Piper Chapman story. A story about a 30 something, hipster, white woman from Brooklyn who was being taken out of her comfortable, happy life, to serve prison time for a crime she committed a decade ago. Had that remained the show, it likely would have been good, but certainly not this great. The show took that step up to greatness just a few episodes in where the show became a true ensemble, telling individual stories in a LOST-like flashback way about the group Piper was encountering in prison. But while doing so, telling an overall story arc about life in this medium security prison. At times the show was hysterically funny, at others, it could have you in tears, OitNB is without a doubt the strongest of the Netflix lineup and will get plenty of recognition come awards time!
8. Shameless (Episode 307: A Long Way From Home)
Emmy Rossum is simply the most overlooked actor on TV today. There is nothing she can’t do, and every time she is on screen (which, on Shameless, is almost always), she lights it on fire. Fiona fights tooth and nail, every day, to support her siblings in every way she can. There is really no more telling example than the video above. Fiona does what she has to do to make sure her younger brothers and sister not have to deal with the terrifying upbringing from their father that she did. She gets them off to school every day, knowing that they, unlike her, must graduate high school and move on to better things, and get themselves out of the terrible south side of Chicago existence they live in. To do so, she works whatever jobs she can get to pay the bills, always, always putting her siblings first, and never once thinking of herself. It’s a tour de force performance, that will hopefully one day be recognized, because she is as deserving as anyone, and certainly more than most.
7. Rectify (Episode 105: Drip, Drip)
Rectify is the only Sundance show on to make my list this year, but it is far from the only one worth recognition. Sundance jumped into the original programming scene this year in grand fashion, with Top of the Lake, Rectify and The Returned. Rectify is the story of a man who has spent the last 18 years on death row for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. After some new evidence comes to light, he is released into a world he doesn’t know or understand. He comes home to a family who is not quite sure what to think of him and has no real place in it. He finds that, after 18 years, life has to go on for his family and friends. There would have been so many ways for this show to go wrong, none more so than in the lead performance. Had someone other than Aden Young been chosen for this role, there is such a large chance that it would have been a “big” performance. Instead, Young (as well as his sister, played by Abigail Spencer, and particularly his step-sister-in-law played by Adelaide Clemens) gives an amazingly quiet, nuanced, subtle performance that provides far more questions than answers. Daniel Holden likely does not even know the answers to many of those questions. Can he survive in this world? Can he be redeemed for his acts? Does he even deserve redemption? Those are some of the questions we began to look into in this first season, and hopefully we will continue to explore them going forward.
6. Southland (Episode 510: Reckoning)
TNT’s Southland finished up its final season in grand fashion. A show that was never supposed to make it passed season 1, somehow found new life on TNT, and wound up lasting for 5 incredible seasons. As a matter of fact, it was likely the move to TNT that made it a great show. It forced the show to tighten its view point, and shrink its cast to focus on its very best characters. The relationship between Ben and Cooper, and then later Ben and Sammy are what made Southland great. This final season focused a great deal on Officer John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz), his personal life and his future. The wear and tear being a beat cop has put on Cooper is starting to catch up with him, and seeing what this life has done to his mentor (played by Gerald McRaney) makes him fear what is to come. The final 5 minutes of Southland (included in the link above) are among the most haunting and depressing that you will find on TV. But, that is always what made Southland great. It was a show that was never afraid to do the realistic thing, no matter how dark it might be. Southland, you will be missed.
So there you have it, my shows 10-6. Stay tuned for the epic conclusion of the 2013 Terriers Memorial List, where we will count down shows 5-1 for 2013!