Top 13 of 2013: Television Series & Specials

Orphan Black is a Canadian science fiction series starring Tatiana Maslany. Photo courtesy of

Anshula Rudhraraju, Entertainment Editor

Interspersed with dark humour, sci-fi comedies, and novel dramas, 2013 has been one of the most striking years in television history. Here is a month-to-month look at all of the most memorable programs and seasons aired in the last year.

January: ‘Call the Midwife’


Set in East London, the heart-warming 1950s period drama following the story of midwife Jenny Lee and the nuns of the fictional nursing convent, Nonnatus House, returned at the start of the new year with a fast-paced series opener. Jenny visits Molly Brignall, a meek and relatively passive pregnant woman forced to comply with her abusive husband Ritchie, who is tearing her, day-by-day, farther apart from her elderly mother. Overtly brash Sister Evangelina, played by the well-known Welsh talent Pam Ferris, and Nurse Beatrix Franklin, referred to on-screen as Trixie, attempt to ascent onto a Swedish ship, where they can aid the captain’s daughter birth. The series opener set the mood for the rest of the season which aired throughout the year.

February: 85th Academy Awards (Oscars)


Filled with cheap Hollywood humour, the 85th Academy Awards was certainly a memorable program. Hosted by Emma Stone and Seth McFarlane, the show featured jokes about Abraham Lincoln, Jews, Denzel Washington, and most notably actresses’ breasts. It was also a night for record-breakers. At age nine, the ever confident Quvenzhané Wallis was given the title of youngest nominee for best actress and “Hunger Games” superstar Jennifer Lawrence became the second youngest actress to receive an Oscar for her role in “Silver Linings Playback.”

March: ‘Broadchurch’


I’ve always been a fan of murder and crime shows, especially those produced by BBC. Broadchurch definitely was on par with my expectations. With nuanced acting by Olivia Colman, who plays the role of Ellie Miller, a detective in the small town Broadchurch, the series is a must-watch. The premise of the show is easy to follow. After returning from vacation, Miller finds that the promotion that she was looking forward to was given to an outsider, Alec Hardy (David Tennant). To add to her misery, she then discovers that the body of an eleven-year-old boy who had been murdered was found on the beach. At first glance, the plot line seems relatively simple and even boring, but Broadchurch managed to intertwine guilt, hurt, hatred, suspicion, and even a little humour into a dramatic mini-series.

April: ‘Defiance’


There was certainly some hype in April regarding this now little-known series. The show is set in 2046, in a world where Earth has been radically transformed and radically is an understatement. Defiance is a city-state community where aliens and humans coexist. There are new unfamiliar creatures roaming the planet. The show had a strong basis with two likeable main protagonists, Nola and his adopted daughter, but there were too many internal contradictions within the main plotline.

May: ‘The Office’


Although “The Office Finale” is technically not a new series or special program, it’s definitely worth mentioning. The bitter sweet ending of an age-old series served as a nostalgic reminder of all the seasons past. Dwight and Angela tied the knot despite the ongoing mayhem and as typical of every series finale, we got to see the characters move along in their journey past the office hours.

June: ‘Dexter’


We didn’t know how the show would come to a close but the start of the highly anticipated final season of Dexter aired at the end of June. The show picked up right where the previous season left off – Debra had just killed a Miami police officer to prevent her brother, blood splatter analyst by day and serial killer come night, Dexter, from being arrested.

July: ‘Orange is the New Black’

Netflix Original

“Orange is the New Black” is a comedy-come-drama Netflix original series. Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) is a law-abiding NYC resident who is incarcerated for a crime that she had committed ten years earlier. The story follows Chapman’s experiences in prison. “Orange is the New Black” is looking forward to its second season come the new year.

August: ‘2013 MTV Video Music Awards’

At the end of this programme, I had learned a new word – twerking. Not something that I ever wanted to add to my vocabulary. The show itself was like any other awards ceremony, but child star gone wild Miley Cyrus made this show one of the most talked about television events of 2013.

September: ‘Breaking Bad’ Pilot

Netflix Original

In this Netflix original series, Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a high school chemistry teacher who has been diagnosed with lung cancer takes a walk over to the dark side. In order to ensure stability for his family, White, along his former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) begin working on the production and distribution of methamphetamine. The series garnered many awards and was one of the first web series to receive an Emmy.

October: ‘100 Women’


A group of 100 women from around the world gathered in London for a day of debate at BBC’s broadcasting house. Most of the women were household names in their respective countries; they included politicians, actors, and leaders of business and technology. The event however was a chance for those who aren’t victims of the paparazzi to engage in an intellectual day long discussion alongside well known celebrities in a one-of-a-kind, day long televised event.

November: ‘Doctor Who’ 50th anniversary special


A splash of Elizabethan history, the return of Billie Piper, Zygons, a plot-driving Fez, three Doctors interacting side-by-side, and an average of 10.2 million views for the simulcast. Enough said.

December: ‘Mrs. Brown’s boy’s’ Christmas special


It’s a weird thing when a foul-mouthed vegetable trader brings in more views than a time travelling time lord who is about to regenerate into the form of Scottish actor Peter Capaldi. But it happened. Mrs. Brown’s boys, a small-budget Irish television show, somehow managed to have an astonishing number of 9.4 million views on Christmas day, making it well-worthy of the December honourable mention.

Best Debut Series of 2013: ‘Orphan Black’

BBC America

I have to say that “Orphan Black” is the best debut series of the year. It is a thought-provoking Canadian science fiction television series starring unknown actress Tatiana Maslany. I have to give credit to Maslany for outstanding acting, one of the many highlights of the show. The series has a creative plot – Sarah Manning, a con artist, assumes the identity of Elizabeth Childs, a suicide victim. Childs is later revealed to be a clone of Manning, who is able to successfully play out several starkly contrasting personas while retaining the identity of the original Manning in each one.