From The Good Wife to Breaking Bad, here’s what kept us glued to our TVs — and other assorted viewing devices — in 2013
SOME things are simply not open to discussion. Oh, sure the endless stream of top-10 lists and “Best of” compilations and “The year in (insert topic here)” reviews are intended as conversation starters, as shorthand distillations of opinion that invite readers to compare their preferences to those of the “experts” whose various subject areas are being addressed. And what follows here, focused on the TV realm, is another such list, but this time with a bit of a twist: this time, No. 1 on the list is not debatable. You can try to argue, but you’d be wrong. No. 1 is numero uno, plain and simple. After that, we’ll throw it open to free-for-all bickering and arguing about what belongs and what doesn’t. Here’s our list of what was good, bad, weird, new and otherwise noteworthy on TV in 2013: Breaking Bad The betting here is that you won’t find many (any?) year-end TV lists that don’t name this AMC drama’s amazing eight-episode stretch run as the best television of 2013. Grim, violent, starkly revealing and inspiringly dark, the final set of Breaking Bad instalments brought the story of teacher-turned-meth dealer Walter White to a perfect, just end. Bryan Cranston’s work interpreting series creator Vince Gilligan’s genius will stand forever as one of the medium’s finest performances. And after that, also memorable in 2013, in no particular order ... Last Tango in Halifax This unassuming Brit-import drama arrived on PBS with little fanfare and turned out to be one of the TV year’s real treasures. Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid star as widowed 70-somethings who were once teenage sweethearts and might have fallen deeply in love if fate (and a meddlesome, jealous friend) hadn’t intervened. Now, 60 years later, they’re given a second chance at first love and are far too wise to let it slip away. Lovely, unique and charming. The Netflix explosion The online content provider’s aggressive move into original programming forced everyone in the TV business to reconsider just what “television” means. The presences of such titles as House of Cards, Arrested Development and Orange Is the New Black — which were distributed online and never aired on conventional broadcast or cable TV — on various mainstream TV awards-show nominee lists signals a major shift in what the television business is and will be in the future. “TV” no longer refers just to that thing you watch; “TV” means programming content, on whichever platform delivers it.
Bryan Cranston’s work in the final season of Breaking Bad will stand forever among TV’s finest
Anne Reid, left, and Derek Jacobi