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Top 5 Televison Deaths of 2013

Top 5 Televison Deaths of 2013

People die in television shows all the time and it really hits home for some of them. These are my choices for the top five deaths that we saw onscreen in 2013. Reminder, some of these are spoilers so please bear with me. You’ve been warned. These are also in no particular order, just the ones that hit me the hardest from shows I watch. I’m going to try and limit there for one per series.   #5 – Robb Stark (Game Of Thrones) I didn’t know about the Red Wedding and what I was going to expect, even though things leading up to the death seemed to going a little too well. This entire scene was one of the most difficult television experiences I’ve had, and struggled getting through the scene. Now with the recent Purple Wedding happening in the show it just makes me wonder if people in Game Of Thrones should stop getting married. It doesn’t end well. Plus, I imagine being stabbed in the heart like that after watching your wife and unborn child get murdered would be quite welcomed.   #4 – Tommy Merlyn (Arrow) I’ve just started watching Arrow and since this death occurred in 2013 I can lump it in this list. These sort of deaths really hit home. Killed by falling debris while trying to save Laurel Lance, his buddy Oliver (The Arrow/Green Arrow) arrives too late and witnesses his best friend die. This death changes something in Oliver and decides that he doesn’t need to kill people to deliver justice, and changes his ways of dealing with criminals to honor Tommy’s memory. That’s a nice little sentiment, but I wonder if Tommy is truly dead. It seems like people don’t stay dead on this show. Then again, his is a probably permanent death. I feel like a “revival” would ruin the whole character development going on with Oliver right now. That being said, I’ve just started Season 2 so we’ll see. #3 – Hershel Greene (The Walking Dead) A death I knew had to happen sometime as it seemed like he was the only link to the “old world” and it’s a really pivotal death in terms of some character development. His story was done, and it was only a matter of time before Hershel bit the bullet. Decapitated by the Governor, but it confuses me on how a decapitated head can reanimate. That being said, his death is really the only one that has affected me in the show. I’ve slowly been getting a little tired of the show and feeling like it’s becoming stale. Season 4 didn’t exactly fix those things for me. We’ll see what happens in the next season. #2 – Kevin Tran (Supernatural) It’s been shown that in Supernatural, anyone who gets close to the Winchesters usually ends up in a bad spot. I was totally blown away by Kevin being killed off, but it sort of makes sense in a way, right? I can’t figure out if his death was to make the plot move forward, or they couldn’t figure out much more to write in terms of Kevin. Either way his death was pretty brutal, especially for being a kid. I really hope Dean gets his revenge on Gadreel for killing Kevin while possessing Sam. I hate Gadreel. #1 – Walter White (Breaking Bad) Speculation was crazy in the last few episodes of Breaking Bad, and that was mainly who was going to make it to the end. Most people believed that Jesse was going to be killed off by either the Nazi-dudes or by Walter White himself, but in a wonderful final few moments in the series we see Walter decimate the Nazi group with a machine gun controlled by remote control, and then execute Jack in a similar manner to how Jack killed Hank. Walter saved Jesse, and it’s a moment I had wanted for the entire show’s run. Jesse deserved redemption and I like to believe that’s what he got. Walter walking through the meth-lab at the end of the episode and dying at peace from a self-inflicted gunshot wound was a very interesting, and probably the best way to end the series. The only person who could stop Walter was himself, and he died seemingly happy....

Why I’m Excited For Jurassic World

Why I’m Excited For Jurassic World

I’ve been a fan of Jurassic Park ever since seeing the first film back when I was a young child, and developing my love for dinosaurs. I always thought it was incredible and also a terrifying journey and have watched the first film/read the first book numerous times as not only is it my favorite film of all time, but also my favorite novel. It told a very unique, and captivating story. What if dinosaurs were around the same time as man? What if a group of people cloned dinosaurs and made a theme park? The novel/film told these stories brilliantly and to this day the film still holds the test of time, 20 years later. There was also a second film made based around the second novel in the series, The Lost World. Sure, the sequel may not have been as good as the previous film in the series but it took us on an even more terrifying journey to a dense jungle setting, and made the Raptors seem like more of a dangerous foe (yes, I’m talking about the tall grass scene). This film also made me terrified when I was younger when the Rex’s are pushing the trailer off the edge of the cliff. Lots of goodies in this second film, and lots more carnage. Seriously, the tall grass scene was brilliant. And seeing a T-Rex loose in San Diego was pretty sweet. Imagine a bunch of dinosaurs on the mainland attacking our cities? It would be juicy. Then much to my interest, a third film was spawned even though we had only two novels written before Michael Crichton passed away in 2008 at the age of 66. The third film released in 2001, and to this date is my least favorite of the Jurassic films. The first two films I’ve watched numerous times, probably close to the hundreds, and the third one has been about 5, or 6 times. I just can’t really enjoy it as much as the other two, even though it still captures that JP feel. I think my main concern for this film was replacing the T-Rex with the Spinosaurus. I understand that freshening things up is always good, but for some reason the new “big-dino” didn’t appeal to me too much, and didn’t seem as memorable as the Rex. However, that bit with the satellite phone was a neat idea. However, I do have to praise the third film quite a bit for one thing in particular. They took the Raptors that were so menacing in the first two films, and made them extremely intelligent, and just more terrifying than they were before. Kudos. And now, after finally leaving development hell we have confirmation of a fourth installment in the franchise being made, and rumored to hit theaters sometime next year. The fourth film, Jurassic World doesn’t have much information to go on, but has numerous plot-lines rumored to be attached to it. It will also take place 22 years after the first film, and is being directed by Colin Trevorrow with a June 12, 2015 release date. The most worrying being the “domesticated” dinosaurs who were going to be trained to fight in the military. I actually always thought this was just a rumor, and I believe it was shot down pretty quickly. I think I can speak for everyone that we’re glad this won’t be seeing the light of day. I hope. Bryce Dallas Howard, and Chris Pratt have been confirmed for the film. Now, this could just be silly “coincidences” but I seem to be leaning towards Bryce playing a a now adult, Lex Murphy or going from the red-hair maybe she’ll be portraying a love-child between Ian Malcolm and Sarah Harding? It could be unique to see what’s revealed over the coming months. I for one would love to see a return of Ian Malcom, but we’ll have to wait and see....

Doctor Who – What It Means To Me

Doctor Who – What It Means To Me

I know we’re a gaming focused website but I do like putting out my thoughts on other media platforms as well on here. I’d like to take a moment and chat about Doctor Who, and what it means to me, and why I consider it to be the best series ever made and to ever grace our television sets. Agree, or disagree it’s all about opinions from here on in. A show spanning 50 years, and still releasing new episodes. That’s pretty damn amazing. However, this article will contain spoilers so please read with caution if you’re not up to date on Doctor Who. I remember when I first heard of the show it was about 2006 and David Tennant was The Doctor. I always thought it was about some medical dude who could travel through space. That’s really all I thought it was, and it didn’t really interest me. I kept hearing stuff about it for years but always tuned it out, I wasn’t interested, and didn’t want to watch something that I thought would be boring, and just plain stupid. So, I just ignored people telling me to watch it and stuck to my anime (I had a huge anime phase around this time) and pretty much tuned out every other show on television. Fast forward to around 2010 and I was flicking through the channels and saw something with a man in a tweed jacket, bowtie, and interesting hair running about and stuff. It caught my attention and I watched for about 15 minutes before switching the channel out due to being heavily confused as to what was going on. I eventually found out that it was Doctor Who, but I was extremely confused as to who this man in the bowtie was as I thought The Doctor wore a brown trench-coat and had wild hair or something. This was also before I knew that the show had been one since 1963, and that the lead actor would always change due to an effect called regeneration. For those of you who don’t follow the show, it’s a sort of effect where Timelords (The Doctor’s race) can change every cell in their body to prevent themselves from dying. However, doing this causes their appearance to change and thus the reason for thirteen different actors to have played the part over the course of it’s fifty years on television. When I started watching Doctor Who in 2010 (started with two Tennant episodes) I thought David was the First Doctor, and that Matt was the second. But, I was clueless on how/why Matt was now The Doctor, and why David was no longer playing the part. So, I watched all of Matt’s run and was slightly confused on the whole thing. While watching Matt’s first series (Series 5) a friend of mine told me that another actor was The Doctor before David and his name was Christopher Eccleston, and that was an actor whom I had known from his roles in 28 Days Later, Gone In 60 Seconds, etc. So now, I thought Chris was the First Doctor to ever take the role, and then David, and finally Matt. I was still confused on how another actor could take the role though, and my friend told me all about regeneration and that The Doctor could change his cells, blah, blah to avoid death but essentially became a new man. This made sense to me, and explained why Matt was now The Doctor. So, I watched all of Matt’s episodes (Series 5), then went through all of David’s, and then watched all of Christopher’s. Backwards yes, but it just made more sense for me to do it that way. Then I sort of found out about all the other actors, and that the show had been around since 1963 which was a detail my friend who watched the show never told me. He had no idea that the show had other Doctors before Chris ever stepped into the TARDIS and this just fueled more interest in the show for me, and I soon found myself watching classic episodes of Doctor Who, and eventually stumbling onto some wonderful episodes starring my now two favorite classic Doctors, Jon Pertwee (Third Doctor) and Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor). I polished off most of Pertwee’s run on Doctor Who, and I’m currently making my way through Baker’s entire era. I’ve seen episodes from every Doctor’s run now, but Pertwee and Tom are the two classic Doctors that really got their hooks into me, and captivated me to follow their portrayal of The Doctor. Now, every actor who has taken over the role have been excellent but Tom Baker, and Jon Pertwee will always be the two Doctors who got me interested, and kept me interested in Classic Who. Something I guess most modern Who fans have trouble watching. I can understand why, but the stories in Classic Who are equally as good, if not better than what we’re offered in New Who sometimes. So, that being said if you’re a fan of Doctor Who, and haven’t seen anything from the classic series, please go check it out. It’s so darn good. The show also offers some of the most interesting stories, and concepts that I’ve ever seen. A police-box that travels through time & space, an alien-humanoid who can change his fan when he’s dying, uses a trusty device called a Sonic Screwdriver and doesn’t really believe in violence, and prefers talking problems out and solving them with his intellect. It’s pretty neat. However, the show has also been very good at capturing emotions and making the fans feel very…emotional when watching the program. Killing of characters, making emotional scenes, and even killing off the main character so to speak after fans have gotten emotionally attached to them, and then introduce a new man into the same clothes that your Doctor was wearing is quite the emotional rollercoaster, and something I never really experienced until 2013′s Christmas special where my Doctor, Matt Smith regenerated into Peter Capaldi. Even though the actors leave the role, they’re still The Doctor, and always will be The Doctor to the true Who fans. It’s also a show that can do something unique, and has the tendency to bring back Doctor’s for anniversary specials, which we saw in the 50th anniversary episode in November which brought back David Tennant (10th Doctor), gave a nice little cameo to Tom Baker (4th Doctor), gave us some more delicious information on an unknown incarnation “The War Doctor” (John Hurt) whom was between the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) and the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston). It also sort-of introduced Peter Capaldi, whom took over for Matt Smith and became the Twelfth Doctor on Christmas Day. I just think it’s really cool that this show is so unique and it’s really one of the only shows that allow different actors whom have played the role of The Doctor to interact with one another on screen and actually have a reason to explain how. Yes, they’re all different people but they do play the same man. So, he’ll always be The Doctor no matter what face he’s wearing. That’s pretty darn cool. The show is essentially about change when you get down to it, and it’s a really good way of explaining that change is a real thing that everyone needs to accept, and the show is constantly changing. The Doctor changes into a new man every so often, his companions always change, and the TARDIS (his ship) also changes constantly. The show is about change, and it’s been a good way for me to realize that life is all about change, and it helps me realize that change needs to happen for things to progress. Things never stay the same, change always happens, and we need to accept it. A good example is Matt Smith’s (Eleventh Doctor) exiting speech on Christmas Day right before he regenerated. He said, and I quote: We all change when you think about it. We’re all different people all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good. You gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. That’s a pretty nice quote explaining change, and how people should accept it. At least, that’s how I felt about it. It’s also very nice because Matt’s Doctor was known as the man who forgets, so the fact that he says he’ll remember his past lives, and the one that’s about to end is extremely touching and helped to deliver the emotion home, and break my hearts. It’s also an extremely easy show for me to relate to. I may not be an immortal, time-traveling alien from space, but The Doctor in all sense of the word is an extremely lonely man, much like myself. He can essentially never die, and is a quirky man that would sometimes be classified as crazy. He’s an odd person, a loner at times and I can really relate to that. I’m a very lonely, depressed person and just being able to watch this show and relate to situations that The Doctor is in really makes me care for the character that much more and is part of the reason I love the show, and love The Doctor so much. It doesn’t make me feel like I’m alone when I watch it, and it makes my imagination run wild. What if I was The Doctor, what if I got to travel through time & space? It’s a show that makes you happy, and sad at the same time but also fuels the imagination and gives you characters you can relate to, and ultimately come to love. What more could you want in something? Sure, the show can hit ruts once and a while but as do all other programs. But, I still want to continue watching and see what happens to these characters, and just see these amazing adventures, and places that I know I’d never get to see, or experience on my own. It’s a thrill ride, and Doctor Who knows how to deliver. It’s also quite fair to say that The Doctor is also by far the most interesting character on television today, and quite possibly in all of television’s history. We have a time-traveling alien, who can change his face, and ultimately never die. He’s had numerous faces, numerous companions, travels in a police box, fights aliens & monsters, saves planets, and is the true definition of a hero. He rarely uses weapons, and rarely ever kills someone to end a problem. He’s peace-loving, and someone that people should look up to. He’s the type of person that everyone should strive to be, even though he’s kind of wacky and out there. Not only does his face change, but as does his personality, habits, etc. One incarnation could be a grumpy man, and the next could be a bumbling clown who plays a recorder. That’s another interesting trait about the show, and The Doctor himself. It’s a new ride, and adventure every time someone new steps into the TARDIS. He’s the same man in essence, but he’s always a different person when you think about it. Just like Matt’s quote from above states. Cool, isn’t it? Lots of people may judge the show, and think it’s silly without giving it a chance. Then again, it is silly and that’s what makes it so great. It captures our imagination, and gives us these experience we’d never have the chance to do ourselves. And, I’m trying to explain the show as best as I can in this article, even though I feel like I’m not really doing the show much justice. It’s difficult to get 50 years worth of content down into an article without boring people, and pushing them away with what I’m trying to convey and say about this show. A show that means a lot to me, and has helped me through depression, and other numerous issues in my life. You could sort of say that The Doctor truly was a Doctor and helped out issues, and ailments that afflicted me. It opened my eyes, and made me realize things weren’t always going to be bad, and things would change, and get better. Maybe that’s why the show means so much to me, maybe that’s why I hold it so close to my heart, and maybe it’s due to the fact that it’s the most interesting, captivating, and coolest show on television, and in my opinion will always be the best show on television. Sorry, Breaking Bad. So, when people ask me about Doctor Who and why they should watch it I don’t really give them any reasons other than it being interesting. I believe the show captivates, and captures the minds of it’s fans differently than others. We each have our own stories, and experiences with the show, just as every fan/Whovian has someone they call their Doctor. The Doctor they relate the most to, love the most, and most of the time is the one they started with. Is any one Doctor better than the others? Sure, but that doesn’t stop the fact that they’ve all been brilliant in the role, and that they’re all The Doctor. I’m a fan of all of the incarnations, but Matt is still my Doctor and I’ll still hold him close to my hearts than the others, but that doesn’t mean I snuff them, and hate them. They’re all The Doctor, and are all just as brilliant. And now I’m sitting here waiting until August of this year to see more Doctor Who episodes, and see the new Doctor. Number Twelve get up to some antics in the TARDIS, and usher in a new era of the show with a new face, and new actor with Peter Capaldi. Sure, some “fans” got all mad about him not being as attractive as the previous New Who Timelords, but he’s a brilliant actor and that’s what matters in the end. Peter is also an extremely handsome fellow, and in my opinion can be pretty spiffy in a suit (Malcom Tucker anyone?). However, this is an issue that bothers me about some of the fans of Doctor Who. It seems that these fans only liked David because he was “hot” and disliked Matt a lot for taking over David’s spot in the show. And now that Matt has been replaced by an older man (55 years old) they’re throwing a hissy fit because he isn’t “sexy” and because he’s old. It just bothers me to the core, and makes me realize that these aren’t fans of the show. Adapt to change, realize that The Doctor will always change, and never be the same face forever. Times change, and so must he. Sure, it sucks when your favorite Doctor leaves but that doesn’t mean that the new guy is a horrid human being, and will be a terrible Doctor. Heck, I think Matt blew David out of the water in terms of being The Doctor, but they brought their own unique spin on the role as did every other actor. Complaining that the Doctor is an old man? He’s been played by older actors before. William Hartnell, whom played the first Doctor was the same age as Peter Capaldi when he took the role. Even John Hurt whom played the “forgotten incarnation” in Day Of The Doctor is 73, and was equally as brilliant in the role, and I think deserves his own series. Age, looks, accents, ethnicity, etc shouldn’t be a deciding factor of how a Doctor is good or not. It comes down to the portrayal, and the way they embody the character. Every Doctor has been good, and the showrunners, and people behind the show know what they’re doing. Every Doctor has been good, every Doctor from here on in will be good. So hell, bring on Capaldi. This is probably coming off a big, rambly post but I’m doing my best to really explain my emotions, and feeling towards the show. So, if you’re still reading I thank you, and applaud you for following along and still keeping some shred of interest in my insanity. Now, the show may have a ton of excellent episodes behind it, and some pretty neat ideas but there’s a lot of crap too. I can’t praise the show entirely, and do have to say there’s some negative aspects about it, but it doesn’t really take away from the Who experience as a whole, and I’ve found most of these issues in New Who. There’s always some episodes in the series that don’t really jive, and at times can be hard to watch. We saw a couple during Tennant’s era, and Matt’s era was plagued by a few of these. Most people will argue that Steven Moffat isn’t a good writer, but I don’t agree. I think he’s an excellent writer, and story-teller I just think he’s run as the showrunner, and head writer on Doctor Who has run its course. His stories have gotten stale, (as we saw in most of Series 7) and some of his characters, and ideas just don’t feel right being in Doctor Who and for me don’t really mesh. I’m also not really a fan of this whole having companions fall in love with The Doctor, and having sexual tension between him and his companions. What happened to him being a mentor, and teacher to them like in the Classic days? Can we go back to that? Can we stop having them fall in love with him? I enjoy lots of Steven’s work on Doctor Who, but Series 7 really proved that he’s gotten stale and seems to be running out of ideas for the show. Sure, his stuff could pick up, and improve during Series 8 and Capaldi’s run as The Doctor, but I think his time should be up soon too. Bring on a new showrunner, let someone else take the reigns. Everything changes, and that’s not a bad thing. I’d still love to see Mark Gatiss take over as showrunner, or even Neil Gaiman. One can dream. One can only dream. Now, more than just The Doctor, the time travel, and his TARDIS are memorable on the show. We also have some really memorable scenes, companions, and most of all the monsters that he encounters in his travels. The most famous, and prominent of those are the Daleks. The Doctor’s ultimate foe. These guys are awesome, and are pretty darn terrifying. They show no compassion, no remorse, and essentially kill everything in their paths. They also have one of the most memorable catchphrases in the history of the show, and that’s “Exterminate”. A phrase they say before attacking, and dispatching their foes. Pretty great stuff the Daleks. We also have other monsters like the Cybermen, Weeping Angels, Sea Devils, Ice Warriors, Silurians, Sontarans, Silents, and heck even evil Snowmen that eat people. So, not only is the show good at creating memorable characters, it’s also great at creating terrifying monsters that can intimidate, and frighten even the oldest viewer of the show. So, in the end I’m grateful to the BBC, and everyone who got Doctor Who off the ground, and an actual thing back in 1963. Without them this show wouldn’t be around today, and wouldn’t have garnered such a fan following fifty years later. It’s beaten the test of time, and came out victorious. Doctor Who is here to stay, and I have no doubts that it will be around for another fifty years and we’ll be sitting on the 24th Doctor, or something like that. Doctor Who means the world to me, and it’s simply the best bit of entertainment on television today. So, to honor all the wonderful actors that have brought this show, and excellent character to life here’s a video of below just how unique, interesting, and emotional the whole regeneration concept of the show can be. Again, warning the video does contain spoilers. Thanks for reading.                    ...

TV of the Year 2013: My Picks (5-1)

TV of the Year 2013: My Picks (5-1)

In the previous post, I discussed my choices for the bottom half of my ‘TV of the Year’ list. In this concluding part, I’ll explore the upper half, before finally unveiling the show I consider to be the strongest of 2013.   5 – Top of the Lake I’ll get this out of the way first and foremost: Top of the Lake, a Sundance Channel production, was not a show that everybody would like. It was almost dream-like in its surreality, with certain elements appearing to make little sense from the outset. It’s what I would define as a strange show. Yet in spite of this, and of the things that really didn’t work as well as they were intended, there were things that did–and they worked on an incredible level, making Top of the Lake one of my favorite experiences of the year. Top of the Lake had several things that worked in its favor. For instance, the central story of pregnant 12-year-old Tui’s disappearance never failed to be mysterious and engaging like all stories of such a nature should be. It formed a nice spine for everything else in the show to connect to, and as fundamentally dark as the subject matter was, it was wonderfully dealt with from beginning to end. Granted, there may have been lapses here and there, and it’s debatable as to whether the final twist was masterful or regretful, but as is often the case with stories in television and otherwise, it was the journey that mattered the most. But if there was one thing that propelled Top of the Lake above and beyond what it could’ve ended up being, it was the performance of main star Elisabeth Moss as the show’s lead character. Robin was a deeply complex and multi-faceted character whose many layers were fascinating to peel away. From the exterior, she appeared to play the role of hardened detective tasked with unmasking the horrific truth that led a small girl to pregnancy, a subsequent suicide attempt, and then disappearance. As the series continued, however, it became clear that Robin was broken inside, the ghost of her past haunting her present, and as strong as Top of the Lake’s story was, it was the process of exploring Robin’s character that provided the series with its deepest narrative. As said before, Elisabeth Moss’ performance in Top of the Lake was, for want of a better word, extraordinary. Moss is no stranger to deploying fantastic performances in the shows she’s been involved with, as fans of Mad Men can attest to, but in six episodes she managed to usurp almost every expectation I–and I imagine others–had of her. That’s simply not an easy thing to do, yet the way in which she navigated the labyrinth of Robin’s character was almost effortless. In fact, I would gladly label her performance my favorite of any actor in any show in the entirety of 2013. Which makes the fact she’s had very little awards success since then even more difficult to comprehend. It should also be noted that Top of the Lake was one of the most beautiful cinematographic experiences of the entire year–arguably at the same level as Hannibal. There were so many shots and scenes in the series that made me pause to take in how astonishingly gorgeous it was. Filming in New Zealand granted them with a stunning landscape to work with, and even if you discount their success in other areas, you cannot argue with the fact Top of the Lake was captivating in its artistry. Six episodes was all Top of the Lake had to tell its story and show us who its characters were. It will not have any more now that it’s finished. Turns out, however, that six hours was all it needed to become one of the most exciting and deeply engaging shows of the last twelve months, with one of the finest actresses on television exceeding even her own stratospheric heights. It’s a shame Top of the Lake will not be returning in the future, but it’s left behind a legacy of enormous strength.   4 – Breaking Bad For years Breaking Bad dealt with its narrative explosions with bombast and fury, dealing pain and misery at every step of Walter White’s transformation into a hideous monster. But Walt’s transfiguration had been completed and 2013 saw the time come for the series to bid farewell to its beloved story and characters. Lives were lost, horror and carnage ensued at every corner, and finally it all came to an end. A glorious, devastating end. It would be easy to discuss Breaking Bad’s series finale before anything else that happened in its final run of eight episodes, but that wasn’t its strongest hour. No, such a title should go to the incredible “Ozymandias,” the season’s fourteenth and most cataclysmic hour. Heart-pounding tension was entwined with horrifying loss to create one of most captivating and emotionally manipulative episodes of the entire year, with show-stopping performances from all of the show’s cast members, including an exceptional Dean Norris, who is surely a lock-in for next year’s Emmy nominations. “Ozymandias” was truly an outstanding hour for the show’s final season, and of the series as a whole. The final two episodes didn’t manage to match its angry momentum, but they didn’t need to; the damage had already been done. The aftermath was the only thing that remained. By the time Breaking Bad had said its final farewell, its characters had all been reduced to unrecognisable husks, turned upside down and emptied of their contents by the actions of Walter White. It was the culmination of years of character development, portrayed masterfully by the likes of Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Anna Gunn. But they’d reached their end. They’d endured so much at the hands of Walt’s monster that all that remained was recuperation or, in Hank’s unfortunate case, death. It was sad to see some of the finest characters on television leave, but the decision to end Breaking Bad at the height of its narrative game, as opposed to unnaturally extending it for profitable purposes, was very welcome. Few shows have left behind a legacy as everlasting as Breaking Bad’s. Few shows ever will. People will be discussing it for months and years down the line. Not just the series finale, either, but the entire five-season run. They’ll be discussing the incredible journey of Walter White from mild-mannered cancer sufferer to drug kingpin. They’ll be talking about the aforementioned “Ozymandias” and how it managed to blast everything into oblivion in time for the series’ final two episodes. Certain sections will probably still be lambasting Gunn’s Skylar White for daring to stand up to her repugnant husband. But regardless of where you look, Breaking Bad has long been regarded as a contributor to the so-called ‘Golden Age of Television’, and that’s an honor that’s not going to go away in the near future. Not if the final season has anything to do with it.   3 – Orphan Black If there’s a term you’ve no doubt heard a million times this year, it’s “binge-watching.” And rightly so, as the success of Netflix’s model of releasing entire seasons at once, available to watch at your own leisure and pace, indicates it’s a phenomenon that’s becoming increasingly more popular. Certain shows benefit from such an activity, while others are better off being consumed on a weekly basis. BBC America’s sci-fi drama Orphan Black, however, lends itself to the former rather than the latter. I initially only discovered Orphan Black as it was approaching its season finale, but it took all of two days–and two sittings–for me to plow through nine episodes. The show had so many things working in its favor, such as the rapid pace that rarely let you come up for air, or the impossibly talented Tatiana Maslany displaying in excess of five characters, often at the same time. But binge-watching almost the entire season in such a short space of time magnified the show’s strongest elements to such a degree that it became a better show. It became an unstoppable tour-de-force, ripping through its story like it was slashing a knife through dense jungle. Consequently, it was so darned brilliant. I could talk all day and night about how strong Orphan Black’s first season was and how you should stop reading and immediately watch it before you die without it having ever improved your life, but I’ll summarise the strongest element in two single words: Tatiana Maslany. A relatively unknown actress before the show hit the waves, Maslany entered the game with the ostensibly insurmountable task of playing over five different characters, sometimes as one pretending to be another, with frequent technical wizardry ensuring she had to play off of herself in scenes. Not one to let such impossibility get in the way, Maslany demonstrated how phenomenal an actress she is by making each of her characters totally unique and distinguishable. I’ve never seen such a nuanced and attentive performance, and I still cannot quite believe Maslany made it possible. But she did, and in the space of ten episodes, she rose to become the actress everybody involved in TV should be falling over themselves to hire. 2013 was an incredible year for Orphan Black. If there is any justice, 2014 should be even more successful. Maslany’s recent Golden Globes nomination almost makes up for her monumentally disappointing snub at this year’s Emmy Awards. People are taking notice of the show, of the almost universal adoration from television critics, and now is as good a time as any to finally let Orphan Black into your life. You’ll be thanking me later.   2 – The Good Wife I wrote on my blog a while ago–and have frequently mentioned since–that The Good Wife was trapped in a narrative tornado. What’s aired of its fifth season thus far has managed to do what most other shows rarely have the balls to even consider: throw everything into the air to see where they land. Everything the show built itself around for five years, from Alicia’s position within Lockhart Gardner to the character dynamics that made the show such a thrill to watch, was ripped from its roots and tossed aside for something new and powerful to grow in its place. The end result was The Good Wife solidifying its position as the strongest, smartest, and most fearless network drama on the air. For a CBS procedural set within the confines of a Chicago law firm, The Good Wife has no right to be in the position it’s in. It has no right to be telling the stories it’s telling in a way that totally disregards the ostensible limits of a procedurally driven show. It has no right to have the power to upend everything it’s built to see what else can grow in the same lot. Yet that is exactly what’s happening, and it’s a testament to the show’s writers and visionaries that they have managed to subvert every expectation had of them. I’m not about to say The Good Wife has no right to be as good as it is because it’s a network show, as I find that to be a backhanded compliment that unfairly implies all network shows are forever fated to fall behind their cable brethren. But it is undeniably a surprise to see a show with a premise such as TGW‘s storm ahead in such a manner–in its fifth season no less. Creative wells naturally begin to dry up the older a show gets, irrespective of its broadcast heritage, but The Good Wife has managed to build new, almost bottomless, ones for itself. For that reason alone, it has to be admired. There will always be an argument to be had regarding whether creative freedom means that cable shows will always have the advantage, but that’s for another day and for people with the time and expertise to argue it. For now, The Good Wife is proudly sitting at the centre of the storm it’s created for itself, watching everybody run not away from the carnage but towards it. It’s turned itself into an entirely new show in such a short space of time, and in the process, has become one of the most exciting and tempestuous dramas on television. The fact that it’s a network show ultimately means nothing to its creative structure.   1 – Orange is the New Black And here we are at my favorite TV show of the year, and while I cannot tell you how long I deliberated over what show to put in this position, in the end it seemed inevitable that Orange is the New Black, the fourth major Netflix original to be released in the year, would find itself here. Because whether it was in the characters and how they broke the stereotypes generally attached to them, or the incredibly human heart sat beating at the centre, or even in the performances of everybody in the show, Orange is the New Black astounded me with its unwillingness to walk with the crowd. Honestly, I could gush about Orange all night, describing how it managed to drag me into its world at a speed that surprised even me, and how it told the stories of those living in the Litchfield Women’s Correctional Facility with such passion and heart. But it was inarguably the show’s characters that left such an impression on me. I fell in love with main character Piper Chapman’s entry into an unfamiliar world almost instantly. I shipped her relationship with fellow inmate and former lover Alex harder than I’ve shipped anything in a very long time. I watched as the show gave me an insight into each of the prisoners’ lives, and as I learned more about them, they became the show. Orange is the New Black was blessed with the strongest ensemble cast I’ve seen in years, and it knew just how to take that opportunity and spin it into gold. I said before about how Orange is the New Black broke boundaries and stereotypes with its characters, and it was one of the things I loved most about the show. It featured several lesbian characters but never once treated their sexual preferences as a plot device; they were real, natural, normal people, and that’s simply not something you see on television that often. The same goes for Sophia. a black transgender character played by a black transgender actress who wasn’t just cannon fodder for the killer of the week on a Law and Order episode. These people, these characters, would probably never have gotten the same kind of treatment and care on any other show, and I cannot tell you how much I adore it for operating outside of the boundaries. Without a doubt, Orange is the New Black was my favorite show of the last twelve months. It was heartfelt and human, it treated its characters–no matter how separate from society they unfortunately were–with a rare and infrequently seen delicacy, and in all, it filled a gap in my life that I never even knew was there. It’s the rare kind of show I could watch over and over again without ever getting tired of. It’s simply that good.   Honorable Mentions Arrow When Arrow first premiered back in the Fall of last year, few could’ve legitimately prophesied the show becoming what it seemed born to do. What initially started out as a show standing on uneven ground, unsure about what it was or wanted to be, grew and grew in strength until it finally hit its stride at the end of its first season. That same tight control over its enormous character base and story arcs has carried over into its second season, and it’s now sitting proudly as one of the most thrilling and exciting shows on the air.   Broadchurch People love mysteries. They especially love discussing them with others, taking every seemingly innocuous moment and running through them with a fine toothcomb in the hopes of obtaining another piece of the truth. Broadchurch, an eight-part murder mystery set in the heart of a British community, had all the makings of a classic whodunnit, with the added spark of excellent and intriguing characters portrayed by actors throwing everything they had into their roles. The result was, well, genius.   Elementary CBS’ modern day retelling of Sherlock Holmes started off its debut season on uneven ground, leaning a little too heavily towards the generic procedural the show needed to avoid becoming. But as the show entered 2013, taking advantage of the coveted post-Super Bowl slot, it started to juggle some seriously impressive story arcs, resulting in a magnificent three-part finale to close off its first year. That same momentum hasn’t quite continued throughout season two thus far, but the show is still firing on all cylinders.   Sleepy Hollow Let’s be honest for a moment: nobody really expected Sleepy Hollow to be a success. With a premise that promised Ichabod Crane being brought forward through time in order to fight demons and creatures with a cop every week, it initially seemed to be nothing more than an attempt at throwing a kooky concept at the wall in the hopes it would stick. But the most surprising thing of all? It did stick. It became a ridiculous yet brilliantly thrilling show with strong performances and genuinely interesting character work. Is it the strongest drama on the air? Hardly. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t give it the praise it deserves for beating the expectations.   The Fall While the previously mentioned Broadchurch explored its mystery with the killer’s identity kept hidden until the very end, The Fall showed us who was doing the dastardly deed right from the beginning. The result was a character piece of sorts, with the two partners in the dance of wits being played by Jamie Dornan and the always magnificent Gillian Anderson. Dornan’s portrayal of a brutal monster who disguised himself as a family man during the day was ruthless and compelling, while Anderson’s performance as the ice-cold pursuer to Dornan’s threat was deliciously exciting.   Person of Interest In a year that seems to belong to the CBS procedural, Person of interest has steadily grown from being a monotonous cop show to a terrifically executed amalgamation of strong character work and bombastic story arcs, all wrapped around a core of adrenaline that surges every so often. The procedural is still there, but it no longer defines the show. The last batch of episodes has demonstrated exactly what the show is capable of, and it’s in the exploration of its serialised elements where Person of Interest‘s strength shines.   Scandal In its second season, Scandal, the show whose veins carry nothing but adrenaline through its body, blew itself up. It went all-in on its story arcs and having them twist in all kinds of directions, and yes, you could argue it was at the expense of its characters. (You could definitely say this of season three thus far, and I would agree with you.) But irrespective of that, Scandal was pure dramatic dynamite in its second year. That has unfortunately not been something the show has carried over to its third season, but I still hold hope that it will at some point in the future.   Southland Of all the shows to be canceled this year, it was Southland‘s premature demise that hurt the most. Because even though it had five seasons in which to tell its story, I never got the sense that it had reached the end of its creative life. In fact, season five (the unintended final season) demonstrated clearer than ever that the show had more to give, with “Chaos”, its penultimate episode, being a devastating and cataclysmic hour of television that should sit on everybody’s ‘Best of…’ list. It’s a shame the show will never again get the chance to show us what it’s capable of, but it at least went out soaring.     And with that brings this list of mine to an end. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the strongest TV shows of the year in the comment box below!...

Farewell To Eleven

Farewell To Eleven

Later today we’ll see the end of Matt Smith’s era on Doctor Who, and his regeneration into the Twelfth Doctor which is being portrayed by the fantastic actor, Peter Capaldi. I’ll be extremely sad to see Matt go as he is essentially my Doctor, and the one I’ve really gotten attached to more than any other actor who’s been in the role. However, I’m also really excited to see Peter take over the helm of the TARDIS, and have some adventures of his own. As a sort of tribute to Matt Smith, and the beloved Eleventh Doctor, I’ve decided to compile a list of my favorite episodes, and moments featuring the Raggedy Man himself. Warning, if you’re not caught up on Doctor Who there will be spoilers in this list. I’ll also include clips of said moments as reference. Eleven moments, to commemorate the Eleventh Doctor. I wish there was a way I could put Matt’s regeneration scene into this list as I imagine it will be spectacular when it airs later today. However, this is a list of all of his adventures, and best moments to date before the airing of Time Of The Doctor. Either way, Geronimo! 1. The Rings Of Akhaten – The Doctor’s Speech (S07E07) I know not many people enjoyed this episode, but I had a great time with it. The setting was interesting, the villain was pretty unique, and we got see a very emotional side of Matt’s Doctor and to which he had one of his best performances to date as the Timelord. Of course, the whole bit with Clara and her leaf memories saving the day seemed to take away from Matt’s speech, and really didn’t make much sense to me. It’s no doubt that the Eleventh Doctor was great with speeches, and it’ll be sad to see that go when he regenerates. But, who knows? Maybe Peter will be stellar in that aspect too. But in all seriousness, this is one of Matt’s defining moments as The Doctor and he really came into his own with this. Plus, the song in the background really aided the scene. One of my favorite moments in all of New Who. 2. The Eleventh Hour – The Doctor Will See You Now (S05E01) Matt’s first debut episode as The Doctor, and he did a brilliant job taking over from David Tennant. We get some crazy antics with him eating fish fingers & custard, having banter with a young Amelia Pond, all while saving the planet during a post-regeneration state, and without his TARDIS or trusty Sonic. Near the end of the episode he saves the planet from the Atraxi burning it to stop Prisoner Zero’s escape, and in turn causes Matt to call the Atraxi back and deliver this nice bit of dialogue all while he puts on his initial outfit and a hologram shows all of his previous faces. This part of the episode made me get hooked initially on the show right away, and caused me to plow through all of Matt’s stuff, then onto David’s, and Christopher’s all while I waited for Series 7 to start. 3. A Good Man Goes To War – Colonel Runaway (S06E07) A moment where we get to see a sort of angrier/darker side to Matt’s Doctor when he confronts the Colonel and gets extremely angry. He heads to Demon’s Run, where Amy Pond and her daughter Melody are being held by the religious order called The Silence. He recruits numerous allies to help in a bloody battle, and where we also see the debut of the Paternoster Gang (Strax, Jenny and Vastra). What ensues is a battle where casualties happen, and we find out that Melody was just a flesh-duplicate and disintegrates as Kavorian escapes, however in this episode we also find out that River Song is actually the daughter of Amy Pond, and Rory Williams. Very fun episode, and emotional at bits too! 4. The Angels Take Manhattan – Pond’s Farewell (S07E05) Another scene showing the amount of emotion that Matt can portray as an actor, but also showing how much his Doctor loved these companions. Sure, Rory’s departure was kind of lackluster but when Amy gets zapped back from the angel is what truly breaks The Doctor. She was the first face that his face had seen, and he had known her since she was a little girl. He called them his best friends, and you could tell there was a very strong connection, and sense of love between them. After creating numerous paradoxes in New York to save Rory, them being zapped back made it so The Doctor would never be able to see them again. An emotional exit, and we see some really tremendous acting from Matt Smith. Apologies for the clip used in advance, couldn’t find a good one on YouTube. 5. The Snowmen – Sherlock Holmes (2012 Christmas Special) Lots of funny banter, an emotional Doctor after the death of the Ponds, the sort-of introduction to the new companion, and the return of an old enemy, The Great Intelligence. We also get a somewhat “darker” Christmas story with the Snowmen whom devour people, and are just truly menacing looking things. We see the return of the Paternoster gang with a very much alive, Strax whom was presumably killed in the battle of Demon’s Run. The Doctor refuses to help the human race while these weird Snowmen creatures start popping up but decides to help after Clara makes a reference to a “pond” which sparks The Doctor’s interest and causes him to investigate. We also learn that this girl, Clara was also in the Dalek Asylum in the first episode of the Seventh Series and we learn this when she mentions souffles, and telling The Doctor “Run you clever boy, and remember” which she said in the Dalek Asylum, but as a different version of herself which gets explained in the Series 7 finale, Name Of The Doctor. The scene in question for this moment is The Doctor acting like Sherlock Holmes, all while making some “snow” related jokes and annoying the villain. 6. The Name Of The Doctor – River’s Goodbye (S07E13) The finale of Series 7, and Matt’s last full-length series as The Doctor. This episode ties up the mystery behind Clara, and we also get a glimpse of Trenzalore where The Doctor’s final resting place is. The Great Intelligence returns in the body of Simeon from The Snowmen, and it also introduces some creepy new monsters called The Whispermen. The episode also has a post-library “ghost” of River Song talking, and interacting with Clara which leads the group into The Doctor’s tomb which results in the culmination of the episode, as well as revealing John Hurt as an unknown incarnation of The Doctor (Between 8 and 9/The War Doctor) and revealing that this is the Doctor’s biggest secret, the incarnation that fought in the Time War. Really neat episode, and it also proved a very emotional scene with River’s possible farewell. I really hope this was the last we saw of River. It’s an emotional exit, and it worked really well for her character. The emotional bit being River thinking The Doctor can’t see her, but the truth is that he can. 7. Nightmare In Silver – Mr. Clever (S07E12) I really enjoyed seeing Matt take on a more villainous approach in an episode, and he worked wonders as Mr. Clever. Going from imitating two of his previous incarnations (Eccleston, and Tennant) to battling his own self within his mind in a game of chess. Some excellent acting from Matt Smith in this episode, and the whole concept of Mr. Clever whom was the Cyber Planner’s name for himself after taking over Matt’s brain. A fun episode, with some hiccups here and there (those kids were awful). I’m still speculating that Mr. Clever, or the Cyber Planner will make a return appearance in Matt’s regeneration story later today. 8. The Pandorica Opens – Pandorica Speech (S05E12) Another example of Matt Smith’s stellar example of doing speeches. This speech is referencing the opening of the Pandorica, and the essential end of the universe that culminates in the Big Bang happening again in the finale for Series 5. We also see a whole slew of monsters from the past come to the Pandorica to stop The Doctor, which we find out is essentially a prison built to cage him, in which they think will stop the end of the universe. They’re wrong, and it ends but no worries. The Doctor, Amy, and Auton Rory save the day in the following episode with an emotional scene of Matt Smith flying into the exploding TARDIS via the Pandorica, and sealing all the cracks in time. 9. The Eleventh Hour – Fish Fingers & Custard (S05E01) This whole scene with Matt Smith having essentially just regenerated and crashing into Amy’s shed is hilarious. It’s his true first scene as The Doctor and it’s fully of oddities, and some weird food related jokes. We also meet his first companion when she was a young girl, and he soon investigates a crack in her wall which sets up the entire plot for Series 5, which the cracks are made from the TARDIS exploding, which will be explained in Matt’s regeneration story tonight in Time Of The Doctor. This also spawned a food combination that some brave Whovians have tried which is taking Fish Fingers and dipping them in custard. A pretty neat and fun way to introduce the Eleventh. 10. The End Of Time – Ten Regenerates (David Tennant Specials) Regeneration scenes are pretty crucial in the history of the show. You have to give the exiting Doctor a tremendous goodbye, but also give the new Doctor a pretty good welcoming scene so they aren’t hated right off the bat. Sadly, Matt’s run was filled with people complaining about him taking over from David Tennant, and that Matt was a horrible Doctor. It’s a shame that so much negativity had filled his run from these Tennant fan-boys that it’s quite upsetting, but it didn’t stop Matt from being a tremendous Doctor, and also having one of my favorite post-regeneration scenes in the history of the show. He soon made me forget that I was sad about David’s “I don’t want to go” and I immediately welcomed in Matt with open arms. I know the same will be for Capaldi when Matt regenerates into him later today. I can’t wait. 11. Day Of The Doctor – The Great Curator (50th Anniversary Special) Alright, so this scene may be more of a tribute to Tom Baker, but I just loved the interaction between Matt and one of the actors whom had portrayed a classic Who Doctor, the Fourth Doctor to be exact. Tom Baker is my favorite Classic Doctor and seeing an interaction between him and Matt Smith on screen at the same time warmed my hearts, and ignited the little fanboy inside me. Sure, Tom drove the scene but just the whole reaction from Matt in this scene was what helped sell the scene and is a moment that I’ll remember for the rest of my life as a fan of the show. Two incredible actors, whom in my opinion played the two best incarnations of the Timelord. Spectacular scene. And, from what I remember it’s pretty much the only time Tom Baker fully appeared back in a Doctor Who anniversary episode.  ...

TV of the Year 2013: My Picks (10-6)

TV of the Year 2013: My Picks (10-6)

I recently detailed the games I did and didn’t like this year in my Game of the Year post. Now it’s time to take a look at another entertainment medium and talk about what impressed me the most within it. And that medium, in case you somehow hadn’t figured it out yet, is television. 2013 has been an exciting twelve months for the TV industry. We’ve seen shows such as Breaking Bad, which is generally heralded as being part of the golden age of television, come to a definitive end, whilst Netflix’s success as a provider of content and not just a redistributor has caused exciting waves in a normally static ocean. On top of that, 2013 saw the return of beloved comedy Arrested Development after many years of absence, a certain Red Wedding that everybody has still yet to recover from, and The Walking Dead killing off cast members every other week. Oh, and the final season of Dexter, aka the one everybody interested in television should watch simply to get an idea of how low standards can go. But through hell or high waters (“I AM the Hell and the high waters.” Scandal reference. Carry on), television is a constantly evolving and exciting sea to navigate that sometimes provides gargantuan waves of excitement. 2013 provided its fair share of disasters, but those waves it generated are what we all wait for with baited breath, and there were many of them. So many, in fact, that picking out ten shows out of dozens and then ranking them in order of preference was something that took far longer than I’d care to admit. But I finally have a list, so without further ado, let’s get down to it.   10 – New Girl Fox’s comedy about a dorky woman sharing an apartment with a bunch of weird guys was never anything spectacular in its first season. It took an age to get to the kind of show it wanted to be, and waiting for that to happen was like running a race without knowing whether there was a finish line or not. Understandably, many stopped running, which is a shame because season two was where the show finally demonstrated what it was capable of achieving. Not only was New Girl’s second season considerably more amusing than the first, which is the most basic concept of any comedy show, but it knew what to do with its characters. (Except CeCe and Winston, because I’m not quite sure the show will ever know what to do with them.) It knew what worked and what didn’t work and made adjustments in accordance with that. Out went Jess’ overwhelmingly quirky mannerisms and in came a familiar yet tamer replacement, all wrapped and prepared for the season’s biggest story: the relationship with Nick. The romantic connection and subsequent development of Nick and Jess was easily the season’s strongest story, but it didn’t end there. The show itself felt more developed. It broke free from the restraints of establishing its own foundations in season one and was set free to start building on them. It told those running its race that there was a finish line at the end of the road and if they just kept running, even though the weaker moments, they would be rewarded further down the line. Season two had plenty of rewards to throw, and if there’s anything its third season is currently demonstrating, it’s that there are plenty of treats left in the prize bag.   9 – Hannibal When news came in of a gruesome, gritty retelling of the infamous story of serial killer Hannibal Lecter, there was some trepidation to be felt, which only increased once we learned the show was to find its home on NBC, a network not exactly famed for breakout hits. As it turned out, Hannibal was not immune to the curse of NBC, as its weekly ratings really shouldn’t have been enough to see it through to next year. But the combination of relatively low production costs and the fact it was a critical darling gave it an extra burst of life, and thank god for that. Hannibal is an exemplary piece of drama for two reasons. The first is that it’s written and acted to an especially high standard, with special mention going to Mads Mikkelson for his exquisite portrayal of suppressed monstrocity as the villain the show takes its name from, and to Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, Lecter’s unwitting partner in their devilish dance. Mikkelson’s version of Hannibal is subtly unnerving in ways that expand the character in so many new and different directions, but in general, the show’s lead stars were consistently stunning and more than worthy of the awards they’ll never get. The second reason for Hannibal’s success was its extraordinary cinematography. It allowed us to gain an insight into Lecter’s mind and how he appreciated the twisted tapestry he would create with his victims. Almost every episode of season gave us such glimpses into his mind. I would gladly list each and every moment I found to be incomprehensibly beautiful in all their gory and repugnant glory, but I feel doing so wouldn’t be giving them the service they deserve. These are moments you really need to experience for yourself to fully appreciate the level of artistic craftsmanship of which we’re talking about. Hannibal may have been one of the year’s most underwhelming ratings performers, but that same performance did not extend to its overall quality. The show was astoundingly good in ways I never expected, and I would wholeheartedly recommend you add it to your list of things to watch.   8 – The Americans From the outside, The Americans, FX’s ‘80s drama about a married couple who just happen to be Russian KGB spies sent to infiltrate Washington D.C., appeared to be a story all about these two characters and the mission they were been tasked with completing. But it was so much more than that. The Americans’ central story was an allegory of marriage itself and the various forms it takes. Marriage to each other, to one’s country, to one’s loyalty, and how that marriage can be strained to the point of destruction. It’s a fascinating story to be telling; fortunately The Americans told it remarkably well. The Americans, like its two main characters, was a show that looked to be about one thing but was really about something else, and the distance between those two things was used as a means to explore both ends of the connection. How did the vows Elizabeth and Phillip swore they’d uphold in Russia affect their married life in America? How did said married life in America affect the task in front of them? Was there any way they could still be loyal to their country without it ripping them apart? These were all pertinent questions The Americans tried hard to answer in its first season, and it’s why it was such a strong and interesting show to watch. Despite the show’s storytelling strength, credit also has to be given to main stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, who managed to portray the many facets of their characters’ marriage with incredible depth and precision. Elizabeth and Phillip were extremely fascinating characters whose motivations, and the struggles with them, provided countless moments of pure dramatic brilliance. Again, as with the aforementioned Mads Mikkelson, they don’t seem destined for award recognition for the foreseeable future, but there is an empty space in their cabinets that, in an ideal world, would have been occupied by now. Fellow stars Noah Emmerich, who played the FBI antithesis to Philip and Elizabeth, and Margo Martindale, the fearsome authoritative figure to the Jenningses, also provided terrific performances. I loved Martindale’s brand of fear wrapped around power in particular, and I sincerely hope she’s a regular presence in the show’s upcoming second season, despite having her skills be squandered in the terrible The Millers. Marriage can sometimes be a tedious storytelling area to explore, but The Americans’ exploration of it and the different ways in which it can both test and be tested proved to be one of 2013’s strongest narratives. Season two is right around the corner, and I cannot wait.   7 – Game of Thrones We all think we know what to expect from Game of Thrones. Namely violence, sex, penis, boobs, incest, dragons, more sex and violence, possibly at the same time. Yet despite thinking we know exactly what the show is going to throw at us, it still knows exactly the right strings to pull to turn our stomachs inside out, to inflict a response within us that lingers long after the episode itself has finished. And it does it time and time again, just as it did in its most recent season. I think you can probably guess what the first thing I’m going to discuss is, because one cannot talk about Game of Thrones’ third season without mentioning the infamous Red Wedding. A ceremony of unparalleled violence and bloodshed that resulted in the brutal murder of three main characters plus an uncountable number of extras slaughtered off-screen, the Red Wedding was a perfect demonstration of how ugly and twisted Westeros really is. The good are punished while the bad prosper. The show pulled out everything it had to produce arguably the most explosive and devastating sequence of its life. Even if, like me, you were expecting it to happen because of prior familiarity with the books, it was still mesmerising in its sheer ferocity, and its effect has still yet to dissipate six months later. But it wasn’t just the Red Wedding that made 2013 Game of Thrones’ year. Season three also saw major progression in Jaime Lannister’s redemptive story arc, which was carried by the sublime and award-worthy Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who displayed one of the strongest television performances of the year. Also, there was the slow yet intriguing story of what happened to Jon Snow and co. beyond the Wall, as well as Dany rising to become the feared leader (and HBIC) she was destined to be. And when you throw in several intriguing new characters (and the wonderful Diana Rigg) and exciting narrative beginnings to carry over to season four, you had a recipe for a delicious feast of chaos and horror entwined with moments of sheer excellence. It should be no secret that many people consider ‘A Storm of Swords’, the third book in the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series on which Game of Thrones is based, to be a stronger and more eventful affair than ‘A Clash of Kings’. I would agree with those people. Consequently, season three had a stronger and more varied color palette from which to paint its picture, with occasional variances in success. But even on slower weeks, Game of Thrones manages to be one of the most vicious yet strangely human shows on the air, with characters that grow in complexity and a universe that becomes even more vast and thrilling the more it expands. Season three wasn’t perfect, but it was still damn fine drama, Red Weddings or otherwise.   6 – Masters of Sex A relative newcomer to the television world having only premiered a matter of months ago, Masters of Sex, Showtime’s drama about William Masters and Virginia Johnson, pioneers of human sexual research, has already proven itself to be an exceptional insight into not just the act of sex but the connections between people. Sex, of course, is the ultimate act of human connection, but how can one influence the other? The way Masters of Sex explores this topic and more makes it one of this year’s most stellar television outings. The story of Masters and Johnson is an incredibly fascinating one from a storytelling perspective. These two people, whose personalities are almost worlds apart, are drawn together in an effort to understand more about intimacy. But it is their proximity to the unknown that brings them together, that connects them in a beautiful and deeply involving way, that makes them intimate. It provides a compelling and character-driven experience that feels so very…human. Also, this being a show about the evolution of our understanding about sex ultimately means there are sex scenes frequently interspersed. But instead of making them seedy and superfluous like other shows tend to do, Masters of Sex chooses to make them engaging and almost beautiful in a way rarely seen on TV. And, of course, we should give credit to the phenomenal performances of both Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan for their portrayals of Masters and Johnson respectively. Both actors give such incredible depth to their characters that it’s difficult not to get emotionally invested in their relationship. Masters of Sex excels at showing us how connections define us, and it does so by actually connecting us to the experience. The end result is a show that works on so many levels.   And that wraps up the first half of this list. Check back in a few days for the concluding half where I’ll discuss the five shows I considered to be the best of the bunch....

My Top Five Doctors – Doctor Who

My Top Five Doctors – Doctor Who

Purely an opinion piece on my top 5 Doctors who taken the role of The Doctor in the hit sci-fi series, Doctor Who. Mainly doing this piece considering the 50th anniversary is about a week away, and felt it would only be fitting to make something Who related for the anniversary here on Pixel Gate. I decided to make a list of my Top 5 favorite Doctors in the programme. So, without further ado, allons-y! The Doctor is a Timelord, and when he’s on the verge of dying he can “regenerate” his body which changes all of his cells, and his appearance changes into a new man (hence new actors taking over the role, and why the show has been here for 50 years). Eleven actors have portrayed The Doctor (not counting John Hurt’s War Doctor) up to this point, with Peter Capaldi being the 12th Doctor this Christmas, whom is taking over for Matt Smith who is leaving the show at Christmas. Let’s get on with the list. 5. Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) My first classic Doctor, and Jon Pertwee was brilliant in the role. He was dapper, suave, and the way he talked really mesmerized me for some reason. He was also the Doctor to have Sarah Jane Smith (one of the best companions in the history of the show) introduced to the series as a companion. My first story of Pertwee’s run was The Time Warrior which also introduced the Sontarans, as a new enemy of The Doctor, and I really enjoyed the dynamic he & Sarah Jane brought to the table. I nearly finished his run on Doctor Who, but got distracted by someone recommending I check out this next Doctor below… 4. Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) Even though McGann only starred in the 1996 television film Doctor Who, he still made a wonderful Doctor. Dashingly handsome, and the first of the Doctors to be a sort of romantic fellow, he helped pave the way for the new era of Doctors which would show up about 9 years later, with Christoper Eccleston in the revised series in 2005. Even though he’s had numerous audio plays, and other tie-in media he had just recently stepped back into the shoes of this incarnation in the 50th anniversary mini-sode, Night Of The Doctor which I’ll post at the bottom of this article. Also, having just listened to Light At The End, an audio-play celebrating 50 years of Doctor, it gave me more of an appreciation for Paul’s Doctor. I only wish he got his own series, and maybe even should of been the one to come back in 2005 with the revived series. 3. Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) Yes, I may have never finished Pertwee’s run of Doctor Who (something I plan to do soon) I couldn’t help but check out the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker after having so many people tell me he’s one of the best, and rightfully so. Witty, funny, but also extremely serious when the time came, Tom Baker brought something new to Doctor Who, and made the character so very alien, like he should be. The Doctor is an alien after-all, and Tom Baker nailed that to the core. I’ve watched about three seasons of him in action, and have loved every minute of it. Let it be known, I’m not biased and have seen every Doctor in something and am not basing this list on a few handful of Doctors. This is based on all of the current 11 incarnations. Plus, that scarf is just so damn iconic. I want one! 2. Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) Some of you modern Who fans may crucify me because Tennant isn’t number one on the list, and that’s okay. I may have started watching Doctor Who with David Tennant (even though Matt was already The Doctor) but it doesn’t mean he’s my favorite, but it’s pretty close. Very, very close. David brought a more human side to The Doctor, and it made him easier to relate with than past incarnations of the Timelord, and that’s part of my draw to him. That, and his stories were wonderfully written, and he was a fantastic Doctor. His final episode as The Doctor may have had mixed opinions amongst the fan-base, but his regeneration was very emotional for me, as he was essentially the first Doctor I had ever watched, and at the time was my Doctor. I loved David, and still go back and watch his episodes quite frequently. However, for me there’s another actor who really feels like The Doctor to me, and will always be my Doctor for the rest of time & space… 1. Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) My Doctor, Matt Smith. He feels like the most alien of the Doctors, but also does feel like he’s the oldest (which he is), and can still come off as youthful, and exuberant. Now, most people have given Matt’s run a lot of crap for him replacing their favorite, “hot” Doctor, David Tennant but that’s just the nature of the show, and even though every Doctor is great I feel like Matt Smith at the current point in time is the genuine article you might say, and for me the best of the best. His run has also had the most emotional bits, and made me tear up the most. Whether it was the Pond’s final farewell (even though I didn’t really care for Amy, it was still emotional) his speech in Rings Of Akhaten, he knew how to capture emotion very well, and made me sympathize for him, and I think that’s why I love him so much. I relate to this Doctor the most in being that I’m lonely, I’m zany, wacky and all around crazy, but I do have very strong emotions for the people I care about, and will do whatever it takes to make sure the people I care about are safe. His Doctor had occasional moments of darkness, and I really liked it. And, I know for damn sure that come Christmas, I will weep like an angel when the regeneration scene happens and we say goodbye to Eleven, and welcome in Twelve. I’ll miss you Matt, but I will also welcome Peter in with open arms. The show is about change, and I already know Peter will do a wonderful job. — Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary episode ‘Day Of The Doctor’ airs on television, and theaters around the world next week on November 23rd. Below are two clips celebrating 50 years of time & space. The Night Of The Doctor which is the an appearance of Paul McGann as Eighth Doctor, and a trailer for The Day Of The Doctor which brings David Tennant back as the Tenth Doctor.      ...

Why Metro: Last Light is One of the Best Games I’ve Played this Generation

Why Metro: Last Light is One of the Best Games I’ve Played this Generation

Earlier this year, Bioshock: Infinite dazzled the masses; its story was proclaimed as one of the best in the history of video games, its world was held in high esteem, as was the game overall, and critics and players alike looked past its faults and heaped on the praise. ‘Game of the year…no wait, of the generation!,’ some claimed. While I enjoyed the game, (although I do feel Infinite peaks in the first few hours, with the middle being rather average and the ending decent) I found myself being blown away by another title: Metro: Last Light. It left me in awe, and not just because it’s utterly beautiful, either. Metro 2033 impressed me greatly with its depressing atmosphere and sense of hopelessness for humanity. I found a strange enjoyment in exploring the Metros and seeing how everyday life was a struggle. The game was by no means perfect, of course, but it was one of the most compelling games I have played this generation. However, if truth be told, I did not expect the follow up to be a greater game, so as such, Last Light surprised me–shocked, even–at how good it was Last Light features possibly the most realistic apocalyptic setting in modern video games, with some of the most subtle depressing moments I’ve ever experienced in a game. For example, if the player takes their time to soak in the sights, sounds and conversations of the Metro, they will be exposed to some truly heartbreaking tales, for it’s within the dialogue of the children (keep an eye out for an old man performing shadow puppets for the surrounding children) that the most depressing things can be heard. The adults of the game have adjusted to the harsh new world; the children, however, know nothing different.  It gives Last Light‘s universe a sense of life rather than just a background for the story to take place in. The story plays host to two elements of video games that are often hard to pull off effectively: betrayal and redemption. There’s one character within Last Light that becomes instantly likeable and endearing, whose personality shines throughout the time the player spends with them, their quick wit and maverick attitude being the character’s chief traits–and then they (using the word ‘they’ to try and avoid spoilers, be it a rather early game spoiler) betray you, and it’s genuinely disappointing. When I say ‘disappointing’, I’m not talking about the plot twist–it’s more a genuine sense this character has turned on you. It’s a rare case in which a betrayal actually has impact on the player rather than just feeling like simple plot progression. Last Light‘s story has a major theme of redemption running throughout it, which comes into play heavily towards the end of the campaign, and that theme is played up extremely well. The game assumes players chose the ‘bad’ ending in the original Metro, thus putting a lot of blood on the player’s hands and making the redemption more heartfelt. There’s a genuine sense of guilt bestowed on the player, and it’s almost to the point where the player feels like they are, in fact, the villain. It’s because of this that, depending on the player’s actions, the ‘good’ ending delivers a true sense of redemption. It’s an ending that genuinely feels well-rounded and well thought out, with no more questions or ifs and buts–just a great ending that leaves the player feeling optimistic about the world of Metro. Away from the previously mentioned elements, Last Light has a lot to admire: it’s one of the most beautiful games on the market; the game’s engine allows for some stunning imagery to be presented before the player; the Metros are a utter joy to behold (above the ground there are plenty of times I found myself in awe at my surroundings); the audio is utterly fantastic; and gameplay-wise, Last Light is smooth and enjoyable, allowing the overall experience to be constantly enjoyable. Last Light never becomes repetitive or prolonged; it’s a well-paced experience that takes the player on a true journey. The set pieces are nothing short of epic, the horror sections of the game are truly nerve racking, the story is compelling, and it’s simply a great game. The only real negative I can think of is ‘Ranger mode’ being sold as DLC, which is a great shame. Nevertheless, Metro: Last Light is nothing short of amazing. I can honestly say this is one of the best games I’ve played this generation, and my only hope is that it gets the love it deserves. Though I fear that in the grand scheme of things, Last Light will be forgotten about in favor of Bioshock: Infinite, the people’s darling…and that’s a great shame.    ...

Peter Capaldi Is The Perfect Choice For Doctor Who

Peter Capaldi Is The Perfect Choice For Doctor Who

I’m a huge fan of Doctor Who, and was thrilled to see that Peter Capaldi would be taking over the TARDIS from the current Doctor, Matt Smith. Even though I’m still fairly new to Doctor Who, I’ve still developed a massive appreciate for the television program and have watched all of modern day Doctor Who, and currently working on getting up to speed with all of Classic Who. I started watching Doctor Who in late 2011 after seeing an episode with David Tennant (10th Doctor) whom was the Doctor before Matt, and he was brilliant as well. My first episode was Unicorn & The Wasp which featured The Doctor, and then companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) working out a mystery about Agatha Christie, and her disappearance. It ended up being a ‘murder-mystery’ story and was extremely interesting to watch. I liked this episode. I then stopped watching the show for months until someone lent me their DVD copies of Series 5, and 6 sometime in 2012 which starred current Doctor, Matt Smith. I watched all of his episodes back to back, and immediately fell in love with how he acted, and portrayed the Time Lord. Keep in mind, I had only seen an episode with one previous Doctor so my views were a little biased. Matt Smith – Eleventh Doctor After watching all of Matt’s episodes I went back and watched all of David’s episodes. Yes, I watched Doctor Who in a completely reverse order, so maybe that wasn’t the best thing for me to do, but it’s what got me hooked on the series, and why I’m such a massive fan of it today. After watching all of David’s content I grew to enjoy him as The Doctor as well (same with Christopher Eccleston), but for some reason it couldn’t remove my love for Matt. I liked David, but to this day I will always perceive Matt as “My Doctor” and it’s why I’m so extremely sad to see him leave the series and the TARDIS in the Christmas Special later this year, but my hopes are high for the Twelfth Doctor, and soon to be owner of the TARDIS, Peter Capaldi. He’s a brilliant actor, and has had some very great roles. Malcom Tucker being his most notable, and there’s some people wishing to have a Tucker-esque Doctor controlling the TARDIS this time around. However, some “fans” complained about the casting of Peter because he was too old, and not “hot” like Matt, and David were previously. That’s idiotic. Some of the best Doctors were older gentleman, and wouldn’t of been considered hot. They brought something amazing to the role, and gave us what the show is today…50 years later. That being said, Peter Capaldi is the same age as William Hartnell (The First Doctor) was when he stepped into the TARDIS and started the program all those years ago. I think Peter will bring the show, and Doctor back to its classic roots and I honestly cannot wait and maybe we’ll see a “darker” side of The Doctor. Which reminds me, I need to get caught up on some Classic Who after writing this. I’m currently watching through Tom Baker’s (Fourth Doctor) era. If you watch Doctor Who, and you’re a massive fan. What do you think of the casting of Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor? Also, here’s a trailer showcasing all previous incarnations of The Doctor, up to the 12th Doctor – Peter Capaldi: The 50th Anniversary special ‘Day Of The Doctor’ airs worldwide, and in cinemas on November 23rd, 2013....