If you scan the various year-end superlatives from TV critics that have already made it online, there’s a running theme to them: There was a LOT of good television on in 2013. So much, in fact, that HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall lamented (way back in April!) that it was practically impossible to pay attention to all of it.
He’s right: The explosion of original programming on newer cable channels and non-traditional outlets — and the responsive stepping up of the game on the part of some more established players — has made this year a dizzyingly good and varied one for TV junkies. Zap2it will start its rundown of the best individual episodes of 2013 next week, and yours truly is taking part in the annual HitFix critics’ poll, where my Top 10 shows will be listed alongside numerous other reviewers’ picks.
That list, of course, is necessarily made up of shows I actually spent time with in 2013. There was also a lot I didn’t see. In honor of the Great Television Glut of 2013, here are what I’m told are 10 of the best series I didn’t spend enough time watching in 2013, and why I didn’t.
“Game of Thrones”: From afar, I admire the massive task EPs D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have taken on in adapting George R.R. Martin‘s novels and the way they seem to have pleased both fans of the books and viewers who are new to the material. I watched and enjoyed Season 1. Season 2, however, arrived shortly after my daughter did, so it fell by the wayside, and I haven’t caught up since. Someday, maybe, I will.
“Borgen”: Radio ads for the series in Los Angeles (it airs on an independent public station here) tout it as “the Danish version of ‘The West Wing’!” That sounds like kind of a silly pitch for an audience that is (presumably) not at all familiar with the machinations of politics in Denmark. That it’s finding an audience stateside is likely testament to the fact that lack of such knowledge isn’t a barrier to enjoying the series.
“The Good Wife”: Every season I tell myself I’m going to stay current on “The Good Wife” … and every season I fail. I am really looking forward to seeing the realignment of the series play out, though.
“Enlightened”: Among my bigger regrets of the year, critic-wise, was not making time to watch the leap I’m told Mike White‘s HBO series made in its second and final season.
“House of Cards” and “Arrested Development”: I’m as in the tank for “Orange Is the New Black” as everyone else is, but I was a latecomer to the Netflix party, by which time so-so word of mouth had already turned me off the service’s other heavily hyped series.
“The Walking Dead” and “The Returned”: Season 1 of “The Walking Dead” didn’t do a great deal for me, so I stopped watching, and I’m OK with being among the last 12 Americans (I’m approximating) not to watch AMC’s ratings juggernaut. As for “The Returned,” it’s somewhere on my desk in a pile of other screeners I haven’t watched, judging me in a superior, French sort of way. For the record, though, I cast my lot with another zombie import this year, BBC America’s “In the Flesh.”
“Hannibal”: When I reviewed NBC’s dark, visually striking series back in April, I acknowledged how brilliantly made it was — and also how I had reached a breaking point with the way crime shows use and exploit their female victims. That hasn’t changed.
“Doctor Who”: Don’t tell anyone, but Zap2it harbors two non-Whovians. I have caught the occasional David Tennant or Matt Smith episode in the past few years, and I appreciate the show’s sense of adventure and its ability to play to young and adult viewers alike. But it hasn’t pulled me in, not the way it has for countless people on either side of the pond. I begrudge no one their adoration of any show, but this one just isn’t for me.
What’s on your didn’t-get-to-it list for 2013?