Best TV of 2013
Do I have a favourite TV show of 2013? Back in 2011 I'd watched so much telly I was able to draft a definitive list, with a Bubbling Under category and some Least Favourites , but thinking back over 2013 I begin by drawing a blank. Then suddenly one show dominates and it comes together. Here we go, my favourite TV of 2013.
Bubbling Under a) Shows We Couldn't See cos Virgin Media don't have Sky Atlantic: Veep and Game Of Thrones. They sound great, but I'm buggered if I'm getting a box set on the off chance.
Bubbling Under b) Not bad but not in the chart. Sherlock, Luther, Vicious, Charlie Brooker's Wipe, Black Mirror, Downton Abbey (lost it this year), Being Human, Fresh Meat, Mr Selfridge, A Young Doctor's Notebook, Spy, Top Of The Pops 1978 (too many holes, thanks to DLT & Savile, but great when it's on), The Fall, Eastenders, The Booth At The End, Mrs Biggs & The Great Train Robbery (good double bill), The Escape Artist, The Walking Dead. There must be more.
10 - Doctor Who. The series gets a mention because, though I have disliked more than I have liked of the new episodes, I have watched more of this show, and read and talked more about it, than any other. Currently enjoying the newly found Enemy Of The World from 1967, and having loved Web Of Fear on Virgin Media (the other recently found old story), I started the year inheriting some VHS tapes from Mark Buckingham and thus saw for the first time ever The Ice Warriors, The Tenth Planet and my favourite of the bunch The Time Monster. Plenty is poor (Power Of Kroll is particularly boring), but so much of the last 50 years worth of Doctor Who is endlessly enjoyable that I will never stop being a fan, obviously. The best new episode of 2013 was An Adventure In Space And Time, with The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot coming a close second.
9 - Only Connect. In a double bill with University Challenge, it defines our Monday nights (when I very rarely have a gig so am usually in). The series appears to have got slightly longer, in direct proportion to Victoria Coren-Mitchell's surname, and long may it reign.
8 - The Wrong Mans. Tom Basden's name has cropped up a lot lately, as a co-writer of Plebs and of Fresh Meat (though this year's series off the latter has lost some of its sparkle so drops from the Top 10), and he was a co-star and co-writer of this too. But given how many people have been trying for so long to dislike James Corden, it's smashing that this collaboration with Matthew Baynton was so good throughout.
7 - The Returned & Broadchurch & Top Of The Lake. They tie in the chart because they had equal merits and similar subject matter (well, on a very creative Venn diagram they did) but all slightly flawed. TOTL's big flaw is that I missed the last episode, being in Edinburgh, so can't judge it fairly. Broadchurch's big plus point was that it was filmed partly in Clevedon, which was very exciting locally obviously, but on the minus side did too much in slow motion for my liking and could have been trimmed. But the Best Of British crime this year by far. And The Returned, I can't help feeling, might have been less impressive had it not been in French. Just a suspicion. As it was, it was the best of the three, and probably my favourite French TV show since The Magic Roundabout. And that's saying something. I also liked The Fall, let's say that's Bubbling Under.
6 - The Daily Show. John Oliver's successful fill-in stint in the summer served to show just how strong this show is, and earned him his own TV show which, I'll bet, we can't see over here. This is the TV news show I watch more than any other (okay I do see a lot of BBC Breakfast and the Wright Stuff, but they're not making the Top 10!) and an ever-reliable voice of sanity. We also have Comedy Central to thank for The Office (not as good as it was but occasionally great) and I ought to mention The Mindy Project which we loved this year. And Community. Was that this year? Ah, too late, it missed the cut.
5 - Mad Men. We watched season 5 on DVD at the start of 2013 and are just starting season 6 (thanks to the whole Sky Atlantic not being on Virgin thing). So we were Zou Bisou Bisou-ing while other viewers were getting into the 1970s. Either way, when it's good it's still amazing.
4 - Bad Education. For a good few years it's been so tempting to just dislike Jack Whitehall on principle, because he's over-privileged and because he's young. But, following his impressive acting debut in Fresh Meat, he's gone and pulled off two drop-dead brilliant series of this, which he co-wrote and stars in and which is fresh, imaginative, and funny throughout. Combining the wit of Community with the visual panache of Green Wing, and a splendid cast of all new look-like-kids-but-most-likely-aren't-anymore actors, this deserves all the acclaim it gets. I hope it's got a lot, I've not been keeping tabs.
3 - Moone Boy. Tucked away on Sky it might have been possible to miss it, but thank goodness we didn't. Chris O'Dowd's semi-autobiographical sitcom, set and made in Ireland, is a treat, with 12 year old David Rawle as Martin Moone being the child star discovery of the year. There have been a lot of great child actors coming up in recent years, which makes it all the more surprising that Doctor Who cast a couple of the worst in its episodes this year (and some pretty poor adults, for good measure).
2 - Plebs. A sitcom on ITV2 being this good is quite the surprise. The shame of it being that so few people know about it. I hope it's a grower with the wider public because it is genuinely excellent in all regards and is thus the best sitcom of 2013
1 - Breaking Bad series 1, 2 and 3. We have just started watching series 4 at time of writing and will undoubtedly have moved onto series 5 before the week's out. It is the most addictive TV show I can remember, a result of the combination of its incredible writing and its total unavailability on broadcast TV which means it's not been rationed in instalments like almost every other show. Would it have retained its addictive allure had we not been consuming DVD box sets (and others, I know, watched it on Netflix and by other online methods)? Who knows. It is the best TV show this decade by far and I'm sorry to be so unoriginal by naming it my number one of the year.