Everyone loves end of the year lists. At least, I’m assuming everyone loves them, because they are everywhere in December. Best Episodes, Best Quotes, Best Characters, etc. Everywhere you look, people are remembering and/or eulogizing 2013. It’s understandable, and kind of fun, and HEY I haven’t made an end of the year list yet. That won’t do at all. Let’s remedy this situation, post-haste.
A brief note before we begin: This list contains spoilers, and is, for the most part, very stupid. I am sure I forgot your favorite moment from your favorite show, or possibly even my favorite moment from my favorite show. Remembering things is hard. Especially things that happened 12 months ago, which is like four geologic eras in Internet time. If you have something you’d like to add, feel free to toss it in the comments, or, like, make your own list.
Anyway, without further ado, the best — read as, “my favorite” — moments and stories from the 2013 year in television.
Here’s what I want to do: I want to go back in time. And I want you to come with me. We are going back to July 1st of this year, 24 hours before the first trailer for Sharknado was released, and a week and a half before it set Twitter on fire during its premiere. (Only a week and a half? Jesus. I could have sworn there was a solid month between the trailer and the premiere. I was, shall we say, a bit excited.) We need to talk about it stripped of all the hype, and over-hype, and beating into the ground that came later. Fresh eyes, open minds, etc. Focus. Let the hamster in your brain crank away on the wheel that you’ve designated for these kinds of thought experiments. I’ll give you a minute.
Okay, you there? You are? Great.
YO. THERE IS GOING TO BE A MADE-FOR-TV MOVIE ABOUT TORNADOS FULL OF SHARKS. IT IS GOING TO STAR IAN ZIERING AND TARA REID. THE END OF THE MOVIE IS GOING TO FEATURE A BARTENDER AND A TEENAGER FLYING A HELICOPTER, AND THEY ARE GOING TO THROW DYNAMITE INTO THE SHARK-FILLED TORNADOS, AND THIS PLAN IS GOING TO WORK. AND THEN THE BARTENDER IS GOING TO GET SWALLOWED BY ONE OF THE AIRBORNE SHARKS AND IAN ZIERING IS GOING TO JUMP HEAD-FIRST INTO THE SHARK’S MOUTH HOLDING A CHAINSAW AND USE IT TO CUT BOTH OF THEM OUT FROM THE INSIDE. AND A MONTH FROM NOW TARA REID WILL TRY TO EXPLAIN WHALE SHARKS AND IT WILL BE TEN-PLUS KINDS OF FUNNY. THIS IS ALL HAPPENING. SOON. TRUST ME. BUCKLE IN.
If you did this correctly, you should be very, very excited right now.
Dexter‘s Treadmill of Doom
Let’s stay on the subject of hilarious violence, lest you think Syfy had the market cornered this year. Nope. Not by a long shot. 2013 was a banner year for preposterous, improbable bloodshed. There was the knock-down, drag-out fight from True Blood that ended with murder by stiletto, there was that ubiquitous halved cow GIF from Under the Dome, and there were many other examples. But nothing — NOTHING — topped the Treadmill of Doom from Dexter’s flaming train wreck of a final season.
What is your favorite part of this scene? Is it the part where the little boy’s stunt double is clearly a fully grown man in a floppy blond wig? Is it the obviously dubbed “Owwwwwwww” moments before he is launched clear across the room by a treadmill that was moving at a rate of speed best described as “Something Less Than A Child’s Sprint, For Christ’s Sake”? Or is it the part where the writers for Dexter needed an excuse to send a young boy to the hospital, and they went with CATASTROPHIC TREADMILL ACCIDENT instead of, like, oh, I don’t know, falling out of a tree, or burning his hand on the stove, or literally anything else, because 6-year-old boys are more injury prone than starting pitchers for the Mets?
The correct answer is “Everything.”
Kevin Spacey’s Immaculate Pronunciation Game
Most of the focus on Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards performance centered in on his repeated breaking of the fourth wall, which, I mean, yeah. Actors rarely break the fourth wall in television, and even when they do it’s usually indirect (think Abed in Community) or a one-off special circumstance. That makes Spacey going full Zack Morris multiple times every episode notable. But keep this in mind: that was a production/writing decision. It was in the script by the time it got to him. He did wonders with it, but still, he only gets partial credit for bringing it into our lives
You know what he gets full credit for, though? The decision to have his character pronounce every word that started with “wh-” with a few extra h’s tacked on the front, hhhhwhich resulted in a little hhhhhwhistle-like sound each time he did it. It would have been distracting if I didn’t love it so much.
NOTE: Did any actor enjoy his role more in 2013 than Kevin Spacey enjoyed playing Frank Underwood on House of Cards? I’ll give you James Spader playing Red Reddington on The Blacklist, maybe, but that’s it. That’s the list. Those two spent the vast majority of their year chewing up all the scenery on set and then regurgitating just enough of it back into their co-stars mouths — like a loving Mama Bird — for them to get through that particular scene. God love them for it. Let the big dogs eat, I say.
The Spring of Mad Men Conspiracy Theories
Quick recap: For a few weeks in the middle of Mad Men‘s sixth season, the Internet — for a number of reasons, ranging from “Excellent” to “Okay, easy there, Champ” — was convinced that Megan Draper was either going to die or was already dead. And that Don was going to die. And that Joan may actually be the mother of Maggie Gyllenhal’s character in Secretary. And that Bob Benson was a spy and/or serial killer and/or an alien (probably). And a bunch of other things, many of them collected and put forth by our own resident conspiracy theorist/deep thinker, Dustin. It was incredibly fun while it was going on, but in hindsight, it might have all got a little out of hand. So out of hand, in fact, that Mad Men showrunner Matthew Weiner — a noted spoilerphobe who doesn’t even send out screeners to critics lest a vague allusion to a plot point leak out in a review — actually put some of the rumors to bed himself in an interview with the LA Times:
“I don’t want to spoil anything for people, but after Lane …” Weiner began, referring to the late, great Lane Pryce, who was the ad agency’s financial officer until he hanged himself at the end of last season.
“They’re barking up the wrong tree,” Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy, added.
Weiner: “It’s just not part of the show. No one’s going to die.”
At this point, Pare exhaled loudly and sang out: “Thank God!”
“This season,” Weiner interjected, laughing. “I didn’t say never!”
So, yeah. Still no word on whether Pete Campbell will get eaten by a bear, though. Fingers crossed.