This is it, everybody. We've reached the final round of our Best TV Pilot of the Last 15 Years competition. It's been quite a ride over the last few weeks—surprising upsets, straight-up routs, and a whole lot of debate in the comments about what should or shouldn't've happened along the way. As these things tend to go, the voting in the semifinals wasn't especially close. We technically had one upset, but at this point there's no reason to pretend that Breaking Bad is anything close to a Cinderella. But this championship? It's a doozy. This could be the closest vote yet, and one that really gets to the core of the competition. Take one final look at the bracket and ask yourself this question: Which show had the better pilot (and pilot alone)—Lost or Breaking Bad?
One final time, I'll provide a few some thoughts about why you might want to pick one pilot over the other. But at this point, you're probably made up your mind. You have one more round and one more week to have an impact. This is for all the marbles... or something.
Lost (defeated How I Met Your Mother in the Semis) vs. Breaking Bad (toppled Pushing Daisies in the Semis)
WHY LOST SHOULD WIN: In the first three rounds, Lost garnered more than 18,400 votes. The shows it went up against only tallied about 6,500 votes. It won by the largest margin in Round 1, Round 2, and Round 3. It hasn't faced a true competition yet, and there's really no reason for it to start now. If we nixed the "last 15 years" thing and made this about the best TV pilot EVER, Lost would probably still strut right into the finals, and deservedly so.
Seriously, think about it: What TV pilots can really match Lost in quality, and even in influence? From top to bottom, writing, directing, set design, acting, editing, music, whatever or whomever involved with this pilot that you want to acknowledge, this is simply a masterclass in television pilotdom. You shouldn't be thinking about how the series concluded, or even how it allegedly went off the rails in Season 2. You should be thinking about those opening 80-ish minutes that immediately transported you to a world that was a lot like our own, but very different in important, fascinating ways. Don't be silly, don't think about Sunday's amazing episode of Breaking Bad. We're to name the best pilot of the last 15 years, and Lost's is it.
WHY BREAKING BAD SHOULD WIN: Sure, Lost steamrolled a bunch of other shows on its way to the championship, but look at those shows again. Alias? The Walking Dead? How I Met Your Mother? Please. Breaking Bad slayed the big dragons in this competition, besting The Sopranos, The Shield, and Pushing Daisies. It might have won with closer calls (about 17,600 votes for and 11,200 against), but the three shows defeated by BrBa are qualitatively better than the three Lost toppled; taking down Lost is just another, final step in that arc. Beyond that, Breaking Bad's pilot featured tremendous production and acting in its own right. Vince Gilligan's direction used the New Mexico desert as well or better than J.J. Abrams employed the beaches of Hawaii, and Bryan Cranston's performance was substantially better than that of any individual performer on Lost. In the wrong hands, this show could have been another Weeds, but with the dad from Malcolm in the Middle. Gilligan's were not the wrong hands, and Breaking Bad is sure as heck not Weeds.
THE BATTLE FOR THIRD
How I Met Your Mother (defeated by Lost in the Semis) vs. Pushing Daisies (defeated by Breaking Bad in the Semis)
Hey, you guys requested this. Not everybody here is a winner, but we can at least vote on who deserves to finish in third place. In my mind, it's no competition. Pushing Daisies' opening episode was much better than the debut installment of How I Met Your Mother. But maybe you think a comedy should earn that third slot, or maybe you just really, really hate whimsy. I dunno. But vote on this one as well.
Alright, party people. Take this week and vote your hearts out. Let's crown a champion (and a third place finisher)!