2013 brought with it more surprises than I think even we all could have predicted.
Seven and Nine now are neck and neck for the number one network spot (Seven have it in total people; Nine have it in key demos and, importantly, their News service is dominating); Ten somehow went from bad to worse – dumped CEO James Warburton after only 13 months in the job but then seemed to counter with the appointments of Russel Howcroft to run Ten Melbourne and Adam Boland as the Director of Morning Television… who then launched an entirely new morning lineup to lukewarm-but-slowly-growing response in late November.
The ABC again delivered well above its weight – now the number three network in the country – and came under greater fire than ever before from the naysayers, including facing down the leak of the payroll details (the full effect of which we’re still yet to entirely feel); SBS continued to deliver as the the most overlooked and under-appreciated network we have, delivering new drama, comedy, sport along with the usual suspects we love; and Foxtel smashed it out of the park by delivering amazing US drama the same day it aired overseas (under their Express from the US fast-tracking policy) while also delivering to us the incredible new content from Netflix… and Foxtel GO/Play more than came into its own as the subscription TV service showed all five free to air networks how to deliver their product over IP technologies.
We got great new television, shit new television, amazing finales, horrible finales, shocks, telegraphed plot twists, new Aussie content that both amazed and appalled, and a whole new list of reality television “stars” that only the truly dedicated/desperate will care about (let alone remember).
So from this year I offer my thoughts on the year that has past, and I look forward to what you think (leave a comment and tell me what should have been in the list or what I got wrong). More than anything it’s been a year where we expected more and, more often than not, got way less than we deserved…
Best: Breaking Bad S05 part 2/finale [Showcase]
(Notable mentions: Wentworth [SoHo]; The Doctor Blake Mysteries [ABC1]; The Agony of Life [ABC1]; Gruen franchise [ABC1]; My Kitchen Rules S03 [Ch7]; Game Of Thrones S03 [Showcase]; Redfern Now [ABC1]; The Project [Ch10]; Modern Family [Ch10]; The Truth Is [Ch10]; Upper Middle Bogan [ABC1]; It’s A Date [ABC1]; Better Man [SBS]; Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell [ABC1]; Masters Of Sex [SBS]; The Newsroom S02 [Showcase]; The Block All Stars/S04 [Ch9]; House of Cards [Showcase]; Broadchurch [ABC1] The Voice Australia S02 [Ch9]; My Kitchen Rules S04 [Ch7]; The X Factor Australia S05 [Ch7]; Ray Donovan [Showcase]; The Walking Dead S04 [FX]; Dirty Laundry Live [ABC2]; Great Australian Bake Off [Ch9]; Vikings [SBS]; The Blacklist [Ch7]; This Week Live [Ch10]; Black Mirror S02 [SBS2]; In The Flesh [SBS2]).
Now has set the standard as being the show every other show will have to beat – for quality, story and finale. Breaking Bad wrapped up perfectly and honoured the fans with the rounding out of a tale that will be remembered through the ages. It was just SO. DAMN. GOOD. Bryan Cranston & Aaron Paul gave us perfect performances and left us with stunning memories of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Thank you, Vince Gilligan. Thank you.
Worst: TIED – The Mole & The Daily Edition [Ch7]
(Notable mentions: Reef Doctors [Ch10/Eleven]; Underbelly Squizzy [Ch9]; Celebrity Splash [Ch7]; Dexter [Showcase]; Parade’s End [Ch9/GEM]; Red Widow [Ch7]; Wonderland [Ch10]; Two Broke Girls [Ch9]; MasterChef The Professionals [Ch10]; Mrs Biggs [Ch7]; A Place To Call Home [Ch7]; Mrs Brown’s Boys [Ch7]; Come Date With Me [Eleven]; Super Fun Night [Ch9]; Beauty and the Geek Australia S05 [Ch7]).
Bringing back The Mole was only ever going to be for the fans – and so to screw with the episodic format so badly (one elimination in three eps?!) meant even the die hard fanatics didn’t end up caring. Multiple eps a week? Bad. Moving it to 11pm? Worse. It never really gained traction and vanished from whence it came. As for The Daily Edition – the self-serving, back-slapping, regurgitated conversational pap that is wheeled out weekdays at 2pm is a disgrace to television.
Biggest disappointment: Network Ten
(Notable mentions: Networks continually over-running programs [All Commercial FTA Networks]; Dexter finale [Showcase]; Underbelly Squizzy [Ch9], Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD [Ch7]; Australia’s Got Talent [Ch9]; A League Of Their Own [Ch10]; Good drama not getting eyeballs [All Networks]; Wednesday Night Fever [ABC1]; Power Games [Ch9]; A Gentleman’s Guide to Knife Fighting [ABC1]; Promos that giveaway major plot points [All Networks]; Wake Up [Ch10]; Homeland S03 [Ch10]; The passing of Peter Harvey).
There are so many that could have taken top spot but again it had to be the Network that used to plead for us to take it seriously. This is their third year of darkness and they slipped to the fourth highest rating network out of five… so there’s things to sort out. Even though they tried lots of things nothing really worked properly but with the success of the Big Bash League so far this summer perhaps things will improve? They can only but, right? Special mention to the passing of Peter Harvey and how well Nine did in honouring a journalistic legend.
Biggest surprise: Wentworth [SoHo]
(Notable mentions: Dirty Laundry Live [ABC2]; Shitsville Express [ABC2]; Ten hiring Boland; House Rules [Ch7]; The Truth Is [Ch10]; The Bachelor Australia [Ch10]; Osher Gunsberg back on TV; Sarah Harris poached from Nine for Studio 10; How bad the Dexter finale was [Showcase]; How good the Breaking Bad finale was [Showcase]; Seven Brisbane picking up Bill MacDonald & instating him with Sharyn Ghidella as ‘A Team’ newsreader).
It needed to be good to work and it was that and then some – a great reimagining of Prisoner Cell Block H with an incredible cast and script to boot. Danielle Cormack perfect as Bea like a deer in the headlights in her first days in prison and what a transformation we saw. Bring on season two in 2014 with word Joan “The Freak” Ferguson will be front and centre.
Snuck under the radar: Dirty Laundry Live [ABC2]
(Notable mentions: The Feed [SBS2]; Black Mirror S02 [SBS2]; Santo, Sam & Ed doing anything; Good Game [ABC2]; Better Man [SBS]; Masters Of Sex [SBS]; Vikings [SBS]; This Week Live [Ch10]; The Roast [ABC2]).
Live TV late on a Thursday night and funny enough to blow your socks off Lawrence Mooney and Brooke Satchwell held court and then some as they dredged through the dregs of gossip mags and blergh to deliver some of the funniest (and, in part, most controversial) moments of the year. Luke McGregor & Ronny Chieng also stood out as the guest reporters amidst the chaos. If you live in Melbourne it’s become a Thursday tradition so get along when season two kicks off in 2014. Comedy again the underappreciated ginger kid of the televisual family. Special mention to SBS2 – the home of pretty much everything you might have missed, so get over to their catch up app and sort it out.
Where The Bloody Hell Were You?: Downton Abbey S04 [Ch7]
(Notable mentions: Secrets and Lies [Ch10]; Puberty Blues S02 [Ch10]; Batavia [Ch10]; Ten’s primetime ratings; Spicks & Specks 2.0 [ABC1]).
If you wanted to see it you probably already have. If nothing else it highlights Seven’s dilemma – they attempt to get serious with fast-tracking content and then go and spoil it all by saving this series for “after the tennis” in 2014 (you could have purchased the box set of the season and seen it legally by then). The networks need to continue to work out how they want to stave off the bleed of viewers to alternate sources and implement a solution quickly.
Biggest move: Netflix deliver original TV – and kill it
(Notable mentions: Ten’s dumping of James Warburton & hiring of Adam Boland; Social media’s (continued) perceived influence on TV; The switch off of the analog TV signal).
House of Cards. Orange Is The New Black (and to a lesser degree, Arrested Development). Netflix have nailed their colours to the mast and shown that the traditional model of creating a show and metering it out doesn’t suit everyone – binge watching is the new black. Also signing up to Netflix from outside the US but saying you live in Beverly Hills 90210 seems to have become quite the thing too.
Stupidest move: Underutilised Alternative/Mutli Channels
(Notable mention: Tom Waterhouse on anything; Holding onto Reef Doctors and Come Date With Me for so long [Ch10]).
Again the government run channels lead the way on this – all the FTA channels seem to be doing with the other channels in their suite has been ignore them for most of the year (though admittedly with the English Ashes series in the middle of the year GEM did show it’s HD hand brilliantly). Little bits are starting to pop up though it’s been mostly underwhelming.
Best Repeat: A Moody Christmas [ABC1]
(Notable mention: Breaking Bad [ABC2]; Spicks and Specks [ABC2]; Puberty Blues [Ch10]; Doctor Who [ABC1/ABC2]; Agony Uncles/Aunts [ABC1]).
Ahh The Moodys. The six part series was delightful in 2012 and just as good in the run up to Christmas 2013. Bring on their new series in 2014.
2013 was the year of: TV delivering better content than the Cinema.
Breaking Bad. House of Cards. Game of Thrones. Ray Donovan. Wentworth. Redfern Now. The Walking Dead. Justified. Broadchurch. The Newsroom. [Insert your addition here]. So much great TV and we all get to benefit from it in the comfort of our own homes. It’s only going to get better in the coming months too.
2014, you have a lot to live up to…