Pierce: The 10 TV shows that we couldn’t help but watch
Television • The great “Good Wife” and nine more shows that make TV worth watching.

By Scott D. Pierce

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: December 27, 2013 09:14AM
Updated: December 30, 2013 12:55PM
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The 10 best TV shows of 2013: Leonard (Johnny Galecki, left) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons, right) on "The Big Bang Theory." Courtesy Monty Brinton | CBS

Anyone who says there isn’t anything good on television ought to watch while a TV critic tries to put a top 10 list together. It’s not easy.

Not because there are so few good shows, but because there are so many.

This year’s list is topped by a show that’s in its fifth season. A show that’s never been at the top of this list before. A show that has always been great and has become fantastic.

And that doesn’t happen very often.

1. “The Good Wife” (CBS) • This legal/political/family drama succeeds on all levels. And it went to a new level when longtime allies became enemies — when Alicia (Julianna Margulies) left the law firm she joined when the series began, leaving behind her angry ex-lover, Will (Josh Charles). Oh, and she made that decision the day she became first lady of Illinois. This is one of the few shows that leave you just dying to see what’s going to happen next.

2. “Game of Thrones” (HBO) • There is nothing else on TV that comes close to the scope of this astonishing series — and the storytelling is amazing.

3. “Breaking Bad” (AMC) • The tale of mild-mannered-schoolteacher-turned-vicious-druglord Walter White (Bryan Cranston) played out perfectly, providing one of the best series finales ever.

4. “Broadchurch” (BBC America) • This gripping murder mystery about the killing of a young boy was really about the small town where he lived and died.

5. “House of Cards” (Netflix) • Kevin Spacey was splendid as a vengeful congressman in this Americanization of the British series.

6. “Downton Abbey” (PBS) • Yes, it’s a soap opera. But it’s a really good soap opera — and those British accents class it up.

7. “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS) • This is still the funniest show on TV — and arguably funnier than it was when it began.

8. “Trophy Wife” (ABC) • This is the best show you’re probably not watching — a bright, funny comedy about a third wife (who’s not just a trophy) and an extended family that includes her husband’s two previous wives and three children.

9. “Rectify” (Sundance) • This is not your average TV drama. It’s a moody, deliberately paced, compelling tale of a man freed from prison 20 years after he was convicted of rape and murder because of new evidence — but did he commit the crime?

10. “Scandal” (ABC) • This show is so bad it’s good. Kerry Washington is great in the middle of this addictive mess in which a presidential election was stolen, the president smothered a Supreme Court justice, and the vice president killed her gay husband. And that’s just a tiny slice of the insanity.