2013: The Best of TV

Welcome to 2014! Sherlock is back (and Greg Lestrade is lookin’ FINE). Community is back. Victor Garber is back. David Tennant is coming to American television. Parks and Rec hits its 100th. I’m finally going to watch Scandal and The West Wing (#resolutions). It’s all very exciting. But before we jump into the new year, let’s look back at the best of the last.

Best comedic episode: “Emergency Response” (Parks and Rec)

Ben and Leslie’s wedding was perfect, but of course it would be. What really gets me is what comes first: the whole team coming together, playing to their strengths and putting the town first, just like Leslie taught them. And if that’s not enough, there’s also “You’re On With Ron.”

house isn't haunted lonely ron

Best dramatic episode: Broadchurch finale

*SPOILERS SPOILERS EVERYTHING SPOILERS*

The first season of Broadchurch was a taut and nearly flawless exploration of how fragile our communities can be. As every other relationship fell apart in the wake of Danny’s murder, DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) came together. Their begrudging respect for each other lightened the tone of the otherwise intense investigation, but it took a devastating turn in the final episode, when in a flash, he became the only person she had left. Alec and Ellie spent the season balancing each other out–he tempered her optimism, she softened his gruffness–but after realizing that her husband killed Danny, they essentially switched places. Suddenly Alec was the one reaching out a comforting hand, while Ellie was left jaded and alone. He’d been telling her all season to trust no one. He was right.

Former Detectives' Club

Former Detectives’ Club

Best performance: Olivia Colman (Broadchurch)

*STILL SPOILERS*

I cannot stress enough how much this show belonged to Olivia Colman. Ellie’s journey from openness to cynicism was the thematic focal point of the first season, and Olivia Colman absolutely owned it. She carried herself with a kind of still, composed warmth and then threw her entire body into grieving her husband’s betrayal. It was absolutely gutting.

ellie miller broadchurch

Biggest TV event: Doctor Who‘s 50th Anniversary

“The Day of the Doctor” wasn’t even a day–it was a weekend. It was a holiday full of Bad Wolf, my Doctor, Tom Baker, Capaldi’s eyebrows, archival footage, Murray Gold’s music, trivia nights, Jammie Dodgers, TARDIS hats at the movie theatre, Converse sneakers, and pure joy. It’s not often that your favorite show celebrates 50 years of stories, and I’m glad I dove into this fandom in time to witness it.

david matt holding hands

Best series finale: The Office

With season nine’s hot mess of a Jim/Pam storyline finally resolved, this episode was free to celebrate the real thesis of the show–“No matter how you get there or where you end up, human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home.” I’ll probably never be over Steve Carell’s last “That’s what she said,” or the way Jim looked at Pam just for answering the phone. The finale was the perfect tribute to what a family these people have become and what beauty this show has found in ordinary things.

the office kids grew up married steve carell

Best final season: 30 Rock

Not a lot of people watched it,  but the joke’s on you, because they got paid anyway.

Best new show: Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow has everything: sass, chemistry, diversity, history, Tom Mison’s eyebrows, John Noble, Rue, and soon enough, SpyDaddy. What started out as the most endearingly insane show of the new year has turned out to be exactly that, every week. Buoyed by a charming cast and writers who get the joke, Sleepy Hollow is never anything less than entertaining. Farewell, Yolanda.

Biggest reveal: The Mother (How I Met Your Mother)

It’s. About. Time. Pulling for Ted to find love with a mysterious stranger was a challenge. Pulling for Ted to find love with Cristin Milioti’s bass-playing, cookie-baking, Lily-sassing queen who eats croissant crumbs out of her bra? So easy and so, so right.

himym ticket to farhampton

Biggest return: The Eighth Doctor (“The Night of the Doctor”)

No one saw this coming. Also, this is the fastest I’ve fallen for anyone since David Tennant roared “I DON’T KNOW” in his pajamas. Paul McGann can get it.

Best vows: Booth and Brennan (Bones)

I didn’t even know how badly I needed a B&B wedding until we got one. Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz held hands and made significant eye contact and it was gorgeous, but really, this wedding was all about the vows. We finally found out what Brennan wrote to Booth when she was buried alive all those years ago, and it turns out his sideways lovesick glances didn’t go so unnoticed after all. Best wishes, little duck family. You’ll always be the standard.

booth brennan kiss wedding

Best reality TV moment: Amy and Travis’s “Wicked Game” (So You Think You Can Dance)

This is why Amy won. She’d been adorable all season, but here, with Travis, she’s riveting. Amy dances with her soul exposed. Look at the way she breathes before she’s even started moving. She feels everything, pulls us in, and makes us feel it too.

Best musical moment: “Winston’s Birthday” (New Girl)

In the back half of New Girl‘s second season, Nick and Jess went for it like the young, hot, messy people they are, and it was absolutely the best thing this show could have done. Nick Miller went from lovable goof to outright man as he tried to prove to himself that he was worthy of Jess’s love. When he ignored her father’s warnings and fixed her a rooftop breakfast to the hopeful tune of Lucius’s “Until We Get There,” it was so clear that these two crazy kids were gonna make it after all.

nick jake johnson winston's birthday

Biggest game-changer: Danny Castellano’s dance (The Mindy Project)

You can keep your Red Wedding–this is the real watercooler moment of 2013. Danny Castellano can dance. Welcome to my top 5, Chris Messina. I’m afraid of how intense my feelings are.

danny castellano dance shoulder

Cancelled show I’ll miss most: Happy Endings

What other show could bring us Optimistic Red Velvet Walruses or the line, “I got a home movie that I made that’s just a bunch of scenes of old men buying fruit, so we’re in for a pretty steamy night”? Happy Endings, I found you too late to save you, but I’ll live my life in your memory.

happy endings max mac cheese

Best line delivery: Adam Scott’s “I’m feeding your eagle” (Parks and Rec)

HE’S STARVING.

So what were your 2013 favorites? Got any pop culture resolutions this new year? Share them here, with our Twitter account, or on our Facebook page, and they might be included in a post!

22 comments

  1. “I didn’t even know how badly I needed a B&B wedding until we got one.” For me, too. That episode was just perfect – and I never even cared about the letter from Aliens, and yet, what they decided to have it say was perfect.

    I didn’t watch the past couple of seasons of The Office, but did watch the finale – and they did that one right, too. Cried! At a sitcom!

    I was one of those 10 people that watched Happy Endings so I feel you on that.

    I will add in some NCIS episodes, which I caught up on this year. “Shiva” and “Shabbat Shalom” were especially powerful episodes for the whole ensemble – especially Ziva. Also, I know many who decided to stop watching the show this season because the actress who plays Ziva, Cote de Pablo, decided to leave, but I really think they should watch the first 2 episodes of this season to see her departure – they really did it right.

    Kudos to when TV writers have the opportunity to do a show well and then follow up to actually do it well.

    1. Oh I sobbed at the finale of The Office. Finales always get to me, but this one in particular was so sweet. And I don’t watch NCIS, but I read about her departure–that must have been really difficult to deal with. I’m glad it was handled well, at least.
      RIP Happy Endings!

  2. Dude. I JUST finished Broadchurch last night. Because, you know, I needed something light and easy to help me get over my Doctor’s regeneration. Oh. My. GOODNESS. I agree with everything you wrote about the series and Colman too. That final scene with just the two of them in the interrogation room? So raw and visceral I could hardly watch. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

    1. DUDE. How did you wait so long? I have been emotionally ruined by this show, and I LOVE it. Olivia Colman is exquisite. She stole the show from DT and his Scottish accent and his scruff and his adorably floppy hair (and I need me some DT/ Scottish accent/ scruff/ adorably floppy hair, so that’s really saying something).

  3. A+ List!! Spot on with SYTYCD, Cristin Milioti and Danny ‘Swoon Master’ Castellano! I LITERALLY teared up reading your Office blurb, mainly because I’m still not emotionally recovered from it and will probably never be because I’m in denial and live in a world where Dunder Mifflin exists? I haven’t seen a single episode since the finale, which is saying a lot because I usually watch it all the time. Ugh.
    -Traci
    PS: YES, START SCANDAL.

  4. The return of Paul McGann’s Doctor was, for me, the greatest moment of TV for 2013 by far. Bear in mind that his Doctor was (despite the terrible plot of the film) what made me a fan, so much so that I’ve continued to enjoy his Doctor in radio series. But it always annoyed me how much he was denied a pivotal scene that every Doctor deserves. Night of the Doctor wasn’t just a great surprise return, it was, imo, a decent story in its own right, which considering its only 6 minutes long is really saying something. 🙂

    1. Agreed! It always felt a bit like McGann was denied the full experience of playing the Doctor, which is a shame. He’s so talented, and he’s been so great to the fans, and I’m glad he finally got something in return for all of that: the chance to make a grand entrance, surprise us all, conclude his story fittingly, and, in six minutes, make everyone fall in love with him. Plus, as you mentioned, it’s also a solid story on its own, and funny (“Four minutes? That’s ages. What if I get bored?”).

      1. Absolutely. It is a shame he never got a full on TV series, but on the other hand, not only has he done ten seasons on audio at least (of which he’s always given such an amazing performance), but the beautiful part of Night of the Doctor is that it made all of those stories canon in one line, meaning that all the work that McGann has put into the role, even off-screen, hasn’t been entirely wasted. And you’re right, even in his final moments, McGann’s given hilarious dialogue. Only he could make the line “Bring me knitting!” so badass as well as hilarious. 😀

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