Thursday, December 30, 2010

TV: Best TV Episodes of Fall 2010

Sometimes a TV series doesn't have the best season or isn't even the best show, but it is fortunate enough to have a few good episodes, worth a second and fourth look. Here are the scenes that make them the best:

"30 Rock"
Gentleman's Intermission: Jack runs baby names by Liz and proceeds to infer what the girl will be like when she grows up if given a certain name. Claire: gay. Jacqueline: "a little Jack, but with boobs." Daphne Donaghy: Dorky. Kylie: a girl who strips her way through community college. And the best: Christina: she'd be nicknamed Tina, a name notoriously given to judgmental bitches. Oh yeah Tina Fey? Really?
- 2021 Vision: Naomi accidentally overdoses on sleeping pills, Silver nearly gets date-raped by Mr. Cameron, and Teddy sleeps with a guy, revealing that he's gay. It was a major climax in the storylines of two seemingly vapid characters.
- How Much is that Liam in the Window: Jen finds out that Naomi was raped and, in a rare moment of selflessness, apologizes for not being there for her.
- I See London, I See France...: Oscar inadvertently helps Naomi uncover who Mr. Cannon really is, but when the police go to retrieve him, he's nowhere to be found. It's the beginning of a relationship between two people who are kind of perfect for each other, and a cliffhanger that keeps viewers on edge until he returns.
- Holiday Madness: Adrianna's songwriting secret is revealed to the press, Annie sleeps with Liam after he's brutally beaten, Ivy realizes her estranged father only reconnected with her to get out of paying for her college education, Dixon catches Teddy kissing Ian, Navid and Silver admit that they have feelings for each other, and Mr. Cannon lies in wait for Naomi as she returns home. It was a jam-packed mid-season finale and the cliffhanger was the cherry on top of a scandalous sundae.
"Boardwalk Empire"
- Nights in Ballygran: Jimmy's once-optimistic prostitute Pearl commits suicide after Sheridan's men scar her for life. She seemed like she could give Jimmy the hope that he was so desperately in need of, and once she died, he seemed drained of any further compassion. It was what officially led him to be the gangster he would soon become.
- Family Limitations: Jimmy, Joe Torrio, and Capone double cross Sheridan and his men after pretending to bury the hatchet during a secret meet-up. It was unexpected, but very much appreciated. And it was the first time Torrio looked at Jimmy as more than just Capone's right hand man. He planned it and suggested it, and that turned him into an asset.
- Home: There is only one member of Sheridan's crew that is still alive and Jimmy manages to find him at a diner. He pretends to forgive him and then moments later Harrow, the veteran with half a face, takes him out with a rifle across the street. Aside from the awesome take-down, it was the first time we meet Harrow and we're shown another type of broken soldier. Some are broken on the inside, like Jimmy, and some are broken on the outside, like Harrow. They're inclined to be compassionate, but they no longer feel like they have a place within society and instead resolve to destroy it.
- A Return to Normalcy: Jimmy, Capone, and Harrow take out the D'Alessio brothers in the best mobster shoot 'em up montage since...The Godfather? Also, Van Alden deals with the aftermath of having murdered his corrupt partner and learns that Lucy is pregnant with his baby. No matter how many times he tries to cleanse his soul of sin, he always seems to miss a spot. 
The Doctor in the Photo: Brennan starts to hallucinate as she over-identifies with a deceased doctor, who she believes shares many characteristics with her. The less she sleeps the more she relates and the more she begins to regret her life choices. In the end, she confesses to Booth that she wishes she had chosen him, and he clarifies that Hannah isn't a consolation prize and that he loves her. It was a bit overacted by Deschanel and out of left field, but I'm sadistically glad she got shut down. After all, that's what happens to faulty robots. 
"Bored to Death"
- Escape From the Castle!: There have been many bizarro cases for the idiot detective, but this one took the cake. He was asked to help an Asian tranny escape his/her's strict family so he/she could be with his/her lover. It was unclear as to whether the virgin, old dude knew his guy/girl was in fact a transvestite, but all the shenanigans they went through to rescue her were extremely entertaining, so it didn't matter.

Chuck Versus Phase Three: Ever since Chuck and Sarah got together, she's been kind of soft. This was the return of the feisty Sarah. She kicked major ass in order to get Chuck back. She reminded me of Sonya in Mortal Kombat.
"The Closer"
- Help Wanted: A law enforcement agent rapes and murders nannies, threatening them with deportation to make them comply. In the end, the man takes Brenda hostage, causing Fritz to use a rifle to take him out. Meanwhile, Detective Sanchez unofficially adopts the murderer's son unbeknownst to the rest of the team. It was a great episode for showing us how devoted Fritz is to her, despite the fact that he barely spends any time with her, and for showing what a true softie Detective Sanchez really is.
- Heart Attack: A local free clinic doctor is killing gang members and harvesting their organs for little kids who are dying. Brenda has to choose between saving the gang-banging rapist or let a little girl die. It was one of those satisfying moments where you got to see a criminal get what they deserve.
Epidemiology: It was one of their infamous homage/genre/pop-culture-references-filled episodes where they re-appropriate their plot and characters to fit the structure of a popular film or TV show. In this one, their Halloween episode, they did an homage to zombie movies, complete with fake zombies and melodramatic acting. They managed to fit an entire movie into less than 30 minutes. Extra points for Abed's Alien costume, which seemed believably DIY and yet totally authentic.
Aerodynamics of Gender: As another homage episode, the cast recreates the drama in Mean Girls with Abed as the Queen B. It was inspired. They could've easily had one of the girls do it, but Abed, being the king of observation, was definitely the perfect choice.
Conspiracies Theories and Interior Design: Troy and Abed build a fort in their dorm room, using sheets, pillows, and chairs. The fort starts to spread all over the dorm, creating an underground community with subsections for every club and culture. That would definitely be a college brochure selling point.
- I'll Be Seeing You: Zane finally realizes that Jo is in love with him and that they once had a life together in an alternate time period. It's about time! It was excruciating watching him ignore her. He kisses her at the end and sort of reciprocates the affection, but then Zoe comes in and takes him away. It makes your heart drop, but gives you hope.
"The Event"
For the Good of Our Country: This is the episode we discover what the evil head honcho Mr. Dempsey is really after. In the last scene, he takes some type of medication that makes his facial features younger, which would imply that what he's after is the "Fountain of Youth." Still no clue as to what The Event is, but that was a big reveal.
Your World to Take: Sophia decides to deal with the traitors in her organization, especially Isabel, who's been manipulating her son. Cornering Isabel near a lake, she makes her an offer: she can either be shunned by their people and made an outsider, or she can shoot herself in the knee. For such a soft-spoken woman, she certainly rules with an iron fist.
Amber 31422: This was one of the coolest cases they had. It involved the amber statues and frozen landscapes that are all over the alternate universe. The Ashmore twins guest-starred for a double-crossing twist and a heartwarming plot.
Entrada: Peter finally learns that FauxLivia isn't the real Olivia, and Olivia figures out a way to get back. I'm rooting for them, but I just can't help but hate Peter for not realizing it before he slept with her multiple times.
Audition: Rachel meets her match in the form of an exchange student named Sunshine, played by Oprah-discovered, Filipino singer Charice. I love when they bring talented guest stars to add to the already amazing vocals of the cast.
Brittney/Brittany: Brittany finally gets to show off her dance moves and her rockin' bod. Sometimes pushing a supporting character into the forefront can fall flat, but Brittany just gets better with every episode.
Never Been Kissed: We get to meet The Warblers who did an incredible rendition of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" that melted Kurt's little gay heart, and we witness his first kiss, which is unfortunately with his tormentor Karofsky, who is still in the closet. It was both a coming of age story and an important PSA against bullying.
The SubstituteGwyneth Paltrow did a bang-up job filling in for Will as the glee coach. Her rendition of Cee-Lo's "Forget You" was not only surprisingly good, but impressively performed. Never in a million years did anyone think Paltrow had rhythm, let alone flavor. And, as an extra note, it is very much appreciated that she didn't spend the entire episode promoting her upcoming country singing movie. That would've been painful.

A Very Glee Christmas: Brittany reveals that she still believes in Santa, to everyone's shock, especially her new boyfriend Artie. Hoping to let her down easy, Artie has the brilliant idea to take her to see Santa. Of course, it backfires when she asks him to give Artie the ability to walk. The gleeks get Coach Beist to dress up as Santa and break the news to her. Then the next day Artie discovers a machine underneath the tree that helps him walk. Of all the times that this show has made me cry, this moment hit me the hardest.
"Good Wife"
Poisoned Pill: Alicia thinks she wins a big case against a grandstanding lawyer played by Michael J. Fox, but it turns out she settled for a lot less than she could've gotten. She learns an important lesson: Sometimes a victory only seems like a victory on the surface.
On Tap: While going through government phone taps, Alicia accidentally overhears one of Will's phone conversations, where he alludes to two voice mails he left her. She rushes out of the room to search through her phone and listen to it and realizes how he feels about her. Of course, he's already moved on, so she's screwed. But at least we know she's open to the idea of being with him.
"Gossip Girl"
- Belles de Jour: I like how it was like a Parisian love story slash mystery. For a teen series, they really step it up.
- War at the Roses: Chuck and Blair hilariously negotiate the terms of their separation, complete with representatives, and then chuck it all to have "meaningless" sex with each other.
- The Witches of Bushwick: Vanessa, Juliet, and Jenny mastermind a doppleganger plot that successfully allows Juliet to kidnap and drug Serena. It was ridiculous, because none of them look like her, but Juliet managed to outsmart even her own conspirators, proving once again that Vanessa and Lil J truly suck at plotting.
- The Townie: Dan and Blair go on a road trip together—I love when they get pushed togetherand discover not only that Serena made Damien into the man that he is, but also that her first love was her English teacher, who her mother unlawfully sent to prison. Then at the end of the episode, we get the feeling that Dan and Blair will spend the holiday break together...possibly softening to each other. Bring it.
"Grey's Anatomy"
- These Arms of Mine: The episode was documentary-style and surprisingly very well-executed. I thought it would be boring or contrived, but it was the perfect way to show us how tense the environment was and witness how broken they had become.
- Something's Gotta Give: Alex tries to sleep with April and when she asks for him to slow down, he yells at her, sending her into Avery's arms and causing him to punch Alex in the face. It turns out Alex was just looking for a distraction after learning that his little brother had to be committed for trying to murder his little sister. I feel like whenever Alex isn't around them, he's appearing on "Jerry Springer." His life is so not normal outside of Seattle Grace, so it's hard to hate him whenever he acts like a douchebag.
- Slow Night, So Long: Lexie tries to help Avery through his trauma, and even though he refuses her help, he uses the case of another patient to say in a roundabout way that his best friend died and he feels guilty that he got to live. I was disappointed after they returned that he and Christina weren't closer, since he was the one who gave her the confidence to do the surgery-at-gunpoint, so I was glad that Jesse Williams finally got to do something besides be attractive.
- As You Were: This episode was like Agatha Christie's And Then There Was None, guests getting picked off one by one. It's also the episode where Nathan reveals that he can feel Audrey's touch. That's epic. If only we all had a way to find our soulmate so absolutely.
- Spiral: Audrey figures out the mystery surrounding an old newspaper clipping photo of a woman who looks just like her and it turns out that it is her, which means that she is also apart of The Troubles. dum-Dum-DUUUMMM!
"How I Met Your Mother" 
- Natural History: Barney discovers his biological father's identity and Ted uncharacteristically shows Zoey that she has more confidence in her than her own husband. It was a rare dramatic moment for the series that was done very well.
- Subway Wars: They run through all of the peculiar things that make a person a New Yorker, and as a New Yorker, it's pretty funny that it's all true.
- Blitzgiving: We learn about the concept of the Blitz, a running joke about a person who is cursed to never be around when awesome things happen on a wild and crazy night. I love when they make up things and try to make it apart of pop culture.
"Mad Men"
- Waldorf Stories: The new art director Stan Rizzo refuses to cooperate with Peggy, so they hold up in a hotel room in order to get a campaign done, and she dares him to strip down to see if he's really immune to nudity. It was Peggy at her most daring in a time when women weren't allowed to be.

- The Suitcase: Don forces Peggy to stay at work on her birthday to work on the Samsonite campaign. It was like The Breakfast Club. They argued. They reconciled. They drank. They commiserated. Don tells her about Anna's death, Peggy got dumped by her uber patient and docile boyfriend, and Duck drops by and drunkenly fights Don.
- Hands and Knees: Lane tries to get his dad to accept his girlfriend, and his dad had a different plan...when he caned him and told him to get his shit together.
"The Mentalist"
Red Moon: A serial killer's final words, "Tiger, Tiger," are a haunting message sent by Red John that alludes to William Blake's poem "The Tiger," in which the tiger represents the Devil. Just when you think a case is just your average bag-em-and-tag-em, one of Red John's followers shows themself.
"Modern Family"
- Strangers on a Treadmill: First of all, the title is hilarious because it alludes to the Hitchock film Strangers on a Train, which is about two dudes who agree to kill someone for each other, which is technically what Mitchell and Claire plotted to do. Mitchell had to get Phil to not make an embarrassingly unfunny speech at his realtors' banquet and Claire had to get Cameron to stop wearing incredibly tight bike shorts. Cue the awkward subliminal messages. Meanwhile, Gloria challenges Jay who swears he doesn't stereotype, causing him to spend an entire evening pretending he knows people at a wedding when he's actually supposed to be at a quinceanera. Somewhere in there the "father" kissing the "daughter" on the mouth became a red flag. They really take awkwardness to a new level on this show.
- Unplugged: This episode was awesome because Claire dared everyone to see who couldn't use technology the longest and somehow some way, Haley outsmarts them all, pretending a bar of carved soap is her phone to get them to cave. Meanwhile, Mitchell and Cameron teach us about the preschool hierarchy system and how racist and un-PC it truly is.
- Halloween: Mitchell gets stuck in a Spiderman costume at work and Gloria tries to curb her accent so people will stop mocking her, somehow managing to make her accent worse.
- Dance Dance Revelation: Cam and Mitchell realize that Lily is a biter, and proceed to say and do hilarious things that make her seem like Hannibal Lecter.
- Resistance: Nikita learns that the man whose life she saved, Owen, is also the Division cleaner that murdered her fiance, forcing her to decide if she'd do to him what she always said she would. Meanwhile, Alex gets put to the test, pretend-kidnapped and interrogated to see if she would crack under pressure. In the process, she murders a trainee and escapes, making the Division higher-ups see her in a new light.
- The Recruit: This was kind of tough to watch. Division promises prestigious positions in the company, but those who can't cut it as field agents are forced to become guards within the facility. One recruit in particular can't take the idea that he'll never amount to anything, and goes on a shooting spree within the compound. After he is restrained, the head honcho doesn't execute him, but promotes him to Cleaner, and so we are shown in one episode an example of how one becomes a willing member of Division.
- All the Way: Nikita gets captured and Alex works diligently to get her out while not compromising her cover. Unfortunately, Thom gets caught in the crossfire and dies, giving her the opportunity to frame him as the mole and stay on to take down Division for not only her parents, but him too.

"No Ordinary Family"
- No Ordinary Sidekick: Here Daphne learns once and for all that Katie's new boyfriend not only has powers but is desperate to keep them and will do anything to do so. He pushes himself into the house and wipes Daphne's memory so far back that she doesn't even remember that they went on the trip and got their powers. It shows just how powerful and desperate their enemy is. He really is the most interesting part of the series.
"The Office"
- Counseling: Michael beat his teenage nephew in front of the entire office in order to reprimand him for his poor work ethic. As a result, corporate considered this assault and forced him to have mandatory therapy with his HR rep Toby. Michael, being Michael, refused to cooperate, but Toby somehow managed to trick him into talking about his stress and anger issues, and they bond over mocking Gabe. Meanwhile, Pam finally admits that she's a horrible saleswoman and ingeniously figured out how to get a non-commission related position that's simliar to her secretary job, but pays more: office manager. 
Costume Contest: Jim spends the entire episode refusing to put on an embarrassing Popeye costume to match Pam's Olive Oil costume, until Danny (Timothy Olyphant) reveals that he never called her back after their date because she was too dorky. Giving into her costume request and helping her find out the truth with minimal jealousy makes him the best husband ever.
Viewing Party: Gabe throws a "Glee"-viewing party at his apartment and Michael does his best to ruin it, including shutting down the power. Erin becomes furious and implies that his opinion of who she dates means a lot to her because he's like a dad to her. Any insight into why Erin is so weird is always appreciated.
China: Dwight is abusing his building manager status and making the lives of his coworkers miserable. As office manager, it's Pam's job to negotiate with him, but she keeps failing. She breaks down in the staircase as she suddenly realizes that she's a failure at every profession she aims for. Overhearing everything, Dwight sets out to help her regain her confidence, by getting his assistant to slip her building regulations that overpower his authority. Dwight can be so sweet sometimes, especially to his secret bffs Jim and Pam.

- Classy Christmas: Jim unwittingly initiates a snowball fight war with Dwight, not realizing to what lengths Dwight would go to win this time. The best of all the terrifying attack scenes was at the end when Dwight stationed at least 20 snowmen outside of the office, so when Jim left he had no clue which one he was hiding in. I know that's sick, but Jim is sort of overdue for payback.
- The Measure of Manmeet: Todd discovered that even though Manmeet spends a lot of time on the phone, he's not actually selling any of the company's products. He's flirting with women from all over the U.S., and conducting several long-distance relationships with them. In order to keep his job, he has to spend all night breaking up with these women, so that he can get his sales up. Todd gets the brilliant idea to soothe these women by selling them a Manmeet replacement, like objects with recordings of his voice. It's the most adorable and hilarious montage of breakups.
- Orange Alert: Max takes a big step and conquers his fear of fire so he can go inside of a haunted house just like the other kids. If you watch the show, you kind of become his cheerleader.
"Pretty Little Liars"
- There's No Place Like Homecoming: This series is incredibly good at suspense and the cliffhanger of Toby attacking Emily really kept you at the edge of your couch.
- Keep Your Friends Close: The girls go to a Glamp birthday party, and when Hanna figures out who A is, she gets hit by a car. It's just the greatest culmination to a teen whodunit.
"Raising Hope"
Happy Halloween: I really can't think of one comedy that has ever managed to make Halloween a heartwarming holiday, but this one did. Every year Jimmy would be terrified to go out for Halloween because a creepy man would jump out and scare him as he was walking through his neighborhood. And every year he runs back to his house and jumps into his father's arms. It turns out, it was his father that was scaring him because it was the only way to get Jimmy to hug him. That's sweet isn't it? Ok the part where he gets his friends to steal his baby and pretend to drop it off at the firehouse for adoption (weird) was a bit much, but he did get his annual hug.
"Rizzoli & Isles"
- Born to Run: A vengeance-seeking woman plots the murder of the men responsible for her sister's suicide, joining the Boston Marathon and killing them during the race. That's...creative.
- When the Gun Goes Bang, Bang, Bang: Frankie gets shot and Jane has to shoot herself in the rib cage to shoot their captor and end the standoff so the paramedics can get to Frankie. The scene was done in slow motion and I rewatched it like 4 times. It was awesome! It was actually way better than the first time I saw such a scene in Live Free or Die Hard when Bruce Willis shoots a terrorist through his own shoulder.
"Rookie Blue"
- Fresh Paint: Andy accidentally arrests an undercover cop on her first day. It was pretty embarrassing, but a great meet-cute story for her future potential love interest.
- To Serve and Protect: Sam secretly helps Andy investigate a murder that implicates her father, and Chris and Dov try to figure out who keeps pretending to be a masked vigilante. It's both a great bonding episode and a funny one.
"Rules for Engagement"
Mannequin Head Ball: The girls enjoy an exclusive TV show: surveillance video of the boys playing a makeshift hockey game in an empty store.
Fun Run: Audrey sleep-runs throughout the city as if she's in a race. That's definitely a first.
- Homecoming: In this episode, Clark gets to see what his life will be like if he told Lois everything. She was understanding and supportive, and they were more in love than ever. I'm so desperate for them to get it over with that it was comforting to see the future end result.
"True Blood"
- I Got a Right to Sing the Blues: Tara finally escapes Franklin's grasp by bashing his head in with a spiky mace.
- Night on the Sun: Eric avenges his family and murders Russell's lover Talbot.
- Everything is Broken: Russell murders news anchors, takes over the TV airwaves, and announces his plot to enslave mankind and murder his enemies.
- Evil is Going On: Eric risks his life to trap Russell in the sunlight and kill him.
"Vampire Diaries"
- Kill or Be Killed: Sheriff Forbes learns that the Salvatores are vampires and that so is her daughter. It's pretty sad to watch Caroline be rejected, but it was an interesting look into how parents must feel to see their children become a walking corpse.
- Masquerade: Bonnie meets a witch she's related to, the boys can't harm Katherine because of a spell that makes Elena feel everything that she does, and Tyler accidentally kills a girl when Matt is forced to attack him, activating the wolf curse.
- By the Light of the Moon: Caroline helps Tyler through his first transformation, holding him through the excruciating pain, and Elena strikes up a seemingly clever deal with Elijah to get Stefan out of the cave, to force Katherine to stay in the cave, and for all of her friends and family to be safe. Whatever Elijah's plan is, it doesn't seem to involve killing Elena. Meanwhile, we discover that Bonnie is being manipulated by the new warlocks in town, so that they could get the moonstone.
"Warehouse 13"
- Merge with Caution: Pete and Myka switch bodies, and Pete goes to Myka's high school reunion in Myka's body. He manages to get her high school crush to like him but behaves like a total dude. It's beyond funny.
- Vendetta: Claudia suspects her ex-boyfriend of being a bad guy and he suspects her of being an assassin. After almost attacking each other, she eventually discovers that he's in the witness protection program.

1 comment:

  1. I love a lot of these shows and probably couldn't pick fave episodes. Especially The Vampire Diaries, I think as soon as Caroline became a vampire it was all good. I am getting a little bored with pretty little liars although I do think the last episode of the first season was actually really good. I love all the Nikita episodes although I am only about six in so there is room to get bored by the end of the series. Gossip Girl has got a little boring for me but I have to say that the last episode was great and actually made me miss it for the last couple of weeks. The Mentalist is also pretty awesome, I don't know whether I could pick faves.
    Sorry for the massive long comment.