The top ten TV shows for 2013


2013 has been 12 months of illusionists, idols and infotainment on Kiwi television. As programming moves into the silly season, James Croot searches through the past schedules to share what he considers to be the year's best on the box.

Being Erica (Choice TV)
It might have long since ceased to air in its native Canada, but this Canuck female-skewed Quantum Leap provided a potent mix of sass, sexiness and seriously good storylines as our heroine tried each week to revisit her past mistakes. Erin Karpluk's winsome worrier enlivened otherwise moribund Saturday night viewing. And Choice still has three seasons to come.

The Fall (SoHo)
Gillian Anderson proved why she's one of the best actresses of her generation in this five-part BBC thriller set in Northern Ireland. She plays a talented detective who attempts to hunt down a serial killer stalking potential victims in Belfast. By no means an easy watch, especially late at night, but ifThe Fall nf does a terrific job of bringing to life fully formed characters on both sides of the law. Just shades the third series of Luther (UKTV).


The Good Wife (TV3)
One of the benefits of Mediaworks losing Fox programming is they've finally been forced into bringing back this quite brilliant legal dramedy after more than 18 months off the air. We're still more than two seasons behind the US, but the increased presence of Alan Cumming's spin doctor and regular cameos from the likes of Michael J Fox, David Paymer, Parker Posey and Matthew Perry have turned this from a dour Practice-esque drama into the natural successor to Boston Legal.

The Graeme Norton Show (TV3)
Still the most consistently funny hour on television, this is the standard by which all other talk shows must be judged. And the quality of guests just keeps getting better, it's very rare that Norton has to resort to a Britain's Got Talent judge thesedays. Cleverly followed by another terrific hour of locally-grown comedy in 7 Days and Jono and Ben at Ten.

The Great British Bake Off (Prime)The various Masterchefs and other cooking shows might draw larger audiences, but for sheer entertainment and education value nothing beats this appealing mix of competition and cooking class. It also helps that they've got two charismatic judges - Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood - and two hilarious hosts - Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. 

House Husbands (TV One)
Finally an Aussie dramedy both genders can enjoy equally. That's thanks largely to the terrific cast that includes Gary Sweet, Rhys Muldoon, Gyton Grantley and Firass Dirani and situations to will feel real to any self-respecting Dad involved in raising his kids. Now that the Rafters have packed up, this should be guaranteed a decent prime time slot.

Masters of Sex (SoHo)
A kind of Mad Men meets Kinsey , this drama about the pioneers of the science of human sexuality has been compulsive viewing since it first aired in October. While for once on an American cable show the nudity is relevant to the plot, it's the quality of acting (Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan are outstanding in the two leading roles) and gripping drama that keeps you watching.

Modern Family (was TV3)
One of the real losses to Mediaworks thanks to the non-renewal of their deal with Fox, this is the most consistently funny US sitcom on TV. A terrific cast of multi-generational characters, spearheaded by Ty Burrell's hapless Phil, Ed O'Neill's grouchy Jay and his madcap Colombian wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara). Those in need of a fix while we wait to hear about its new home should check out the season two marathon on The Box on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Rake (Rialto)
Rialto Channel's first foray into series programming came up trumps with this hugely entertaining ABC dramedy about a barrister who frequently finds himself on the wrong side of the law. Richard Roxburgh spouts memorable one-liners as if it was Shakespeare while the cast list oozes quality from Sam Neill to Hugo Weaving, Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths and a cadre of Kiwi regulars including Danielle Cormack, Robyn Malcolm and Roy Billing. So good TVNZ has picked it up for prime-time 2014 and TV3 has the US remake starring Greg Kinnear as part of its line-up.

Sunny Skies (TV3)
Harry had the big guns (Oscar and Sam), Agent Anna had a never-better Robyn Malcolm and enough audience for renewal, but this camping-ground set Kiwi comedy was the one that stole my heart. Oliver Driver and Tammy Davis were fantastic as unlikely brothers, while Morgana O'Reilly and Ian Mune just about stole the show. Proof that we can still make good scripted comedy even if The Radio did its level best to prove the opposite.

What was your favourite TV show this year?