This is a golden age of television and I am here to run down my top 25 Dramas from the 2013-14 television season. In part one of this blog series we covered 25 – 16 and now we are going to unveil 15 – 6.
Here is how I decide what makes it to my list In no particular order. 1. Writing, 2. Acting 3. Directing 4. Originality.
Part 1 25 – 16 Part 2 15 – 6 Part 3 5 – 1
15 – 6
15. Black Sails (Season 1) (Starz)
Black Sails is an American dramatic adventure television series created by Jonathan E. Steinberg and Robert Levine for Starz that debuted on January 25, 2014. Steinberg is executive producer, alongside Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, while Michael Angeli, Doris Egan, and Levine are co-executive producers. Set on New Providence Island, it is written as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island.
During the Golden Age of Piracy, the feared Captain Flint brings on a younger crew member as they fight for the survival of New Providence Island. According to the first episode, “In 1715, West Indies, the pirates of New Providence Island threaten maritime trade in the region. The laws of every civilized nation declare them hostis humani generis; enemies of all mankind. In response, the pirates adhere to a doctrine of their own…war against the world.”
Real life pirates that are fictionalized in the show include Charles Vane, Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny and Benjamin Hornigold.
The plot focuses on the hunt of the Spanish treasure galleon Urca de Lima.
This show had me at pirates. Black Sails is a dark and gritty depiction of the pirate lifestyle. The show often focuses on the day to day life of the pirates on land, rather than the seven seas. Many people have complained about, but call me crazy I like that.
Some might be turned off by the sex and violence, but, I think those aspects are important to tell this story. The season finale was very good, with a great cliffhanger ending that left the audience wondering what’s next.
14. The Bridge (Season 1) FX
The Bridge is an American drama television series developed by Meredith Stiehm and Elwood Reid, airing on the FX network, and based on the Danish/Swedish series Broen/Bron/The Bridge. Starring Mexican actor Demián Bichir and German actress Diane Kruger, the series’ 13-episode first season debuted on July 10, 2013. On September 24, 2013, FX renewed The Bridge for a 13-episode second season to air in summer 2014.
Based on the Danish/Swedish TV series of the same name, The Bridge follows two police detectives – one Mexican, one American – and their joint effort to investigate a serial killer menacing both nations along the Texas–Chihuahua border. Their investigation is complicated by the rampant corruption and general apathy among the Mexican authorities and the violence of the powerful borderland drug cartels. The show title refers to the Bridge of the Americas that serves as a border crossing between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, where the series is set
FX and AMC are in a battle of who can bring the best programming to television. I have so much love for AMC, but I would have to give to FX right now. The series that might just tip the scales in their favor is, The Bridge. Starring Mexican actor, Demián Bichir, and German actress, Diane Kruger, this show was yet again another home run for FX. The Bridge has it all; it looks great, the acting is top notch and the story is well written. I can’t forget to mention, Ted Levine, as Lieutenant Hank Wade. Levine as always is outstanding bringing a real gravity to his character and the series.
This show suffers from one glaring problem I am afraid. I personally did not care for how the killer reveal was done. Generally I don’t recommend a show usually with a lackluster conclusion. But the Bridge has so many great things working for it I am going to strongly recommend it. Who knows you might like the ending better than I did.
13. Orange is the New Black (Season 1) Netflix
Orange Is the New Black is an American comedy-drama series created by Jenji Kohan and first released on Netflix on July 11, 2013. The series, produced by Tilted Productions in association with Lionsgate Television, is based on Piper Kerman’s memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, about her experiences in prison. On June 27, 2013, Netflix renewed the show for a second season premiering on June 6, 2014.
The series revolves around Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a bisexual woman living in New York City who is sentenced to 15 months in a women’s federal prison for transporting a suitcase full of drug money to her former girlfriend, Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), who is an international drug smuggler. The offense occurred ten years prior to the start of the series, and in that time Piper had moved on to a quiet, law-abiding life among New York’s upper middle class. While in prison, Piper is reunited with Alex, and they re-examine their relationship and deal with their fellow inmates.
The future is here; streaming media content that you can binge watch. Netflix is giving you all the control in watching its original programming. Orange Is the New Black is an American comedy-drama series created by Jenji Kohan (Weeds). With this show you have a mostly female cast that all reside in prison. If you were a fan of the HBO series OZ don’t try to think of this show as its female counterpart because it is not. This show is part Drama and part Comedy and all fun.
Every once and a while a series comes from nowhere and grabs you. Orange is the New Black is that show. You think you know the characters, you will think I have seen these people before. This series takes seemingly conventional characters and makes the Unconventional. Each character is 3 dimensional and compelling in their own right. You will find yourself rooting for people you would have never thought you would, while despising others you would normally pull for. Kohan has shown that lightning can strike twice she has done it again with this program.
12. The Walking Dead (Season 4) AMC
The fourth season of AMC’s television series The Walking Dead consisted of 16 episodes; it premiered on October 13, 2013, and concluded on March 30, 2014. The series is based on the series of comic books of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard; it was developed for television by Frank Darabont and is executive produced by Kirkman, David Alpert, Scott M. Gimple, Greg Nicotero, Tom Luse, and Gale Anne Hurd. Gimple assumed the role of showrunner after Glen Mazzara’s departure at the conclusion of the previous season
Season four introduces the notable comic characters Abraham Ford, Eugene Porter, Rosita Espinosa, Bob Stookey, and Lilly, as well as a modified version of the Chambler family from The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor tie-in novel. The season continues the story of former sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes, who relinquished his leadership in order to live a quiet life in contrast to his cold-hearted nature in the previous season.
Rick and his fellow survivors struggle to maintain their idealistic lifestyle in the prison in the face of threats, including the proliferation of walkers near the prison gates, the outbreak of a contagious and deadly flu-like infection within the prison population, and the spectre of The Governor, whose whereabouts and status are unknown and, unbeknownst to the prison community, is planning his revenge upon meeting a new family and rallying a new army. The second half of the season mainly focuses on the individual groups that escaped from the prison after its downfall, and their efforts to survive as they follow a line of railroad tracks to a supposed safe zone named Terminus.
If we were talking about season three of The Walking Dead we might be talking about a top 10 show or maybe a little higher but we are talking about season 4. In my opinion the worst season of the series. There were good things about season four. The wrapping up of the Governor saga was handled really well. The addition of Bob Stookey, and Abraham Ford was good. The promise of what Terminus could be was interesting. They had some great zombie gags during the season 4 as well.
The reason why I didn’t love The Walking Dead this year as much as the previous three seasons is because I found myself bored more weeks then I was excited. The character development I found to be a little lame and late. And I wanted to see a more compelling storylines. The show had more than enough zombies that was not the problem. It just didn’t grab me like seasons 1 -3 did. I like the season finale more and more as I re watched it which has me looking forward to season five. I just want this show to return to being one of the best television shows out there.
11. Orphan Black (Season 1) BBC
Orphan Black is a Canadian science fiction television series starring Tatiana Maslany as several clones. The show’s 10-episode first season premiered on March 30, 2013 on Space in Canada and on BBC America in the United States. On May 2, 2013, Orphan Black was renewed for a 10-episode second season, which premiered April 19, 2014.
The series begins with con-artist Sarah Manning witnessing the suicide of a woman identical to her. During the first season, Sarah discovers the existence of several identical clones and learns that someone is out to kill them. Alongside her foster brother Felix and fellow clones Alison and Cosima, Sarah tracks their origin back to a scientific movement called Neolution, based on the idea of pushing the limits of human evolution.
Tatiana Maslany has a very difficult job as an actress; she has to play multiple versions of herself in different and distinct ways. For a show like this to be successful the lead actor has to do a great job. Tatiana Maslany is endearing playing all of the different versions of herself. This gag has been done a million times but this show does a very good job pulling it off.
This show is a keeper and I am looking forward to finding out what happens in season two. Although season 2 just began, this review covers the first season. The pace and mood of this series is nice and the supporting cast is very good. Orphan Black mixes Sci-fi, Drama, Action and a little Comedy. It does all of these things very well.
10. Hell on Wheels (Season 3) AMC
Hell on Wheels is an American Western television series about the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad across the United States. The series, which features Colm Meaney, Common, and Dominique McElligott, follows the Union Pacific Railroad and its surveyors, laborers, prostitutes, mercenaries, and others who lived, worked and died in the mobile encampment called “Hell on Wheels” that followed the railhead west across the Great Plains.
In particular, the story focuses on a former Confederate soldier (played by Anson Mount) who, while working as foreman and chief engineer on the railroad, attempts to track down the Union soldiers who murdered his wife and young son during the American Civil War.
The third season of the AMC television series Hell on Wheels aired from August 10 through October 5, 2013, and consists of 10 episodes. The season follows Cullen Bohannon as he abandons seeking revenge for the deaths in his family in order to continue to drive the westward expansion of Union Pacific Railroad, while battling Thomas “Doc” Durant for control. The season’s tagline is: “Outlaw in Charge.”
There has been a lot of great television shows set in the old west. The last one I can think of is the HBO series, Deadwood. Hell on Wheels is a very good show. During season two, the show went through a host of issues, leading to a sometimes confusing and bipolar-like story telling. Season three sets this series back on course.
Anson Mount, who plays the lead, Cullen Bohannon, gives another top notch performance and Common, who plays, Elam Ferguson, is great as well. The combination of new and old characters makes season three very strong. Christopher Heyerdahl as Thor Gundersen also known as “the Swede” has a turn in this season few if any could have seen coming. Season three ends well with several big cliffhangers. If you are in the mood for a good western check out Hell on Wheels you might just like it.
9. The Americans (Season 2) FX
The Americans is an American television period drama series created and produced by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg. The series premiered in the United States on January 30, 2013 on the cable network FX and completed its first season on May 1, 2013. The second season premiered on February 26, 2014.
Set during the Cold War period in the 1980s, The Americans is the story of Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys), two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple living in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. with their unsuspecting children (Holly Taylor and Keidrich Sellati) and their neighbor, Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), an FBI counterintelligence agent.
The series focuses on the personal and professional lives of the Jenningses, sometimes incorporating real-life events into the narrative. The show’s creator has described the series as being ultimately about a marriage. On April 16, 2014, FX renewed the series for a third season consisting of 13 episodes
Season 2: Elizabeth comes back from her injury and straight into what should have been a routine mission – but it goes awry, leaving her and Philip in fear not only for themselves but for their whole network… and family. Paige’s suspicions have only grown in her mother’s absence. Meanwhile, Stan continues to fall for the Russian agent who has started to play him.
Am I UN American because every week I pull for Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys), two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple living in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Well this is what this series is all about. The first season of the show was great, just FX producing another compelling television series but season two keeps the train going. This might be the most underrated show on TV.
Russell and Rhys bring it every episode and Noah Emmerich and Richard Thomas balance out this cast. Season two does a great job of making every moment important. And the complicated nature of the lead actor’s relationship makes for compelling drama. If you have not watched the Americans you should this is a great TV show.
8. Justified (Season 5) FX
The fifth season of the American television drama series Justified premiered on January 7, 2014, on FX, and concluded on April 8, 2014, consisting of 13 episodes. The series was developed by Graham Yost based on Elmore Leonard’s novels Pronto and Riding the Rap and his short story “Fire in the Hole”
Its main character is Raylan Givens, a deputy U.S. Marshal. Timothy Olyphant portrays Givens, a tough federal lawman, enforcing his own brand of justice in his Kentucky hometown. The series is set in the city of Lexington, Kentucky, and the hill country of eastern Kentucky, specifically in and around Harlan. The fifth season focuses on the gator-farming Crowe crime family, led by Darryl Crowe, Jr., played by Michael Rapaport.
Some shows when they come back from a hiatus seem to fit like an old glove this would be the best way to describe the FX series Justified. This is one of the most consistent shows out there. Timothy Olyphant and company do a great job each week of giving you great Action, Drama and Comedy. This might have the best dialogue of any show on TV.
Season five introduces Michael Rapaport who plays by Darryl Crowe, Jr. Despite his comical southern accent Rapport turns in an excellent performance UN like any I’ve seen from him before. Season five has enough good twists and turns making it another great offering. On January 14, 2014, it was announced that Justified was renewed for a sixth season, which is the final season based on a decision by executive producer Graham Yost and lead actor Timothy Olyphant.
7. American Horror Story: The Coven (Season 3) FX
American Horror Story: Coven is the third season of the FX horror anthology television series American Horror Story. It premiered on October 9, 2013, and concluded on January 29, 2014.
Like its predecessors, Coven was met with both mostly positive reviews and strong ratings, with the premiere episode attracting a series high of 5.54 million viewers. As with the previous seasons
A recurring theme on this list is that FX has great programing. American Horror Story: Coven is the third season of the horror anthology television series. I enjoyed the first 2 seasons of AHS and Coven could arguably be its best offering. Who does not like witches? And Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett playing these parts were great fun to watch. The great thing about this show is that each season has a beginning, middle and end. So once the season is over you just move on to the next one. Season four is titled Freak Show so I will be looking forward to watching it.
6. Boardwalk Empire (Season 4) HBO
The fourth season of the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire premiered on September 8, 2013, and concluded on November 24, 2013, consisting of 12 episodes. The series was created by Terence Winter and based on the book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson. Set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition era, the series stars Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (based on the historical Enoch L. Johnson), a political figure who rose to prominence and controlled Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition period of the 1920s and early 1930s. The fourth season takes place in 1924.
The first season of Boardwalk Empire was great; season 2 was very good, season 3 was forgettable except for the performance of actor Bobby Cannavale. So what about season 4? This season was very good; Jeffrey Wright as Dr. Valentin Narcisse made the show must see TV every week. Wright lit up the screen with his performance. And the expanded role for Michael Kenneth Williams (Albert “Chalky” White) added a different layer to the program. Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson is always outstanding and the show maintained all of the production quality that you got from the first three.
I thought the season started and ended well. It was good to see some of our favorites evolve like Richard Harrow, Nelson Van Alden/George Mueller and Elias “Eli” Thompson. On September 26, 2013, HBO renewed Boardwalk Empire for a fifth season. On January 9, 2014, HBO announced it will be the final season.
Part 1 25 – 16 Part 2 15 – 6 Part 3 5 – 1
Just a disclaimer: there are many programs I have not seen. The Shows on my radar: The Blacklist (NBC), Suits (USA), Marvel’s Agents of Shield (ABC), Klondike (Discovery Channel) and much more. If there are shows that you recommend for me to watch please add them in the comment section. All synopsis are gathered from Wikipedia.