2013: TV and film

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?)

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

41 thoughts on “2013: TV and film”

  1. … nothing to recommend here. Regarding serials, I’m stuck viewing the Simpsons with my children, doh! 😀

    No movies that motivated me to take the car, drive to a cinema and buy a ticket, last year, or actually since many years. I bought “Bullit” as Bluray, though…

    Cheers,

    Taki

    1. You know, I haven’t seen the Simpsons in ages. I wonder what will happen to Mrs Krabappel now that the actress who gave her her voice, Marcia Wallace, has died.

  2. Huge Breaking Bad fan! Will soon watch it all over again, but this time around I will mute the volume and play DSotM/WYWH/Animals/Wall in a loop. The best of both worlds!

  3. Happy new year to you Fed.

    I spend most of my time on my liddle computer. I love YouTube, the stuff you can find and watch are amazing, I love all things super natural and UFO things and conspiracy, I’ve been watching all things ghosts and afterlife. It’s such a powerful tool, YouTube, love it.

    But I do love Game of Thrones, fantastic. Kat and I are glued but we watch the DVDs and watch about 3 episodes at a time.

    Our favorite crime drama is the Mentalist, we like watching a Poroit, love the art deco. Oh and BID TV makes us laugh when a man called Peter Simon comes on selling absolute tat. He’s normally on about 10pm, he thinks he’s Les Dawson.

    There is a new American show based on the UK 70s series, remember The Tomorrow People?

    Finally I’m auditioning next Thursday for a new ITV general knowledge TV show, LOL, so you might see me on TV. Fame at last. LOL.

    Kind regards
    Damian

    PS Did I mention went to see Simple minds and Ultrovox? Very good.

    1. Good luck at the audition, mate.

      I do remember The Tomorrow People, both the 1970s and 1990s versions. I wonder which the US version will be most like.

      I also heard that the “vulgar, outdated and unfunny” Mrs Brown’s Boys is heading to the US. Love that. There are issues over the swearing, though. I find that odd, considering some of the language, not to mention sex and violence, in the US series I mentioned above.

  4. “Breaking Bad” is a series that will be virtually impossible to surpass. All along I feared that it would go down with a whimper a la “The X Files”, and I was greatly relieved to find that my fears were baseless. Kudos to Gilligan et al. Cranston has now been elevated to top of the A List, I’m sure.

    Something that might amuse you: Vince Gilligan comes from Richmond VA, where I lived for nineteen years. During the late 90s and early 00s I attended Virginia Commonwealth University as an engineering student. At the time it was required to stop at the guard’s desk and sign in if you were entering the building after 5pm, which annoyed me if I stayed late to work with my fellow students. So my small act of rebellion was to sign in as Heisenberg and list my location as “?”. I did that through my entire time there.

    Did Gilligan somehow hear of this and find it amusing? Did he remember it years later when writing for a new TV series about a science/engineering nerd? I doubt that I will ever know for certain, but I still claim to be the original Heisenberg.

    (Well, except for the physicist, obviously…)

    1. :)) Great story, Paul. You need to get a Heisenberg hat now.

      I had my doubts about watching the final season, thinking it might be best to just leave it where the fourth season had ended. But wow, what a final season. The whole thing’s been a real breath of fresh air with so many similar crime dramas on TV these days.

  5. Breaking Bad has passed me by completely .. I tend to pick up these series on DVD well after they air, so maybe I’ll get back to you in 2015! Not decided if I can be bothered yet with Homeland 3 on that basis.

    I tend to restrict my viewing to documentaries, sports (free to air!) current affairs and comedy (sorry, don’t classify Mrs Brown’s Boys as any of those).

    It’s that time of year when I try and get to see the main Oscar / BAFTA contender movies. Would heartily recommend “Philomenia”, “Gravity”, “All is Lost” (all intelligent, well made, captivating) and hoping to catch “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle” soon …

    Thinking back to 2013 Oscar season I thoroughly enjoyed “Tinker Tailor…”, “Les Mis…” and “Life of Pi”. Thought “Lincoln” dragged a bit and “Django Unchained” got rather lost in QT’s ‘Australian’ accent (come back Dick Van Dyke, all is forgiven). The Hobbit was just one unlikely sword fight too many for me.

    The Movie on a big screen remains the medium most likely to move me (well, until David’s next multi-platform DVD launch of course). Roll on 2014.

  6. Both House of Cards and Orange is the New Black are currently at the top of my watch list.

    I saw Blackfish too. It will take much longer to post my feelings on this as it is more soul stirring than most programming, but suffice it to say, most industries suffer from some form of human neglect.

    As my beautiful partner Erin says, “humans can’t even treat each other humanely, what makes us think other species will be better off in our care?”

  7. I loved that Eagles documentary. I’ve watched it too many times to want to tell you. I love how the main verse and chorus of a song is played in its entirety along with maybe a little of the solo. I think more music documentaries should completely play the main parts of a song like that, it adds a more thorough dimension to the story being told because that’s pretty much the whole song right there.

    Some observations:

    -Did anyone else notice the SAME GIRL dancing in the audience on both the California Jam and Capital Centre videos?
    -Bernie Leadon talks like a valley girl.
    -Glenn Frey’s southern accent that he somehow picked up briefly in the 70s. It’s most apparent when he’s arguing on stage with Don Felder.
    -They’ve all aged good and don’t seem like ‘old’ guys. Joe was the biggest longshot for aging gracefully but he looks like he’s in his 30s! He also sounds more drunk now than he was in his junkie years.

    For as much of a greedy jerk as Glenn Frey might seem I don’t necessarily think he’s a bad guy. When you’re a big band like that there are people constantly trying to drain you of your earnings. I think he’s just trying to keep the upper hand in his business dealings based on his experience in the industry.

    Sound City was also pretty good. Every single song clip that is played will stick in your head for days. I wish there was more of the 70s, I didn’t want that section to end.

    The music, the stories, and the pictures/video really create a mood that seems to exist in all of those albums featured in the film. When I hear one of those songs on the radio now I could easily spot that distinctive Sound City vibe.

    Didn’t see any movies or watch any of the current TV shows last year, only stuff I caught late night on TV. I had a very memorable David Lynch binge earlier last year around this time and I really couldn’t be bothered to be interested in much else! After watching Twin Peaks over the course of a month how could anything be nearly as interesting?

    1. Did anyone else notice the SAME GIRL dancing in the audience on both the California Jam and Capital Centre videos?

      I loved that film, Vinnie. I’m going to check this. It’ll be the fourth time I’ve watched it but, hey, it’s the Eagles, right?

      Definitely one of the finer music documentaries. I liked the last Rolling Stones one, too. Can’t remember the name of it, but it was recent audio-only interview footage over some great video.

  8. Breaking Bad … thank you for the warning Fed, I avoided reading what you said because I haven’t seen season five yet (gleeful, slightly evil chuckling because I still have it to look forwad to). I think I’ll have to watch all of the series again actually.

    Fed said, “I cannot recall a television series that so transfixed the viewer.” I felt that!

    I got access to all five series when I was on holiday (for a week). I watched four seasons before it was time to go home!! I decided to get Netflix so I could see the last series. I haven’t done it yet.

    I had resolved to spend time on the beach with a book and a bottle of wine, to learn how to snorkel and do lots of it, to sunbathe a little, to do some of the daft tourist stuff. Instead I got hooked on a TV series! (I would make a joke about it being crack cocaine TV, instantly addictive, but that would be such a groaner. :)) )

    ash

  9. I am a lifelong Dr Who fan, (who isn’t? stand up and be beaten into submission and forced to watch), so if I can’t find anything on TV, there’s usually an episode on somewhere.

    My other favourite default channel is EDEN. David Attenborough, Fed said it all. I didn’t catch all of the Africa series. (My life isn’t my own. 🙁 )

    I don’t know if Silent Witness counts, a new series is showing now and I think it started in late, very late 2013!

    I have been a fan of The Walking Dead too Fed! I kept losing track of it though because it wasn’t always shown on the channels I recieve from Virgin, however, I discovered that we were now getting Fox and I catch it there now and then. Honestly, with so many channels (got more than 13 channels of shit on the TV to choose from), I can’t keep track of what’s on where! Yes, poor Hershel. I love all the blood, guts and gore too. :)) It must be great fun being a zombie (for the actors/extras).

    Films, I saw the Desolation of Smaug recently. If you enjoyed the book, you won’t be disappointed. I sometimes feel that some films don’t depict the book well enough, this film is very well done. I loved it and Smaug was fantastic.

    I saw Gravity, I look forward to talking to you about it once you’ve seen it Fed. Don’t want to spoil it or anything for you.

    I saw Dr Who, the 50th anniversary special, at the cinema. It was GREAT! I wish the cinemas had been selling merchandise, T-shirts, board games, key rings because I would have bought them!

    I’m sure I saw other films but can’t remember. . . I’m hopeless with titles. I do remember I wanted to see World War Z that you mentioned Fed. Everyone seems to be talking about Hunger Games so maybe I’ll try to catch up on that. I want to see The Wolf of Wall Street.

    Can’t think of anything else right now. 🙂 Will come back to you. . .

    ash

    1. I finished Breaking Bad now. 😀

      Did anyone else have to seek out a copy of the periodic table to get the names of the elements seen in the opening credits? Here is one.

      A small quiz for nutters like me. What does the following spell out?

      Phosphorus, iodine, nitrogen, potassium, flerovium, oxygen, yttrium, deuterium. :))

      ash (you have to be drunk on cheap local holiday wine probably, to get the best out of it)

  10. Just remembered another excellent nature series from 2013: the Discovery Channel’s North America. Absolutely stunning camera work in gorgeous landscapes and real hand-over-the-mouth moments, such as the mustangs fighting. Other memorable moments from the series include the young black bears learning to climb trees and the jumping spider trying to impress his mate with a dance and then a song. (Fortunately he did impress, or else he’d have been eaten.)

  11. Always try and catch the nature documentaries…new one tonight on Brazil. BBC4 on a Friday night with all the rock documentaries (including The Delicate sound of Thunder)…saw The Doors Making of LA Woman that was fascinating…Ray Manzarak a sad loss as he was so keen and enthusiastic and really enjoyed sharing his stories.

    On the film front Argo was very good, Lincoln very dry but Daniel Day Lewis played the role very well, also caught The Great Gatsby with Leonardo Di Caprio found it watchable if not OTT in parts but wouldn’t like to say how it stood up against the original.

    Happy New Year (belatedly) to all.

    Best wishes
    Heather

  12. Looks like I missed out on a whole bunch of good stuff but I did get to see The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug … a) because I’m a die-hard fan and, b) it was mandatory viewing for my teenager who had to read The Hobbit for school (mind you, it’s only the umpteenth time he’s read my oh so dog-eared, falling apart, taped together, stained with age copy. :)) Just a bit irritated that I have to wait for a year between instalments when I know full well that Peter Jackson could do it justice in just one viewing albeit a long one.

    I really wanted to see What Maisie Knew, Epic, Frozen, Blue Jasmine, Ender’s Game and The Book Thief (the trailer/preview was a little too pristine based upon my interpretation of the book). They’ll all be out on DVD soon enough (ugh, more to add to that ever-increasing list). Heard Gravity lacked a decent story-line but that the cinematography and effects were incredible – I’ll wait for it to make it to Netflix or TV.

    Watched the documentary Hear My Train A Comin’ … some new footage I hadn’t seen before and Jimi can do no wrong in my book.

    Started watching Breaking Bad on Netflix over the weekend – five episodes in and I’m hooked! I don’t know where it is going but surely there can be no happy ending here! I rarely, if ever, watch anything during the week which might explain why I missed it. I finished my fourth season of Boardwalk Empire and learned a few days ago that Season 5 will be its last 🙁 – starting in September 2014. We finally worked our way through all 80 episodes of The Dead Zone … okay as a series goes and something mindless to watch when not in the mood for anything too earth-shattering or mentally stimulating (only 6 years behind on that one!) Have caught one or two episode of Game of Thrones – looks fantastic, is on the wish list and one day, perhaps one day, I’ll watch the 60 episodes and catch up enough to start Season 4 … possible but unlikely. Someone mentioned a series called Castle which I had never heard of – a little crime, a little drama … I shouldn’t prejudge but from pictures I’ve seen, it seems too “staged” … will give it a miss for now.

    A lot of old movies on Netflix – some horror, some suspense and a few duds, a few old episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender that my son and I had missed some years ago … a really wonderful series it was as well.

    This is all I can remember at the moment. 😉

  13. It was never my intention to ever share this although The Blog is the only place I can imagine my moment of bliss would ever be understood and appreciated. I got to thinking about how very special memories can ‘die’ off with the passing of the biological clock and that ‘throwing it out’ into the great digital universe would somehow keep it ‘alive’.

    My son has listened to every imaginable genre of music – especially Pink Floyd – since he was born and in utero as well (assuming the experts are correct). I’ve always wondered why he doesn’t outwardly share the same ‘passion’ his dad and I have for it despite enjoying it ‘well enough’ … perhaps when you’re around music all the time it is an expectation and one becomes a bit complacent … I don’t know.

    Driving home from a 70s-themed New Year’s party, and well after the ‘bewitching’ hour, just about a minute away from home, the radio channel that had been humming with music in the background segued into Brain Damage. Instinctively I upped the volume, and turning into our parking area, my 15-year old quietly suggested we stay in the car until it was over. Not another word was said and there we sat for the remaining two and some minutes. I’ll never know whether it was because my son understood how important it was to me that the music not be interrupted or whether he had had an epiphany of his own but the written word can never do justice to describe that tiny segment in time which was just sheer magic!

    1. I hear ya Pavlov. I once drove around the neighbourhood just to listen to a gold brick before home. “Wearing the Inside Out” recently. Brought tears to my eyes thinking about Richard, love that song and got to hear it live on the last tour.

    2. I feel like a kid making an excuse to my teacher for not doing my homework. . . .

      I was going to start on series 5 last night, I had time from 6pm onwards. However, there is a huge shaggy dog story about how I had to give in and watch it on my laptop instead of my preferred TV, this meant I had to buy decent headphones because the awful ones I bought for Skype, which incidentally I never did use, were no good and too uncomfortable for maybe five hours of viewing. Hoping I have sufficient stamina, aside.

      I found some that appeared to be quite good at Richer Sounds online so rang and reserved, went off and bought them, went to M&S for food, came home and cooked sat down to watch. Hmmm.

      Now, I’ve never used headphones. I always had to be able to hear the children and sounds around me, there’s another shaggy dog story about why it lasted 33 years or so (don’t ask).

      Anyway, I tried the headphones, comfortable fit, yes, tried some music. . . . spent the entire evening listening to music!

      I heard things I hadn’t heard before, now I’ll want to listen to everything again!

      BUT, I’ll do Breeaking Bad first, I promise.

      I know there are lots of questions unanswered, why no speakers for the laptop, what happened to the TV, 33 years? I didn’t mention it before but I have several completely useless cables and interconnects now, from three different shops and of course, I’ve lost the receipts.

      I just wanted you to know, I have made efforts but been thwarted.

      I don’t want the Virgin service at the same price Netflix offers, because it meant I have to upgrade my subscription and pay an additional monthly fee for their new box. Why do that when I can get Netflix on the internet for one fee? This is the point where it all went bonkers because the TV didn’t have the correct port.

      I leave you all to imagine the rest. . . it involved lots of effort, I shall never go on holiday again with those people. . .

      ash

    3. Understood and appreciated Pavlov? … ooh I’ve got goosebumps where I don’t even have a goose …

  14. To be truthful, we haven’t seen Breaking Bad, everyone says it’s wonderful and all. I can’t think of watching all 3 or so years to catch up. So pray tell, what happened? LOL.

    We love the new Sherlock Series from U.K. What an intensive character. I believe it’s year 3 now also? That would be something I’d watch from the beginning instead.

    Happy New Year Fed!

  15. Don’t tell him yet !!! I’m still trying to watch Breaking bad series 5! 16 episodes?

    Series 1 to 4 had 16 episodes, I think. My square eyes watched (assuming it was 16 episodes), 16 x 4 = 64 episodes over a week’s, 7 days’, holiday! Can’t believe we did 64 hours of TV in such a short space of time, on holiday too!

    You have to try it Frank, it is so good. I’ve been enjoying Sherlock too (two?). I’ve just seen all 3 episodes of the new series, although each episode is 90 minutes long so we’re not really being robbed. 🙂 They could have split each of the 3 into 3 so it would have lasted 9 weeks.

    It so happens that one of the TV channels in UK is also showing season 1 and 2 of Sherlock so it’s been good to get refreshers. 🙂

    ash

    PS, I haven’t been watching Sherlock at the expense of Breaking Bad, Fed and Pavlov. :))

  16. Shame on you Sochi. What an easy, cruel, horrible way of dealing with the problem. Where are the shelters for stray dogs that you promised to build last year? Too expensive? Well, you have money, I read that the Sochi Winter Olympics will cost Russia over $50 billion…

    Now, why not apply such a method of extermination to get rid of all your corrupt, oppressive politicians and businessmen? 😉

    1. They’ll no doubt be inundated with cats, squirrels, rats. . . once they get rid of the dogs.

      When I was at school our lower school history was about the middle ages and Russia from just before the revolution. I loved it. I admired the people for what they’d come through and their meteoric rise from a country still in the middle ages, to one every bit a part of the 20th century. I wanted to visit and to learn the language. It looks like a wonderful country to me with wonderful sights to see, both natural and man made.

      I never did go to visit but I think I’d be too frightened go to now because of all the corruption, crime, oppression.

      ash

      1. Absolutely disgraceful and unforgivable, exterminating stray cats and dogs when they should instead be neutering and rehoming them (as we all should).

        I hope the Olympics is a complete shambles. I won’t be watching any of it.

    2. Well if Russia hoped to get any kind of credibility boost out of these (expensive) games, it will only be amongst cretins. (Unfortunately there’s plenty of them out there.)

      Still, that’s what happens when you privatise the KGB ….

  17. I know this doesn’t qualify for a film from the last year but I only saw it a few nights ago and wanted to tell anyone who hasn’t seen it, how good it is and how much I enjoyed it.

    If you like science fiction, I think you’ll like Inception from 2010.

    My daughter and I watched it and it really is edge of the seat stuff. Make sure you’ve been to the loo, got any drinks and snacks around you, be prepared so you can watch uninterrupted.

    We both agreed it was the best movie we’ve seen in ages. It has an unbelievably good concept, but don’t miss a minute of it or you’ll lose track.

    I can highly recommend it. 🙂

    ash

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