Best of 2013: Returning Shows

Just like it was a great year for new TV, it was a great year for returning TV as well. Several shows did a fantastic job at reinventing themselves and proving their quality in a rapidly-growing TV world.

Breaking Bad I’ll admit, I haven’t seen the last two episodes of Breaking Bad (a problem that should be remedied this week) but the six episodes that preceded them were fantastic. From Walt and Hank’s confrontation in the garage to the scenes in the desert, the season was filled with tension and it brought out the best in all of the actors. While I know that not everyone was thrilled with the finale, there is no denying that the episodes leading up to it were among the best this show had to offer.

Game of Thrones This season brought 3 outstanding moments – the Dracarys scene, Jaime’s confession in the baths, and the Red Wedding. It also brought with it fantastic additions to the cast in Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister, Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell, and Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell. It was full of interesting connections between characters and some truly outstanding performances. This show continues to be one of the best.

The Good Wife I am so impressed with what this show has managed in its fifth season. The decision to split the cast into two different and competing firms has completely revitalized the show. There is a new energy and excitement to it and the quality is higher than ever. It’s hard enough to do even one episode like “Hitting the Fan” in a season but just a few weeks after that aired, we got “The Decision Tree” which was one of the best 100th episodes of a show that I’ve ever seen. For all those who think that nothing on network TV could ever compare to a cable drama, watch this show. It’ll prove you wrong.

Parks and Recreation Parks and Rec started out this year with one of its best episodes – “Two Parties”. More than almost any other, this episode summed up what this show is all about. It’s about good people doing doing things for each other. That theme carried through to “Leslie and Ben” as everyone important to Ben and Leslie pitched in to give them a perfect wedding. It’s been a year of love, friendship, and lots of laughter for this show and it never gets old.

New Girl I have rarely been as impressed with a run of sitcom episodes as I have in the last several episodes of season two. Everything just worked seamlessly. It was funny, characters grew and changed, and it took risks. After such an outstanding season two, season three has admittedly been a bit of a disappointment but I can see that the show I loved back in March is still in there just waiting to break free again. It’s still one of the best comedies on TV and I know what heights it can achieve.

Chicago Fire It didn’t take me long to fall in love with this show when it premiered in the fall of 2012 and my love for it has only continued to grow. I’m a sucker for shows that will make me cry every week and that’s what this show has become for me. I love the characters and I love the variety of relationships between them. I love that above all, they are a family that has each other’s backs. It may not be an original or groundbreaking show but it is full of the warmth I love to see.

Bunheads I don’t think I’ll ever stop being disappointed that this show was canceled. It had the charm of Gilmore Girls but with bonus dancing.  I miss the rapid-paced dialogue, the pop culture references, and the depiction of relationships between the women of the show. It was wonderful to see Kelly Bishop regularly again and a real treat to see Sutton Foster perform for and with the younger dancers.

Scandal I don’t quite understand how a show can pack so many big events into such a short period of time without appearing completely ridiculous but this show somehow manages that for me. Part of that comes down the fact that I love every second that either Kerry Washington or Bellamy Young is on screen and would watch them be wonderful forever. I think the show’s use of “scandal-of-the-week” plots helps the larger plot lines flow better without getting overly bogged down in the details. I still don’t know how to feel about Huck and Quinn in “YOLO”, which was one of the more disturbing things I saw on TV this year and I’m a bit unsure of their plotlines in the future, but everything else is really working for me right now.

The Mindy Project I stopped watching this show 4 episodes into the first season then picked it up again a couple weeks ago at the recommendation of Katie and another friend. Somewhere around the 10th episode of season 1, this show found a rhythm and became this great show with characters I loved. Danny, the person who irritated me so much in the beginning, became my favorite character. They added so much to his character with red glasses and gingerbread estates and all the little things that make his character unique. His relationship with Mindy keeps getting cuter and I found myself yelling at him to go outside with Mindy in the most recent episode. This show has two fantastic leads in Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina and it really learned how to best utilize them this year.

Castle 2013 was a great year for Castle. All four episodes that aired in February were fantastic, “Still” was a great example of how to do a clip show well, and we saw the return of 3XK in a truly chilling episode. On top of all that, I have (almost always) been so happy with the way Castle and Beckett’s relationship has continued to develop and deepen. They are still the same Castle and Beckett we fell in love with in the early seasons but now even better because they are more open with their feelings now.

 What were your favorite returning shows of 2013?

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