This has been difficult in some years. A chore, even. But this time, no problem.
Not for a moment did I struggle to come up with 10 worthy TV shows for my "best of 2013" list. If anything, there were too many shows that I wanted to include. Whereas on occasion in the past, I've had to hold my nose ever so slightly as I included certain older series that had paraded so-so seasons, simply because there was nothing better.
You'll notice there are nine rookie series on my list this year. Nine out of 10! I've never included anything close to that many new shows before. It says something, I think.
It has been a great year for TV. Maybe not so much for viewership, or at least concentration of viewership. But certainly in terms of quality and the wide array of choices available, on traditional television or online, or both.
Here are my 10 favourites of 2013:
10. The Blacklist
I have new respect for James Spader. And I had lots already. But for all the success he had in movies, he's an even more compelling TV star.
9. Sleepy Hollow
Yes, it's kind of goofy, despite the darkness and violence. But do you know what else it is? Fun. Television used to be fun, you know.
8. Under the Dome
No one watches TV in the summer. And for God's sake, they sure won't watch a network show in the summer. Uh, wrong and wrong.
7. The Following
Have to be honest, I'm a bit worried that Season 2 is going to be silly. But this isn't about Season 2. Season 1 was a thrill ride.
6. The Americans
Confirmation that Keri Russell's brief foray into sitcom comedy was an awful mistake. As a Soviet Cold War ice princess, she's brilliant.
5. House of Cards
Excellent political thriller with Kevin Spacey came along at the exact right time, just as audiences opened their minds to online-first premium content.
4. The White Queen
(Super Channel in Canada, Starz in the U.S.)
I love these great period projects that get you investigating the real histories of certain characters, because you want to know more.
3. Breaking Bad
This ranking is not based upon the entire run of the series, but merely its last season, which was really good overall, with an OK finale.
2. Masters of Sex
(TMN/MC in Canada, Showtime in the U.S.)
This 1950s-set series about game-changing sex researchers Masters and Johnson, starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, just got better and better.
Usually TV shows like this have wizards or magic. They weren't needed here. An honest look at some of the most noble but terrifying people in human history.
Honourable mention: American Horror Story: Coven; Bates Motel; Broadchurch; Chicago Fire; Orphan Black; Scandal; The Middle; The Walking Dead; Top of the Lake; Veep.