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Best of 2013: The Entertainment Fuse Television Awards

2013 was a great year in television and we take a look back to assign the winners and a few losers based on two of our writers' opinions. With great shows emerging on IFC, Netflix, Sundance, and other newcomers to original programming, the former champs like HBO and AMC have some stiff competition. Some of our standalone 2013 features include best new show, best foreign series, and most disappointing. Best Comedy Yaysa's Selections Winner: Parks and Recreation Runner-up: Veep Parks and Recreation continues to provide side-splittingly hilarious scenarios, while at the same time creating emotional and satisfying narratives involving the characters we’ve come to know and care for in the last six years. It is the perfect blend of heart, sentiment, and hilarity. And 2013 was a fruitful year for the NBC comedy, which gave us great character moments like Ben and Leslie’s wedding, Ron and Diane’s quickie nuptials, the guys’ joint bachelor parties, and Jerry’s retirement, as well as bigger, more wide-scoping events like the merger of Pawnee with its rivaling neighbor city of Eagleton and Leslie’s recall. The comedy has really hit a successful stride, impressive in its sixth year, delivering consistently entertaining and engaging episodes week after week. From one politically inclined comedy to the next, runner-up Veep takes a more acerbic and cynical outlook on the frustrating bureaucracy and trivial goings-on that plague our nation’s government. Watching Selina Meyer and her staff machinate through the absurdly hilarious obstacles never gets old. Honorable Mentions: Inside Amy Schumer, Portlandia Jean's Selections Winner: Orange is the New Black Runner-up: Girls I have put Orange is the New Black on my comedy list, even though Netflix routinely says it’s a drama and refuses to submit it as a comedy for awards purposes. Had I classified it as a drama, it wouldn’t have made my list at all, since there were so many amazing dramas this year. But as a comedy, OITNB rises above the rest as the best comedy of the year. A bit of a surprise hit (Netflix didn’t promote the show nearly as much as it did with the rest of its three new original shows), OITNB managed to tear at the heartstrings of viewers with the story of Piper’s journey into prison, while creating one of the most amazing supporting casts on television. The show may be Piper’s story (at least season one was meant to be), but it is the stories of the various multi-dimensional supporting characters that left the biggest impression as we wait for season two to begin. I want to find out more about Red’s mob background, see why Pennsatucky continues with her strangely un-Christian “Christian” ways in prison, and finally get Suzanne’s (“Crazy Eyes”) backstory. It’s rare that a show can give us one or two characters to care about. When a show makes us love the entire supporting cast (or, in some cases, love to hate), it’s a truly amazing series. Now that the cat is out of the bag and millions have seen OITNB, I have a feeling the show will be even more popular when season two arrives next summer. But that’s fine by me – I’m not sure I ever want to leave this prison. If OITNB is the story of a privileged woman heading to prison and realizing she’s not as amazing as she once thought, Girls is the story of what that woman did before she got caught up in an international drug ring and sent to the slammer. Girls has gotten a lot of push back in social media for its second season, with people becoming fed up with the characters’ attitudes and star Lena Dunham. But for me, the second season of Girls was even better than the first. I thought the conflict between characters was very accurate, as many long time friendships finally begin to fray and break in your late 20s. Hannah’s breakdown and descent back into her OCD was difficult to watch, but also an interesting portrait into how such a debilitating psychological illness can affect someone in such an extreme way. Yes, the show was a bit more serious in season two, but it’s growing and changing along with its young cast. I, for one, am interested to see how much more growing up is in store for the characters in season three. Honorable Mention: Parks and Recreation best comedy parks Most Underappreciated Show Yaysa's Selections Winner: The Returned Runner-up: Trophy Wife The Returned is a new show that not many might know about. It's airing on the Sundance Channel, which isn't necessarily known as a go-to for original programming, coupled with the fact that it is a French import might be indicators of its subdued impact on widespread audiences. Being forced to read your television perhaps isn't everyone's ideal viewing experience, but it really shouldn't deter any viewers from watching this haunting and sublime series. Zombies have become a bit of a pop cultural joke by now, with the success and influence of the insanely popular The Walking Dead (which has encouraged a proliferation of the zombie genre), but The Returned is not your average zombie story. It does a superb job in portraying immersive and compelling character stories that take center stage despite the elaborate and intriguing mystery established. And while the show doesn't indulge in many clichéd zombie movie thrills, it provides enough creepy, disturbingly gory scenes and moments that would satisfy many a horror fan. ABCs relentless buzzing about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D buried this perfectly charming and amusing family sitcom into virtual obscurity. Reminiscent of Modern Family's early days, the series takes a look at an unconventional family structure full of weird and peculiar characters. The cast is impeccable with established actors (Marcia Gay Harden, Bradley Whitford, and Malin Akerman) and an impressive set of child performers that put the now stale Modern Family clan to shame. Too bad it hasn't built up a substantial following, regardless ABC has ordered more episodes which gives some hope for its future. Honorable Mentions: Hannibal, Bunheads Jean's Selections Winner: Orphan Black Runner-Up: Spartacus: War of the Damned If I could give one Christmas gift to everyone in the world, it would be the joy of watching Orphan Black for the first time. This little-show-that-could from Canada is an absolute wonder, from Tatiana Maslany’s incredible performance has multiple women who discover they are actually clones, to the taut and complex storylines that flow throughout the year. The build to the various reveals in the season finale was organic and earned – something that so often fails to happen in many great television shows. I often feel a bit like a carnival barker when I talk about the show (“Step right up! This show has action, adventure, intrigue! Romance, death, and a shady organization with even shadier goals!”), but when you find a show that makes you wish there were 100 more episodes available to watch, you want others to experience that same excitement. My hope is that Orphan Black’s second season (set to premiere April 19, 2014) will bring with it a host of new viewers, along with some new clones. If you haven’t given it a chance, please do – it’s one hell of a ride. Similarly, my runner-up Spartacus: War of the Damned is also one hell of a ride. The series, which ended this past spring, was often overlooked as a show that reveled in violence, sex, and nudity. But those who wrote it off on those grounds really missed something special. Spartacus (which had a different subtitle for each of its four seasons) was a marvelous tapestry of diverse characters set within the gladiator arenas (and later, the battlefields) of Ancient Rome. With a small budget (the green screen effects improved greatly from season one to four), and mostly unknown Australian and New Zealand actors, Spartacus created a series that spoke of love, betrayal, suffering, and equality. It reached almost Shakespearean heights with its incredible dialogue (and, as someone who studied Shakespeare almost exclusively in college, this was one of the major draw for my watching of the show), and it also gave viewers one of the most fully realized gay relationships ever on television (and both those gladiators were pretty badass fighters as well).  Spartacus may have begun as a small show on Starz, but it ended with the strength of a champion. Honorable Mentions: Happy Endings, Enlightened The Returned Favorite Character Yaysa's Selections Winner: Suzanne “Crazy-Eyes” Warren (Orange is the New Black) Runner-up: Donna Meagle (Parks and Recreation) The brilliance of Orange is the New Black is its ability to play with our expectations as viewers, when we come into the series we think that the show will be about Piper’s journey and experience in this unfamiliar setting, told in an acerbic and satirical tone akin to Weeds. But the show, while still following her story, quickly deviates from that limited perspective and examines what this life is like for various of the inmates, delving deeply into their history and emotional depth, making us sympathize an relate to characters we assumed we could not identify with, in a surprisingly earnest and honest way. Giving some heart to the cutting sardonic nature of the show. “Crazy Eyes” is introduced as comedy fodder early on in the season, a seemingly one-dimensional character that provided some comedic relief every now and then, but just like the shift in perspective for the show, the portrayal of Suzanne began to shift and expand. Though she is not as heavily featured as some of the other inmates, she is one of the most fascinating characters on the show, from her serious psychological issues, to her surprisingly astute view of things, and her shady family history, Suzanne is an immensely compelling character in a show full of engaging personalities and one I can’t wait to find out more about in the second season. Leave it to Donna Meagle to make us look forward for the departure of two series regulars. With Ann and Chris making their way out of Pawnee and the show, we can look forward to some more of Donna’s trademark sass and sarcastic humor. It’s about time she gets her own A-story. Honorable Mentions: Bert & Warren (Trophy Wife), Lana Winters (American Horror Story: Asylum), Everyone else in Orange is the New Black. Jean's Selection Winner: Jaime Lannister (Game of Thrones) Runner-up: Carol (The Walking Dead) I think you’d be hard pressed to find a character that has grown as much over the course of a single season as Jaime Lannister did during season three of Game of Thrones. After all, when we first met Jaime in season one, he was an arrogant bully who thought nothing of pushing a young boy out of a window. But the transformation Jaime underwent this year was nothing short of amazing. After largely sitting out season two as a prisoner of war, season three saw Jaime team up with Brienne for a trip back to King’s Landing. As with so many things on Thrones, the trip didn’t quite turn out as planned for either character, but it did bring about the humanization of Jaime. The Jaime we see in season three has been stripped of everything that made him into the fearless “King Slayer.” He loses his fine clothes, his good name, and his hand – which, in turn, leaves Jaime struggling for his own identity. And outside the reach of Cersei and his father, and in the company of someone as kindhearted and good as Brienne, Jaime’s old image conscious self slowly fades away. In its place emerges a loyal man who is willing to protect those weaker than him. There’s a softness to this new Jaime that is stunning to see, and something that made him one of the most compelling characters to watch on TV in 2013. My runner-up choice, Carol from The Walking Dead, also had an incredible year in terms of character development. For a show that often struggles to find the balance between bloody action scenes and quiet character moments, the transformation of Carol from an interesting but weak background character into a strong badass this year was extraordinary. I never thought I would be hoping for more screen time for Carol, but I found myself thrilled at the prospect of having an entire episode built solely around Rick and Carol. As so often happens with excellent characters on Dead, Carol left the group (and created an internet furor, which is pretty amazing considering how few people cared about the character last season), but reports indicate we’ll see her again in 2014, which might just be some of the best news of all. Honorable Mentions: Ichabod Crane (Sleepy Hollow), Hannibal Lector (Hannibal) Jamie Lannister Favorite Character Best Actor/Actress Yaysa's Selections Winner: Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, Top of the Lake) Runner-up: Angela Bassett (American Horror Story: Coven) Elisabeth moss definitely enjoyed a great year, not only with a meaty season of Mad Men, but also starring in Jane Campion’s fantastic miniseries, Top of the Lake. Two very distinct and beautifully realized performances that gave Moss the opportunity to show her incredible range. Season six of Mad Men had Peggy go through serious trials and tribulations, reluctantly back under Don’s (sometimes) oppressive thumb, breaking up with Abe, indulging in a very brief affair with Chaough and finally ending up in Don’s office, it was quite the year for dear old Pegasus. Moss handled the material with aplomb ably playing all the nuances and subtleties that come with such a rich character. Season six also made great use of Moss’ comedic abilities, putting Peggy in uncomfortable situations time after time and just letting her squirm and be awkward, comedy gold. On Top of the Lake, Moss left 60s New York for a contemporary New Zealand and there was not much comedy there. The moody miniseries followed the mysterious disappearance of a pregnant twelve year old and gave her the opportunity to give an intense performance that was light years away from Peggy Olson. As Robin Griffin, she was able to display raw emotion that she is rarely able to express as Peggy and also play a badass detective/cop, who shanks people with broken bottles, has sex in the woods, and overall kicks ass. We all know that American Horror Story isn't necessarily a beacon of sophisticated and/or quality television, but it is ridiculously fun. And while Jessica Lange has been and will always be the queen of AHS, it is Angela Bassett that has provided some of the most memorable and deliciously entertaining moments of the season. Her portrayal of voodoo queen Marie Laveau is shamelessly over the top and hammy, and Bassett gleefully chews all of the scenery, all of which make it the performance to watch on Coven. While there is a great amount of quality performances throughout the television landscape, it's hard to find one as entertaining and fun as this one. Honorable Mentions: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) Jean's Selection Winner: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) Runner-Up: Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) When we think about the 2013 year in television years from now, I’m pretty sure one of the shining beacons will be the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad. And those final episodes would not be as powerful and memorable if it were not for the absolutely incredible performance by Bryan Cranston as Walter White. A true testament to his acting talent lies in the number of fans who desperately wanted White to succeed in his attempts to escape the closing net of police prosecution, as well as the vast number of fans who wanted to see Walt finally get what was coming to him. Being able to walk the fine line between hated villain and beloved anti-hero is one of the large aspects that made Walter White an intriguing television character. Without Cranston there to bring this complex man to life, Breaking Bad never becomes the massive culture phenomenon it became. In particular, Cranston’s work in “Ozymandias,” the series’ finest hour, stands a cut above every other performance on television this year. Showing massive emotional range (fluctuating from defeat, anger, resentment, and soul crushing pain in the span of minutes), Cranston cemented his place among the greatest actors in television history. If he doesn’t win every television award possible over the next year, I’ll be absolutely shocked. The year’s other incredible performance comes from a previously unknown Canadian actress by the name of Tatiana Maslany. Orphan Black was one of the year’s most pleasant surprises, and Maslany’s performance was a huge part of the show becoming a success. Maslany tackles numerous roles throughout the show’s first seasons (four central characters, and several supporting or peripheral characters), portraying multiple clones who are working together to try and solve the mystery of their existence. However, the amazing thing about Maslany’s performance isn’t the number of characters she portrays. It is that each one is unique, with their own set of mannerisms and vocal inflections. Her performances are so convincing, you forget that each one is being played by the same actress, and simply become lost in the different characters. The show’s conceit (clones being controlled by a shady organization) can be a hard sell, but Maslany’s work makes it accessible to even the most resistant audience member. I’m expecting big things from her in season two. Honorable Mentions: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) and David Bradley (Broadchurch) best actor cranston Most Overrated Show Yaysa's Selections Winner: Homeland Runner-up: Arrested Development Despite absolutely fantastic performances from most of its cast, primarily its two leads, the Showtime drama has declined significantly in quality since its second season and while sin some regard it is smart, discerning television, in reality it is more in the vein of cheesy suspense thriller than anything else. With hugely implausible storylines and laughable plot twists and reveals, Homeland has devolved from a compelling and perceptive character study and insightful thriller to your standard cheap thrill-ride. Still, the series enjoyed a ratings rise in its third season and the season finale was its highest rated episode yet. The much anticipated return of the cult comedy had everyone abuzz with excitement, but while it was generally fun to revisit the characters we grew to love years ago, this new incarnation lacked much of the show’s original charm. Though some might defend the latest season of Arrested Development and call it a triumph and success, reality is that due to scheduling complications and time constraints it was impossible to create something that would hold up to the series’ glory days. In lieu of absent cast members in most episodes, the series became a cameo-fest (all varying in quality and fun factor), guest stars dominated the installments when we’d much rather be focusing on the members of the Bluth family. While some of the episodes are quite brilliant and a number of moments and sequences capture the tone and quality of the original run, the revival feels more like Arrested Development-lite. Honorable Mentions: House of Cards, Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory Jean's Selections Winner: Homeland Runner-Up: House of Cards Honorable Mentions: Downton Abbey, Dexter Two years ago, Homeland would have easily made the list of Best Dramas, as the series put together one of the strongest first seasons in recent memory. And even last year, with the quality of the show beginning to slip, the show still managed one of the best episodes of the year with the compelling “Q&A.” However, this year, Homeland finally went completely off the rails. I’m not sure when the show finally lost me (and a good chunk of its fan base, if internet outrage is to be believed), but I think it was a combination of this season’s ridiculous storylines and the show going all in on the Carrie-Brody love story. Homeland was a series that relied on two elements: strong espionage storylines that kept the audience guessing as to who was truly good or evil, and the cat and mouse game between Carrie and Brody. That’s why the first season was so successful – we were left wondering until the season finale who Brody truly was and how his tumultuous relationship with Carrie fit into his life. When the show turned the tables on the audience and had us be the unsuspecting marks that were lied to regarding Carrie and Saul’s relationship this year, it was just too much. Not only did the much maligned “twist” not make sense with what we saw on screen, it felt like a cheap trick. But, what really made this season fall over the edge, was its insistence that Carrie and Brody maintained a true love for the ages. That these two broken people found each other and fell for each other is completely believable, but to the extent that the show goes through to reunite them is silly. I’d much rather believe their relationship ended at the Canadian border and that Brody is off laying low somewhere, and that Carrie moved on with her life. I also wish I could get the 13 hours I wasted on the show this year back as well. As for my runner-up, House of Cards, it’s a good show. But it’s not as good as everyone claims it is. The storylines are mundane at best, Kevin Spacey spends most of the first season mugging for the camera, and Robin Wright is criminally underused. And, for all her excellent reporting skills, the character of Zoe Barnes is pretty darn one-dimensional. Those are only a handful of issues I have with the show. The season’s major standout was Corey Stoll (who received a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination for the role). Compared to the far-superior Orange is the New Black (a show that actually tries to create multi-dimensional characters), House of Cards falls woefully short. That being said, considering the talented team of writers and the quality of actors on the series, I’ll give season two a try when it comes out next year – but I’m expecting some improvement now that the Netflix bar has been raised. overrated homeland Best Cartoon Series Yaysa's Selections Winner: Bob’s Burgers Runner-up: Archer Without a doubt, Bob’s Burgers is the best animated series currently on air with incredibly weird and well-written humor, and quite possibly the best voice-over acting on television. The perfectly cast performers have amazing chemistry which bestows each character with tons of personality in addition to the crazy scenarios they get into every week. This year had Gene befriend a talking toilet in a brilliant E.T. parody, Louise developing her first crush on a member of a One Direction-esque boy band, and Bob becoming the kid’s home-ec teacher. Though most of the humor comes from a bizarre, idiosyncratic place the writers are able to pull of sweet and endearing moments and situations. Not only are these characters amusingly odd and peculiar, but they also are charming in their odd way and unexpectedly relatable. Also, there is an incredible amount of jokes crammed into the short half-hour period (more like 22 minutes, really) each week, from some outlandish dialogue perfectly delivered, to sight gags like the “burger of the week” and, of course, the final end credits song, there is a lot to enjoy. It only makes sense that my runner up shares a very significant voice actor with my first pick and that the fourth season premiere of Archer featured an amazing crossover with Bob’s Burgers, taking advantage of H. Jon Benjamin’s dual roles. This is another show full of odd personalities and characters portrayed brilliantly by a set of skilled voice actors. Honorable Mentions: South Park Jean's Selections Winner: Bob’s Burgers Runner-Up: Archer I’ll admit that I’m not a huge cartoon watcher. But the one show that has really made a huge impact on me (and several of my friends) this year is Bob’s Burgers. It airs on Fox during the network’s Sunday night animation block (with The Simpsons, Family Guy, and American Dad), which would certainly make someone think that the show’s comedy is in a similar vein with the other cartoons on the schedule. However, Bob’s Burgers is decidedly not like its fellow Fox comedies. Rather, it seamlessly revels in the awkwardness of its characters (and, as is so often the case, these characters are plenty awkward), but never treats them as pariahs or uses their quirks as a chance to make particularly cruel jokes at their expense. Each member of the Belcher family is a bit out there. Bob is the super stressed patriarch who can’t seem to make the restaurant successful. Linda is the mother who loves her husband and children, but just isn’t all there. Tina is the very awkward pre-teen daughter, who has a fetish for butts and zombies (which is, surprisingly, quite endearing on the show). Gene is the mischievous middle child, who has hinted at having a fluid sexuality and a penchant for doing what other tell him without any regard for his health or safety (again, all of which is incredibly endearing). And Louise, the youngest, is the wild card who is smarter than everyone else in the family and five times a devious. There are plenty of jokes, but never are they made at the expense of a character. Each member of the family, and the various locals they interact with, is treated as a fully realized character – quirks and all – and ultimately celebrated for what makes them different. It’s pretty refreshing to see, especially because the show still manages to be hilarious without being mean. As for my runner-up, I like to think of Archer as the adult version of Bob’s Burgers, at least in terms of its attitude toward its characters. The series is fun and smart, with well thought out characters and without the messy mean nature that can seep into other animated comedies (I’m looking at you, Seth McFarlan). The voice cast is excellent, using H. John Benjamin (who also voices Bob on Bob’s Burgers), Aisha Tyler, Judy Greer, Chris Parnell, and Jessica Walter, among others. And, as it airs on FX, the show has plenty of dirty raunchy comedy to go along with its madcap spy storylines. All-in-all, it’s a pretty awesome show to watch. Honorable Mention: South Park best cartoon bob's burgers Best Drama Yaysa's Selections Winner: Breaking Bad Runner-up: Orange is the New Black 2013 was definitely Breaking Bad’s year; the final season became a cultural phenomenon, suddenly the show that had been slightly overlooked in years past was the must-watch event of the fall and the final season went on to break various ratings records. Deservedly so, each installment of season 5B was absolutely heart stopping, tense, and anxiety laden. One needed that week to recuperate between new episodes, the level of intensity in the narrative was ridiculous and the season then provided us with perhaps the best episode of the series, “Ozymandias”, it is as close to perfect as you can get. It was an astonishingly suspenseful and powerful hour of television that will surely be talked about in years to come. While the ending might not have been everyone’s cup of tea (I would have preferred a bit more comeuppance for Walter) there is no denying that it is a superb hour of television that served to conclude the journey of Walter White. The performances, as always, were impeccable, nuanced, engaging and real making the devastating final moments even more impactful. Orange is the New Black edged out The Returned by a hair for this spot (not an easy decision to make). As I stated before, on the surface it seemed that OITNB would be another Weeds-like series, a droll satire on the prison system in the country, but it pleasantly became much more than that. The series not only had fun with the many characters and their situation, but also injected some heart to the story and its characters. It wasn’t just about the privileged Piper and her selfish concerns, but about Taystee and Red, and crazy Pennsatucky, and everyone else living and working within those walls. There was a lot of unexpected, but certainly welcome depth to the stories told making it an incredibly rich viewing experience. Honorable Mentions: Mad Men, Game of Thrones, The Returned Jean's Selections Winner: Breaking Bad Runner-Up: Game of Thrones Not only did the show set ratings records with its final eight episodes, it became a major part of the cultural zeitgeist. Everywhere you went from August to the end of September, people were talking about Breaking Bad. And with good reason, as the show put together one of the most amazing final stretches of episodes in television history. Watching Walter White journey from a weak science teacher into a murderous meth kingpin was a hell of a journey. Seeing his final fall into despair and defeat from his own hubris was even better. While there will always be debate about the show’s final hour (was it too kind to such a horrible man, or did he get what he deserved after his wild ride?), there was nothing better on television this year (heck, perhaps even this decade) than watching these final eight hours. The pinnacle of the season was the episode “Ozymandias,” which saw Walter White finally realize the price of his meth empire for both him and his family. Seeing Walt reach the realization that we, as the audience, made several seasons back is harrowing. It was a fast paced and devastating hour of television that forced the audience (especially those who remained pro-Walt, despite all he did) to really take a hard look at the actions that led Walt to this point and how he destroyed his family and all those around him in the process. Breaking Bad was an incredible series, and its final eight episodes are an example to all shows on how to end a series right. Game of Thrones still, hopefully, has years left before it ends (so long as George R.R. Martin gets around to publishing the next book in the series). But this season marked the point where the series kicks things into a higher gear. A certain wedding, which occurred in the excellent episode “The Rains of Castamere,” saw everything change within the show. Similarly, the evolution of Jaime Lannister from a character you love to hate into a broken but caring man was one of the season’s most welcome instances of character development. The pieces have been set for an explosive season four, with more death and surprises ahead for viewers. Honorable Mentions: Orphan Black, The Returned best drama breaking bad Best Network Yaysa's Selections Winner: Sundance Channel Runner-up: AMC The edge goes out to Sundance for this final spot, which had an amazing year of programming. While still a young, obscure network and building an audience, the Sundance Channel has established a pretty distinct brand with its television line-up, which included Top of the Lake, Rectify, and The Returned. All of them atmospheric, contemplative dramas steps above of most television programs currently airing. Hopefully executives will continue to cultivate those instincts that served them so well in 2013. 2013 was definitely a good year for AMC. With the success of Breaking Bad’s final season, Mad Men doing well in its penultimate season and the insanely high, record breaking ratings of The Walking Dead, executives at the network are surely celebrating. But it is not all just commercial success, the network was home to two of the best dramas on television this year, Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Honorable Mention: Netflix Jean's Selections Winner: Sundance Channel Runner-Up: AMC The Sundance Channel has had an incredible year. The network launched its first three original shows in 2013, each of which was better than the one before it, and catapulted itself from being known for only airing independent films to being a major player in the television world. With the trio of Top of the Lake, Rectify, and The Returned, Sundance played host to three of the best television shows of the year, and brought in countless new viewers while setting the bar for quality television pretty darn high. I’d argue that any of those three programs belong on a top ten list of the year’s best shows, as each brought a new perspective to three relatively well tread genres (murder mysteries, prison/murder dramas, and horror, respectively). Each series was well-chosen by the network, and clearly meant to express the kind of channel Sundance hopes to become in the years ahead. I’m thrilled at the prospect of seeing what 2014 will have in store for us, as both Rectify and The Returned will be coming back with new episodes (Top of the Lake was a one-off mini-series), and the network will be debuting additional programing. Sundance had a huge coming out party in 2013, and it will be the network to watch in 2014. While AMC didn’t have a coming out party, as it has been known as the home of excellent dramas for several years, it did have quite the successful year from a ratings standpoint. Both The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad turned into ratings juggernauts in 2013. While the quality of Dead has fluctuated throughout the year, Breaking Bad’s swan song not only dominated Sunday nights, it also delivered creatively, churning out some of the best episodes in television history. With Dead expected to continue its strong showing in 2014, and Mad Men returning this spring for the first half of its final season, things are still looking good for AMC. Honorable Mentions: Netflix, BBC America best network sundance


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