Following on from last years ‘What I’ve Been Watching in 2012‘ I give you the imaginatively titled ‘What I’ve Been Watching in 2013’. My hope is that some others might follow suit and post on their blogs a similar list. If you do just drop us a note and I’ll try to keep some index of them updated. Potentially if enough people post them I’d do a compiled list. As per last year the inspiration for this remains William Gallagher‘s Poll of the Year on his UK DVD Review podcast.
My criteria for my list is simple, anything I’ve watched in any format in 2013 is eligible. Things are ordered 10 – 1 based on how much I’ve enjoyed them in 2013.
Had a slightly shaky start to its third series, but the last 6 episodes really motor. Damien Lewis and Clare Danes continue to put in spellbinding performances and Mandy Patinkin relishes an expanded role as Saul. Highly recommend giving Homeland a watch if you’re yet to give it a try.
9. Breaking Bad
The first of many Netflix inspired choices on this list. The story of a high school chemistry teacher ‘Walter White’ who is diagnosed with cancer and starts cooking crystal meth to secure his families financial future. Unsurprisingly events spiral. I was a little late to the party with this one, as I only started watching this year. If you plan on starting Breaking Bad soon, a word of advice, it’s tempting to binge watch multiple episodes of it in one go. Especially with it being such a widely discussed and praised show in 2013, and with lots of potential spoilers on the internet. But I’d suggest Breaking Bad is best watched at a slow but steady pace to truly appreciate the trials and tribulations the characters go through. I rushed through some of the middle-run to try to get caught up and do slightly regret it as at times it’s best as a ‘sit back and smell the roses’ drama. You’ll also want to make sure you sit back and drink in all the gorgeous visuals.
8. Mad Men
The most consistent drama now on TV. Season 6 continues its rich exploration of the American dream and the distinction between the dream and the reality. Don Draper is still the centre of a strong and evolving cast of characters. If you’re still not watching Mad Men, you are missing out and you need to reconsider.
The only film on my list. It does have some problems, that I won’t deny. But for all the issues people have highlighted with it, it’s a massively fun watch. I was grinning from ear to ear, almost throughout (when I wasn’t gripping the arms of my chair). It’s funny, tense and moving as the recast crew of the USS Enterprise embark on another adventure, this time with a little more experience under their belts. Benedict Cumberbatch is great as the villain.
Consistently funny comedy, often it’s also emotionally moving drama, and every so often they pull of a storyline/episode/moment of such subtle intricacy that it takes your breath away. In this series there where several, which I can’t discuss for fear of spoiling, although the below is a nice moment which I think captures the heart and warmth the show retains even after so many years.
5. The Newsroom
Series 2 is yet more pure Sorkin. Fast talking characters, relationship ins and outs, a mission to civilize. The shows concept has evolved slightly from the first as the introduction of flashbacks as the team look back at how they got a big story very wrong.
Another Netflix entry. The original Danish version intrigued me, but ultimately the densely plotted drama proved frustrating to follow via subtitles. The US remake is a tense and enthralling drama which makes you care about its characters.
Probably the most out of the blue entry on this list. A Netflix original series, set in a Woman’s prison. We follow the relationships of Piper Chapman who is serving time for carrying drug money in a ‘former life’. Outside the prison, her fiancé does his best to be supportive as well as cope with being separated from her. Inside the prison, a raft of complex relationships include that between Piper and her ex-Girlfriend who was a key member of the drug cartel Piper carried money for. Engrossing and at times shocking drama. Sets the bar high for Netflix’s other original dramas.
Speaking of which. Based on the book and UK TV series of the same name. Starring Kevin Spacey. First episode directed by David Fincher. It’s got a lot of potential and it delivers and more besides. Spacey plays Frank Underwood, the House Majority whip. As the series begins, Frank is passed over for the promised position of Secretary of State by the incoming President. He immediately sets in motion a Machiavellian plot to climb the greasy pole. Over ten episodes it becomes clear he really will stop at nothing to achieve his aims.
1. Doctor Who (The Night of the Doctor, The Day of the Doctor, An Adventure in Space & Time, The Five-ish Doctors Reboot)
When I thought about it, it became clear that in its 50th year Doctor Who had completely swept the board. Being the best thing I’ve watched on my phone (The Night of the Doctor mini-ep and The Five-ish Doctors Reboot), the best thing I’d watched on TV (An Adventure in Space & Time) and the best thing I’d seen at the cinema (The Day of the Doctor).
The Night of the Doctor was a very good way to get in the mood for the 50th celebrations. Reminding you how much depth to the Who universe. A great mini adventure, marred only by the further confirmation that Paul McGann would have been a great TV Doctor and deserved a proper crack of the whip. If that’s how you felt you could go a lot worse than head over to Big Finish and give some of the Eighth Doctor Audio Adventures a go. I finally did after seeing Night of the Doctor and am glad I did.
An Adventure in Space and Time was a great big warm hug of a drama which relives the story behind Doctor Who’s original conception and production. Likely to bring a lump to the throat of even the most emotionless species.
The Day of the Doctor. Hard to say something new about the 50th special. It did a difficult job very well and became the first thing I was actually glad to have seen in 3D. Eating Jelly Babies whilst seeing the 11th Doctor talking to ‘The Curator’ will live long in the memory.
The Five-ish Doctors Reboot. A lovely cherry on top, just when you thought you’d as has much Doctor Who as you could manage, this reminded you that when it’s done right, it’s impossible to have too much Doctor Who. (Have a watch here.)