Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Television Top Tens of 2012: Episodes

It is that time of the year. The time for lists.

I have traditionally done 4 television lists biannually- once at the end of the TV season, and once at the end of the year. This year, I decided to cut the Top 10 Worst Series list. It just wasn't feasible to compare ¡Rob!, Work It, Are You There, Chelsea?Ben and Kate, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, and Anger Management.

Okay, I don't hate Ben and Kate that much.

That leaves three lists that I actually did. You're also getting two lists from my friend, and occasional blog contributor Brett Alazraki. First up is episodes.

REMINDER: Lists are subjective. I ranked what I like. I don't watch Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones or The Good Wife or Boardwalk Empire or The Vampire Diaries or Downton Abbey or Brickleberry. So if a show isn't included, it's probably because I didn't watch it, or because I didn't like it as much as the shows I listed. But feel free to ask away in the comments.

To start with the episodes list, I made a massive list of episodes I had in consideration. Here are the Honorable Mentions, with the episodes that were closer to making the list highlighted in yellow. These are listed in alphabetical order by series. I also limited my actual Top 10 to one episode per series, so some of these may actually be among my 10 favorite episodes of the year (okay, "Win, Lose, or Draw" definitely is).

Some notes on those:

-"At the Codfish Ball" was the Mad Men episode I chose in my end-of-season list, but on rewatch I preferred a different episode.

-I wasn't a huge fan of girls, but the Shoshana plot in "Welcome to Bushwick a.k.a. The Crackcident" was phenomenal, as I wrote about here.

-The Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Late Show with David Letterman episodes are the post-Hurricane Sandy episodes that went on without a studio audience.

-The Smash pilot was actually good. You probably even liked it. Don't blame it for what came after.

-Meghan Ory is my absolute favorite part of Once Upon a Time, and the two Ruby-centric episodes have been two of my favorites.

-I finished this list a couple of weeks ago, but HIMYM's winter finale 2-parter would have also made this list.

-Happy Endings' "The Kerkovich Way" and 30 Rock's "Leap Day Williams" were my last two cuts. Those two shows are two of my favorite comedies (we'll get there) but are more about individual moments and jokes than full episodes (often the B or C storylines are completely forgettable). That said, if I didn't conform to the norm and did a Top 12 (for 2012!) they would be on there.

Which brings us to the actual Top 10. Unlike my series lists, I did not rank these. It was just too much.

Let's take these in the order they're listed.

-Bent- "Tile Date": This was the season (and series) finale for Bent, NBC's short lived (six episodes in three weeks!), star-filled (well, tv-wise at least) sitcom. This episode was the highlight, and left me wanting more episodes.

-Community- "Curriculum Unavailable": The show's second faux clip show wasn't as shocking as its first, but it was still brilliant in its own right. The insane asylum flashback, in particular, was a series highlight.

-Cougar Town- "A One Story Town": I got to see this episode at an advance screening (c'mon that made me sound cool), so crowd mentality may have helped my enjoyment of this episode. Yet to me it was one of the most brilliantly constructed episodes of television I have ever seen. You get the hints from the beginning- Bobby needs to get to the kiss, the crab festival, and The Worthless Peons singing Disney songs- that are all brought together for the "Kiss the Girl" sequence. And then there's the Scrubs reunion.

-Glee- "Goodbye": A funny thing happened on the way to Glee season 4- the show remembered it could be good. The season 3 finale packed an emotional punch as a farewell (at least as series regulars in Lima) to a number of characters, and despite my complete lack of shipper-ness, the Rachel/Finn breakup was beautifully done.

-Homeland- "Q&A": This was one of my top 3 episodes of the year. The entire series built up to the Carrie interrogation of Brody, and the two defending Emmy winners earned their next nominations in that scene.

-Louie- "Late Show" Parts 1-3: I don't regularly watch Louie, but one day this fall I decided to watch a bunch of the most popular episodes. This was the arc that sold me on the series. This arc was funny, smart, and moving, and while I may never watch the show regularly, arcs like this will make me keep coming back.

-Mad Men- "Signal 30": The Campbells' dinner party was one of my favorite scenes of the year (Annie Edison AND Alex Mack!) plus Lane Pryce knocking out Pete. But really, there are four or five episodes of Mad Men you could pick this year.

-New Girl- "Fancyman" Parts 1&2: This two-parter was the start of the turnaround for New Girl. Dylan McDermott's Dermot Mulroney's eponymous fancyman brought out new elements in both Jess and Nick, and the show became all the better for it.

-Parks and Recreation- "The Debate": Another of my top 3 episodes of the year. This episode highlighted what makes Parks what it is. There was plenty of the insane comedy- the non-Leslie candidates in the debate (Buddy Garrity!) and Andy's movie reenactment. And there was plenty of the sweet- Leslie's response to Bobby's threat, and Ron stealing the cable.

-Suburgatory- "The Wishbone": And my third of my top 3 episodes. This is fairly easily the best episode of Suburgatory. While the show is certainly inconsistent, this episode showed that, when the series is at its best, it can be the best series on television. The combination of sweet sincerity and comedic extremes is, when perfected, the best thing television can bring, and "The Wishbone" perfected this.

And here are Brett's Top Ten Episodes. He did rank them. 

Up next, New Series...

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