If last year’s music left you feeling flat, I wager that its television and film lived up to heightened expectations.
I make no apologies for starting with the final series of Breaking Bad (and if you haven’t caught up with it yet, please skip this paragraph and the next because I’d hate to spoil it for you) because it was by far the best thing on TV. Well, that and the young man on Sky News – see Charlie Brooker’s 2013 Wipe – who simply and calmly spoke for many of us when he said that ‘Margaret Thatcher destroyed my home town, I’m glad she’s dead,’ when most of the other people they spoke to were either too busy rewriting history or crying into the same flags they’d waved with great gusto during the Falklands Crisis/Conflict/Calamity.
I’m still missing Breaking Bad and hoping against hope that there can be one more series, maybe even a single episode, just enough to explain what happened to Jesse and Brock and Walter’s five barrels of money and to reassure us that Jesse was able to make Walter Jr./Flynn forgive at least some of his father’s transgressions, to stop my mind from wondering. The ending was perfect, I bow at the feet of Vince Gilligan for leading his writing team through five series of brilliance, but I’ve so many questions still. There’s another series to be made out of them, surely.
I cannot recall a television series that so transfixed the viewer.
I also doff my cap in reverence to Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, creators and producers of American Horror Story. I didn’t think they could do it a third time, but I’ve enjoyed Coven and Jessica Lange has continued to impress.
There was Hannibal, wonderfully disgusting at times, and the visually stunning Da Vinci’s Demons, both of which I’m looking forward to seeing more of in 2014 (but, yes, would trade for more Breaking Bad).
Of the British offerings, Broadchurch and Southcliffe stood out as typically bleak crime dramas we do so well, as did In the Flesh, which offered a different and rather colour-drained, as most British programmes are, take on flesh-eating zombies for those who had started to tire of the far more colourful (blood red, mostly) The Walking Dead, which, to be fair, did eventually pick up towards the end of the season after a slow start, I thought. Poor Hershel.
Gillian Anderson was excellent in The Fall as the ballsy detective trying to save Belfast from a genuinely scary serial killer, played by the softly-spoken and charming Jamie Dornan.
It will be a very sad day indeed when David Attenborough retires from our screens. I loved the six-part Africa series, the chimpanzee using branches to carefully extract honey from a bees’ nest was one of many highlights, and there could be no finer curator for Natural History Museum Alive, where long-extinct creatures were brought to life thanks to the wizardry of 3D and CGI technology. Having stared up at the (plaster) skeleton of a Diplodocus in the London museum’s vast, cathedral-like foyer so many times, it was wonderful to see it come to life, plod around and stretch up on its hind legs to reach a branch offered by Attenborough from the safety of the steps. My favourite moment, though, had to be the mesmerising flight of Archaeopteryx. Magical.
The fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of JFK resulted in the expected flurry of documentaries, the best of which was the History Channel’s JFK Assassination: The Definitive Guide, a collection of all the conspiracy theories condensed into two hours. It opened with some startling statistics: more than seventy per cent of Americans still do not believe that Kennedy was killed by a lone gunman, as claimed the Warren Commission in 1964. Fascinating viewing even if I did swear early on that, if I saw the shocking and stomach-churning Zapruder film in slow-motion one more time, I’d vomit.
Blackfish enraged, The Act of Killing repulsed, but both were utterly compelling films worthy of all the accolades they have earned.
With so much television, I had little time left for movies. I’ve yet to see the one everyone has been talking about – Gravity – and have quite a list to wait for on DVD or Netflix (Anchorman 2, Fruitvale Station, Mama, The Place Beyond the Pines), but enjoyed Flight, The Impossible, Lincoln, The Possession, Sinister, Taken 2 and World War Z.
I’d love to know what you liked and recommend most from 2013.
If you’re free right now and want to chat about anything, not just last year’s TV and film, the chatroom is open and will be until 6pm (UK). Unless you want to talk about Breaking Bad, that is, in which case closing time will be much, much later. (Anybody know if there’s a desperate and demanding petition for Vince Gilligan I can sign?)