Best of 2013: The Top 10 TV Stories of the Year That Was
Glee bid farewell to one of its best and brightest stars, AMC sent Breaking Bad off on a high note and Syfy created a pop culture phenomenon. Those were among the 10 biggest television stories of 2013. Check out The Hollywood Reporter's review of the small-screen stories that had the town talking.
1. Glee's Cory Monteith dies at age 31. The actor, who played lovable quarterback Finn Hudson and proved to be the emotional anchor of the Fox musical, was found dead in his Vancouver hotel room July 13. An autopsy revealed that the singer-actor died of a mixed drug cocktail involving "intravenous heroin use combined with the ingestion of alcohol." Production on Glee's fifth season was delayed, and the series used the third episode of the season -- titled "The Quarterback" -- to say farewell to its friend and co-star. The episode, which did not (and the show likely won't) reveal just how Finn died, was well-reviewed and earned the show its best ratings in a year. Meanwhile, showrunners Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk (who directed the Monteith tribute episode) said the character's death "resonates throughout the year." Eagle-eyed viewers will continue to spot the memorial on the wall in New Directions' choir room.
2. AMC's Breaking Bad says farewell with a record-breaking final run. The drama from Vince Gilligan went out on top creatively and with more than 10 million viewers, outranked only by The Walking Dead as AMC's most-watched original broadcast to date. Thanks in part to strong word-of-mouth and a streaming deal with Netflix, all four of the final episodes of the Bryan Cranston-starrer set new records as THR chief TV critic Tim Goodman called the series one of television's greatest dramas, ranking it at No. 2 on his list of the top five dramas of all time. Meanwhile, Gilligan and AMC are prepping spinoff series Better Call Saul, with a Netflix deal firmly in place.
3. Netflix emerges as an original programming threat -- and more. With awards season original scripted fare including House of Cards, Arrested Development and Orange Is the New Black, the streaming service has proven to be a formidable force for broadcast and cable networks alike. The streaming service nabbed 14 Emmy nominations, including best drama for Cards; Netflix took home just one of the major awards (David Fincher for directing Cards). Meanwhile, the Kevin Spacey political drama tied with HBO's Behind the Candelabra for four Golden Globe nominations, while Arrested Development picked up two SAG Award noms in the comedy categories. Beyond the critical raves and awards season buzz, the streaming service also helped propel shows, including Breaking Bad and Scandal, to new highs as viewers were able to binge watch ahead of the new original seasons. Looking ahead, Netflix already has inked a deal with AMC to stream Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul -- which is in the early stages of development -- shortly after its broadcast stateside, and is prepping four original Marvel scripted series as well as a mini.
4. NBC sings with The Sound of Music. Produced for close to $9 million, NBC captivated the country with its long-in-the-works live production of The Sound of Music. While Carrie Underwood generated as many groans for her acting chops as Broadway veteran Audra McDonald did cheers for her stellar performance, the three-hour live showing clicked, drawing a whopping 18.5 million viewers, and tied with The Big Bang Theory in the demo with a 4.8 rating among adults 18-49, a success no matter what the reviews said. Meanwhile, NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt is already mulling what the network's next live performance will be, as NBC looks to boost its bottom line with returns from CD, DVD and international sales. If only NBC's other live experiment had been half as successful.
5. Mike Darnell exits Fox's top reality post. Darnell, now at Warner Bros. TV, was among three of the Big Four's top unscripted executives to exit their post since May. Joining him out the door were CBS' Jennifer Bresnan and ABC's John Saade. Their departures represent a telling sign of the softening state of the network reality TV business, which in 2014 saw American Idol, Dancing With the Stars and The X Factor all down year over year. Outside of NBC's The Voice, which returned September with a 5.1 rating among adults 18-49 and took home its first Emmy for outstanding reality series, the networks have failed to generate a new unscripted hit in years, despite big spending and heavy promotion.