At­tract­ing eye­balls

From The Good Wife to Break­ing Bad, here’s what kept us glued to our TVs — and other as­sorted view­ing de­vices — in 2013

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - FRONT PAGE - BRAD OSWALD

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

James Spader

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