Best of 2013: Was ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Bates Motel,’ or ‘Game of Thrones’ our Show of the Year?

Show of the Year -This is an article that we look forward to writing all year, mostly because as much fun as we tend to sadistically take at times in picking apart a bad show, we really love recognizing ones that are completely awesome and deserving of all the praise in the world. This is the third year that we have designated a “Show of the Year” by the CarterMatt team; the 2011 winner was “Community,” and last year the title went to “Game of Thrones” in a pretty hotly-contested race.

You can see how our readers voted for this award by clicking here (in addition to seeing who they voted for in a variety of other categories); but, we are not going to waste any more time here keeping you hanging like you are sitting around in a New Hampshire cabin with nothing to do but try to memorize “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.”

“Breaking Bad” is the 2013 Show of the Year.

We really wish that we could say that this was a competitive race this year, but it wasn’t. There was almost no debate at all as to what show should get the title. No drama did more with eight episodes, shocked us, and made us feel sympathy for a guy who really had proven himself time and time again to be a horrible person. There was a certain part of you that wanted to hate Walter White, and then a certain part that wanted to empathize with him. Vince Gilligan painstakingly created one of the ten best characters in TV history in our mind, mapped out a story, and told it like a guy who really understood how a story should be told.

But to say that this was solely Cranston’s show would be a disservice. If you look across the board, you had great performances from Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, R.J. Mitte, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, and so many others. Gilligan found a way of finding actors better known for comedy, whether it be Cranston, Bob Odenkirk, or even “Last Comic Standing” alum Lavell Crawford (Huell), and then pulling something unexpected and insane out of them.

There are so many astounding moments throughout this final season that it’s hard to list them all: The “tread lightly” quote, the video confession, Hank’s death, Jesse being tortured. Even that scene with the annoying waiter in the Mexican restaurant was priceless. Then, you had the series finale. It is almost impossible to satisfy the majority of your audience when doing something like this, but “Breaking Bad” got pretty close to doing it. Even though it felt like a foregone conclusion that Walt was going to die, you did not know how it was going to happen. Start to finish, it was one of the best finales in history, and a testament to Gilligan’s clear vision. It was so good, it made so many lame series finales over the years look ever worse.

Moving into 2014, there will be great TV … but there will not be another “Breaking Bad.” It may be a long time before we see a show succeed on this same level again.

First runner-up – “Game of Thrones,” HBO. Here’s the irony: “Game of Thrones” was better this year than it was in 2012, when it actually won this award. What happened? The level of competition went up. But thanks to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Gwendoline Christie, and some of the best effects and storytelling in the business, this series has nothing to be ashamed of. The way that they are able to adapt such a massive book series like A Song of Ice and Fire and make it into something that works in this medium is completely astounding.

Second runner-up – “Bates Motel,” A&E. Prior to this show premiering, we had some big expectations as a fan of both Carlton Cuse and Freddie Highmore. Even still, we had no way of envisioning that it was going to be this good. Highmore’s performance was an Emmy-worthy performance that somehow was largely ignored, but, like with “Breaking Bad,” it would be wrong to assume that this was simply the story of Norman and Vera Farmiga’s Norma Bates. It was about a community and the spread of darkness, anchored by a rotating array of villains (led by Mike Vogel and the remarkable Jere Burns). Even though you know that Norman is a “psycho,” there’s still mystery, and a plea for understanding. It’s visually stunning, masterfully-made TV that proves time and time again that you can make TV that is both scary and smart. It doesn’t have to go for the quick thrill or the shock value.

Here’s to hoping for some great television in 2014! We’re going to have more on that in the coming days, so be sure to check back soon for more on that. If you want to be a part of the journey, then follow the link here to learn how you can subscribe for more CarterMatt updates.

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