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.
Todd Firing His Gun Like A Total Putz On Breaking Bad
God, the last eight episodes of Breaking Bad were so great. From the beginning (“Tread lightly”) to the end (mass murdering Nazis with a damn machine gun hooked up to an Erector set), Vince Gilligan and company slammed the gas pedal to the floor and basically dared people to hold on. A+, gold star, everyone gets a pizza party.
But it’s a little bit of a cop out to select “all of Breaking Bad” for a list like this, and the ending was just picked apart by critics and devoted viewers around the world a few months ago, so instead I’d just like to remind you that Todd looked like a big ol’ doof when he was firing his gun during the Nazis vs. DEA desert shootout. I can’t decide if the face he’s making in that GIF tells us that he’s (a) just an awkward spaz, or (b) such a morally bankrupt sociopath that he can be super-nonchalant about being at the center of a violent firefight, but either way, this will be saved on my desktop for quite a while.
Eastbound & Down‘s Jetpack Showdown
And speaking of precious little moments contained in the run of episodes leading up to a beloved show’s finale, I’d like to talk about the jetpack showdown between Kenny Powers and Guy Young from Eastbound & Down.
See, the thing about this scene is that there are layers. The first layer is the sight gag, where two grown men are screaming at each while hovering 10-feet in the air thanks to water-powered jetpacks. Let’s not forget that part. Like, ever. The next layer is NOPE just gonna keep enjoying that first layer for a while. Might even do a shimmy dance. You know, like this one.
Justified Dropping Plot- And Character-Related Bombs On Us Then Never Speaking Of Them Again
Justified switched gears a little this season with its whole Drew-Thompson-mysterious-cocaine-airplane-accident thing. It was a blast of a whodunnit/who-is-he/where’d-he-go ride. I’ll let Art Mullen explain:
The first thing were gonna do is acknowledge that this guy is awesome. He shoots Theo Tonin, fakes his own death in a spectacular fashion, pushes a guy out of an airplane WHILE HE’S FLYING IT, parachutes into Harlan county with enough coke and cash to jump start the economy of a small country, and then he has the balls to get a job in law enforcement not once, but TWO TIMES… he spends a couple days riding around with you while you’re looking for him, and now he’s run off with a hooker that’s half his age. That’s some badass sh-t.
Yes. Yes it was. But in the process of laying all of that out, the show brought two things to the audience’s attention that it never doubled back to, and if they don’t do it this season I swear to God I will scream:
- Boyd Crowder — murderer, meth dealer, former Nazi, former cult leader, well-read Renaissance man — had a plan to go legit, and it involved forcing Kentucky power brokers to help him open a Dairy Queen franchise. I have many, many questions about this, and the only thing preventing me from asking them is the fact that I’m afraid I’ll never stop once I start.
- The existence of a foxy, poker-playing college coed grifter named Jackie Nevada. JACKIE NEVADA. Remember how I just said I wanted Justified to explain these developments a little more? Check that. I want Jackie Nevada to have her own show. I will write the pilot for free. It will be called “Riverboat Blues,” and it will end with a gunfight on the huge paddle wheel thingy that propels the boat.
Give me this, Justified. I am begging you.
The Greatest News Story Of All-time Reaches Its Conclusion
Readers of this site know that I have spent the last couple years covering the theft of Guy Fieri’s Lamborghini like it was the Cuban Missile Crisis, and with good reason. It had more twists and turns than a Christopher Nolan film, most of them thanks to the story’s antagonist: teenage supervillain Max Wade, who was found guilty of attempted murder and car theft in late October.
The full rundown of the Max Wade saga is here, but this is the short version: He rappelled into a luxury auto showroom one night and drove out with the yellow Lamborghini, and when police followed a tip they picked up while investigating Wade’s involvement in a motorcycle drive-by, they found what was reported as “a potpouri of gadgetry” in the storage unit where the car was hidden, including weapons, high-tech equipment, and a full San Francisco police uniform. Then, after he was arrested, some of his friends made a rap video about him (as seen above), and others (probably) tried to break him out of juvie with a sledgehammer. And it all started with Guy Fieri’s car getting stolen.
I repeat: Greatest news story of all-time.
Nathan For You‘s “Claw Of Shame” Episode
Comedy Central’s Nathan for You was probably my favorite new show of 2013, and one of my favorites all-together, and a big reason why was the “Claw of Shame” episode. Unlike other episodes of the show, which were generally a collection of two or three separates sketches, this one centered around a single, unifying premise: the show’s star, Nathan Fielder, has to try escape from a pair of handcuffs before a pre-programmed robotic arm removes his pants. In front of crowd of children. And a police officer who is prepared to arrest him and charge him with crimes that will label him a sex offender for life. I know that probably doesn’t sound funny, but you’ll just have to trust me on this one.
The Red Wedding
Game of Thrones? Never heard of it.