Best of the Best Lists: The Year's Top TV According to, Paste, AFI and More

'Bob's Burgers,' Anyone?

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EDITOR'S NOTE: To close out the year, Ad Age media columnist Simon Dumenco has been gathering up selected notable critics' picks across pop culture and presenting them in convenient, all-in-one servings by category. Yesterday's round-up covered the best music of 2013. The first round-up of New Year's Eve covered movies. And here, TV.

A poster for 'Bob's Burgers' playing off 'Breaking Bad'
A poster for 'Bob's Burgers' playing off 'Breaking Bad'

Indie pop-culture magazine Paste's 25 Best TV Shows of 2013 list starts with a telling note: "With basic cable, pay channels and now streaming services like Netflix cutting into their once-dominant domain, only four network TV shows made our 25 Best TV shows this year." Sundance Channel's "Rectify" kicks off the countdown in the No. 25 spot, with AMC's "Breaking Bad" taking No. 1. (The four network shows that did rate? Fox's "Bob's Burgers" and "New Girl," CBS's "The Good Wife" and NBC's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine.") offers its Best TV Shows of 2013 list in the form of a 20-slide slideshow. ABC's "The Goldbergs" ("Adam F. Goldberg's semi-autobiographical show has made sentimentality cool again, mixing in sweetness and warmth with the insults and laughs") starts off the list at No. 20; "Breaking Bad" takes the No. 1 spot. One late, great on the list: NBC's "30 Rock" (at No. 15).

Each year, the American Film Institute honors not just movies but TV shows "which best advance the art of the moving image, enhance the rich cultural heritage of America's art form, inspire audiences and artists alike and/or make a mark on American society." A jury of AFI members and trustees, scholars, critics and "film and television artists" gets to decide what to honor. This year's 10 (unranked) AFI Television Programs of the Year are FX's "The Americans," AMC's "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men," HBO's "Game of Thrones" and "Veep," CBS's "The Good Wife," Netflix's "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black," Showtime's "Masters of Sex" and ABC's "Scandal."

Finally, over the past few weeks Metacritic has been continually updating an algorithm-driven Critic Top Tens Scorecard for TV, as more and more of the publications it tracks have been releasing year-end best-of articles. (Just yesterday, for instance, it updated the scorecard to reflect the addition of lists from The Boston Globe, Salon and USA Today.) The basic math: "3 points for each 1st place ranking; 2 points for each 2nd place ranking; 1 point for being ranked 3rd-10th, or for being included on an unranked list."

And the winner by a landslide, with 112 total points (as of this writing), is "Breaking Bad." "Orange Is the New Black," with 45 points, takes second place, and "Game of Thrones," with 41, takes third.

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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