2013 TERRIERS MEMORIAL LIST: PART II

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!

-CJ

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What to Watch: September 2013

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Each month here on YBTV, I am going to try to provide a list of things to watch out for (be it premieres, notable episodes, special events, whatever) in the month ahead. Now, September is obviously a very busy month because of the upcoming beginning of the Fall TV season, so this list is going to be tougher to narrow down to 10 than others (I also plan on writing up a list of the new shows I’m looking forward to in the next week or 2), but alas, I shall try. Counting down from 10 to 1, here we go:

10. Master’s of Sex (Showtime, Sunday, September 29 at 9 PM) — Showtime and I don’t necessarily have the greatest track record (see Homeland and Ray Donavan), but that is not to say they get everything wrong. Shameless is without a doubt one of my favorite shows, and like it’s lead Emmy Rossum, I expect much out of Lizzy Caplan here. But, she doesn’t have to do it all alone, throw in some Michael Sheen, and a intriguing story, and we hopefully have the makings of a solid show.

9. Parks and Recreation (NBC, Thursday, September 26 at 7 PM) — Though season 5 may not have ended on the high note we’ve come to expect for this show (it’s tough writing multiple finales in the same season, and the Ben/Leslie wedding episode was a perfect finale), that does not take away for the excitement of another year back in the Pawnee Parks and Rec department with these people who we love to watch.

8. S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC, Tuesday, September 24 at 7 PM) — How in the world is Agent Coulson still alive? That’s really all I want to know. Also, it’s Wheedon. So people like me are contractually obligated to watch (how I miss thee Firefly).

7. The 65th Annual Primetime Television Emmy Awards (CBS, Sunday, September 22 at 7 PM) — See, CBS made my list this month! Is this the year that Jon Hamm finally breaks through and wins that elusive Emmy?!?! No, probably not. But it’s possible. Season 5A of Breaking Bad was not as strong as the previous seasons with which Bryan Cranston has won and beat Mr. Hamm.

6. New Girl (FOX, Tuesday, September 17 at 8 PM) — Season 2 of New Girl was definitely not as popular ratings wise, but the show took a significant step forward creatively. The expansion of the focus of the show from Jess, to Jess, Nick and Schmidt (and Wintson, occasionally) was such a strong move for the show. It makes it a must watch on a weekly basis.

5. Sons of Anarchy (FX, Tuesday, September 10 at 9 PM) — I have a troubled history with this particular FX show. That history is mostly due to the occasionally frustrating writing decisions of Kurt Sutter and Co. (i.e., making implausible leaps of reality just because you enjoy working with your real life wife or you like the performance of Ron Pearlman) that are so often an annoyance with this show. But, the always solid performances of Charlie Hunnam, Mark Boone Junior, Kim Coates and Theo Rossi have kept me coming back season after season.

4. The League (FXX, Wednesday, September 4 at 930 PM) — Is there anything insightful to actually say about The League? I don’t think there is. I just enjoy watching the people on this show say and do really mean things to one another while discussing their fantasy football league (we also really need to do something about their 8 team league, that’s a joke).

3. Luther (BBC America, Tuesday, September 3 through Friday, September 6) — This 4 part series is going to run over 4 consecutive nights this week, which is just fine by me. Luther (like Sherlock) is best in small doses. But, here is all you really need to know is: Idris Elba. Ruth Wilson. John Luther. Alice Morgan.  The end.

2. Boardwalk Empire (HBO, Sunday, September 8 at  8 PM) — The season 4 premiere brings us some new additions which have had me excited since I heard the rumors. I’m a crazy big fan of the completely and totally underrated Jeffrey Wright, and always enjoy Ron Livingston (just saw him in “Drinking Buddies,” where he was excellent). For an HBO show with lots of “prestige” behind it (Scorcese as an exec producer and brought by a team from The Sopranos), this has always been an under watched and under appreciated show for HBO.  I will never understand why. It could be the slow burn of the first half of each season, but each and every time, it pays off so magically with some of the best closing stretches of episodes on TV. More people should watch and love this show.

1. Breaking Bad series finale (AMC, Sunday, September 29 at 8 PM) — This blog is named after Breaking Bad, and so far pretty much all we have been talking about is Breaking Bad. So I don’t feel like I need to explain how exciting this is for LJ and myself. It’s the series finale of one of the 5 or 6 greatest shows in television history. It needs to be watched and dissected by all.

-CJ