First off welcome to the Penguin Awards. This is Rookerville’s attempt to wrap up the year. The one guarantee about awards shows and end of the year lists is that, inevitably, no one can ever agree on them. Rather than attempting to assign a numerical rank to something so subjective in nature, our approach to quantifying what took place during the previous calendar year is more broad – our own preferences in each individual category, with no definitive #1. The subjects of our end of the year series are those that we are passionate about, but ultimately, the person who truly decides the “best of” 2013 is you, the reader. After all, perception is everything. Welcome to the 2013 Penguin Awards, our tribute to the things that grabbed our attention over the last twelve months.
Rectify (Russ Stevens)
Let me begin by saying, I have certain rules that prohibit Breaking Bad from being my show of the year. If I didn’t have those rules, it would probably be Breaking Bad. But its not. That being said, Rectify was the best show on TV this year, and I’m beyond annoyed that no one watched it. It was about a man who may or may not have been wrongfully accused of the rape and murder of his girlfriend. He spends 18 years in solitary confinement before being released on new DNA information. He then has to re-integrate back into the world and his family. It’s sad, and it’s sometimes funny, but it’s always poetic. Similarly to 12 Years a Slave, it really paints the south is a hauntingly beautiful way.
Unfortunately Rectify was a 6 episode season on a network few have (sundance), so it didn’t really garner any nominations of any kind, but I can assure you that when you watch it, it will be one of, if not, the best show you will watch in years. It moves at a snails pace too, so you really get to have that firsthand viewing experience with all of life’s mundane activities. You’ll see through the main character, Daniel, that nothing is mundane when you haven’t done it in 18 years, including touch another human. Lastly, it will make even the most ardent proponent of our prison-industrial complex, question whether or not we are doing some things wrong. I can’t wait for the next season.
Game of Thrones (Nichole Louise)
This is hard because I have a lot of shows in my rotation, but I’m going to give it to GoT due to the epic viral reaction to the Red Wedding. My unlikely second runner up is Orange is the New Black because it’s like the little show that could and caught on like wildfire through word of mouth.
Once Upon a Time (Pat Wong)
The show has a great concept and an excellent cast that plays brilliantly developed characters. The show does a magical job reimagining fairy tale characters. In the first season, the Evil Queen/ Regina Mills (Lana Parilla) used an evil curse to take away happy endings by transporting the Enchanted Forest to the real world that creates a town called Storybrooke. In the real world, only the Queen retained her memories and all other fairy tale characters had no recollection of their past lives. Eventually, the daughter of Prince Charming (Joshua Dallas) and Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), breaks the curse at the end of the first season. The show has done a marvelous job mixing flashbacks to the past that portray its version of the fairy tale stories with a parallel story of the characters’ current lives in the real world. “Once Upon a Time” finished the second half of its second season and first half of its third season in 2013. Its characters are very intriguing. The main heroes are Prince Charming, Snow White, and Emma. Henry Mills is Emma’s biological son that she gave up for adoption. He is the truest believer in fairy tales and good. While they are great hero characters, the most interesting part of the show is its two main villains: the Evil Queen/ Regina Mills and the Dark One Rumplestiltskin/ Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle). Throughout the entire series and through the first half of the third season, they battle their inner demons while seeking redemption through their children. Regina’s redeeming quality is the love for her adopted son Henry. Rumplestiltskin’s redemption resides in his love for his son Baelfire/ Neal Cassidy (Michael Raymond James) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin). It is fascinating watching the development of these two characters as they reveal whether they are truly villains or good people and victims whose evil actions are due to a tragic past.
Of course, the show also introduced some new threats and a new world during 2013. In the second half of the second season, Regina’s mother, Cora (Barbara Hershey), arrives in Storybrooke for her daughter. Cora values power over love. Cora killed her daughter’s true love so that Regina would marry the king, Snow White’s father, and be a queen. Cora is an interesting villain because her actions are performed as misguided acts of love in the belief that status dwarfs the needs of the heart. Cora’s attempts to draw Regina back to the dark side. Her battle with the heroes is one of the great climaxes of the second half of the second season. Another character that has been brilliantly developed this year is Captain Hook (Jared S. Gilmore). I am a big fan because he reminds me of Han Solo, a scoundrel pirate that you just find yourself loving. At first, he is driven by his hatred and thirst for revenge against Rumplestiltskin. Later, he is motivated to be a hero again by his love for Emma. Of course, there is Peter Pan whenever there is Captain Hook. At the end of the second season, people from the real world attempt to destroy Storybrooke. However, they are actually working for Peter Pan and their real mission is to capture Henry and bring him back to Neverland as the key element in Pan’s scheme. As such, the first half of the third season brings us to Neverland. In an ironic twist, the show does a genius job in developing its version of Peter Pan as pure evil with no redeeming qualities when every other version of Pan has been a hero. Robbie Kay does an amazing job playing the twisted Pan. Even though the character is very fun and has his boyish charm, a true monster lies beneath the surface. There is a shocking twist related to Pan during the season and an epic finish to the winter finale of the third season. “Once Upon a Time” will give us its version of the Wicked Witch of the West in 2014. I cannot wait to see how they portray her. It is one of the best shows on television and definitely worthy of a nomination for TV Show of the Year.
Breaking Bad (Matt Cargile)
This list just wouldn’t be complete without mentioning one of the best shows ever. This show is in the conversation of maybe only three other shows. ‘The Wire’, ‘The Sopranos’, and ‘Friday Night Lights’. This show’s final season was a heart attack, plus a seizure, plus an anxiety attack, all rolled into one. I started the show 4 seasons behind so I was able purge my way to catching up and got to watch the 5th and final season with the rest of the world. Had I not caught up, I can honestly say I would’ve watched every episode of that final season without a break. If there was one word to describe the series as a whole, it would “complete”. The left no problem unresolved and turned over every stone. It was also probably one of the last national phenomenon finales we’ll see in a long time. I couldn’t leave this list without also mentioning another show that had its “final season”. ‘Eastbound and Down’ had a phenomenal final season, that no one would’ve expected. Its last season was probably its best and not a lot shows can say that. Another year and I would’ve given it to Kenny Powers, but this award, in 2013 belongs to Walter White.