2013 in TV (Part One)
By Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
2013 has been a fine year for TV. Broadcasters like BBC, Channel 4, ITV and so forth have all produced some excellent programmes that will last long in the memory. From drama to documentary to comedy to fantasy, there have been a menagerie of shows from different genres, each with their respective pros and cons. But brushing away the negatives I’m going to look at the eleven best programmes of 2013 and why it’s been a great run for telly.
11. The Escape Artist
David Tennant appeared in more than a few high quality programmes this year. First he took on the role of crusty PC Alec Hardy in the superlative whodunit Broadchurch back in March then he followed it up with a less demanding part in Paula Milne’s regrettably poor The Politician’s Husband. He returned to Doctor Who in November, much to fans’ delight but before that he was Will Burton, junior barrister in The Escape Artist. The Escape Artist was excellent at ramping up the tension and spooking the audience with a couple schlock horror scares. The finale was enjoyable but rather perplexing and just a smidge far-fetched; these are minor flaws in an otherwise thrilling series.
10. The Wrong Mans
The Wrong Mans, as well as being typographically awkward, had a lot of problems. The opener was iffy and not all that funny but at about episode three it became a jaw-dropper of a series. With an American action flick type set-up, two lead actors and writers with substantial track records it became an understated hit. The first string of episodes ended on a high note but one that gave way for a second series and sure enough that announcement came so I look forward The Wrong Mans series two.
9. Educating Yorkshire
Educating Yorkshire followed the BAFTA-winning Educating Essex, an absolute masterpiece of a documentary series that followed the everyday lives of pupils in an eastern school. It was candid and on the level, leaving not a dry eye in the house when it came to a close. Unsurprisingly it returned for a Christmas special earlier this month and I was delighted to see it still maintained the standard of the series. Here’s hoping for another Educating… edition in a different county.
It’s strange how much Luther developed a cult following when it was off the air. After the rather anticlimactic second series the show became a hit with the public and many dreamed of seeing it again. This year their dreams came true as the dissident copper returned for a third and what appears to be final series. Idris Elba slipped back into the titular role almost like he’d been frozen in costume and then thawed, as did the alluring Ruth Wilson as Alice Morgan. While it was sad to see Luther go it was reassuring to know that it ended on a bang and certainly not a whimper.
- See James Amos’ Episode 1 Review
- See James Amos’ Episode 2 Review
- See James Amos’ Episode 3 Review
- See James Amos’ Episode 4 Review
7. Wizards vs. Aliens
I was a big fan of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the fun but oftentimes dark – and always mature – spinoff to Doctor Who featuring former companion Sarah Jane Smith. When Elisabeth Sladen, who embodied Sarah Jane with such vigour and independence, passed away I was heartbroken as were producers. They returned with Wizards vs. Aliens, a likeable replacement (in production terms) to The Sarah Jane Adventures but it had some incredible shoes to fill. At the time of writing it never did fill those shoes. Wizards vs. Aliens broadened itself and became one of the most adult and developed children’s television shows I’ve ever seen. It didn’t try and top The Sarah Jane Adventures or rival it in any way but became its own show, its own programme. With stories like The Thirteenth Floor, which dealt with the protagonist and the antagonist mating and raising a chid together, I can see a long and prosperous future ahead.
- See my review of 100 Wizards
- See my review of Vice Versa
- See my review of The Cave of Menla-Gto
- See my review of The Curse of Crowe
- See my review of The Thirteenth Floor
- See my review of Endless Night
- See my review of the finale
6. An Adventure in Space and Time
This year was Doctor Who’s fiftieth and we got the glorious fan-pleasing special The Day of the Doctor but over on BBC Two Mark Gatiss and co. were preparing another way of slapping the show on the back and congratulating it for being such an old fart. An Adventure in Space and Time was Gatiss’ brainchild and something he’d had cooking for a long time (the initial proposal was a decade ago). When it was finally broadcast last month I was over the moon. From the superlative acting from David Bradley as William Hartnell to Edmund Butt’s mellifluous score, it was a labour of love and a fine one at that.
Come back tomorrow for numbers five to one and my honourable mentions.