Part 2: The Top 10!
So here are the top ten, they’re a little late cause I got a little flu over the holidays. Anyway without further ado; the Top Ten. The best episodes of last year. I laughed and cried my way through these ten again recently and they still hold up on multiple watchings. The best TV always does.
1. “The Suitcase” Mad Men (S. 4 E. 7)
written by Mad Men Mastermind Matthew Weiner and directed by Jennifer Getzinger
Possibly the greatest Mad Men episode of all time. If you’ve seen it than you know why. Don vs. Peggy. Their verbal play was the strongest the series has ever seen; Jon Hamm and Elizabeth Moss gave incredible performances. Don received a message from Stephanie – he knew it was bad news regarding Anna – so he holds Peggy hostage at work with impossible standards. Unresolved issues? Check! Drunken fight scene? Check! Nasty break up? Check. The single best episode of 2010? Check!
2. “Modern Warfare” Community (S. 1 E. 23)
No episode of any comedy in 2010 was filled with as much glee and joy as Modern Warfare, everyone was on the top of their game and everyone looked like they were having fun. The campus of Greendale is turned into a post apocalyptic paint ball war zone – the last man standing gets . . . priority registration. What ensues was an action basket full of homages to Hard Boiled, Die Hard, Terminator, Predator and The Warriors among others and way more awesomely and hilarious; Jeff and Britta doing it! Even the little moments are great; Pierce taking out Starburns, Annie popping out of the trashcan, Shirley’s delivery of “I’m going home Britta” it was a perfect episode heightened by Lin’s sharp direction.
3. “The End” Lost (S. 6 E. 17/18)
written by executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and directed by primary Lost director Jack Bender (he directed all the best episodes).
The episode had two timelines – the on-island endgame of Jack and troupe vs. the Man In Black and the alt-timeline story of Desmond and troupe’s quest toenlighten the rest. The first story played out as expected – Jack defeats the MIB, passes the Island torch to Hurley, saves the island (and subsequently the concept of “good”) and dies. But watching it was an experience. Watching Kate, Sawyer, Claire escape on the plane, Vincent cuddling up to a dying Jack, Hurley and Ben taking over were the moments that diehard Lost fans had waited for and they weren’t disappointed. The alt-timeline in the episode had the characters awakening and consolidating their memories giving us wicked-sad/happy reunions. In the end, The End turned out to be a very literal title and the perfect ending to a brilliant series – just try listening to that score and not tearing up…
4. “Anna Howard Shaw Day” 30 Rock (S. 4 E. 23)
written by Matt Hubbard (30’s supervising producer) and directed by Ken Whittingham.
Anna Howard Shaw day is an example of pure uncut high grade 30 Rock. Three perfect plots; Jack meeting his new love interest, right wing political commentator Avery Jessup (a note-perfect Elizabeth Banks), Jenna dealing with her stalker’s (Horatio Sanz) sudden disinterest in her and Liz scheduling oral surgery on Valentine’s day to prove she doesn’t need anyone. Liz’s anesthesia induced hallucination of her three past boyfriends (Jason Sudeikis, Dean Winters and Jon Hamm) and Jenna’s montage of stalkery are only two of the many reasons this episode rose above the rest. The scene that rolled over the end credits of Liz’s 3 exes as Jamaican nurses was the single funniest scene I’ve seen all year.
5. “Peter” Fringe (S. 2 E. 16)
Story by: J. H. Wyman & Jeff Pinkner & Akiva Goldsman & Josh Singer; teleplay written by the above minus Goldsman and directed by David Straiton.
Peter is a harrowing tale of loss and consequences, it is both a brilliant stand alone episode and also one entrenched in the series’ mythology. Many amazing moments in this engrossing hour; we watched Nina lose her hand the observers talking shop. It was brutal to watch Peter die in Walter’s arms, John Noble gave one of the year’s top performances as we saw the actions he took to save the other universe’s Peter, who became his Peter, and in the process started a cross-dimensional war. Plus the retro opening credits were awesome!
6. “One Minute” Breaking Bad (S. 3 E. 7)
Written by Michelle MacLaren and Directed by Thomas Shnauz.
The best action sequence of 2010 – even when you watch it again your heart still pounds like it did the first time. The last scene of this episode alone is reason enough for it being here over other season three classics like “Fly” and “Full Measure” but add in Aaron Paul’s performance in both of his speeches to Walt, Hank and Marie in the elevator, the Cousins buying bullets from a McPoyle brother and some tough but amazing work between Gunn and Cranston and One Minute stands out far.
7. “VIP Treatment” The Good Wife (S. 2 E. 5)
Written by series creators Robert & Michelle King and directed by Michael Zinberg.
Starting on the cliffhanger of the previous episode; the announcement of 3rd candidate in the state’s attorney race Wendy Scott Carr (Anika Noni Rose) at a banquet while the LG&B partners have 4 hours to decide whether or not accept an unsympathetic client and press civil sexual and physical assault charges against a Nobel Peace Prize winner who does work with women in Africa. A showcase for Chicago backhanded politics, women’s rights, morality and overall great performances. In the typical twisty, Good Wife-ian fashion the various plots tie together in surprising ways, in a year where the Good Wife was consistent and strong, it’s us who got the VIP Treatment. (9 Hours – the most recent episode is equally as good and is worth noting.)
8. “Bully” Louie (S. 1 E. 9)
Written and Directed by Louis C.K.
Louie’s on a date, it’s going well – they’re having a good time – and before he knows it he’s got a teenage bully in his face; making Louie ask the bully not to kick his ass. It’s one of those scenes thats almost too excruciating to watch. He’s just ridiculed and completely emasculated. Later he follows the bully home and confronts his parents. What followed was both realistic and tragically funny; a portrait of lower middle class America. To top it off, the episode ends with a child version of Louie looking at his adult self in disgust. Louie’s taken us to some really horrible places (the dentist…shiver…) but none more terrifying than Bully.
9. “NS” Sons of Anarchy (S. 3 E. 13)
Written and Directed by series creator and overseer Kurt Sutter. (Co-written by Dave Erikson)
Hey Hey My My. A solid offering all around – but the last sequence alone is enough to land this on the list. After last season – with Ethan Zoebelle getting away scot free we needed the Sons to get a win – and just as it looked like it was going to be another depressing after season – the sons pulled a fast one on us and that bitch Stahl – and we were got good. It wasn’t an especially exciting season of Sons of Anarchy, at least compared to the last one, but NS made up for a weaker season by ending it with an emotional smash.
10. “200”/”201″ South Park (S. 14 E. 5 & 6)
Written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (200 only) and Directed by Trey Parker.
The 200 and 201st episodes of were a love letter to fans and a stark examination of the first amendment and censorship. Celebrities were skewered, mysteries were solved (Cartman’s father?) and many laughs were had. As good was the Coon Trilogy in the tail end of the season.