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Friday, December 27, 2013

Best and Worst of 2013 - The Television Portion

All right! We're just a few days away from saying goodbye to the year 2013, and this week, I've got a special treat for you!

You know how in most cases, I have brought up pop culture references from the past? In some cases, I've gone so far back through the history books that many of you were not born yet when the event took place.

(Case in point...the oldest year that I have ever done in a Tuesday Timeline entry was 1888!)

Well, since the year 2013 is almost at a close, I thought...why don't I do a retrospective list of the year gone by? Why don't I make a list of all the best of 2013 moments, and the worst of 2013 moments (which of course is subjective, as these are merely just my opinions and may not necessarily match yours), and celebrate this past year in style?

Now, granted, 2013 was a rather weird year in the world of pop culture. We've had everything from wacky celebrity marriages, to celebrity Twitter meltdowns, to sudden celebrity deaths, and we quickly learned what “twerking” really was. As I said, it's been an interesting year.

And, on this...the first day of this retrospective of 2013, we'll be taking a look back at some of the television moments that really defined the year 2013. We'll take a look at the good, the bad, and the downright ugly that took place over the course of this year, and to begin with, let's take a look at how some shows concluded. After all, in 2013, we said goodbye to quite a few shows.


This series is probably one of the most watched and most talked about series of the entire decade, and certainly the team of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul made the show very watchable.  When the show first began in 2008, you really felt for Walter White, who was a high school chemistry teacher who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and had no way to pay the bills or secure his family's future.  So, he did the only thing he could do...he teamed up with his former student, Jesse Pinkman to create his own meth lab, cooking and selling it for extra cash to make sure that his family was well taken care of.  It involved a lot of crime, a lot of passion, a lot of deception, and a lot of scenes with Bryan Cranston in his underwear.

Of course, we all knew that Walter White's life of crime would come to a grotesque and tragic end.  What we didn't know was that it wouldn't be the cancer that killed Walter White, but a fatal gunshot wound after a clash with a neo-Nazi gang who kidnapped Jesse and left Walter with only a fraction of the earnings he made while making a living as a drug dealer and manufacturer.

It was a truly tragic end for a character who only wanted to ensure that his family was well taken care of after he was gone.  And the series finale could be considered one of the finest series finales of all time.


If only the series finale of Dexter only ended in such a fashion.  When the eighth and final season of Dexter concluded, it made lots of people feel as though they had been cheated.

As everyone knows, Dexter is someone who has an unhealthy fascination with blood and who possessed unhealthy homicidal tendencies.  He worked as a blood splatter analyst for the police department in his day job, and by night, he goes out and murders people who have committed unspeakable crimes against humanity.  I guess you could call him an angel of up the streets of Miami by murdering those who caused the most damage.  The very definition of irony, don't you think?

Anyway, the television series "Dexter" did very well in the ratings early in its run, and it eventually saw itself getting renewed year after year with compelling storylines and great character development.  But when it was announced that the eighth season would be its last, everyone expected an ending that would have been explosive.  And to the credit of the writers of the final episode, it started off that way.  With Dexter's sister suffering a stroke which has left her in a vegetative state, Dexter being forced to abandon his girlfriend and child, and him seeking out to kill the man responsible for shooting his sister, which caused her to go into the vegetative state, Dexter comes to the conclusion that all he does is hurt people, and therefore can't live the happy life he wants.  So, he pulls the plug on his sister, murders the man responsible for her death in prison, and sets out on a boat in the middle of a storm to kill himself.

So, imagine our shock when we not only learn that Dexter is not only alive, but working as a LUMBERJACK of all things!  I mean, I suppose I understand that Dexter was living a life of solitude - something that he actually craved - but come on!  Had the show left the last scene as Dexter heading out to sea, it would have made more of an impact.  That extra lumberjack scene ruined the whole finale, as far as I'm concerned.


In 2011 and 2012 respectively, ABC cancelled both All My Children and One Life To Live - two shows that aired for well over forty years - to replace them with a cooking show starring Mario Batali and the guy from What Not To Wear and a talk show hosted by Katie Couric.  In 2013, production company Prospect Park resurrected both shows for an online audience, which made soap fans rejoice.  And for what it was worth, many of the cast members returned, having high hopes for the shows online.

Unfortunately, in-fighting and lawsuits within Prospect Park productions caused both shows to be cancelled yet again in late 2013.  And, needless to say, if I were part of the cast and crew of either show, I would be absolutely pissed off.


In December 2013, The Young and the Restless reached a major milestone.  Since 1988, the daytime serial has been the #1 daytime drama, watched by more people than any other soap opera.  Congratulations on being #1 for 25 years!

Although, given that as of 2013, four soap operas remain from the twelve that were on the air when Y&R first hit the top of the ratings heap, I suppose it's not really that big of a deal.  

Though, on a sad note, the show lost a great talent in Jeanne Cooper, who played the role of Katherine Chancellor for thirty-nine of the show's forty year history.  She passed away on May 8, 2013.


It's been a tumultuous year for reality television as several judges left their posts to be replaced by other people.

I guess one of the shows that really didn't see much backlash was "The Voice".  Arguably the best talent show on the air these days, fans seemed to accept Shakira and Usher as suitable replacements for Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo Green.  Even though Aguilera and Green returned for the following season, I think that the new judges really worked well together.  I suppose it also proves that Blake Shelton and Adam Levine have chemistry with just about anybody.

Which is certainly more than I can say for the train-wreck known as American Idol.  I don't know which producer thought that putting Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey together in the same room was a good idea, but the infighting between the two overshadowed the actual talent competition, which was a waste.  We can only hope that Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick Jr. can breathe new life into an aging, stale show.

As for the X-Factor, I'm kind of happy that Demi Lovato stayed and Britney Spears left.  Did anyone really understand her ramblings?


Once upon a time, in 1968, a television show debuted which was called Hawaii Five-0.  Sometime during that series' sixth season, in 1973, the episode "Hookman" aired, which featured a man who was killing off members of the Honolulu Police Department because he blamed them for the loss of his hands.  Flash forward 40 years later, and the current reboot of Hawaii Five-0 re-enacted the script word for word using the new actors of the series.  It was an interesting look back through history to redo a script from the original series and put a modern twist to it.  It seemed to work out well, as Hawaii Five-0 still receives huge ratings.

(CONFESSION:  I admit that when I heard that they were remaking Hawaii Five-0, I didn't think it would last.  I'm happy to admit that I was wrong.  It's actually a decent show.)


One of the most frustrating things about the show How I Met Your Mother was the fact that we were in season eight, and we still had no idea who Ted married.  And, by the time the eighth season finale aired in May 2013, people were starting to not care.

And then we finally met the girl with the yellow umbrella (no relation to the man with the yellow hat from Curious George).  Played by Christin Milioti, she was just simply credited as the "girl with the yellow umbrella" in the credits.  When the show announced that the ninth season would be its last, it was decided that Christin would join the cast as a regular for the last season, which depicts how Ted ends up proposing to the woman who would become his future wife.

The funniest thing?  We still don't know her name as of December 2013.  She's just known as "The Mother"!


You really think that the diagnosis of leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (a.k.a. a rare form of brain cancer) was going to stop television actress Valerie Harper from living?  Hardly.  The inspirational story of Harper - who has so far outlived the three months to live diagnosis that she was originally given in the spring of 2013 - showed that she still had some fight in her from appearing on an episode of "Hot in Cleveland" to participating on the latest season of "Dancing With The Stars", Valerie Harper has shown all of us that she is a fighter, and we all respected and loved her for her bravery and honesty regarding everything that she was going through.


On the flipside, Paula Deen ended up losing her contract with The Food Network after uttering some not so kind racial slurs in the presence of her employees.  Even though these events took place some time before, I do understand why The Food Network let her go.  After all, the Food Network is a business, and if someone is representing the business in a negative fashion, then the business has every right to distance themselves from controversy.

Just as A&E has done with the recent Duck Dynasty scandal after Phil Robertson was suspended from the series for uttering controversial statements about homosexuality.  Again, I do understand that people have the right to free speech, and that's all that Deen and Robertson were doing...but regardless, it doesn't make the comments that they said acceptable.  Even though I don't support what they said, I certainly won't get mad with people if they decide to continue watching Duck Dynasty while cooking with Paula Deen cookbooks.  


Family Guy caused a huge outcry recently when it aired an episode in which Brian got hit by a car and died of his injuries.  Many fans thought that the show had jumped the shark, and many more refused to watch it.  Even I talked about the event in this very blog!

But just because Brian died...didn't mean he stayed dead.  And, just a few weeks later, Brian was brought back to the show, courtesy of Stewie's time machine.  And, all was well.  I certainly hope that guy who got the R.I.P. Brian tattoo didn't feel too silly.


Although The Simpsons still has yet to address the future of Mrs. Krabappel, the world was saddened to hear of the death of Marcia Wallace a few weeks ago.  And, to honour Wallace's memory...this simple, heartwarming blackboard gag.


Finally, I don't think there was a dry eye in the house when Matt Smith (The Eleventh Doctor) left the series and regenerated into Peter Capaldi on Christmas Day, 2013.  

On that note, can you believe that Doctor Who just celebrated its fiftieth anniversary this past year?  That's a lot of TARDIS-travelling and Daleks!

So, that wraps up our look back on 2013 in television.  Coming up tomorrow, we take a look at the world of toys and games.  Which were the top toys of 2013?  What video games smashed records all over the world?  And, just how much did people want a PlayStation 4 or XBOX One?

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