Admittedly we’re not big TV watchers these days. We’re mostly fans of “Seinfeld” and “The Simpsons” re-runs, and whatever movie is playing on Syfy in America, but when we do watch, we’re very selective. Most popular shows these days just aren’t appealing to us. But out of the small portion of shows that we do watch, we decided to list five of the series in 2013 that kept us watching and wanting more.
5. The Soup
I pride myself in the fact that I know almost nothing about the latest tabloid headlines, but the knowledge I do have is thanks to “The Soup.” In a network where 99 percent of its entertainment is mindless dreck, “The Soup” is that bastion of brilliance that shines through. Host Joel McHale has been a long suffering and often hilarious antidote to the inherent stupidity that’s consumed television these days, and manages to deliver tabloid headlines without glorifying the people involved in them like TMZ tends to do. The only reasons why I know what Honey Boo Boo is, or who were the last contestants of “Dancing with the Stars” is because of “The Soup,” a consistently funny, often hysterical series that E! shockingly continues to keep on, in spite of host McHale’s continued mockery of the channel and its array of pseudo-journalists.
4. Face Off
I originally wrote off the entire series when it premiered on Syfy, but since watching the middle of this year’s season, I managed to backtrack and rewatch the entire series from season one. “Face Off” is by no means void of staged drama or goofy tear soaked testimonials from contestants. There are always one or two competitors who weep because they became a make up artist for their dead mom, or sick grandfather. But if you can get past that small caveat, “Face Off” is a constantly entertaining and exciting competition where groups of skilled make up artists have to construct monsters or whole stories in a matter of a few days and are slowly picked off by the three tough judges. The fact that Syfy can’t use copyrighted monsters works to the show’s advantage, because this allows the artists to get creative. Sometimes the results are incredible, and sometimes the results are cringe inducing. “Face Off” is one of the very few reality competitions I can’t stop watching.
3. The Big Bang Theory
For reasons I can’t quite figure out yet, “The Big Bang Theory” continues to arouse annoyance by pop culture fans that find this show irritating. Some numbskulls even likened this series to black face. I’ve been a consummate fan of the series since the first season, and have marveled at its ability to constantly re-invent itself for a longer shelf life. To match its massive ratings, and excellent television presence the writers of “The Big Bang Theory” turned its premise of four genius fan boys living across from a hot neighbor in to a wonderful and often sweet ensemble comedy. These days, the four men we knew as geeky geniuses now have their own women, many of whom continue to match wits with them, and form their own inner circle outside of the men. “The Big Bang Theory” had a large chance of falling in to a perpetual repetition of the same old jokes, but its transformation in to a group comedy has ensured it will stay on television for at least five more years.
2. Breaking Bad
AMC gave Vince Gilligan his walking papers, and surely enough he and his crew went out with a bang. For five seasons “Breaking Bad” has been teeth grinding gut punching entertaining, and last year the first half of season five ended on a whopper. What began as a dark comedy about a cancer stricken teacher turned Meth cooker, slowly transformed in to a vicious and violent crime drama about the rise and fall of Walter White, whose greed, hubris, and ambition ultimately became his own undoing. The performances from every single cast member have been remarkable, and Bryan Cranston has basically taken his career as a second tier character actor and reinvented himself as a leading man worthy of legendary status. Cranston’s experience in comedy only helped to fuel Walter White’s gradually deteriorating sense of morality and humanity, while folks like Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, and Anna Gunn have been nothing but incredible. The final episodes of “Breaking Bad” were honest, vicious, and a wonderful closer for such an underrated series.
1. The Walking Dead
Yet another massive hit series with its share of folks who despise its presence, “The Walking Dead” took a huge turn in season four. Not only has it embraced its inherent commentary on humanity, but it’s also veering much closer to the comics than in the last three seasons combined. The beginning of season four saw the prison group now living in what is now a fully formed civilization. Rick is now committed to farming, and the group has found it much easier to scavenge for supplies. Of course, the foreboding “30 Days Without an Incident” leads in to immense carnage, as the scavenging group are almost murdered in a supermarket by zombies literally falling through the ceilings.
There’s also the introduction of the super flu, which introduces a new threat, a new type of walker, and a new obstacle that the group will always be wary of. There’s also the introduction of many more minority supporting characters, a strength of the comic that the show hasn’t touched until now. With incredible performances by Andrew Lincoln, David Morrissey, Scott Wilson, Danai Guerira, and Chad Coleman respectively, “The Walking Dead” has been as vicious and epic as ever. With its return in 2014 from its mid-season break, AMC is not intent on loosening the noose.