Monday, December 30, 2013

The Awards Psychic's Top Ten Television Programs of 2013

10. The Big Bang Theory - The more highbrow individuals of society scoff and moan every time they see anything positive about The Big Bang Theory. Well, they can keep bitching and moaning all they want to. The Big Bang Theory is the biggest show on television, it is a pop cultural phenomenon that only seems to get bigger with age. But more importantly, Big Bang features a cast of lovable characters that continue to grow and age together, played by a great cast whose chemistry is undeniable. More importantly, even when it is at its silliest, it is still one of the funniest escapes on television each week, and just at the opportune moments, it can be brilliantly funny and emotional. Uppity critics be damned!

9. Scandal - This is another one that many have scoffed at, throwing their eye rolls and sighs of desperation furiously at it. Once again, it is one of those shows that doesn't seem to give a damn what those people think. It too is led by an excellent cast, particularly Kerry Washington who sets the screen ablaze every time she is on it. What I love about Scandal, and what others hate is that fact that it is absolutely ridiculous, and I do mean that in a great way. It is pulse-pounding, bat-shit-crazy, action-packed entertainment every week, and you never seem to know what is coming next. In terms of pure entertainment value, there is nothing better than Scandal.

8. Parks & Recreation - This might finally be the year that NBC goes through with it and cancels Parks & Recreation. The ratings have not done any better this season. I do hope though that when they look at their full slate they will continue to recognize what a nice piece of the puzzle Parks & Rec is. The last part of last season, and the first half of this new season were pure comedic brilliance, with plenty of highs (Ben and Leslie's wedding), and lows (the recall election). And throughout all of it the cast was on top of their game, the shenanigans were always fun, and the warmth and quirk that has carried the show through its entire run never missed a beat.

7. The Blacklist - For the last couple of years, there have not been a lot of new dramas on broadcast television that were watching. This year, the one that has emerged from the pack is The Blacklist, and boy what a start. The first half of this season was utter brilliance. I had my doubts about James Spader after Boston Legal, but he quickly proved me wrong, in a wonderfully funny, cocky yet charismatic, leading role that lights up the screen. Populated around him are a solid cast, but it is the shocking, always intense, and always entertaining story lines, featuring the members of The Blacklist, that keep us enticed, plus the continued mystery of Red and Elizabeth and their past, only keeps us wanting more.

6. Parenthood - It amazes me how Parenthood just stays so real. With each new season the Braverman clan goes through a new set of challenges. With each new turn, this incredible cast embraces their characters with glee, and all bring to the screen, along with the great writers, a sense of true authenticity, showing a real, flawed and wonderfully loving family that you can absolutely relate to. This new season's storylines, including an election, an engagement, and many others, have continue to put Parenthood at the top of the pack in broadcast television.

5.  (TIE) House of Cards and The Newsroom - Being the political savant that I am I could not pass up a chance to honor my two favorite political shows on the air last year. House of Cards is a dirty, yet sleek political thriller, that is being called the dirty West Wing. The West Wing is my favorite show of all time, and I can safely say that House of Cards is no West Wing, but in terms of tense political thriller it is an excellent sit. The West Wing's creator Aaron Sorkin tried a new project on HBO called The Newsroom, and the critics pounced with viciousness. Sure, it does not reach the dramatic heights of its predecessor. But its snappy and relevant dialogue and storylines, and its fantastic cast led by Jeff Daniels, make The Newsroom worth a watch, and definitely a lot better than I was led to believe.

4. American Horror Story: Coven - I didn't think it was possible that Ryan Murphy and Co. could top Asylum, but this year's chapter in the anthology season Coven, might just be its best. The returning players all prove their worth, and newcomers, particularly Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Emma Roberts, and Gabourey Sidibe fit right into the camp, the horror, and the fun with ease. Plus the storylines this season are fantastic, and the last 20 minutes of the final episode of 2013 were some of the best I have seen on television this year.

3. The Good Wife - After the first half of the fourth season lagged, I was thrilled to see The Good Wife pick up steam in the last half of its fourth season. But little did I know that it was just a primer for what was to come. It is difficult for a show to sustain its initial greatness five seasons in, but The Good Wife has not only managed that, but managed to have its best set of episodes so far. The explosive implosion of Lockhart/Gardner, the sexual tension, and the snappy, effective, and spot on dialogue prove that you should never give up on this show. It continues to surprise, continues to get better, and even the HFPA, who loves its shiny toys, managed to find room for it once again in its Drama Series category. A worthy honor.

2. Game of Thrones - I have trudged through George R.R. Martin's set of novels. They are tough reads, but damn the payoff is fantastic. But I never thought that it would translate so well to the screen. But HBO brought in a talented set of actors, an incredible production team, and Martin himself to ensure its success, and the payoff has been fantastic. Storm of Swords was the best of the books, and Season 3 perfectly captured its intensity, creating a fantasy epic unlike any other. Can't wait to see what happens next.

1. Breaking Bad - Was there any other choice? The final episodes of Breaking Bad were so intense, so closely followed by its legion of fans, and capped off what is one of the greatest television shows of all time with style. There is not much else to say, other than that I think I speak for everyone when I say that Walter and his crew will be sorely missed, and they have left a void in television that will never be filled.

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