ScreenAnarchy's Best Of 2013: Television From Lands Other Than America

Founder and Editor; Toronto, Canada (@AnarchistTodd)
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At this point it's almost a truism to say that TV is in a new golden age, the twin factors of contraction within the former 'mid-tier' of films geared to adults and the rise of the cable nets embracing those same talents having resulted into a massive boom of long form story telling of exceedingly high quality. And while American shows tend to top many best of lists - Game Of Thrones rests at the top of my own - the fact is that audiences are watching more international television than ever before and while US shows may take up a couple slots in the top three of my personal list it's international shows that dominate the Top Ten. So here are a selection of our favorite international shows.

Please note that for the purposes of this list we've restricted ourselves to content readily - and legally - available in English speaking territories so that our core readership actually has a prayer of going out and finding it. So if your favorite bit of international TV exists only as a fansub on some foreign drama website ... well, it aint here, no matter how awesome it is. But please feel free to tell us what it is and why you like it in the comments section below.

Shows listed in alphabetical order.

Shelagh Rowan-Legg, Hugo Ozman, Jaime Grijalba Gomez, Todd Brown and Ard Vijn contributed to this story.

The Ambassadors (UK) Selected by Todd Brown

Let me be the first to say that I run very hot and cold on UK comedy duo Mitchell & Webb. Best known for their work on the long running Peep Show, when the duo are on top of their game they're very, very good. But when they're not I find them borderline unwatchable. But they're very much on their game with recent three parter The Ambassadors.

The duo play the British ambassador and his top aide in a fictional Central Asian republic in a scenario that has about as much to do with actual politics as hospital set UK comedy Green Wing had to do with actual doctoring. Which is to say none at all. It's essentially a fish out of water scenario with the fish being very, very much out of the water driven by very clever writing that steers well clear of obvious punchlines. It's not my favorite show on this list but it's very much the best thing the duo have done since Peep Show was in its prime and I'd very much like to see more.

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attack on titanblack mirrorborderlineborgendaghellfjordluthermoone boypeaky blindersthe ambassadorsthe bridgethe fallthe killingthe returnedtop of the lakeutopia

More about ScreenAnarchy's Best of 2013

Around the Internet

ZetoDecember 27, 2013 12:36 PM

Thanks. Great recomendations.

MikeDecember 27, 2013 1:17 PM

Nice, I hadn't heard of some of these. I remember hearing that they were doing a couple more Peep Show seasons, did those turn out any good? The show was starting to get stretched a little thin.

anfkjsdDecember 27, 2013 5:01 PM

Way to oversell the generic shonen shit that is Attack on Titan.

Gilbert LiDecember 27, 2013 9:44 PM

The UK crime series Broadchurch captivated me immediately. The various characters in the small town were fleshed out well. And it was beautifully shot.

ZetoDecember 28, 2013 12:33 PM

Seeing Attack on Titan all I can think of is... how superior is japanese TV animation to any other.

Todd BrownDecember 28, 2013 3:56 PM

I generally feel the same way about Peep Show. There are a couple of seasons that are absolutely amazing but there was so little progression to it that it just got really tiresome to me by the end ...

IshtarGateDecember 29, 2013 8:24 AM

Could've mentioned the Indian remake of 24, considering it was the first watchable TV show in years in the toxic cesspit that is Indian television.

Jedi4life2003December 29, 2013 1:25 PM

Can't wait for more Hellfjord and Utopia, I want to check out Moone Boy and Dag

Spoiler DailyDecember 29, 2013 5:57 PM

Thanks for the list. You should also check "Penoza". A Dutch drama series about a wife who loses her husband and inherit his drug empire. The Americans made a terrible remake (Red Widow), but the original one is awesome. And when you'r doing that, you should also check "Overspel" another brilliant Dutch drama series.

Snoop LionDecember 29, 2013 7:38 PM

Love the selections, especially Top of the Lake which I agree is the best TV show of the year from anywhere, but as always I'm completely flabbergested where you found the time to watch all of these TV shows Todd.

Todd BrownDecember 30, 2013 11:23 AM

Kristy and I binged most of 'em.

Todd BrownDecember 30, 2013 11:24 AM

I've heard GREAT things about both but haven't found them with English subtitles. If anybody knows of someplace where they've aired, I'd LOVE to see them.

Kujo2020December 31, 2013 4:16 PM

This is awesome. I haven't heard about some of these shows.

I haven't a chance to watch "The Returned" yet, but will soon.

I've been looking for a new anime series to watch. Look forward to checking out "Attack on Titan".

I've had "The Fall", "Top of the Lake", "Black Mirror (both seasons)" for a while now, just haven't time to view them yet.

Not sure how I missed "Peaky Binders". I think I heard about the show a while back, but I totally forgot it about. I

"Luther" is a solid, but it's a flawed show. It is worth watching just for Idris' performance.

I highly recommend Channel 4's "Top Boy". Two seasons in, only 4 eps per season. It's kind of like the UK version of "The Wire".

I also like "Misfits", though I haven't watched the final season yet.

chieftain20January 2, 2014 12:32 PM

Read my mind. And for those who down-voted his comment. Get back to your Narutard, Bleach-drank, and never ending One Piece. There are too many series killed by the generic action drag on shit they have.

Merce isn'tgivingherlastnameJanuary 2, 2014 12:40 PM

If you needed further convincing to watch Attack on Titan :)

Cathal McCrowleyJanuary 2, 2014 1:00 PM

How can both of you guys only see Attack on Titan as generic? The only thing I can think of that might be even close to "generic" are the three main characters.

121848January 2, 2014 1:35 PM

They just cant see what good anime is anymore. Take your bias claims of the internet and away from our lives.

Alex DJanuary 2, 2014 7:04 PM

Please don't pretend that you even read One Piece.

Alex DJanuary 2, 2014 7:05 PM

I'm at a bit of a loss with this lists. Where is Sherlock? :(

Todd BrownJanuary 2, 2014 9:49 PM

Sherlock didn't air in 2013.

Katelyn GaffneyJanuary 3, 2014 4:01 AM

Generic shonen, Really? Please explain to me how it's generic? In naruto and bleach the main characters NEVER die, and normally those close to the main characters usually never die as well. Yet almost everyone close to Eren in Shingeki no Kyojin dies. He watches as his mother gets her spine broken and is then bitten in half by a titan, as he is carried away by their family friend Hannes. He's 10 years old by the way. When he becomes part of the military his entire squad (minus Armin) are killed by titans. Then when he becomes part of the special ops squad, which is comprised of some of the strongest humanity has to offer and should be around for a while, are killed off 2-3 episodes after we meet them. Not to mention their squad leader Levi aka "Humanities strongest" injured his leg while trying to save Eren from the female titan, as well as avenge his fallen comrades, and is not of much use. If you read the manga, you know that Erwin, the commander of the entire scouting legion, gets his arm bitten off, then he and Mikasa are about to be eaten by the very same titan that killed Eren's mom when Hannes jumps in to save them, like the first time, only this time Eren looks on in horror as Hannes is eaten right in front of him because for some reason he can't turn into a titan. If this were Naruto or Bleach the main characters would have been able to save their friend/family. Shingeki no Kyojin is a VERY dark anime/manga. It's not black and white, good vs evil Naruto vs Madara, Ichigo vs the Quincies, there is a lot of grey areas in this series. The titan shifters don't want to fight against humanity, they're being forced to by some unknown force or being. There is no "so and so is the bad guy!" we don't know anything. And in the most recent chapters, it's been discovered that some how Connie's whole village was turned into titans, which means that someone or something has the power to turn humans into titans. Which also means that all the titans that have been killed so far were once human. Generic my ass.

anfkjsdJanuary 7, 2014 2:15 PM

So, Oda reclycing his formula every new arc again doesn't bother you? See you in 20 years when we find out how trivial the "One Piece" really is (I still enjoy the series though).

anfkjsdJanuary 7, 2014 2:17 PM

What are you doing outside your precious MAL forum? Hope it doesn't hurt too much.

anfkjsdJanuary 7, 2014 2:35 PM

Angsty teenage edge with people dying doesn't make it not generic. One of the authors favorite is MuvLuv so it's not like he had much of a plan. See this (aka $€$$$$):

"Isayama is reluctant to slaughter his cast.
However, one of the more substantial changes to the series' direction is that he was abandoned plans for an audience traumatizing ending. He had been thinking about something along the lines of the Frank Darabont adaptation Stephen King's The Mist, but response to the series, and especially his anime adaptation has left him unable take that path, and a bit lost. With all the support that the series has received, he didn't want to slam the fans with a traumatic conclusion."

If you look at the Chapter 0 on which the manga is based you will see that he just goes about random.

Why is it still generic? Do you need to ask? Did you watch the show? Stupid overpowered bullshit like Mikasa and Eren are enough pointers.

Why is it shit?

- Horrible pacing (LE EPIC BOULDER MOVING ARC)

- The adaptation featuring uncompleted animation (GJ WIT)

- Copy pasta backgrounds (not even trying)

- No detail in the art if it's not a closeup (QUALITY ALL AROUND)

- Stillframes fiesta in my ANIME

- Did you really think we were going to the cellar? No buddy $$€ (**SHONEN SHONEN SHONEN SHONEN**)

- Powerlevels are crap. Levi and Mikasa can on occasion facemelt but hey, humanity is shit and can't overpower titans as a group (the subtiers even)

- Eren kills more people than Annie (or what her name is) ever did

- Armin is not smart silly

- Issues in battle placements in relation to time


- That fucking Eren being burried under boulders scene. My name is Armin and I'm gonna motivate you to getting up from below those. Oh, gotta go! <insert ssj="" eren="" transformation="">

- That spoon filler flashback

- Their fans

- Their fans

I'm certain it exceeded your favorite anime with edgy Kirito though.

Is it watcheable? Sure, it is. Should you hype it? Heck no. Is it even AOTY? Not by lengths.

anfkjsdJanuary 7, 2014 2:40 PM

That show is a baaaad example buddy.

anfkjsdJanuary 7, 2014 2:47 PM

Oh boy is he bad. TWD fan. Claiming it was the best thing to happen in a longtime. Those posters, all these "I just saw the big thing Hollywood shoved in a cinema near me". Great!

ZetoJanuary 8, 2014 10:44 AM

Even so... the japanese animation as a medium is far superior.

GuestApril 19, 2014 9:24 PM

Spiral didn't air in 2013, but it's a great French crime series. I believe the next season is coming out in 2014. Also, I can personally vouch for Borgen.