The Hidden Gems of 2013 (Year-End Review Mega Post)

Everyone has their own year-end review posts. I do them too. It’s a good way to put the previous year in perspective. And prepare for the new one.

Breaking Bad

In 2013 there were some good movies (award season is upon us) and some great TV finales. Some of them ended well (Breaking Bad). some ended not so well (I’m looking at you Dexter). Some ended too soon (Nikita). While some waited a season too long (Burn Notice). But everybody talks about those shows. Let’s talk about the shows nobody talks about. Let’s talk about the movies that aren’t up for Awards or Box Office Records. Let’s talk about the stuff nobody talks about.

Nikita

I call 2013 the year of the over-discussed and the under-exposed.

Michonne from The Walking Dead

Yes, The Walking Dead was good (not as good as before but it’s hard to keep up that level of intensity) and the Marvel Movies this year were awesome (yawn). Big budget films like The Lone Ranger & After Earth were two of the worst movies ever made (Tell me something I don’t know). While Breaking Bad cemented its place as the best show in television history (That’s right I said it again. Go to your room The Wire and think about what you could have been). And we can’t forget about how Game of Thrones stabbed us in the heart again and again. (Had me seeing red)

Agents of SHIELD

While Marvel’s Agents of Shield needs more time to discover what it wants to be when it grows up, Doctor Who was spectacular once again. And Jay-Z released the best collection of songs in his storied career. Even Lady Gaga finally got her shit together and released a good album. Yes, The Affordable Care Act‘s Healthcare.gov website (affectionately known as Obamacare) couldn’t handle all the traffic at first (who knew people without healthcare would want some?) but got it together in time for the holidays and Congress reached a new low in obstruction and not doing the job they were elected to do… (speaking of jobs. Where are the jobs?) Until Harry Reid got serious and said, “No more.”

Taylor Schilling

Oh yeah and House of Cards & Orange is the New Black changed the way we look at TV. Netflix ruled 2013 even Hemlock Grove was good. (Let’s see how they fuck it up in 2014).

Kevin Spacey

… but everybody knows that. We lived through it. We talked about it ad nauseam. I will attempt with my year-end list to rank the things… OTHER than those things. Stuff that nobody talked about (or very few talked about… and me). The hidden gems of 2013. The underexposed movies that I loved. The TV shows that are going strong without their own after shows and blog recaps. This is my year-end list.

So… Here’s the other stuff…

Movies That Didn’t Get The Respect They Deserved

10. Warm Bodies

Warm BodiesA beautiful love story in a clever and original package.

9. Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About NothingJoss Whedon and Will Shakespeare… need I say more.

8. Jack The Giant Slayer

Jack the Giant Slayer Poster

A fun movie, a great love story, with a excellent cast.

7. Before Midnight

Before MidnightJulie Delpy. Julie Delpy. Julie Delpy. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder why we never became lovers. (Oh that’s right. I don’t know her)

6. The Iceman

The IcemanThe Iceman is no joke. Iceman is intense

5. The Grandmaster

The Grandmaster

A dance. A meditation. A heartbreak. A cinematic masterpiece.

4. Europa Report

Europa ReportThe heroism and dangers of space exploration done right. Done so right.

3. Stand Up Guys

Stand Up Guys

Three masters. Two guns. One awesome movie.

2. Oblivion

oblivion-main_1It seems like I enjoyed this movie more than everyone else. This is good Sci-Fi. I loved this movie.

1. The Bling Ring

The Bling Ring PosterDesigner nails on a limited edition chalkboard. Sofia Coppola does great work.

Bling Ring EmmaAnd so does Emma Watson.

There were more popular movies. There were better movies, but these ten films, in my opinion, were over-looked and under-exposed. And that’s a travesty because they were very good.

Television Shows That Are Still On The Air

These are the great shows that I think don’t get enough press. Don’t get enough love. So not Sleepy Hollow or Agents of SHIELD or The Blacklist or Almost Human (though I love them all) Go watch them before some executive pulls the plug.

In alphabetical order (because you can’t rank no TV shows), here are the ones I never hear people talking about.

2 Broke Girls (CBS)

2.Broke.GirlsLove this show. It gets funnier and funnier. They’ve added a bunch of new awesome people to the cast including the very funny Mary Lynn Rajskub & Eric Andre,

American Horror Story: Coven (FX)

American Horror Story CovenThis show amazes me. Each year they change the theme and the characters and the locations (they only keep the fantastic cast) and it is awesome every season. Lily Rabe is wonderful every year and Jessica Lange… wow.

Banshee (Cinemax)

BansheeThis is a fun action show with a sexy cast.

Banshee 2Great fight scenes and shootouts. A cool premise and an interesting story.

Banshee CinemaxAnd of course some sexy sexiness… it IS Cinemax. Banshee is a very cool and kick ass action drama.

Beware The Batman (Cartoon Network)

Beware the batmanI never hear anyone talking about this show. I love it. Good story. Cool animation style.

Beware the Batman KatanaSure, it’s a departure for the Batman but at this point who wants to rehash the same old bat. Beware the Batman is a very good animated series. (Just not for the Bat-man purest)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)

brooklyn-nine-nineBest new sitcom in quite some time. Funny as hell and I’ll tell you why… casting. Every single person on this show is hysterical.

Childrens Hospital (Adult Swim)

childrens-hospital-castThis show is wild and wacky but they do good work every episode with different film styles and joke formats. Childrens Hospital (no apostrophe… it’s not a children’s hospital) is so fucking funny. It’s 11 minutes of unadulterated awesome.

Continuum (SyFy)

Continuum

Still going strong. Geat story. Good continuity even with the time paradoxes. Exciting Sci-Fi action thriller with a very cool premise.

Defiance (SyFy)

Defiance-tvIt took me a few episodes but I eventually fell in love with this show. Great cast. Good stories. Post-apocalyptic political intrigue. Defiance, Continuum and Falling Skies, for me, fill the hole left by Battlestar Galactica.

Falling Skies (TNT)

falling-skiesFalling Skies reminds me the most of Battlestar Galactica in so many ways. It’s about a rag tag fugitive group of humans on the run from aliens and robots. Falling Skies is really good. If you haven’t watched it, hop on it. It gets better every year.

Hell on Wheels (AMC)

Hell on WheelsThese next two shows are kick ass westerns. Very cool. Sometimes brutally violent. With two flawed heroes. Both are gunfighters with a code of honor.

Hell-on-WheelsHell on Wheels takes place just after the Civil War and tells the story of one hapless company trying to build a railroad to the west… and all the bodies (white, brown, black, yellow, red) buried along the way.

Justified (FX)

JustifiedJustified is still good. Still amazingly cool. This is the modern-day western. The story of U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens; quick on the draw but always true to his word. Justified & Hell on Wheels are two of the coolest TV westerns since The Rifleman.

Mom (CBS)

Mom 2Allison Janney, Allison Janney, Allison Janney.

MomJust give Allison Janney another Emmy already. She makes Mom good. She makes it really good. This is a funny funny show.

Motive (ABC)

Motive

ABC picked up this great Canadian show that gives away the murderer in the first scene but makes you have to figure out why, putting the viewer ahead of the detectives. It is a welcome change to the common police procedural where the actor playing the killer has to try to fool the audience as well..

Person of Interest (CBS)

Person of InterestPerson of Interest has been a good show but in 2013 it got so much better.

Amy Acker & Sarah ShahiThe show, about the machine that can predict violent crime, added Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker, playing two of the baddest women on TV. If you’re not watching it, you’re missing out on one of the best shows on the air.

Reign (CW)

ReignI’m so sorry guys. I like this show. I tried not to like it. It’s fluff. It’s pure fluff. But it’s good fluff. It’s not historically accurate or even historically close to being accurate.

Reign 2It’s just good. I like it. I like the cast. I like the premise. I like the drama. I love the sets and the costumes. They’re probably not authentic but they look so good. It’s a guilty pleasure. And now I feel dirty. Moving on…

The Americans (FX)

the-americansThis was one of the best new shows from last year. Two deep cover Russian agents toward the end of the Cold War.

the americans 2Some of the best acting and suspense on TV. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are simply amazing as they try to both have a family and stay true to their mission.

the americansI can’t wait until it comes back. So good.

Vikings (History Channel)

VikingsOkay, let’s be honest. Most of what the History Channel puts out is crap. They find a couple of so-called experts to agree with a historical premise that they happily feed to their ignorant audience of moronic misanthropes who think that watching this channel is a substitute for an actual education. For goodness sake, why don’t you do another show about the Nazis for your core audience of old racists or another piece of bullshit bible inspired claptrap for the History Channel’s pseudo-christian demographic. But the Vikings is a good show even if it is just more white supremacist programming from the most overtly racist channel on cable besides FOX news. Don’t give these people your money. Steal it. Pirate it. Fuck them. NEXT

Witches of East End (Lifetime)

Witches-of-East-EndAnother of my guilty pleasures. It’s not American Horror Story: Coven. Not even close. But it’s a nice bit of whimsy with a hot cast. Whimsy that I enjoy. I don’t have to justify my viewing habits to you.

Those are what I call good shows. Not the best but the most underrated in my opinion. And here are the bad ones…

Five Bad Shows (that need a complete reboot)

Dracula (NBC)

DraculaGreat casting is the only good thing I can say about it. But because I like the cast so much, I hope they retool it and come back stronger. It suffers from not being on a premium channel. Vampires without gratuitous sex and violence is just wrong.

Family Tree (HBO)

Family-TreeI waited for this to take off. I love Christopher Guest and his style of comedy. This had so much potential but it was maddeningly unfocused. And I really love this cast. So I’m hoping it comes back and just (I don’t know) focuses itself a little more.

Hello Ladies (HBO)

Hello Ladies

I hated this show and I kept watching, hoping that these horrible characters would learn something but they never did. It was like Eastbound and Down but without the funny.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC)

Once-Upon-a-Time-in-WonderlandI wanted to like this show so much because I love the original Once Upon A Time (still good) but I don’t like this cast and I don’t like the Alice character… (yet?). But just like everything else on this list, I’m still watching, hoping it gets better. Because I love Alice in Wonderland.

Red Queen

And because I can’t live in a world where this woman here is not on my TV each week…

2013 Disney|ABC TCA Summer Press Tour Red Carpet Event

Emma Rigby as the Red Queen.

Emma Rigby 2

She’s too hot not to build a better show around. Get on that Disney.

The Tomorrow People (CW)

the tomorrow peopleI am so close to saying goodbye to this show. I don’t like the lead (everyone else is great) and the powers are inconsistent and the magic system is flawed and stupid. And it’s so racist. I know that’s the point. Their “species” is being hunted. But the way they talk about themselves and humans, it just makes me uncomfortable.

And now for something completely different…

News & Politics

First I have to acknowledge one of my personal heroes even though we spent a good three weeks eulogizing him here in the states…

Nelson Mandela

Nelson MandelaRest In Peace Madiba.

Minimum Drug Sentencing

U.S. Prison PopulationDrug Policies… no not Legal Marijuana in some states but a strong push from the executive to eliminate mandatory minimums and to set non-violent drug offenders, who had been sentenced to extraordinarily long prison sentences (for offenses that are in no way offensive), free… at last.

Obama & HolderPresidential pardons have now led the way for Governors following suit in some states. Releasing some of our nation’s political prisoners in this endless and hopelessly misguided war on drugs.

Leticia Van de Putte for Lieutenant Governor

Van de PutteWendy Davis stole the headlines but it was her partner and candidate for Lieutenant Governor in Texas, Leticia Van de Putte, that made us all applaud. I have never cheered alone in my room to a live feed on the internet from a senate session in another state… in my life. But when she said what she said, I stood up raised my arms to the sky and yelled “Fuck Yeah!” And then I applauded.

At what point...They couldn’t hear me through the internet but I cheered and applauded along with the gallery in support of Wendy’s filibuster. Cheered for what I hope is the next Governor of Texas. I would move back to Austin and vote for her, if that didn’t involve moving back to Texas.

Marissa Alexander Out on Bond

Marissa Alexander out-of-jailThe Zimmerman Trial… no not the fact that George got away with murder because we all know he will be punished. It is inevitable. But Marissa Alexander who was in prison for 25 years for firing a warning shot. And how the trial brought light to her sentencing and her trial and got her released. Fat boy may not have done any jail time (his conscience would disagree) but it had an effect on the Stand Your Ground controversy and helped to get Marissa Alexander a new trial… and inspired one of the best South Park episodes of this past season.

Healthcare

Medicaid Expansion MapHealthcare… no not the website or the governors who refuse to expand Medicaid to the poor (who would rather see them die than give them Health Insurance at no cost to the state) but the millions of people with pre-existing conditions and college age kids on their parents plans and the garbage policies that had to be cancelled and better policies offered. Yeah, the corporate media is sponsored by drug companies and the medical industry, so we won’t hear much about it but Obamacare is working extremely well and saving lives.

Pope Francis

Pope FrancisThe Pope… not just for the statements he makes & things he says but for the way he has forced conservatives to admit that they aren’t as pious as they pretend. Watching them scramble for ways to justify their greed and callous disregard for the needy is almost fun. As they argue with the Pope. As they argue against feeding the poor. As they argue for the idolatry of wealth. As they argue against income and wealth equality. While claiming to be Christian. You don’t worship Christ. You worship money. You hear people on the left say “If Jesus himself told them they wouldn’t listen.” He did. And they still don’t.

Mars Rover Curiosity

Mars Rover CuriosityThe Mars Rovers… I’m horribly guilty of the personification of objects, especially technology (I apologize to my chair if I bump into it). Mars Rover Curiosity is one of my personal heroes. Sending beautiful pictures from the surface of Mars. Never to return home. If I could, I would nominate Curiosity for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

********************************************************************************************

There were a lot of good things in 2013 but make no mistake, I hated the year. Mostly for personal reasons: I tried to write a book but failed miserably. I lost a friend without being able to tell her she was my friend. And I spent more time fucking around than improving anyone’s life, including my own.

2014 will be NO different. 2014 will be the same “suckage” as ’13.

But 2015… that’ll be my year.

That’s gonna be my jam.

Have a Happy New Year everybody.

– Mel

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13 thoughts on “The Hidden Gems of 2013 (Year-End Review Mega Post)

  1. Hey, “Europa Report” and “Oblivion” were great! Who says otherwise? Bring them to me! They were my favorite Sci-fi films this year. Not that there were a lot to choose from.

    And Popes like that make Christians look good. I hope they hear him.

    Thanks Mel, great list.

    Like

    • Nikita aired its last episode. It ended very well. It’s good from beginning to end. A lot of good action. And it evolves with every season.

      The Americans have only had one season. I’ve been seeing the ads for the new one. Suspenseful.

      American Horror Story is a special case where you can watch the seasons out of order. They have nothing to do with each other. They are all completely different except that they’re scary and creepy.

      But Continuum you have to start from the beginning, I think, because you’d be lost otherwise. Maybe… I don’t know but the first two seasons are really fun and sciency.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Like

      • I made it half way thru S2 of Nikita. Good to know it ends well.

        I like Keri Russell and spy stories.

        I recently finished Asylum, it was good but not as great as S1. Coven looks cool …. witches!

        I finished S1 of Continuum. Great lead actress and character. I hope S2 takes it to another level.

        And thank you for commenting back! 🙂

        Like

      • Thank you for thanking me for thanking you for… thanks for…wait… Thank me once shame on me… we can’t get thanked again.

        Like

  2. Good list! I’m glad you highlighted Warm Bodies and Oblivion. I thought Warm Bodies was sweetly charming, a phrase I didn’t think I’d end up using for a zombie movie. 😉 Oblivion was a cool sci-fi mystery with gorgeous cinematography and a great soundtrack.

    Like

    • Thanks. Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised by both of those movies. Not your typical zombie movie and not just a run-of-the-mill sci-fi thriller. Thanks for the comment.

      Like

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