10. 30 Rock
30 Rock only aired four episodes in 2013, and all of them aired within the year’s first month. So that just goes to show you how good 30 Rock’s final season (and especially the final few episodes) was. It was not only nice to see all of the main characters get their farewells in these last few episodes, but it was also great to see many reoccurring characters get nice goodbyes too (such as Will Arnett’s Devon Banks or Chloe Grace Moretz’s young nemesis of Jack Donaghy or James Marsden as Criss).
9. Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer
HBO’s summer documentary series started off with a bang with this fantastic examination of the Russian government’s relationship with the Christian Orthodox Church through the story of the now infamous band. If you want more reason to check this documentary out, it was recently shortlisted for the Best Documentary Academy Award.
8. Parks and Recreation
Season five of Parks and Recreation was kind of a mess. Luckily it ended strong this past April and May with a story arc resulting in Leslie (Amy Poehler continuing to deliver a career best performance) being put up for a recall vote. This storyline gave the show even better material for its sixth season, which has not only given a satisfying conclusion to the recall arc but also continued to deliver brilliant material.
7. Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington
Restrepo (the account of a band of American soldiers trying to protect a far out outpost in Afghanistan) was my favorite documentary of 2010 so it should be no surprise that I liked this film, which is not only a documentary of one of Restrepo’s filmmakers but also a companion piece to that film. Tim Hetherington is an interesting figure that was bound to do great things if it wasn’t for his untimely death. This film only further proves that. This film is also on the Academy’s shortlist for Best Documentary.
With the success of Game of Thrones there is bound to be numerous copycats. One of the first out of the gate was Vikings, and while it is definitely a Game of Thrones copycat, it is an expert at doing so. The use of mythology, setting and politics feel familiar but still remain a strength of the show while the unique set of characters and the show’s brave twists give the series room for it to stand on its own.
5. Eastbound & Down
Eastbound & Down has always bordered the line between ridiculously funny and brazenly offensive comedy. In its final season, Eastbound & Down held nothing back and went for broke. While that aforementioned line grew thinner, Danny McBride and company still found a way to make Kenny Powers go out with a bang.
I had no anticipation for Hannibal, and my only familiarity with Bryan Fuller was for the good but over-praised Heroes episode “Company Man” so I was shocked to discover that this show was quite fantastic. Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen are perfectly cast as Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter respectively while the show’s daring plotting and unique visual style make it something way different than anything else on television.
3. The Americans
The best new series of the year, though, is none other than FX’s The Americans. The plotting of this show may not be anything new, but its efficiency in its plotting is something very few shows can match. This series is carried by a career best performance from Keri Russell, but what really makes this show interesting is how it slowly makes you fall in love with its supporting characters such as Margo Martindale’s Claudia or Annet Mahendru’s Nina.
2. Game of Thrones
A lot of the focus on season three of Game of Thrones may be on one episode, but as a whole it really was something special. Much debate has gone on in the past few years over whether television has finally surpassed film. However, the Pro-TV camp has been overlooking one major thing: films have a sense of visual grander and scope that television just can’t match. At least that was the case until this season of Game of Thrones so expertly and casually made Westeros a living and breathing thing while still making sure it had top-notch storytelling to carry it to the end.
1. Breaking Bad
2013 was a great year for television. There was a wealth of great material from numerous genres. Yet in the end it has been only one show that has carried the banner for television in 2013. There are no complaints coming from me because the final season of Breaking Bad is a season for the ages. It might possibly be the greatest season of television to ever grace our screens and certainly is the greatest final season of a show ever. Vince Gilligan and company’s bold storytelling reached new heights as Walter White reached an end that definitely was not easy for the viewers but was the one that needed to happen.