2014 Calvin Awards: Best TV Show
By David Mumpower
February 10, 2014
The category of Best Television Show was added in February of 2006. Prior to 2012, no series ever managed to defend the title. The winners were Deadwood, Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, 30 Rock, Mad Men and Modern Family. All of these marvelous programs, each a legitimate candidate for best series of the 2000s, experienced a decline in popularity the year after their triumph in the category.
In 2012, a new contender arose as the staff finally sold one another on a growing obsession. We selected Breaking Bad as our favorite program of the year. Oddly, some of our voters had been on the bandwagon a year earlier, as the Vince Gilligan masterwork had received more first place votes than any other title in our top 10 in 2011. Unfortunately, not enough of our staff was familiar with the product so it only finished in sixth place that year in spite of its tremendous top of ballot support. The confusion created by that set of circumstances caused the rest of us to catch up on Breaking Bad. The end result was a narrow victory in our 2012 voting.
By 2013, our entire staff proclaimed themselves Breaking Bad zealots. Even though no series had ever managed to repeat as champion in the category of Best Picture, Breaking Bad did so with ease. After winning by only a handful of votes the previous year, the saga of Walter White obliterated the competition in 2013. The margin of victory was roughly 70%, easily the largest ever in the category.
The only question heading into the 2014 awards is whether a handful of eight episodes would possess the requisite gravity to enable Breaking Bad to end as the three-time defending champion as Best Television Series. And the picture at the top of the column is a dead giveaway that it did just that. Yes, Breaking Bad is once again our staff’s choice as the Best Television Series of the year.
The primary difference between now and when we first placed it our top 10 three years ago is that people know what it is. That was not always the case as demonstrated by its ratings. Only three years ago, fewer than two million people watched the average episode of Breaking Bad. An astounding 10 million caught up with the program in time to watch the series finale the night it aired.
Breaking Bad delivered one of the most captivating arguments of all time that the television medium is a meritocracy. Ignored for many years, it suddenly became a cultural linchpin just as it prepared to air its final episodes. It is a triumph of storytelling that may never be matched again, and the staff at BOP is proud that we were (relatively speaking) ahead of the curve in celebrating its quality. It is truly the Best Television Series of the year and one of the greatest of all time.
The de facto favorite for Best Television Show next season is this year’s runner-up, Game of Thrones. It is a perfect successor to Breaking Bad in that its popularity is ascending in an eerily similar fashion. A popular HBO program its first two years, the adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy novels reached a crescendo last year. People unfamiliar with the source material were cordially invited to a Red Wedding during the third season’s ninth episode, The Rains of Castamere. The Internet exploded. Even in a year that revealed the fate of Walter White, the Red Wedding was THE seminal moment in television.