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Matt Zoller Seitz Names ‘Hannibal’ the Year’s Best Show

Matt Zoller Seitz Names 'Hannibal' the Year's Best Show

The best-of lists keep rolling in, and Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz has thrown his two cents in. Seitz picked “Hannibal” as the best show of the year (damn right), going over more popular number one choices like “True Detective” (which made his list) and “Transparent” (which did not). Here’s the full top ten:

1. “Hannibal” (NBC)
2. “Olive Kitteridge” (HBO)
3. “Private Violence” (HBO)
4. “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)
5. “The Missing” (Starz)
6. “The Americans” (FX)
7. “Mad Men” (AMC)
8. “True Detective” (HBO)
9. “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” (Fox)
10. “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” (PBS)

And here’s what Seitz had to say about his number one:

Bryan Fuller’s TV adaptation of Thomas Harris’s fiction is a total vision — mournfully expressionist, shockingly violent, and strangely tender. Virtually alone among television dramas, network or cable, it demands that viewers make an imaginative leap and see its nightmarish action as both figurative and emotionally real. It’s also one of the scariest shows in TV history, delivering images every week so potent that they lodge in the viewer’s memory like rusty barbs. And yet for all of its ugliness and horror, it is an intensely pleasurable experience, appallingly sensual, laying out food, furniture, clothes, windows, doors, and landscapes with painterly exactness…

The rest of the list features some of the most idiosyncratic picks of the year: Seitz is, as far as I’ve seen, the only critic to include a science series, an HBO documentary or a PBS documentary series on his top ten list. Here’s what he had to say about “The Roosevelts”:

I nitpicked this Ken Burns epic when it first aired, as I tend to do with all of his work, yet months later I find myself thinking about the grin on Teddy Roosevelt’s face and those clenched fists. Burns is a wonderful storyteller and a great explainer, but he never gets enough credit for his ability to take dry historical personages and transform them into living, breathing characters, so real that we can imagine ourselves talking to them.

Seitz also made room for the year’s best miniseries on his list, putting “Olive Kitteridge” second only to “Hannibal”:

Adapted by director Lisa Cholodenko and writer Jane Anderson from Elizabeth Strout’s novel, this miniseries blended small-town, literary-fiction-style domestic drama, gentle satire on American obsession with success, and sensitive commentary on the reality of living with mental illness; all this, plus brilliant camerawork (by Frederick Elmes) and note-perfect performances (by Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, Zoe Kazan, and many others) combined to create one of the year’s best scripted programs.

Yet Seitz did have room for popular favorites as well. “Mad Men,” “The Americans,” “Last Week Tonight” and “True Detective” all found a spot on his list. Here’s what he had to say about “True Detective”:

This madly ambitious attempt to reinvigorate southern pulp, neo-noir, and the police procedural overreached quite often, but its audacity, formal assurance, and frequently droll humor were intoxicating. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are a buddy cop team for the ages, and perhaps the best yin-yang pairing of lead actors since William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy on the original “Star Trek.”

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