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The MVPs Of The 2013 Summer TV Season

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | August 30, 2013 | Comments ()


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That’s it, kids. I’m calling it. We’re officially (if not technically) at the end of summer. It’s been a pretty bleak season, televisually, but not without its high points. Here are 12 performances that helped us get through the hot, sticky months. Bless them.

Best Small Screen Performance From A Big Screen Actor

Peter Sarsgaard — “The Killing”
Before the Summer TV Season started, I think most of us thought Liev Schrieber had this category on lockdown. But “Ray Donovan” is an absolute sh*tshow. And while many of us have some less than kind feelings towards “The Killing” in general, this season was the best yet, thanks in large part to an absolutely mesmerizing performance from Sarsgaard. Watching him Lecter his way through the first half was enjoyable enough, but he absolutely soared in the back half of the season making S3Ep10, “Six Minutes,” one of the best episodes of television this year. And that’s not something I ever thought I’d say about “The Killing.”
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Best Attempt To Make A Silk Purse Out Of A Sow’s Ear… Especially when Jon Voight Keeps Trying To Back Door Bang The Sow
Eddie Marsan — “Ray Donovan”
As I mentioned, “Ray Donovan” is a complete sh*tshow, but Marsan (who was also incredibly great in The World’s End) did the very best he could with what little he was given. He’s a prodigiously talented performer and deserves much better.
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Most Adept At Jerking Our Tears
Olivia Coleman — “Broadchurch”
I think many of us tuned into “Broadchurch” because of our fondness for (stalkery obsession with) D. Ten. But not even his protracted pronunciations of “murrrrrrrr-durrr” and patchy stubble could steal Coleman’s thunder. I’m basing this assessment on just the few episodes that have aired so far in the U.S., so you UK watchers might have to take this with a lick of salt. (Also, UK watchers, no spoilers in the comments, please.) We’ve seen so many gritty murder-based dramas this year that you would think we’d become immune, but I think Coleman is the reason the “Broadchurch” premiere was so effective. Ellie Miller is our proxy, our way into the case, and with all due respect to Luther or Linden or Holder, etc., DCI Miller has the emotional upper hand. Her connection to the victim and his family coupled with her disarming everyman demeanor make it easy for us relate to and be crushed by her pain. We’ll see how the rest of the series plays out.
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The Understudy That Could
John Oliver — “The Daily Show”
I had no idea, when summer started, that I would end up not missing Jon Stewart one little bit. But John Oliver killed it this summer. Bless his nerdy, angry heart. Carlos Danger dance? I think I’ll miss you most of all.
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Most Effective Prop Work
Alexander Skarsgaard’s Book — “True Blood”
I want this photo used in every literacy campaign from now on. If this truly was the end for Eric Northman (no, please no), then at least he went out in a naked blaze of glory.
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Best Head Of Hair
Sarah Rafferty — “Suits”
I just want Dustin to give me credit for watching “Suits.” I watched “Suits.” It has its highs and its lows, but Donna’s hair is always the best. So, well done, follicles. I salute you.
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Best Face Of Hair
This Guy — “Breaking Bad”
We still do not know what is going on with this guy, but I do know that Sam Elliott is likely weeping with envy somewhere. (Pornstache too.) My dearest wish for the 2014 TV season is that ol’ Mustache Face here shows up in the background of “Justified.” No explanation needed or desired.
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Best New Character
Bex Taylor-Klaus — “The Killing”
I already poured a whole lotta love on Sarsgaard, but it wasn’t his performance that kept me watching from episode one. It was this dazzling girl. This bullet to the heart. Kids are so often the weakest link in a dramatic cast (YES I AM TALKING ABOUT YOU, DANA BRODY, HOW NICE OF YOU TO NOTICE). Anyway, a large percentage of the plot this season was centered around Seattle street kids, and while the pack of them did a fine job, this young lady ran away with the show. I can’t wait to see what she does next.
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Best Returning Character
Anna Camp — “True Blood”
I am a big Anna Camp fan. Huge. And I had no idea the Sarah Newlin character was coming back to Louisiana this season. What a ray of f*cking sunshine, this one. And though the show had a fairly solid season overall, Camp in all her chipper majesty was a bright spot. She’s going to be such a welcome blast of fresh air on “How I Met Your Mother” this year. Aca-awesome.
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Best Fake Newswoman
Olivia Munn — “The Newsroom”
What on earth would we do without Munn? WHAT WORLD ARE WE LIVING IN THAT I ACTUALLY TYPED THAT? Sloan Sabbith? You are the best. Just consistently a rockstar. In fact, I think the Sloan and Don ‘ship is the only one that sailed successfully for me this summer. So good on you, Munn. Keep Munning.
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Best Slightly Less Fake But Still Fake Newswoman
Jessica Williams — “The Daily Show”
John Oliver may have held down the desk, but this woman stole the damn show. Her segment on the New York City “stop and frisk” policy is, perhaps, my favorite piece in “TDS” history. And that’s saying a lot. Williams and Samantha Bee also delivered a killer joint piece on “stop and frisk,” racism and the media’s discomfort on the topic. Just brilliant.

Best Performance By An Ensemble
These B*tches — “Orange Is The New Black”
I’m sort of sick and tired of people saying Piper isn’t the most interesting character on Netflix’s amazing prison dramedy. AS IF THAT ISN’T THE WHOLE DAMN POINT. Anyway, with much love to Taylor Schilling (who did an amazing job), this cast was packed to the brim with scene stealers. Not since “The Wire” have I truly cared about so many members of an ensemble. And though Piper got the thrilling, action-y close to the finale, it was this quiet, background character who got to shine the brightest. And that’s why this show is just that goddamn best.
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Best Performance Bar-None
This B*tch — “Breaking Bad”
Bryan Cranston? He’s amazing. He’s a juggernaut. And we still have five more episodes of “Breaking Bad” to witness that great man in the role of a lifetime. But Paul? Well Paul just walked away with it all this last week, didn’t he? Compare the affable, comic relief of Season 1 Pinkman to what you saw from Aaron Paul in “Confessions” and tell me that kid doesn’t have all the chops. Brutally sad and intense, that Paul performance is one we’ll never forget.
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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Best Nick Miller Face From Someone Who is Not Nick Miller:

    Aaron from So You Think You Can Dance. It's made the time without the actual Nick Miller just a little less painful.

  • Robert

    That last episode of Orange is the New Black was just such a delight. I've been wondering why some really cabaret/theater singers were playing tough as nails and/or insane prison inmates and the answer is clear: the Christmas pageant was always planned. Great arrangements, excellent performances, and a whole lot of heart.

    And yes, the point is that Piper is the least interesting character. We got that point around the episode where Sophia had to start scheming to get her hormones. It would have been nice to see some of the later character shifts pulled in earlier to at least keep the driving narrative moving. Like, say, more Pennsyltucky nonsense. Pennsytucky was awesome.

  • BuffyloGal

    Pennsyltucky's teeth are part of that awesomeness. Kudos to the makeup department on that show.

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm77...

  • Joanna, you finished the week off in the best way possible. Cheers! [I know I was overserved last evening. I evening have phone numbers from a couple of apparently lovely 20-somethings to prove it.]

  • Maddy

    This is why I hate that I can't watch The Daily Show in Australia anymore besides the odd youtube video. At least I still have the Bugle.

  • e jerry powell

    Is it not ironic that Jessica Williams took Olivia Munn's old job?

  • TheAggroCraig

    As soon as I saw Mustache Guy on Breaking Bad, I imagined a world in which he starred in a rebooted Renegade, and friends....that is a good world.

  • John G.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

    Gretchen = Joanna Robinson
    Fetch = Olivia Munn

  • JoannaRobinson

    Well, John, m'boy, we all know what happens to the Regina George's of this world.

  • googergieger

    Seem a lot better off compared to your Lindsay Lohan's of the world?

  • googergieger

    No, Paul still is no where near Cranston's league. Credit to the writing if you must.

  • olivia coleman has been a delight; i liked her comedic / sketch work on the late, great 'mitchell and webb report,' and it's been lovely to see her show her dramatic chops. she's great.

  • junierizzle

    How about both Demian Bechir and Dian Kruger, the show is 'aight as the kids say but these two are what keep me coming back.

  • emmalita

    I think Facial Hair guy should sit in the background at the inevitable Pawnee v Eagleton town meetings/tug-of-war. Ron and Eagleton Ron (Sam Elliot) will double take, or perhaps quadruple take, and then ignore.

  • L.O.V.E.

    Anna Camp is excellent. Bummed she hasn't been back on Mad Men and House of Lies.

    Along with Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow, she's the reason I would throw a wad of dollar bills at the local cinema for Pitch Perfect 22: Electric Boogaloo.

  • foolsage

    Aubrey graduated, so she won't be in the Barden Bellas next time.

  • emmalita

    By 22, I think she's either come back for her Ph.D. And is writing a dissertation requiring accapella experiments, or she's finally the faculty mentor they always wanted/hated.

  • foolsage

    Fair enough. And even if she's not a member of the Bellas, she can still be a character in the film.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Aaron Paul is simply fantastic and would make a WAAAAY better Skywalker than that Pettyfer rumour from this morning.

  • emmalita

    Agreed, but lets keep Aaron Paul untainted by that Star Wars mess.

  • Megan

    I think it's a requirement to hire bad actors on ANY Star Wars movie.

  • harrison ford is pretty good, though. i also like that mcgregor fellow. also samuel l jackson. and christopher lee. natalie portman is quite lovely.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I also didn't miss Jon Stewart. But I would if he was never coming back. I'd be ok with them alternating months, I think.

    My favorite segment of the summer might've been Colbert's on the gay Kentucky mayor. Hilarious & heart-warming.

  • faxbretscher46ox

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    olivia coleman has been a delight; i liked her comedic / sketch work on the late, great 'mitchell and webb report,' and it's been lovely to see her show her dramatic chops. she's great.

  • There'll Be Pancakes

    I must've been outta my mind back when I rolled my eyes each time John Oliver appeared. I used to hate him, HATE him, he was my least favourite correspondent. And he went in and smashed it out of the park so hard, now it feels like I am being punished for ever thinking otherwise because I DON'T WANT JON STEWART BACK, I WANT JOHN OLIVER FOREVER.

  • John G.

    He has a podcast called The Bugle to help you cope with your J.Oliver withdrawal

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