His portrayal of former agent and current “most wanted” list entry Raymond (Red) Reddington, who makes a strange deal that finds him helping the FBI to hunt down other fugitives, is huge, creepy fun. Miscellaneous misbehaviour TV news had more of its share of distasteful antics to cover in 2013, from the political realm’s stilldeepening Senate expense-account scandal and the out-of-control Rob Ford soap opera to the pop-culture fusses caused by Miley Cyrus’s twerk and Duck Dynasty’s dad being a jerk. For news outlets and entertainment magazine shows, 2013 was a non-stop frenzy; for joke writers at TV’s late-night talk shows, this was the easiest year ever. The Amazing Race Canada Thanks to Winnipeg’s entry in this homegrown (and Canuck-border confined) spin on the popular reality/competition franchise, TV found a new inspiring hero in the person of Tim Hague Sr., who partnered with son Tim Jr. in the race and then relied on advice given by his wife (pay attention and take copious notes) to engineer a comefrom-behind win in the series’ firstseason finale. Add in the fact that Hague endured the gruelling journey while dealing with early-onset Parkinson’s disease, and you’ve got a winner whose triumph is hard not to celebrate. Broadchurch/Top of the Lake Two imported murder-mystery miniseries — one from the U.K., the other from New Zealand — deserved more acclaim and much bigger audiences than they received. Dark and bleak, sometimes to the point of being difficult to watch because they focused on murdered children, each did a masterful job of telling a very challenging story. The continuing dominance of cable-channel dramas There are still some solid, dependable, entertaining drama series on the major broadcast networks, from the aforementioned newcomer The Blacklist to the great (and still improving) veteran series The Good Wife, but TV’s new golden age boasts a fast-growing population of outstanding shows on cable channels and premium pay-TV outlets. Returning series
Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Justified and Sons of Anarchy continued to impress, and the addition of a new crop that includes Ray Donovan, Masters of Sex, The Americans and several titles mentioned above meant tough choices for viewers, as PVRs everywhere filled up far too quickly with mustsee programming. That girl from Saskatchewan A year ago, no one had ever heard of Tatiana Maslany. But now, thanks to her role — make that roles, as in at least 10 of them — in the sci-fi thriller Orphan Black (which airs on Space), the Reginaborn actress is the talk of the TV world. Her performance in Season 1 of Orphan Black, which concerns itself with a small-time con artist who discovers she’s actually one of several products of an illegal human-cloning experiment, drew raves from critics everywhere and also sparked a minor wave of outrage when she was passed over by Emmy voters, who left her out of this year’s best-actress bracket. She’ll get another chance to be noticed, however — Season 2 of Orphan Black premières in the spring. The hockey deal No one’s sure yet exactly what it’ll mean for hockey fans and their big-screen TV sets, but there’s no question the recently announced 12-year, $5.2-billion deal that gives Rogers Communications exclusive national broadcast and digital-media rights to NHL games will bring major changes to the way Canadians watch hockey. TSN, perennially this country’s pre-eminent sports network, loses the most important property in its roster. CBC will maintain Hockey Night in Canada for four more years, paying nothing for the sublet rights but reaping none of the advertising revenue generated by the Saturday-night institution. Hockey will reside mostly on Citytv and Rogers Sportsnet, and will likely be made available on numerous digital platforms as modes of delivering TV content continue to evolve. The big question, of course, is how much it’s going to cost at-home fans to access hockey on what’s sure to be a multi-tiered array of pay-to-watch’em-play options.
Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black.