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Thursday, December 12, 2013

My 10 Favorite Television Programs of 2013

Was it a great year for TV?  I don't know.  I spent most of my allotted "TV time" watching Sesame Street and/or old Mickey Mouse cartoons with my daughter.  I'm not complaining, I'm just trying to explain how a whole lotta TV got by me this year.  

There are a lot of newcomers on the list this year, as well as tried and true favorites, and exactly one non-comedy.  Why is the list so comedy-heavy, you ask?  Oh, you didn't ask?  OK then.  Moving on.

Look, my DVR is full of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Almost Human episodes that I haven't watched yet, so maybe they're great.  And I've committed myself to giving Sleepy Hollow a try once I gather up the strength to care even a little bit.  Also, a lot of 2013's new offerings do not appeal to me (The Crazy Ones?  Really?  Dads?  No thank you, sirs!)  At least 10 shows did appeal to me however, and that's why they made the following list.

10. Chopped (Food Network): As far as I'm concerned, Chopped should just have it's own network.  It would be called The Chopped Channel and it'd play nothing but episodes of Chopped, back-to-back-to-back.  Whenever I turn on Food Network and see something, like, Guy's Grocery Games, I go, "What a minute!  Where's Chopped?"  A network dedicated to Chopped would alleviate this problem.  Anyway, Chopped is a fantastic cooking competition show, and if you're not watching it, or (GASP!) not even aware of it, I don't know what to say to you.

Best episodes: To be honest, I can't tell a Season 17 episode from a Season 3, so I don't know if my favorite episodes this year were current or not.  I think the episodes in which contestants were forced to used leftovers in their dishes was from this current season.  Those were my favorites: the leftovers ones.

9. Steven Universe (Cartoon Network): I was initially interested in this show for one reason and one reason only: Tom Scharpling.  He is the voice of the titular character's father, and being a huge fan of Mr. Scharpling, I felt it my sworn duty to check out the show.  The concept was also weirdly appealing (a chubby young boy with a gem for a bellybutton lives with three gem-powered females [Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl] who use their mystical powers to protect the seaside town of Beach City from hideous, gem-hungry monsters, and gets into various misadventures while trying to learn how to use his own gem-based powers).  Greg Universe (voiced by Scharpling), Steven's car wash owning father (who somehow is bald and has a mullet at the same time!), was in the second episode, and then kind of disappeared.  At first, I was disappointed, but then, I realized, I kind of just love this show.  Fans of Adventure Time, Scott Pilgrim and gem-based magic take note: this is your new favorite show.

Best episodes: "Cat Fingers"; "Frybo"; "Cheeseburger Backpack"

8. How I Met Your Mother (CBS): I've said a lot of things on the blog lately about how sick I am of Ted Mosby and his "I-still-wuv-Robin" bullshit, and how I'm so glad this show is finally coming to an end, and how I would be glad to put it out of its misery Old Yeller-style, and so on.  The truth is, however, I love this show.  I've been with it from the beginning and I will stay with it to the bitter end.  It's the only show my wife and I watch together on live television, not counting football, so that's something too.  Monday night at 8:00, I always know where me and the wife will be: snuggled in bed, her almost certainly fast asleep, watching How I Met Your Mother.  And I didn't have high hopes for this season, seeing as though it was being spread over Barney and Robin's wedding weekend.  To my surprise though, HIMYM has been pumping out some of the greatest episodes of it's 9 year run.

Best episodes: "The Lighthouse"; "Platonish"; "The Rehearsal Dinner" 

7. Comedy Bang Bang (IFC): Another solid season of the CBB TV show.  Can I just say it's funny, and move forward?  I can?  OK.  It's funny.  Very funny.  Maybe the funniest thing on TV right now.  If you aren't watching it, you're an asshole.  Or, perhaps, you don't have cable.  If it's the latter, I'm sorry.  You're not an asshole.  But get cable already, you asshole!

Best episodes: "Aziz Ansari Wears A Charcoal Blazer"; "Anna Kendrick Wears A Patterned Blouse & Burgundy Pants"; "Andy Richter Wears A Suite Jacket & A Baby Blue Button Down Shirt"; "Jim Gaffigan Wears A Blue Jacket & A Plum T-Shirt"

6. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX): My favorite new situation comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a brilliant ensemble workplace comedy, only with murder and drugs because it takes place in a police station.  The cast is incredible (Chelsea Peretti on TV once a week?  Yes, please!) and the show is hilarious and I love it.  Andre Braugher is especially fantastic as Captain Holt.  Seriously, is there anything Andre Braughter can't do?  This man is amazing!

Best episodes: "Halloween"; "Sal's Pizza"; "Christmas"

5. Parks and Recreation (NBC): I know what you're saying: "Matt, I thought this was your favorite show on TV right now!  What gives?!?"  Look, you're not wrong.  Parks and Recreation might be my favorite comedy ever, but I wanted to give the tops spots to some other guys this year.  That said, Parks and Recreation has been great this season, from the consolidation of Pawnee and Eagleton to Leslie Knope's unfortunate recall.  Great ensemble.  Great guest stars (Does Billy Eichner officially work for the parks and rec department now?  I hope so!). Great writing.  Greatest show ever.

Best episodes: "Doppelgangers"; "Fluoride" "The Cones of Dunshire"

4. The Birthday Boys (IFC): I've heard such good stuff about the Birthday Boys so many times on the Comedy Bang Bang podcast, then when it was announced they'd been given a show I was in, sight unseen.  For my money, The Birthday Boys is the best sketch comedy show on television right now (I'm also a big fan of Kroll Show and I promise to check out Key & Peele before the end of the year, guys.  Promise.).  And having Bob Odenkirk on your team doesn't hurt.  I hope to see many more seasons of The Birthday Boys in the future.  Unfortunately, I don't hear a lot of people talking about it.  Maybe I frequent the wrong Web sites.  I almost only hear about boobs when I'm online.  Oops!  I've said too much.

Best episodes: "Goofy Roofers" (maybe the finest half-hour of televised comedy I saw this year); "All Your Favorites Are Back"

3. Nathan For You (Comedy Central)

Don't believe what you may have read online.  Nathan For You is not a prank show.  Nathan Fielder is not a devious prankster out to embarrass the normies of this world by making them look stupid on television.  In fact, the reason Nathan For You is so funny is that Fielder is often making himself the fool (I mean, the boob-obsessed security guard Fielder convinces to stakeout a convenience store while hiding in an empty arcade game cabinet is pretty stupid, but that isn't Fielder's fault.).  Ostensibly, Nathan Fielder is a "business expert," who approaches faltering or failing business and helps out, offering an off-the-wall solution to a problem that probably doesn't really exist.  The results are comedy gold.  I can't recommend this show enough, in fact, this year alone I've turned two people onto it, and I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but keep in mind that I talk to exactly four people a year.  

Best episodes: "Santa/Petting Zoo"; "Clothing Store/Restaurant"; "The Claw of Shame"; "Haunted House/The Hunk"; "Gas Station/Caricature Artist" (The "Gas Station" segment is my favorite one of the first season.  It is insane and brilliant.)

2. Breaking Bad (AMC)

I binged watched Breaking Bad so I could be semi-caught up once the final season ended (I ended up seeing the series finale two weeks after it originally aired.  That's not too bad, right?  I avoided all spoilers too.).  This is perhaps the best and worst way to watch Vince Gilligan's masterpiece.  Best because, holy shit, this show is good.  I mean, Breaking Bad is amazing!  But you know this.  You've seen it.  Binge watching Breaking Bad is almost impossible to avoid.  You don't have to wait a full week to see what Walt and Jesse are going to do next, so why not watch 7 episodes in a row on a Monday night?  Worst because, after awhile, it felt like a chore.  A fun chore, but, c'mon, Breaking Bad is heavy stuff, and a steady stream of it into your head can, for lack of a better and less-offensive term, fuck you the shit up.  That being said, Breaking Bad now reigns as my favorite show of all time and I, for one, was a big fan of the finale.

Best episodes: They're all good, man!  Just watch the whole series.  I think my dad and I are going to watch it together after the football season ends.  Nothing like a show about meth and murder to bring a father and son closer together.

And my favorite TV show of 2013 is...

1. New Girl (FOX)

Confession time: The only reason New Girl was left off of last year's Best of Television list was because I got lazy and didn't want to write anymore.  That's the truth.  I've regretted that decision every single day since then.  That's not why you see New Girl at the top of 2013's list though.  No, sir.  New Girl is at the top of this year's TV list because nothing made me happier when plopping down in front of the big-screen for my Saturday Afternoon TV Catch-Up-A-Thon (Saturday's from 12:00 to 3:00, AKA my daughter's nap time) than a new New Girl on my DVR.  New Girl is solid week after week after week.  Funny and moving, I care about these characters and what they're going through.  My hope is that you are watching it.  A lot of people I know refuse to give it a chance because of the whole "adorkable" thing from when the show first premiered.  Forget all that.  "Adorkable," whatever it means or was, has been left in the past.  New Girl is now comfortable being one of the funniest shows on TV without it's Buddy Holly glasses and fakey British accent.

Best Episodes: "Cabin"; "TinFinity"; "Double Date"; "The Box"; "Keaton"; "Menus"; "Longest Night Ever"

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