Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2013 Edition: 28-25

17 Jan

Here we go – first, a drama, that like Sons of Anarchy, has been consistently good but not great and had a comeback season this year. Next a couple of comedies that aired back to back but don’t have too much else in common, and finally a show that was impossible to figure out where to place because it debuted with three episodes. Here we go.

28. Boardwalk Empire

Nuckie and Omar

I spoke about this most recent season of Boardwalk Empire at length, which you can read here and then here if so interested. Basically, I think the fourth season was a big step up from the rather one-dimensional third season. Boardwalk still sometimes struggles with figuring out what makes it stand out from the other major dramatic anti-hero shows that have dominated the TV landscape in the past decade and in bringing more of its side characters into more fully realized form, and sometimes it spreads its wings too wide in terms of including more characters and locations rather than focusing more time on fewer great ones. Still, this paragraph should be more about praise than condemnation; this was the second best season of the series, and very close to the second season, the other contender. I didn’t love the Chicago plots, but other non-Nuckie characters stepped in a big way, as the writers created situations more interesting than everyone-against-Nuckie. As always, the filming technique and direction in Boardwalk is gorgeous. Scenes are lovingly rendered and fantastic angles and shots and drama and pathos no matter the characters, plot, or dialogue.

27. Veep

Selena and Staff

Veep’s second season was a noticeable if not revolutionary improvement over the first. It went from a show I watched but was hesitant to recommend after the first season to one I proudly throw out as ideal for relatively quick viewing after the second. Everything is tighter, the characters are surer in who they are, and because of that, the actors know how to better play each of their roles. The first season was defined by one large scale joke – that life for the Vice President, the second highest office in America, was as boring, mundane, and pointless as the lives of so many other cubicle-inhabiting Americans. The second season let the show breathe and allowed that one joke to merge more fully for the show’s love of Curb Your Enthusiasm-like situational awkwardness and miscommunication. Every one of the characters gets a couple of chances to shine, along with recurring guests Gary Cole, Kevin Dunn, and Dan Bakkedahl.


Four Girls

Girls second season was by and large a huge improvement over its first. Toned down was the fervor, both the extremely positive and negative levels that accompanied the first season, which may have been in the show’s best interest. In its place emerged a more fully formed show, that dealt with the characters in more mature and interesting ways. All four primary characters are caricatures to some extent; but they’re not that far from real people and their battles and conflicts often feel authentic (which I complimented in my article about Treme as a place that’s surprisingly hard to reach). I didn’t like the last episode which featured a couple of sappy, forced happy endings which felt like a flash-forward from what the show dissected so powerfully in the second season’s middle episodes, but I still remain quite hopeful for the third season.

25. Rick and Morty

Morty and Rick

Many times during this list I had no idea where I wanted to place shows; this basically refers to numbers maybe 6 through 39. Still, this may have been the trickiest, primarily because it’s hard to figure out how high to rate a show that has aired only three episodes not only in the year, but ever, and not three hour and a half Sherlock episodes, but three 20 minute episodes. So here it is; I probably have liked what I’ve seen enough to have it higher, but I was hesitant on how high to put a show with three episodes. Now on to why you should watch this show if you’ve never heard of it before. Rick and Morty is an animated Adult Swim show about the science fiction adventures of grandfather Rick and grandson Morty, who have a perverse Doc Brown and Marty McFly-esque relationship. Rick is an alcoholic mad genius, and Morty is a loving kid who is a awkward and not the smartest chip on the block. Rick drags Morty throughout space time on all sorts of wacky adventures, while their family, Morty’s parents and sister, occupy often equally hilarious b stories.  It’s funny and it’s short and you don’t have to watch the episodes in order, but you might as well because there aren’t that many of them and they’re good. If you start with just one of the first three though, make it Anatomy Park which combines Jurassic Park, Fantastic Voyage, and John Oliver. Oh, on top of that it’s co-created by Community once-and-future head honcho Dan Harmon.

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