Category Archives: True Blood

J’s Top 10 TV Character Deaths in 2010

Best of 2010!

Beware! Spoilers lurk below! Ye have been warned…

2010 was a bloody year. A lot of folks got offed this year, between Lost and 24 ending, it was a veritable bloodbath. Tears were shed for my friends and cheers were afforded to the deaths of my foes, and even though there were no shock style Rita moments, 2010 will still go down as a damn bloody year – with three group killings on the list, and over 40 possible deaths to choose from, network execs were trigger happy in these tough economic times. This list is not exclusive to regular cast members, Amy’s death on The Walking Dead proved you don’t need to be in the opening credits to make an impact. Here are my picks for the top 10 TV character deaths in 2010.

10. Tom Shayes (Tate Donovan) on Damages

Death by: Murder! Drowned in his toilet by Joe Tobin (Campbell Scott)

Other than Glenn Close and Rose Byrne, Tate Donovan was the only regular stalwart of Damages ever-revolving cast, therefore the mystery of his death holds a lot of weight. Tom had a rough season; in addition to losing ass his money to the Louis Tobin (Joe’s dad played by Len Cariou), Tom Shayes was first stabbed by one of Mr. Zedeck’s (Dominic Chainese) cronies protecting the whereabouts of his cashcow, Tobin’s lawyer Leonard Winstone (Martin Short) who saves his life at the last second. Tom, bleeding, makes it home only to be ambushed by a drunk, crazed Joe Tobin – and when Tom calls Joe’s dead poppa a thief, Joe drowns him in the toilet. He later confessed to Patty, and is probably serving time – but that still doesn’t take away the sting that Damages will have two more seasons sans both the character Shayes and Donovan.

9. Talbot, Royal Consort to the Vampire King of Mississippi (Theo Alexander) on True Blood

Death by: Murder! Seduced and staked by Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard)

Eric Northman’s viking family was murdered by a Vampire leading a pack of werewolves and his father’s crown was stolen, for 1000 years he hunted that Vampire who turned out to be Russell Edgington, the Vampire King of Mississippi (Denis O’Hare), so Eric infiltrated his ranks waiting to exact his revenge; to kill Russell’s family – and his family was Talbot. Talbot was the flamboyant and feisty consort who’s words can sting just as sharp as his bite. Eric won the king’s trust and one night when he was babysitting an unruly Talbot, he seduced and staked him. Talbot was only a recurring but he was a scene stealer, a fan favorite & he died in a big gay mess as seen in the NSFW clip below.

8. Ida Blankenship (Randee Heller) on Mad Men

Death by: Don Draper (according to Roger, but probably natural causes)

Roger Cooper put it best: “She was born in 1898 in a barn. She died on the 37th floor of a skyscraper. She was an astronaut.” Mrs. Blankenship arrived after Don took advantage of his last secretary, Joan knew she was exactly what Don needed. During her short recurring tenure as Don’s secretary she was always good for a laugh or a life lesson or both; her “It’s a business of sadists and masochists and you know which one you are.” barb to Peggy was a doozy! One of 2010’s funnier deaths, I still chuckle picturing her face down at her desk and being wheeled out covered in Harry’s blanket “My mother made that!”

7. Amy (Emma Bell) on The Walking Dead

Death by: Zombie Attack!

Technically this could count as a bloodbath as Ed was killed also, but the entire scene and my emotional reaction were all cause by Amy’s shocking death (Emma Bell, a recurring actor, was in all the promo material with the lead cast for TWD). The first sacrifice of a series which is sure to have an entry on this list every year was especially hard to stomach. Amy was about as sweet as they come, she’d been protected by her sister Andrea (Laurie Holden) but one a solo trip to the bathroom, she separated from the group and fell victim to a Zombie attack. Technically this could be considered a bloodbath (like #’s 4,2 & 1) with Ed dying and Jim getting bit, but it was Amy’s death that hit us the hardest.

6. Creighton Bernette (John Goodman) on Treme

Death by: Suicide

I never saw it coming. I saw he was in a funk, even like his wife Toni (Melissa Leo) I thought that all he needed was Mardi Gras to cheer him up. It didn’t. His videos got angrier and more dejected. He talked to his class about endings, he went for a walk, tipped Annie (Lucia Micarelli) generously, rode the ferry and bummed a smoke from a fellow passenger, and he was never seen again. Clinical depression can be that subtle I suppose, and in the wake of Katrina’s destruction I can see Bernette’s hopelessness. I find some solace however in Toni’s refusal to give Creighton a second line for his selfish act, she was still rightfully angry (hell, I’m a little angry too). I’ll miss Goodman’s Bernette next season, he was presence and stood out among Treme’s regular ensemble.

5. Renee Walker (Anne Wersching) on 24

Death by: Murder! Assassinated by a sniper

It was the last season of 24, they could have let Jack have some love; Terri Bauer, Nina Meyers, Claudia Hernandez (secret cartel lover) are dead and Audrey is in a coma or a mental hospital, it was the last season and they could of let Jack have a little love. But no, Renee gets shot by an assassin almost immediately after nailing Jack Bauer – like literally minutes post coital. Renee wasn’t the only regular to kick the bucket in season 8, Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor) and Dana Walsh (Katee Sackhoff) got murdered too, but the timing of Renee’s gives her the edge.

4. BLOODBATH: Reed Adamson (Nora Zehetner) & Charles Percy (Robert Baker) on Grey’s Anatomy

Death by: Murder! Shooting rampage by gunman Gary Clark (Michael O’Neill)

Grey’s Anatomy had sucked for 2 or 3 seasons before disgruntled widower Clark brought a gun to Seattle Grace and revitalized this dying series, which is only part of the reason for Grey’s bloodbath being this high, the other reason is the vastly different deaths experience by two recurring characters: Reed and Charles. Reed was shot in the episodes opening minutes, it was precise and sudden and set up the episode tonally. Charles was shot standing up for his profession (“Are you a surgeon?” … … “Yes” BANG), Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and a patient (Mandy Moore) do their best to save a bleeding Charles, but their plans are foiled when no power stops them from moving Percy to the OR and he dies in their arms. The way Miranda let him know his time had come still chokes me up. Charles and Reed may not have been popular but their death mark a return to quality and will thusly be remembered.

3. Jack Shepherd (Matthew Fox) on Lost

Death by: Umm… I guess overexposure to electro magnetism… and stabbed by the MIB (Terry O’Quinn)

I suppose Lost had to end with it’s star‘s death, it was very cyclical and kind of a perfect for the ending to the real life narrative. It was a beautiful scene which Fox played it perfectly. The sombre yet uplifting music along with Jack’s peace of mind in seeing the plane take off and Kate leave safe made for a fitting exit only made better by Vincent laying with Jack in the end.

2. BLOODBATH: Agent June Stahl (Ally Walker) and Jimmy O (Titus Welliver) on Sons of Anarchy

Death by: Revenge Murder! Stahl shot by Opie (Ryan Hurst) and Jimmy stabbed by Chibs (Tommy Flanagan)

Ethan Zoebelle got away and in the finale SOA made up for it. Chibs got his revenge on longtime nemesis and baby thief, Jimmy O; the man that stole his wife and kid and gave him a glasgow smile. Jimmy got the same smile before Chibs gutted the SOB, and as much as I loved Jimmy’s death, I can’t think of a character on a series I’ve wanted to die more than June Stahl. That bitch was just the worst, torturing the Club for three years, her actions lead to much bloodshed and murder. This bitch got what she deserved. Since she set in motion events that resulted in the death of his wife Donna, Opie’s had her number – once even sparring her – but not this time. Opie calmly instructed her, through cries and begs, to get in the front seat. Then he told her “This is what she felt” then he picked up the machine gun and shot her in the back of the head. Both longtime recurring enemies for the gang, both needed to go, and as Opie finally breathed, we all did, feeling the same catharsis he felt fight then. And it felt good.

1. BLOODBATH: Sayid Jarrah (Naveen Andrews) and Sun & Jin Kwon (Daniel Dae Kim & Yunjin Kim)

Death by: Murder! Sayid is blown up and Sun & Jin drown all by the bomb of The MIB (Terry O’Quinn)

We knew that in Lost’s final season, like 24’s, there was going to be death and it was going to be hard – we just didn’t know how hard. But the deaths of Sun, Jin and Sayid are still just as numbing as they were on May 4. There is a bomb on the sub, Saywer tricks the failsafe and the timer speeds up. And with “..it’s going to be you, Jack” Sayid takes the bomb and runs offscreen, a second later he explodes. The bomb rocks the sub and traps Sun under debris, and despite their best efforts Jin, Jack, and Sawyer cant set her free. Jin sends them away and stays with Sun, “I wont ever leave you again. I love you Sun”. The submarine descends into the sea as the score and my tears swell. Some people say Sayid’s death was overshadowed by Sun and Jin’s, but I think the opposite. In one fell swoop the MIB took out almost half the candidates, and even though they were separated by a few minutes, I feel psople seem to forget that we lost three beloved characters in just a few minutes, not since the opening minutes of season 5 of 24 has so much happened so fast and meant so much.

Honorable Mentions go to:

David Hale (Taylor Sheridan), Sons of Anarchy – Ran over by Mayans; Katherine Rhumor (Miranda Richardson), Rubicon – Poisoned by Clay Davis; Dell Parker (Chris Lowell), Private Practive – Car Accident Injuries; Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) – Most likely shot in the face by Jesse; Robert McCallister (Rob Lowe), Brothers & Sisters – Killed in car accident.

Anyone you’re shocked I missed?  Who’s on your list?

For more Best of 2010, be sure to check out:

J’s Top 10 Guest Stars of 2010

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J’s Top Ten Guest Stars of 2010

The Gute gives a lesson in good guesting.

Best of 2010!

There are two kinds of great guest stars, people that show up once or twice, and make a lasting impression, and those who sign on for an entire recurring or guest arc, becoming intertwined into the plot of our favorite stories. It’s the right mix of a great character and perfect casting that makes certain guest stars unforgettable. A great guest spot can reignite a career (Shatner on the Practice) and sometimes even and gets ’em hired on full time (like Esposito and Huston). For the list below I have the Top 5 One Shots (one or two sporadic appearances) and the Top 5 Guest Arcs, I didn’t include anyone that got hired on full time – they got the reward of a regular gig in this economy. I also threw in my Top 5 WORST Guest Stars; banal and mundane characters or stunt casting make up that list of epic fails, but firstly; the tops.

Top 5 One-Shot Guest Stars

5. Lennie James as Morgan Jones on The Walking Dead “Days Gone Bye”

Lennie James had  a trio of guest roles; he was great as the Chance’s arch-nemesis Baptiste on Human Target and stole his scenes of HBO’s Hung as Charlie, Tanya’s pimp mentor but it was the role of Morgan Jones that stuck in my mind. Without Morgan, Rick (star, Andrew Lincoln) surely would have been a quick casualty of the zombie apocalypse. Asides from being a mentor to Rick and a good father to Duane, Morgan’s got his own baggage in the form of his recently zombified wife who he can’t bring himself to kill. James was brilliant; one part teacher, one part grieving widower and one part bad ass zombie killer.

4. Steve Guttenberg as Himself on Party Down “Steve Guttenberg’s Birthday Party”

It was only a matter of time before Veronica Mars vet Steve Guttenberg guested on Party Down (P Down is created by V Mars creator Rob Thomas). Instead of a regular catering gig, the Gang find themselves the guests at the party the Gute forgot to cancel. What stood out about Steve Guttenberg was how great of a guy he is; he told them to invite their friends, he helps Roman and with his screenplay hell – he even inadvertently gets Henry and Casey back together. It’s the best I’ve seen Guttenberg since Cocoon.

3. James Franco as Himself on 30 Rock “Klaus & Greta”

If you’ve seen the episode and recognize the picture above, you know why soap star/oscar host/potential nominee James Franco’s portrayal of himself – the James Franco who loves Kimiko (above right)

2. Mamie Gummer and Dylan Baker as Nancy Crozier and Colin Sweeney on The Good Wife “Bad”

Gummer (left) vs. Baker (second from right)

Two great one shot performances in one episode! Dylan Baker was at his absolute creepy best as Sweeney who was being charged with the murder of his wife by his step-daughter in a civil suit and he’s a riot; constantly makes jokes about killing his wife to Alicia and acting cavalier about the entire situation. And Mamie Gummer? (soon starring on Shonda Rhimes new series Off  The Map) is even more brilliant as Nancy Crozier, a rookie lawyer taking her friend Charlotte’s defense. Precocious, naive, and lucky? Hah! More like the charade of a shrewd attorney. With every hesitation and stutter, Gummer shined – not really a surprise seeing as she’s Meryl Streep’s daughter.

1. Gwyneth Paltrow as Holly Holliday on Glee “The Substitute”

I may hate what Glee has become; the saccharine, the off base song selection – but even a total hater like me can’t deny Gwyneth her dues. Holly Holliday was the perfect role for Gwyneth, hip, cool, bad without crossing the line (unlike April Rhodes) and they gave her good songs to sing (Forget You and Conjunction Junction). In 42 minutes Gwyneth gave us the complete picture of a flawed person and the closest thing Glee has come to a realistic character in a long time. Interesting Fact: Gwyneth was a term for “Cool” used by the girls in the titular crew on Ryan Murphy’s (creator) first series; Popular.

Top 5 Guest Arcs

5. Heather McComb as Agent Collier on The EVENT

The Event is absolutely ridiculous, I feel like even mentioning it in a positive way is somehow enabling it to continue to be insane, but I have to give mad props to the super-hot, Ex-Mrs. Dawson (as in Leery) Heather McComb. Her Agent Collier is bad ass; she fights, she shoots, she aids Sean Walker on his quest to answer the question; Huh?

4. Raymond J. Barry as Arlo Givens on Justified

Raymond J. Barry oozed southern creepy charm as Arlo Givens, the crook father of of a cop son. Mentioned in every episode prior to his arrival in “The Lord of War & Thunder”, Arlo was a shadow hanging over Raylan’s head long before he showed his face – and once he did we weren’t disappointed. Barry proved a formidable sparring partner for his son Raylan(Timothy Olyphant) and his thick as molasses drawl made me love him even when he was about to betray his son to the Miami Cartel. Best cast parent of the year.

3. James Frain as Franklin Mott on True Blood

James Frain has never been better than here as Franklin, the psychopath private detective OBSESSED with Tara. Set on Sookie’s path by Russell (Denis O’Hare) he became infatuated with Rutina Wesley’s foulmouthed bartender – and once he did, he tied her up and MADE her love him – literally DEATH did them part, and the whole time Frain had us riveted the whole time.

2. Gretchen Mol as Gillian Darmody on Boardwalk Empire

A decade ago Mol was touted as the new It girl but for some reason or another she never quite took off. With Gillian, Mol is able to flex her wings playing the dedicated friend, the protective mother and grandmother (at 38!), the showgirl, and the gun moll (pun INtended!) and she does it all with a delicate softness that hides a fierce Momma Grizzly. Mol makes sure Gillian is a rich character, an unapologetic harlot, and a strong woman.

1. Scott Porter as Blake Calamar on The Good Wife

On a show as original as The Good Wife, it makes sense the a character as complex as Kalinda Sharma would need a formidable rival to spar with, and coming off a year of giving her Emmy material, they didn’t disappoint in Blake Calamar, an investigator brought into the firm with new partner Derrick Bond (Michael Ealy, who also deserves notice for his great job) has attempted to mess with Kalinda since day one causing mayhem in a sadistic game of one-upmanship (which Blake started, he called her Leela first – check the interview clip below) Porter has established Blake as a force to be reckoned with; he’s good looking, charming, smart, creative and violent – I’d pray for him to get a contract and stick around, but I get the feeling that Chicago isn’t big for both him and Kalinda.

And before we get to the worst, I wanna give serious honorable mentions to David Costabile as Walter’s cooking assistant Gale Boetticher on Breaking Bad, Jan Hooks as Verna on 30 Rock, Martha Plimptoni n Fringe and as Edie in How To Make It In America, Timothy Olyphant for The Office and Katie Cassidy as Juliet Sharpe on Gossip Girl.

The 5 Worst Guest Stars of 2010

The 5 people below had no business going anywhere near these roles, which in most cases were probably terrible to begin worth. A worst guest stars embrace the unholy trinity of bad casting, obnoxious character and parasitic quality (how much they invade on our favorite series like a parasite), and the 5 guest stars below still have me wishing they’d just not bothered.

5. Britney Spears as various drug induced hallucinations of herself Glee “Britney/Brittany I was so disappointed in how Ryan Murphy and Co. wasted Ms. Spears’ guest spot. Save for one hilarious fantasy where she was a student, the guest with the most promise, potential for biting commentary or wacky comedy fell entirely flat.

4. Michael Benjamin Washington as Donald Jordan in 30 Rock “Chain of Mental Anguish” 30 Rock may be one of the most consistent comedies on TV but this everything is wrong with this character, including Washington’s pouty, whiny performance of Tracy’s fake son who’s two years older than him.

3. Leven Rambin as Sloane Riley on Grey’s Anatomy Talk about terrible children – If Rambin accomplished anything in her arc as Mark Sloan’s daughter, she really made us feel for the poor guy – all he wants is a family and he’s stuck with a selfish, childish parasite who teases him with the prospect of family, like it’s leverage to get stuff from her father. Part of me would like to hope it was just bad writing, but I watched Scoundrels this summer on ABC and Rambin was dreadful there as a selfish teen too. Its just terrible casting; she kicked ass on Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles as a time-traveling freedom fighter.

2. Betty White as June Bauer on Community “Anthropology 101” I’m all for the Betty White craze;  I was there when David E. Kelley figured it out with Practice and Boston Legal character, murderer Catherine Piper, but this is too unfunny, too late. As a wacky urine drinking anthropology professor, White wields a crossbow and contributes to her own overexposure.

1. Hiroyuki Sanada and John Hawkes as Dogen and Lennon on Lost No single aspect of Lost’s final season frustrated me more than these two characters. In the last season, what could have been an opportunity to give us some final time to explore The Others at their true base was wasted on a cryptic Japanese mystic and his mouth piece. I would gladly give them the top two spots, but that would dignify their performances as separate – which they are most certainly not. Sanada’s Dogen was nothing more than a cartoon, stroking his beard and making big eyes and Hawkes – who nailed it in my fave Deadwood and a guest spot in the Eastbound and Down finale – dressed in a five dollar hippie costume and acted as Sanada’s translator because Dogen doesn’t like the way english tastes on his tongue (SO STUPID). As bad as Nikki and Paolo in my opinion.

Well that it for guest star list in 2010, anyone that stick out in your memory that evaded mine?

If you’re feeling in the mood for more best of 2010 coverage check out:

J’s Top 7 Villains of 2010

J’s Top 25 Television Episodes of 2010 (Part 1 #25 – #11)


J’s Top 25 Television Episodes of 2010!

Part 1 #25 – #11

Its the time of year where one looks back on the year that was and ranks stuff. So in the spirit of of looking back and judging, here is the first in a series of “Best Of 2010” year ending lists. My list of the best television episodes of 2010 was not separated into comedy and drama because a great episode of either essentially does the same thing, it sets itself apart and above from the rest of the season and not only gives us the formula that made the series great to begin with, but brings that formula to a completely different level. Sometimes they made me laugh, some made me cry, some had me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t have 10, or 15 – it was simply a great TV year – I had to have 25 episodes. Without further delay here is part 1 of the Top 25 Episodes of 2010.

25.  “Getting Closer”/”The Hollow Men” Dollhouse

written and directed by Tim Minear/Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters & Tracy Bellomo and directed by Terrence O’Hara.

It’s easy to forget but Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse finished up its series run in early 2010. Even though Getting Closer and The Hollow Men aired a week apart, I watched them together as one tense exciting final battle (It’s pretty much a two parter, so they will be judged as such). Getting Closer gives us (SPOILER ALERT) the murder of Bennett Halverson (Genre goddess Summer Glau) by a reprogrammed Doc Saunders (Genre goddess Amy Acker), and the revelations that Caroline was an eco-terrorist/freedom fighter; responsible for Bennett’s maiming and that trustworthy and stalwart Boyd Langston is actually the evil head of Rossum Corp. The second hour is war. The Hollow Men has our heroes shutting down Rossum (at least for a while); it’s violent, romantic, tragic and funny; it also marks the return of Enver Gjokaj’s (Tony/Victor) killer Topher impression.

24.  “The Master Plan” Parks and Recreation

written by Michael Schur (co-creator) and directed by Dean Holland.

It’s a game changer for the world of Pawnee government, state auditors played by new regulars Adam Scott and Rob Lowe come to town from Indianapolis to slash the city’s budget, to Ron’s (and our) hilarious joy. They shut down the government; and you can imagine how that sits with Leslie. The Master Plan also showcases the supporting cast at their best. I loved Andy’s crushing on April who’s 21st Birthday party is the second half of the episode and Tom finding some romantic redemption in Lucy (Natalie Morales). Mostly I’m happy Adam Scott didn’t leave Party Down for nothing.

23. “Pilot” Lone Star

written by Kyle Killen (creator) and directed by 500 Days of Summer and Spider-Man relaunch director Marc Webb.

Damn this was good. I hadn’t seen the second episode when I’d heard the reaper had claimed Lonestar; and I never watched it. The pilot was so good I decided to let it be, this singular one-off showing of a pilot that never really stood a chance – and I never saw the second episode. The story of a con man; stuck in two long cons, living two lives and in love with two women: small town cutie Lindsay (newcomer Eloise Mumford) and sexy debutante Cat (Adrianne Palicki, Tyra Collette from Friday Night Lights) daughter of his con’s mark, Jon Voight. The greatest strength of the episode simply though is the lead performance by James Wolk. You’d never think he was 25 by watching this, but it’s like the man on screen has lived a thousand lives and you see it in Wolk’s charming, layered, performance. This could have been a great series but the pilot stands as one of the years best hours.

22. “Boardwalk Empire” Boardwalk Empire

written by series creator and Sopranos vet, Terence Winter and directed by some kid named Marty Scorsese.

The first episode of Boardwalk Empire is a Scorseseian masterpiece. The rest of the series never lived up to the quality of the premiere. Buscemi, Pitt and Shannon all give stellar performances but for me the shining star is Kelly Macdonald. Her Margaret Schroeder was equal parts feisty and meek and the heart of the episode.

21. “Hitting the Ground”/“Night on the Sun” True Blood

written by Brian Buckner/Raelle Tucker and directed by Rounders director John Dahl/Now and Then director Lesli Linka Glatter.

This is the second unofficial two parter on the list these episodes are a non stop thrill ride. Bookmarked with bloody vampire death (Sookie staking Lorena and Eric staking Talbot) and in between was a series of amazing moments; Tara kicking Bill out of the truck into the sunlight, Sookie’s first visit to the Faerie Land, Russell marries Sophie-Ann, Russell decapitates the Magister, Sookie and Bill break-up, Sookie and Tara basking in the sun, Hadley’s visit to Sookie, Bill training Jessica, Eric and Talbot’s date “I’m Bored. Strip”, The Werewolf attack on Sookie’s house, Jessica killing and Sookie and Debbie Pelt’s awesome fight. The peak of the season by far.

20. “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” Community

written by Dino Stamatopoulos and series mastermind Dan Harmon and directed by Duke Johnson.

It was equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking. Abed hysterically starts to see the world as a stop motion christmas special and sets off on an adventure to find the meaning of Dr. Ian Duncan (John Oliver). In the end its revealed the stop motion world is due to Abed’s trauma of being abandoned by his mother on christmas for her new family. Ouch. But the gang comes together to help Abed on his journey and defeat the Christmas Sorcerer and create a new family christmas tradition. Should be shown every year, a new classic.

19. “Party Down Company Picnic” Party Down

teleplay by John Enbom who wrote the story with Dan Etheridge, co-creators and directed by Bryan Gordon.

This series will be sorely missed and this episode is a perfect example why; Lydia’s stage parent desperation was the perfect showcase for Megan Mullally – it was Lydia at her crazy best, also Casey kicking Garland Greenbush ass in the competition, Ron falling in love with the owner’s crazy daughter, Kyle training Escapade in the ways of Hollywood and Kristen Bell as rival caterer Uta.

18. “Unplugged” Modern Family

written by series co-creator Steven Levitan, dir; Michael Spiller.

The Dunphy family goes Luddite, The Pritchetts deal with a dog that won’t stop barking and Cam and Mitchell try to get Lily into a preschool. It’s full of great one-liners and its the rare sitcom episode where all three plots are equally great and offer a lot of laughs. I still die when I think of Cam saying “My white man name is Tucker” and Hayley winning anti-tech competition “We got Shawshanked”.

17. “Verna” 30 Rock

written by Ron Weiner, directed by Don Scardino.

In one plot Jack helps Jenna deal with her terrible mother (he would know…), the titular Verna (Jan Hooks) and in the other Frank moves in with Liz and they try to rid each other of their bad habits. This episode’s brilliance is in Hooks’ gleefully trashy performance and a secret nanny-cam video Liz takes of her apartment, which shows Liz Lemon in a sleep eating frenzy, ordering a pizza and munching on cigarettes in her sleep. As funny as her drunk dialing the condo board from a few season back.

16. “Sanctuary”&”Death and All His Friends” Grey’s Anatomy

written by series creator Shonda Rhimes, dir; Rob Corn.

Shonda knew she needed to do something drastic to shake things up, Grey’s had been in the doldrums for 3 or four seasons (ghost sex, deer surgery) – and shake things up she did. A gunman stormed Seattle Grace seeking vengeance on McDreamy and left a path of blood and bedlam in his wake. Every member of the sprawling 14 member cast was given something to do climaxing with Meredith and Christina’s skill being tested under extreme pressure, the aftershocks of this great episode are still being felt in Grey’s world and the show is MUCH better for it.

15. “And Then There Were Fewer” Family Guy

written by longtime Family Guy contributor Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, directed by Domenic Polcino.

The hourlong season 9 premier took the residents of Quahog to a mysterious dinner party at a mansion held by occasional nemesis James Woods. It was a classic murder mystery done family guy style. I’m a mystery buff and it was note perfect from the look of the mansion to the episode’s score. Starting with the death of Quagmire’s date Stephanie (the funniest one-off character in FG history. Easy.) and then with the deaths of James Woods, Muriel Goldman on an Agatha Christie-esque hunt for the truth: (SPOILER ALERT) News reporter Diane Simmons was the murderer, she was dumped by James Woods on the eve of her being replaced as the Channel 5 News Anchor and wanted to frame Tom for his murder. Lois figures it out and just as Diane was about to kill her a single mystery shot kills Diane and saves Lois. It was Stewie “If anybody’s gonna take that bitch down it’s gonna be me”. The coolest part? For an animated sitcom, everyone who died stayed dead.

14 “Fire in the Hole” Justified

written by series creator Graham Yost (cowriter of Speed!) and directed by Michael Dinner.

In the opening minutes of Fire in the Hole TImothy Olyphant has a quick draw with a Miami drug runner. It’s a tense stand off, one that sets Justified’s contemporary western’s gritty tone and introduces us to TV biggest badass Raylan Givens played with simmering fury and big hat bravado by Timothy Olyphant. The pilot follows him as he ‘s transfered to the home he left so many years ago and thrust on the hunt for criminal/childhood friend Boyd Crowder (The Shield’s Walton Goggins, never creepier) who blew up a church with a rocket launcher. It’s an amazing hour and a brilliant showcase for Olyphant’s Givens who as his ex-wife puts it: “You are the angriest man I have ever known”

13. “Days Gone Bye” The Walking Dead

written and directed by Frank Darabont

The first episode of the Walking Dead was scary, we knew from the opening child zombie kill that we were in for a different kind of TVoehl experience. We awoke well into the zombie-pocalypse with Rick as our proxy, we shuttered as he came upon the doors reading “Don’t Open, Dead Inside” and we learned with him as he was taught the ways of the zombie world by Lennie James. Despite my knowledge of how he escapes, the ending where Rick is chased on the streets of Atlanta and stuck in the tank still has me biting my nails.

12. “Telethon” Parks and Recreation

written by series star Amy Poehler and directed by Troy Miller.

Leslie orders the Parks and Recreation employees (and Ann) to help her with her 4 hour slot at the  Pawnee Cares Diabetes Telethon, from 2:00 am to 6:00 am. Leslie’s been up for 24 hours in preparation, fueled on Sweetums bars and the desire to reach the $20,000 mark and no sleep, Leslie is at her wildest and funniest. It shows how much Amy Poehler knows the ins and outs of Leslie that she was able to write Leslie’s funniest episode.

11. “A Study in Pink” Sherlock

written by co-creator Mark Moffat and directed by Paul McGuigan (Lucky Number Slevin, Push).

This 90 minute pilot for BBC’s Sherlock was better than the Robert Downey Jr. movie that came out last year. An adaptation of Doyle’s first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, set in modern times and featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and future Bilbo Baggins/British Jim from their Office, Martin Freeman as Watson. Not only is the case a doozy, but watching the Watson and Holmes’ friendship unfold is a real treat. The pilot zips and zooms in McGuigan’s capable hands and sets a standard for what Holmes ought to be.

Well that was part 1, part 2, the Top Ten Episodes of 2010 will be up in a few days or so, but there may be another Best of 2010 list up before then. In the meantime, what were your favorite episodes of the year?


Hired/Sorta Fired!

Benched!

OMFG

According to Deadline, Taylor Momsen, who Tim Gunn called “pathetic” has been sidelined for the foreseeable future. I think we can attribute Gossip Girl’s uptick in quality to Momsen’s absence, she’s only been in three episodes this season. This is so cool! It’s like for once an actor is being benched for their off-screen antics and they don’t play one of the interesting characters (Jessica Beil – 7th Heaven; Mary was ganster). She’s going to be absent for 4 consecutive episodes starting with the Midseason finale on Dec 6th. Cheers to Josh Schwartz! I’ll update the more hired or fired she gets.

True Blood Casting Frenzy!

True Blood has added three people to it’s ensemble regular cast. For those who have not  read Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mystery  book series, season three will follow (*Spoiler Alert*) Witches, a coven of V addicted witches that makes their way to Bon Temps. Halfway through last season Joe Manganiello who plays Werewolf Alcide Herveaux got bumped up to a regular, and now three more have joined him.

Fiona Shaw who’s probably best known as Petunia Dursley in the Harry Potter film series, joins the cast as Marnie – a charlatan palm reader who becomes the host body for an evil wiccan spirit. This is probably the Hollow Stonebrook character from the novel.

The beautiful Janina Gavankar, who spent the summer slumming it on ABC’s supernatural soap/drama The Gates joins the cast as Luna – a sexy school teacher and shifter. Like Manganiello before her (he was on One Tree Hill I’m looking forward to seeing her with some quality material.

Jessica Tuck, who since the shows pilot has played the American Vampire League spokeswoman Nan Flanagan has after guest starring for 3 seasons been promoted to full fledged series regular. Jessica Tuck was a regular for Judging Amy’s full run and played the mother of Ashley Tisdale’s character in Disney’s High School Musical series. I’m super stoke about this hire particularly – I’m fascinated by the heirarchy of TB’s vamps, and I love the double-sidedness of Tuck’s bureaucrat character.

Alexandra Brecekenridge (Family Guy) and Vedette Lim (nuthin really…) also join as recurring characters.