The Emmy’s are just a few minutes away, which means it’s time for Chaos breeds Chaos to give out its annual awards for the best and worst of the 2013-2014 televisions season. But, instead of focusing on the tired categories of best actress in a comedy series and best TV miniseries or movie, this year, I’ve decided to create my own categories, some of which will appear every year going forward, and some that will vary based on the quality (or lack thereof) of shows during the current season. So, take a spin through what I consider the best and worst new shows and characters (parts two and three will be posted over the next two days), and when you’re done, if I somehow forgot to mention anything, or you completely disagree (or agree) with my choices, make your thoughts known in the comments section below.
Best New Show/Best Spin-Off: The Originals
When the idea of sending the Mikaelson clan (Klaus, Rebekah and Elijah) to New Orleans to headline their very own show, there was a fear that both the spinoff and the original show would suffer for it, not to mention that Klaus himself was starting to become a bit tiresome in his confused morality, so making him the lead of another show wasn’t as enticing as it may have sounded on paper. But all of those fears have been laid to rest, as not only is The Originals a fresh glimpse into the original family, but it unintentionally revitalized The Vampire Diaries by allowing them to move away from the increasing sense of repetition and give Paul Wesley a new juicy role (and a subplot that would infect both shows with creative new ideas). I said from the beginning that as long as Daniel Gillies (who plays wise, regal eldest brother, Elijah) was a regular character, the show would be good, and though it was a bit sketchy in the beginning when Elijah was staked and held captive by Marcel and Devina, he delivered every piece of dialogue with the zeal of a Shakespearean actor while remaining as threatening and foreboding as he was always meant to be. He’s a killer with a high degree of integrity, honor and a respect for his convictions. On top of that, he added so much gravitas to the familial strife and the forlorn love stories, which, without him, may have come across as forced as a daytime soap. Instead, he led the way for the birth of a high-quality show about the perils and benefits of family.
Worst New Show: Betrayal
How did anyone believe watching two people deliberately conduct an affair on their significant others would be an entertaining show? As USA’s summer entry, Satisfaction, has proven, it is possible, so long as the characters are likeable and have some sense of a moral dilemma. Satisfaction isn’t the best show in the world, but at least it introduced a conflict rich in depth, confusion and remorse, something I can’t say for the egotistical pair on Betrayal, a slow, dry and completely disengaging dud if there ever was one.
Best Returning Show: Person of Interest
If the first two seasons of this intriguing crime drama were good, this season took it to new heights. The additions of new regular cast members, Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker, has revitalized a show that didn’t even need revitalizing. They’ve added so much to the show in just their simple mannerisms and character nuances, that their interactions with our main heroes seems second nature. It’s also given Jim Caveziel and Michael Emerson a chance to provide some great moments of comedy, yet still remain true to who they were originally. And let’s not ignore the ability to continue to surprise us with twists that we never saw coming, as well as continue to change and become something greater than its original premise, keeping the show as flawless as a series can possibly get — and that’s saying quite a bit.
Worst Returning Show: Two and a Half Men
They’ve been trying as hard as they possibly can (to the point of desperation) to make Ashton Kutcher’s Walden Schmidt happen. Sadly, with the addition of Amber Tamblyn as Charlie Harper’s long-lost lesbian daughter (get it, she’s half a man because she’s a lesbian!), it’s gone past desperation into hopelessness. Not that much has actually changed for the last few years in characterizations or the like, but it truly seems everyone on the show is tired of the same old schtick, and I’m feeling it in the lack of imagination of the writing and the acting of all the players. Seriously, I don’t have any idea why I’m still watching, but with its final season coming up, I’ll hold on for dear life and try not to vomit as the show is finally put out of its misery.
Best New Character: Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), The Blacklist
When James Spader first arrived as a movie star, he bounced from the coolest cat in the room (Pretty in Pink, Wolf) to geekiest man on the planet (Mannequin, Stargate). But as he’s aged, and his sights turned to television, he emerged as one of the smarmiest men on the small screen, taking home three Emmy’s for his role as legal eagle Alan Shore covering both Boston Legal and The Practice. He’s transferred that unctuous “I can do no wrong” attitude to his newest role on The Blacklist, adding in a quiet remorse that has given Reddington a tortured demeanor. Spader knows when to go overboard and when to hold back, capable of remaining the smartest guy around without being so inaucious that it becomes irritating. He’s what keeps me coming back to a show that’s littered with underwhelming supporting characters.
Best New Character in an Established Show: Shaw (Sarah Shahi), Person of Interest
As I mentioned above, Shahi has scored big in her role as Person of Interest’s violence hungry assassin-turned-softy, Sameen Shaw. Every little nuance and subtle gesture reveals so much about who she is as a person — smart, brutal, sexy and clever, all in one small little package. And her growth over the course of the season, which saw her go from murdering everyone who crossed her path into a spirited kitten (she’d probably kill me for calling her that), just added that much more depth to what could have been a one-note character. And her scenes with Amy Acker’s Root are some of the best of the season. Kudos to the producers for giving the guys a little bit of a breather to focus a little more on the powerful women of interest (sorry Carter).
Worst New Character in an Established Show: Jenny Harper (Amber Tamblyn), Two and a Half Men
When it was first reported that Amber Tamblyn was going to join the cast as Charlie Harper’s long-lost lesbian daughter, I couldn’t help roll my eyes and say, “Why Amber? You’re so much better than that show.” But when she first appeared, she added a decent spark to a waning product and I was interested in seeing where the writers might take her. Sadly, Jenny quickly became a repetitive, humorless dud of a character. The writers gave her all of three things to do (drink, have sex and vomit sarcasms), making Jenny a one-note character with no real reason or purpose. If the writers had any creativity left, they’ll move away from the sex-addicted lush (I mean, not even Charlie was this bad, even in the later years) and give her an actual brain for the final season. Sadly, I don’t see that happening, leaving Tamblyn to wallow in painful mediocrity.
Tomorrow, check out more television awards, including the show that shouldn’t have been as good as it was, and the best new story arc in an established show. Go to Part 2 now.