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'Person of Interest,' 'Scandal' rank among best television shows of 2013

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10. “Doctor Who

The second half of the most recent “Doctor Who” season, the part that aired in 2013, was frankly one of the weakest segments of the series since its reboot in 2005. The eight episodes of the season and the Christmas special (which doubled as Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith’s farewell) didn’t live up to expectations, but the show’s 50th anniversary special in November which featured Smith, David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and John Hurt as “The War Doctor” was so epic that it makes it necessary to have the series on my top 10 list of the year in television. Seeing Smith and Tennant together was a dream come true for this Whovian and the addition of the supremely talented Hurt didn’t well, hurt, either. The “The Day of The Doctor” special also greatly impacts the future of the series going forward by righting the Doctor’s biggest wrong. This special was the definition of appointment television.

9. “How I Met Your Mother”

Many fans of “How I Met Your Mother” don’t seem pleased by the long-running CBS sitcom’s final season, judging by online chatter and fan reviews, but you can count me as one of those really digging the farewell season. The problem many fans have with it is that the entire season is being told over the span of one weekend, the weekend of Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin’s (Cobie Smulders) wedding and the weekend Ted (Josh Radnor) finally meets The Mother (Cristin Milioti). Some think the writers have been forced to include too much filler with the storyline taking place over one weekend, but I think they’ve done a remarkable job at making the story of this magical weekend interesting. The highlight of the season thus far have been the all too brief moments between Ted and The Mother, shown in flash forwards, which leaves me excited for the second half of the season to see the two spend more time together.

8. “Hannibal”

The character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs” may likely be my favorite character in the history of film, so when I heard that Bryan Fuller was adapting the character to a television series it immediately piqued my interest. The show may take Hannibal’s name, but “Hannibal” is perhaps more interesting for Hugh Dancy’s spectacular turn as FBI Special Agent Will Graham, who’s trying to track the mysterious “Minnesota Shrike” serial killer while battling something that’s similar to Asperger’s Syndrome. Dancy should’ve gotten more awards consideration for his fantastic portrayal. Of course, “Hannibal” wouldn’t be all too successful without a great portrayal of the titular character and Mads Mikkelsen is effortless in his portrayal of serene snobbery mixed with vicious imagination. The companionship between Graham and Lecter is something that truly brings the viewers back for more every week. “Hannibal” is also one of the most visually stunning and beautifully photographed series on all of television.

7. “Broadchurch”

I watch an excessive amount of crime dramas and sometimes the procedural-ness of the genre can get a little bit boring or typical. This is why BBC America’s “Broadchurch” was such a breath of fresh air in 2013. The British import featuring David Tennant as a tortured police detective and Olivia Colman, as his at first disgruntled partner, featured one of the best and most tightly knit storylines of any show in 2013 and kept viewers guessing who the “who” in the whodunit was until the very end. Tennant and Colman also made for one of the best acted duos on television this year giving terrific performances that are worthy of Emmy nominations when the time rolls around.

6. “The Mindy Project”

Fox’s “The Mindy Project” is the funniest and best sitcom currently on television; it’s also the least watched sitcom on network television, which unfortunately makes its cancellation imminent (meaning you should start watching it live every Tuesday evening at 8:30, so it might have a shot at survival). The show revolves around Mindy Kaling’s Dr. Mindy Lahiri and her co-workers at the Shulman & Associates’ OB/GYN clinic. Dr. Lahiri, as created, written and portrayed by Kaling, is one of the most fully realized female characters on television and Kaling’s “do-it-all” talent is on par with that of the great Tina Fey’s days on “30 Rock.” The “will-they-or-won’t-they” relationship between Dr. Lahiri and Dr. Danny Castellano, the brilliant Chris Messina, is also the best of its kind currently on any sitcom on television.

5. “Olbermann”

Keith Olbermann’s glorious return to ESPN this fall with his nightly show named after himself is the sports show I’ve been waiting on for many years and honestly never really knew it. But, the first time I watched the series I was shocked by just how awesomely witty and informational it turned out to be and surprisingly it continues to be so every single night. The highlight of “Olbermann,” truly the thinking fan’s show, is the opening monologue each night where Olbermann tackles the biggest sports stories of the day or simply just interesting topics that he feels the need to shine a light upon. The rest of the show is filled with entertaining highlights of the night’s action, nobody calls highlights like Olbermann, and fun segments like “The Worst Persons in the Sport’s World.” Olbermann frequently touches upon sports topics that are never given thought or time on ESPN’s body of networks (or any other sports network for that matter), but often should be. “Olbermann” is essentially the way sports broadcast journalism should be done.

4. “Parenthood

In its fifth season on television (and quite possibly its last due to unfortunate low ratings) you know what you’re going to get from NBC’s family drama “Parenthood.” The show has been the most reliable on television remaining faithful to its incredibly realistic storylines and portrayals of family. The show, created and run by Jason Katims, Emmy winning writer and producer of “Friday Night Lights (which shares its realistic tone with “Parenthood”), is often heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time and includes the most naturalistic performances from its amazingly talented cast on any television show since “Friday Night Lights.” “Parenthood” simply captures real life like no other show currently on network television.

3. “Orange is the New Black

“House of Cards” may have been the more critically acclaimed (although barely) of the Netflix original series that debuted in 2013, but “Orange is the New Black,” is the one that seemingly had the biggest impact on American fans. The based on a true story dramedy of a woman’s stint in a women’s prison featured some of the most delicious performances of the year by an incredibly talented and mostly previously unknown cast. There isn’t a single character in this entire series that isn’t likable, even the ones that would be the furthest from likable in real life (I’m looking at you Pornstache). The series follows popular, hipster-ish Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) who’s being sentenced to time in a women’s prison for transgressions in her young, lesbian days. What she finds in the prison is an entirely new world that she’s not used too nor ever knew existed, a frightening prospect at first, but one she warms up to quite well as the season rolls along. Chapman’s immersion into this world and all of the immensely unique characters that inhabit it makes this series one of 2013’s most fascinating shows and one that you’ll have a seriously hard time not bingewatching completely over a day or two.

2. “Scandal

ABC’s “Scandal,” which I hadn’t seen live in its first two seasons, but bingewatched thanks to Netflix before the start of its third season this fall is probably television’s most addictive show. The majority of characters on this series truly are a trainwreck, but prove to be one that you not only can’t help but look away from, but also root for to continue. “Scandal” is a show that revolves around Kerry Washington’s good guy at all costs Olivia Pope, who’s surrounded herself with essentially an entire cast of killers, some of which she’s friendly or even in love with. This makes for a uniquely interesting show in which you know many of these people are flawed, if not horrible individuals, but you just can’t get enough of it. The storylines developed and written by showrunner Shonda Rhimes and crew are so intertwined with fantastic secrets and twists that as soon as one episode comes to an end you simply cannot wait for the next.

1. “Person of Interest

Since it debuted two and a half years ago CBS’ “Person of Interest” has been the very best series on network television. It may come off as just another CBS crime procedural, a la “NCIS” or “Blue Bloods” (which are both excellent, mind you), to those that have never seen it, but it’s honestly so much more – with a unique mix of your typical procedural-like episodes and astonishingly intricate story arcs, that truly set the show out among the crowd of network crime dramas. “Person of Interest” is simply the most badass show on television with a cast of characters like Jim Caviezel’s John Reese and Taraji P. Henson’s Det. Joss Carter. All of the characters are insanely likable in their courageous pursuit of good over evil. The shows action sequences, turns and twists and hold-your-breath surprises (like the death of Carter) are supreme reason why this show was my favorite of 2013.

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