2013 TERRIERS MEMORIAL LIST: PART I

First, an explanation for the title of this post. Back in 2010, FX premiered a little show called Terriers, starring Donal Logue, Michael Raymond James, and Rockmond Dunbar, amongst other amazing character actors. For a show run by Shawn Ryan (The Shield and The Chicago Code) and created by Ted Griffin (Ocean’s trilogy), it was embarrassingly under watched and cancelled after only a single, nearly perfect season. Terriers was my top show of 2010, and I made a promise to myself that from that point on my year-end list for TV would be called the “Terriers Memorial List.” Just my little way of keeping Terriers in the mind of the 6 people who read this blog.

For 2013, the Terriers Memorial List will run in three parts. Today, Part I, will be honorable mentions and my shows 20-11. Part II, running in the coming days, will be my shows 10-6, and Part III, running days after that, will be my shows 5-1. So let’s get started with the 2013 Terriers Memorial List, shall we?

Starting with shows that would likely have been considered for this list that I have not been able to get to yet (but I will, I promise):

  • The Fall
  • The Returned
  • Orphan Black
  • Top of the Lake (I’m through the first few hours, and it’s amazing)
  • Black Mirror

Next, a few shows that demonstrate just how hard it is to come up with a list like this. My honorable mentions for 2013 are shows that I greatly enjoy, and in some cases love. But, because of the time we are in, with so much amazing TV, it’s simply not possible to fit everything in, even with a list of 20 shows.

  • Girls – A slight let down from season 1 perhaps, but still a solid season with great moments of humor, sadness, and lots and lots of awkwardness.
  • Sons of Anarchy – Season 6 was the best season of Sons since the high of season 2.  The show is finally being honest with itself about the characters that have outlived their useful life, which is setting up a fascinating seventh and final season.
  • Cougar Town – PENNY CAN!
  • The Americans – As seems to be a trend on FX shows, The Americans had a first season that did nothing but get stronger as it went along. This is a show that I fully expect will make my main list as the seasons progress.
  • The Walking Dead – I’m a little bit surprised TWD didn’t make the full list, but as I sat down and thought through my list, part one of season 4 was destroyed by the return of The Governor. The year (season 3 part two and season 4 part one) included many great episodes, but as an overarching story, was at times disappointing.

I’m sure there are a dozen other shows I’m leaving off, but I have to draw a line somewhere, right? It’s now time to move on to the full list, and as I mentioned above, Part I will discuss shows 20-11. Along with each show listed below, I’ll include what I believe is the strongest episode of the show that appeared in 2013.

20. The Bridge (Episode 111: Take the Ride, Pay the Toll)

Just as I was surprised that The Walking Dead didn’t make the full list, I was surprised The Bridge did actually make the full Top 20 list. But the thing is, The Bridge was a show that just got stronger as the season went along, and by the end of the season, it became a show I couldn’t wait to watch each Wednesday night. The performances by Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir are among the best on TV, with a partnership/friendship that is unlike most of the cop relationships seen on TV. With a change in show runners (Meredith Stiehm heading back to Homeland), I expect the show to take a creative leap forward, focusing more on the gritty, real world drama taking place on the US/Mexico border, and I can’t wait for season 2 next summer.

19. House of Cards (Episode 112: Chapter 12)

There is a great line from David O. Russell’s American Hustle in which Christian Bale says that you should always take a favor over money. That’s a great way to summarize the theme of House of Cards. Favors are the ultimate power. Money is short-sighted and ego driven. Having someone owe you is the ability to control them. That’s all Frank Underwood wants. Control. Amazing performances by Corey Stoll, Kristen Connolly, Robin Wright, and Kevin Spacey are what make this show well worth the $7.99 Netflix subscription.

18. Raising Hope (Episode 407: Murder, She Hoped)

As charming and beautiful as Shannon Woodward is, and as good as Lucas Neff often is on Raising Hope, this is a show that is dominated by Martha Plimpton and Garrett Dillahunt. Up until last weekend, I had a different episode (Burt Mitzvah) as my favorite of the year, but the hilarious Rear Window episode was too good to pass up. The wacky hijinks of this group always make for great laughs, but the show, like most Greg Garcia shows (My Name is Earl), give you so much heart and family warmth. This is a show that always makes you feel good about watching.  So, while this is a show likely on its last legs, let’s enjoy it while we’ve got it.

17. Game of Thrones (Episode 309: The Rains of Castemere)

Season 3 of Game of Thrones was such a strong step up from season 2 and probably even an improvement on the great, great season 1. The fact that this show is this low on the list is so surprising to me, and again, shows just how great a year of TV 2013 was. This is one of the shows I look forward to most each year, and the Sunday night combination of Mad Men and Game of Thrones is my favorite night of TV. Though I’m disappointed that we aren’t going to get the spin-off on the travels of Jamie Lannister and Brienne of Tarth, I couldn’t have been happier with how that, and all of the other stories (save for stupid Theon of course) played out over season 3.  I can’t wait for its return in the spring.

16. Veep (Episode 204: The Vic Allen Dinner)

There are not many comedies on my list this year (the lack of Community is a great sadness for me), but amongst the few that are on the list, Veep is without a doubt the funniest. Veep doesn’t go for the heart of Raising Hope, Cougar Town or Parks and Rec. It is just a 100% profanity laced, mean-spirited laugh riot. Julia Louis-Dreyfus had a great year on both TV and film, and is there a better/more annoying character on TV than Jonah (aka “Jolly Green Jizz-Face”)?

15. Broadchurch (Episode 107)

I wrote earlier this summer about all the police shows involving the death of young children, but despite the high volume of shows, some clearly stood above the others. Broadchurch was one such show. Broadchurch focused so much less on the crime itself, than on the effects of such a terrible tragedy (here, the death of an 8-year-old boy in a small British beach town). How would such a death impact a mother, a father, a sister, friends, family friends, and the town as a whole when it appears that there are no answers to this awfulness? And making it worse, there is a realization that no matter who killed young Danny, it’s someone close, it’s someone we all know…How does that change the landscape of a town forever, knowing a murderer is right next door?

14. Hannibal (Episode 113: Savoureux)

Even more so than Breaking Bad, Mad Men or Game of Thrones, Hannibal is without a doubt the best looking show on TV. It’s also masterfully written by Bryan Fuller and expertly acted by Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen. Hannibal is a dark and disturbing look into the world of the human mind and the evil that lurks inside. It looks at the beauty and art that an expert serial killer (and in this case, cannibal) brings to his crimes. For a show that is on network TV (NBC), it is disturbingly violent and beautifully graphic. But, unlike so many violent shows on TV today, there is a purpose and a vision behind every scene of violence portrayed. I couldn’t be happier to spend more time in this world, with NBC renewing it for a second season, despite it’s very NBC-like ratings.

13. Bob’s Burgers (Episode 315: OT: The Outside Toilet)

I feel like I don’t really need to say anything about Bob’s Burgers other than the fact that the show did an ET episode that had Jon Hamm as a talking toilet…I mean, what could I really say that would be more of an incentive to watch than that?

12. Masters of Sex (Episode 105: Catherine)

Without a doubt the highlight of the fall season, Masters of Sex is a new show that feels like it’s been around forever. It started with so much confidence and with so much assuredness of what it was and what it wanted to be. Michael Sheen and Lizzy Kaplan are the obvious stand outs here, but it is the smaller turns by Allison Janney and Caitlin Fitzgerald that are my personal favorite here. Maybe that’s unfair because Allison Janney is one of the very best at what she does, but I don’t care. It is always such a treat to see her appear on-screen, and she never, ever disappoints. The comparisons to Mad Men are not only unfair, but also unnecessary. Masters of Sex may be set in a period near Mad Men (50s as opposed to Mad Men’s 60s setting), but the fact that it handles the “look” of its time is where the comparisons need to stop. Masters of Sex stands just fine on its own two feet and was definitely the best new show this fall.

11. Parks and Recreation (Episode 514: Leslie and Ben)

The clip above is the perfect personification of why Parks and Rec, even six seasons in, remains one of the very best things on TV. In a 22 minute episode, Parks and Rec can give you so much. It is a common occurrence for this show to be able, in a single episode, to have you laughing, crying, and laughing so hard that you cry. The fact that Nick Offerman has never won ANY award, let alone even been nominated, is one of the bigger crimes of the Golden Age of Television. We need to cherish our Parks while we have it, because I suspect we are approaching the end of what will go down as an all time great TV sitcom.

So there we have it. That’s it for Part I of the 2013 Terriers Memorial List. Please be sure to check back in soon for Part II, where we will count down shows 10-6 of 2013.

-CJ

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What to Watch: October 2013

Each month here on YBTV, I will attempt to provide our faithful readers and overview of what to look forward to in the coming TV month. Last month was a busy one with the beginning of the fall TV season making it almost impossible to include everything in one list. I will attempt to rectify that in some small ways in October, pointing out shows that maybe barely missed the cut back in September.

10. American Horror Story: Coven (FX, Wednesday, October 9 at 9 PM) — Every year I get moderately excited about this show, and every year, after a few episodes, I stop watching and never feel sorry for doing so. I suspect this will be another year of the same, but none-the-less, I’ll be watching for the first few episodes. There’s a lot to like here, great performers (Sarah Paulson, Emma Roberts, Taissa Farmiga, Jessica Lange, etc, etc), a creepy, fun premise. But for whatever reason, within a few episodes, I’m always just kind of bored with it. I find that Ryan Murphy is kind of like Kurt Sutter, but worse. He does things purely for effect, without thinking about their place in the story and whether they offer any intellectual payoff. Or, who knows, maybe this will be the year I finally stick with a season of AHS.

9. Cousins Undercover (HGTV, Sunday, October 6 at 7 PM) — John and Anthony are without a doubt two of the best personalities on all of HGTV/DIY, so whenever they have a show, it is watched in our home. Whether it’s Kitchen Cousins, Cousins on Call or this new show, it’s always entertaining and fun to watch. Plus, you get to see really great contractors doing some really cool home improvements. What’s not to like?

8. ESPN’s 30 for 30 (ESPN, Tuesday nights starting October 1 at 8 PM) — The 30 for 30 series of documentaries is back. While I don’t necessarily know what specific docs are coming up, I know that I’ll be watching them. Not every documentary is legendary, but the batting average for ESPN with these is incredibly high, so missing them is not really an option. We’ve been provided some great storytelling in this series by some great story tellers. Will any of this batch match “Catching Hell,” “June 17, 1994,” “Benji,” or “The Ghosts of Ole Miss?” I don’t know, given the track record, I would expect at least some of them to do so.

7. Eastbound and Down (HBO, Sunday nights at 9 PM) — This is the first example of a show that started right at the end of Septmeber that I didn’t get a chance to talk about last month. The return of Kenny Powers definitely deserves some attention though, so here it is. We all thought season 3 was going to be the final chapter of the Kenny Powers story, but you can’t kill Kenny Powers quite that easily. So here he is, back for one last run at making it back to the big leagues, and surely providing us with one last round of incredibly offensive humor. Welcome back Kenny Powers.

6. Strike Back season 4 finale (Cinemax, Friday, October 18 at 9 PM) — A show that has no business being as good as it is finishes out another excellent season later this month. Cinemax’s first attempt at original programming, I honestly expected it to be something suited only for Cinemax audiences. And while it does have a lot of those traits to it, it also includes excellent characters and character development. You don’t necessarily come to Strike Back for the story (you come for the guns, explosions and boobs), but you get it along with all those things. Scott and Stonebridge are often times forced to deal with the emotional fallout of their jobs (basically government sanctioned mercanaries), and it is wonderfully played by Phillip Wincester and Sullivan Stapelton. A show I never expected to watch more than 2 episodes of, I look forward to each and every summer.

5. Saturday Night Live: Bruce Willis, host (NBC, Saturday, October 12 at 10:35 PM) — The Tiny Fey season premeire came and went last week with many good things and some not so good. This weekend, we have Miley Cyrus, but that’s not what I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to an episode hosted by John Freaking McLane! I don’t think any of us can know what to expect out of Willis, who has not hosted SNL since the season premeire of 1989. That’s right. 1989. That kind of uncertainty makes me very curious to see what he will have to offer.

4. The Bridge season 1 finale (FX, Wednesday, October 2 at 9 PM) — A show that started out maybe having a little trouble finding its groove, The Bridge has settled into becoming a very solid show for me. It show remains centered around the outstanding performances from Demian Bichir, Diane Kruger and Ted Levine, each of whom have stepped their game up even further as the season progressed. The show has never really been about the case, never really been about the “big bad,” at least not for me. For me, this show is about how Marco relates to Sonya, and the growth of that relationship has kept me coming back week to week, and will have me back next season.

3. Arrow (The CW, Wednesday, October 9 at 7 PM) — Another show that I honestly expected to watch 2 or 3 episodes of last year when it premeired, but quickly morphed into one of my favorite watches each week. Stephen Amell does a great job playing both sides of the Oliver Queen/Bruce Wayne character, and can kick ass with the best of them. The reason you come to the show though is for the amazing chemistry between Amell and David Ramsey, who plays Diggle, a combination of both Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon rolled into one, as well as the third part of the crime fighting team, Emily Bett Rickards, who plays computer whiz Felicity. The addition of Felicity midway through the season was one of the things that really helped this show turn the corner from being a good CW show, to just being a good show, and one of the best action/adventure shows on TV. With the death and destruction that occurred at the end of last season, I can’t wait to see where The Hood goes from here.

2. Bob’s Burgers (FOX, Sunday nights at 730) — Again, a show that started in the last couple days of September, but just deserves some discussion. Bob’s Burgers, going into its 4th season (and renewed for a 5th by FOX), is simply the best animated show on FOX right now. It is the freshest, the funniest, and the one with the most heart. Bob’s Burgers actually shares many similarities in that way with a previous FOX animation great, King of the Hill. Many of the other FOX animated shows are all edge and offensive humor (Seth McFarland shows), but Bob’s Burgers is so much deeper than that, and, because of that, a much funnier show than any of the other Animation Domination shows.

1. The Walking Dead (AMC, Sunday, October 13 at 8 PM) — Another new season of TWD, another show runner. Moving on to season 4, and the third showrunner, Scott Gimple, TWD is coming off a season where it arguably hit its creative high point, and became the most popular show on TV (all of TV, not just cable). I would expect much of that to continue because, hey, who doesn’t like seeing zombies get stabbed through the head. But if the show wants to continue to succeed creatively, there needs to be continued character development and a story focus on the people, not just killing zombies. Questions such as, how do you raise a child in this environment? Or, how do you build a loving marriage through the zombie apocolypse? And, can we work together and build real community while living in the constant fear that someone could turn on us the way The Governor did? I’m far more interested in delving into the answers to these questions than I am seeing more zombies killed. But, maybe that’s just me.

-CJ

WHAT TO WATCH: FALL 2013 (LJ EDITION)

walking-dead

So CJ claims each month he will be posting a list of “things to watch.”  I like his idea, but am going to put my own twist on it.  Below you will find a list of shows that I am most excited about watching this fall.  In other words, if you are exactly like me (which clearly everyone is), these are the shows you should be watching.  As you can tell, I possess a certain loyalty for returning shows, so unfortunately, my list is skewed a little against the new shows we will be seeing this fall.  This shouldn’t be taken to mean that I will not be watching any new programming over the next couple months.  If I am being honest, it just takes me a bit of time to jump onboard with anything new (consider this a character flaw).  Here we go:

10.  The X Factor (FOX, Wednesday, September 11 8:00PM) – I can already see CJ’s eyes rolling when he sees that The X Factor made my top 10 list.  Admittedly, I did not make it through Season 1 of The X Factor, but I vowed last year to give B. Spears my support and stuck it out.  And, you know what, I still find Mr. Simon Cowell amusing.  Plus, I have a huge girl crush on Demi Lovato (also, I should probably mention that my musical tastes match those of a 12 year old girl).  Now, unfortunately, Brittney is gone this year, but Demi and Simon remain.  I watch this show for the judges and not for the talent that is “discovered,” and I am excited to see what is in store with Kelly Rowland added to the panel.  I am cautiously optimistic. [Full disclosure, I watched last night’s premiere and I didn’t hate it.  I actually liked a lot.  Second episode is on tonight.  Set your DVRs.]

9.  Psych:  The Musical (USA, Sunday, December 15 9:00PM) – I know what you are thinking, what the heck is this?  Unfortunately, that means that you have not been watching the past seven seasons of Psych.  Let me tell you, you have been missing out.  This comedy is very clever and very witty.  Yes, it is pretty crazy at times, but it’s characters are incredibly loveable.  And, Dule Hill is, as always, amazing.  You have until December to get caught up.  Trust me, you will want to.

8.  Raising Hope (FOX, Friday, November 8 9:00PM) – We are now on Season 4 of Raising Hope and it has a new time slot.  I sincerely hope this is not the beginning of the end.  I feel like this show does not get enough credit.  Admittedly, I have been a skeptic.  But the fact of the matter is, this show is hilarious.  Yes, the characters are somewhat ridiculous, but this show has a lot of heart and I can guarantee that you will enjoy each and every episode.  Plus, Hope is so dang cute, how can you not love it??

7.  The Carrie Diaries (CW, Friday, October 25 8:00PM) – I will fully disclose that I was and am a huge Sex & The City fan.  I mean, I don’t have any t-shirts, but I will watch reruns pretty much anytime they are on.  Initially, I was skeptical about this show and it did take me until May to finish watching Season 1 on my DVR.  But, you know what, this show turned out pretty good.  AnnaSophia Robb is great and I am now a huge fan.  (Did you see her in The Way Way Back this summer??).  This is obviously a light-hearted show, but it is certainly entertaining and I am looking forward to Season 2 this fall.

6. Bob’s Burgers (FOX, Sunday, September 29 8:30PM) – If you haven’t ever watched Bob’s Burgers, then your life is a sad, sad place.  True statement.  And, this is coming from someone who doesn’t really like cartoons.  It is probably worth it to watch each episode just so that you can see the clever burger pun Bob has put on his restaurant chalkboard.  This show is clever and witty and undeniably funny.  Heck, Jon Hamm guest starred as a talking toilet last season.  That should be enough to convince you right there.

5.  Nashville (ABC, Wednesday, September 25 10:00PM) – As much as I didn’t want to like this show last year, I got roped in hard.  The beginning of the first season admittedly started out shaky, but mid-way through I was hooked. Yes, it is definitely soapy, but just accept the show for what it is and jump on board.  What became of Rayna and Deacon (we ended with the in a horrible car crash), is Peggy having Teddy’s baby, what will Scarlett’s answer be, will Jonathan Jackson’s hair still be most excellent?  All questions I need answers to.

4. New Girl (FOX, Tuesday, September 19 9:00PM) – Last season New Girl proved that even a “happy” couple can be funny.  This, of course, is no easy thing to accomplish and I hope that New Girl keeps it up this season.  We left last season with Nick and Jess agreeing to give couplehood a shot, while Schmidt was asked to chose between Cece and Elizabeth.  I can’t wait to see what this season has in store.  Also, extremely excited for Damon Waynes Jr. to return as Coach.

3. Arrow (CW, Wednesday, October 9 8:00PM) – Ranking my top three shows, was extremely difficult.  The amount of time I have spent thinking about it, is embarrassing.  Arrow’s first season was incredibly solid.  And, the finale was action packed.  I will not say how the season ended because that is how much I want you to watch the first season before October 9.  I am not kidding, DO IT.

2. Scandal (ABC, Thursday, October 3 8:00PM) – Kerry Washington, Scott Foley, and Joshua Malina.  That should be enough for you right there.  But, just in case it’s not, Olivia’s affair is now public and we know that Jake has been taking orders from Olivia’s dad.  What is going to happen next?  There is no way to predict.

1. The Walking Dead (AMC, Sunday, October 13 9:00PM) – Season 3 of this show was fantastic, especially the first half.  It fully solidified the fact that I love zombies.  I do.  Granted, I am actually afraid that the zombie apocalypse will happen (I know, I wish I was kidding…but it really could happen!) after watching this show, but that is just how good it is.  We left off with Rick and his gang admitting a bunch of Woodbury residents at the Prison, but the Governor is still out there.  And, I am very concerned about Daryl after all that happened with Merle at the end of last season.

What are y’all excited to watch?

-LJ

*Other shows considered:  The Blacklist, Parks & Recreation, Grey’s Anatomy, Homeland, 30 for 30, The Michael J. Fox Show, The Talking Dead, S.H.I.E.L.D., the 65th Annual Emmys.

**Times listed are for the East Coast.