Email Roundtable #38 – Best (and Worst) of 2013 – Part 2

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It is the end of the year and that means we are looking back at what we watched and loved in 2013 (in two parts).

Favourite show that you started watching this year:

Kerri: I’m cheating with a list, in no particular order. I am limiting myself to shows that debuted in 2013 – the list would be too long, otherwise:

Orphan Black
Masters of Sex
The Americans
Orange is the New Black
Kroll Show
Broadchurch
Inside Amy Schumer
Rectify

Graeme: Comedy Central has several hilarious shows on right now like Key & PeeleInside Amy Schumer and Kroll Show but my favourite has to be Nathan For You. The show stars Nathan Fielder, a buttoned-up Canadian comedian/business school graduate who tries to use his “expertise” to create ambitious and bizarre marketing strategies for real-life businesses. The owners and participants are often outside of the joke and not too pleased with his suggestions – such as selling a poo flavoured frozen yogurt to gain notoriety. From modifying a haunted house in order to convince people they may have contracted a deadly disease (with hopes they’ll sue to gain publicity) to creating a fake The Bachelor type reality show so he can overcome his fear of speaking to women, Nathan For You is over-the-top and awkward in the best possible way.

Honorary mention goes to Hunderby a dark comedy out of Britain by Julia Davis. Set in the 1800s, the show does a wonderful job at creating an absurdly dark world rich with insane characters who are trapped by their own pasts. I’m not sure it’ll ever make its way to North America, which is a shame because it did win Best Sitcom at the 2012 British Comedy Awards. Regardless, it’s worth seeking out through alternative methods.

Katie: Orphan Black. Kerri and I talk about the show extensively here, but I will just say that I had the most fun while watching Orphan Black. The story twists and turns and is consistently both funny and gripping. And of course, the show is what it is because of Tatiana Maslany’s amazing performance. (She was nominated for an Emmy this year in the best female in a drama category.)

Best TV Couple:

Ivan: Paul (or James) & Marguerite from House Hunters International. I started watching this episode for the beach-side properties and then Paul (or James) & Marguerite began to grow on me. At first I thought she was annoying, however, by the time they kissed I thought “wow” that third bedroom overlooking the Nicaraguan Coast really brings them together.

Katie: Brad and Jane on Happy Endings. They are just so darn enthusiastic about how much they love each other. The two actors, Damon Wayans Jr. and Eliza Coupe find lots of funny, surprising moments together and just have lovely on-screen chemistry. Favourite bit: Damon Wayans Jr. dropping his pants to reveal a tucked in woman’s tunic. Eliza Coupe’s reaction is a mix of confusion and arousal.

Favourite secondary/minor character:

Graeme: Fans of Christopher Guest’s movies Waiting For Guffman, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind know Fred Willard as a scene-stealer but they may not know he also appeared on Guest’s HBO show Family Tree. Fans of the previously mentioned movies should do themselves a favour and check out the show which features many familiar faces from the films. As usual, Willard steals the show with his socially awkward character who just can’t ever bite his tongue.

Kerri: All of the secondary characters on Masters of Sex. Not too long ago I wrote about Masters of Sex and my wish for the show to spend more time with the budding relationship between Masters and Johnson because that is where the fireworks were. Since then, I have completely shifted my thinking about the show and the way that the secondary characters function. Or, to be more precise, the show has shifted my thinking by creating an array of characters that are more fascinating and sometimes more fun than the highly motivated Johnson and the fuddy-duddy Masters. Now, while watching the show, I am more interested in the blossoming sexuality of Margaret Scully (played by Allison Janney who is utterly amazing in the role – just package up her Emmy and send it to her right now); or the delightful Jane, Master’s secretary, who agreed early on to participate in the sex study; or Dr. Lillian DePaul, a buttoned up teacher who has a tragic secret. The supporting cast is there to fill in the monumental gaps about sex that Masters and Johnson could never uncover with science alone – the part about lust and desire and anger and frustration and love.

I’ll give an honorable mention to Felix from Orphan Black.

Best scene of the year:

Kerri: If you have read this blog with any regularity over the past year you have probably come across a passing mention of mine of Brienne and Jaime’s tub scene from Game of Thrones, Season 3 Episode 5 “Kissed by Fire”. I have already said all I can say about the scene other than it is astonishing and overwrought in the best possible way (and maybe I’ve already said that, too). The scene is delightfully soapy but with real, honest emotions as well. And it involves the two absolute best characters on the television version of Game of Thrones (I don’t even want to hear an argument).

Jane: Master of Sex is jam-packed with electric pairings of incredible actors which makes for some of the best scenes on Television. The best of all these scenes is between Barton (Beau Bridges) and Margaret (Allison Janey), when Margaret learns that Barton knew he was gay before they were married. The writing, directing and acting (especially) are all on point to deliver a heartbreaking scene that shows tremendous growth from both its characters. I can’t find a clip of this scene so to provide some context imagine this beautifully written speech delivered impeccably by Allison Janey (and listened to equally as impeccably by Beau Bridges):

“You hadn’t even met me and you already knew you could never want me. I was 10 when you were 18. Everything was ahead. You cannot give me back those years. I could have done something else. I could have been with someone else. Why wasn’t that my choice. Those were the only years I had. You thief.”

The speech decimates Barton. He understands while she speaks (as does Margaret) how his actions have robbed his wife of a fulfilling life. This moment of shared understanding is the most honest moment the couple have known in their marriage. Barton promises to go to a doctor to get his ‘problem taken care of’. As he pleads with her that he’ll change, Margaret realizes that she doesn’t want that for her husband. She loves him too much. The moment is seething with hate, pain, regret, understanding and love.

One thought on “Email Roundtable #38 – Best (and Worst) of 2013 – Part 2

  1. Pingback: Email Roundtable #37 – Best (and Worst) of 2013 – Part 1 | The Golden Age of Television

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