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Top 10 Episodes of TV in 2008 — Part One!

January 21st, 2009
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Hi everyone!  Welcome to the first of my four “Best of 2008” lists.  In the coming days I’ll be sharing my Top 10 Movies, Top 10 DVDs, and Top 10 Comic Books of 2008.  Today we kick things off with my 10 absolute favorite things televised during 2008, starting with some honorable mentions and then counting down from number 10.  (Special thanks to TV.com for helping me to find all the original air-dates!)

Honorable Mention #1 — Battlestar Galactica: “Revelations” (season 4, episode 10, aired on 6/13/08).  Plotlines converge in this mid-season finale as the Cylons and the Colonial Fleet race to discover the location of Earth.  There’s been a lot of discussion, over the brutally long hiatus, about the Planet of the Apes ending, but for me it all comes down to the nail-biter of a scene in which Lee Adama orders Colonel Tigh, now revealed as a Cyclon, into an airlock for his execution.  (Why isn’t this in my top 10 list?  I just wasn’t wowed by the “surprise” ending.)

Honorable Mention #2 — The Office: “Goodbye, Toby” (season 4, episode 14, aired on 5/15/08).  Michael is so excited by the imminent departure of his “nemesis,” the sad-sack Toby Flenderson, that he commands his party-planning committee to throw the greatest celebration the Dunder Mifflin office has ever seen.  The Jim-Pam story is a bit of a downer, but guest Star Amy Ryan (The Wire) positively killed, and her storyline, in which she becomes convinced that Kevin is mentally challenged, is pure genius.  (Why isn’t this in my top 10 list?  The Jim-Pam story felt too much like a writers’ device to keep their relationship from moving forward.)

OK, and now here’s the top 10:

10.  Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles: “The Demon Hand” (season 1, episode 7, aired on 2/25/08).  Would that every episode of this uneven show were as good as this one.  In a surprising move, the show reprises a number of storylines and characters from James Cameron’s T2, including psychologist Dr. Silberman (played here by the terrific Bruce Davison).  Sarah and John Connor struggle with her guilt and his anger over her seeming abandonment of him during the years when she was institutionalized, and Agent James Ellison (Richard T. Jones), the Jean Valjean of the show, confronts powerful evidence that everything he thought he believed about Sarah Connor might be wrong.  Great drama, great action, great exploration of the Terminator mythos.  I loved it.

9.  Battlestar Galactica: “The Ties That Bind” (season 4, episode 3, aired on 4/18/08).  Lee Adama, now out of the military and serving as a member of the governing Quorum of Twelve, must decide how far his loyalty to President Roslin will go.  Kara Thrace, leading a ragged group of officers on board the battled old Demetrius in what seems a hopeless search for a clue in the road to Earth, begins acting more and more erratically.  The Cylon Civil War begins.  And in the episode’s most powerful storyline, the marriage between Chief Tyrol and Cally begins to fall apart.  The shocking ending absolutely knocked my socks off, and once again established BSG as the most intense, stunning show on television.  (Now that The Wire is off the air, of course!)

8.  30 Rock: “Sandwich Day” (season 3, episode 13, aired on 5/1/08).  It’s a magical day in the 30 Rock studios, as the annual Sandwich Day has arrived, in which the teamsters bring in delicious free sandwiches for everyone.  The staff faces a moral dilemma when they discover Liz Lemmon’s sandwich sitting, uneaten, on her desk, and Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) must adjust to his recent demotion.  There’s a lot of funny stuff in this episode, but nothing more brilliant than Liz’s “I wolfed my teamster sub for you!” declaration of love to Floyd, a phrase that has now entered my regular repertoire.

7.  The Office: “Dinner Party” (season 4, episode 9, aired on 4/10/08).  Michael and Jan invite Jim and Pam and Andy and Angela over for the dinner party from hell.  I get nervous whenever The Office leaves the confines of the Dunder Mifflin office, but this half hour of extraordinary agony is a gem of an exception.  There are so many great moments: Jan’s candles, Michael and his vasectomies, Hunter’s CD, Michael’s prized 11 inch plasma TV, Jan’s cooking… the list is endless.  This is everything I love about The Office — staggeringly awkward moments and amazing humor.  

6.  Lost: “The Constant” (season 4, episode 5, aired on 2/28/08).  In this mind-bender of an episode, Desmond’s consciousness bounces between his life in 1996 (in the Royal Scotts Regiment) and his life in “present day” 2004, on a helicopter to the mysterious freighter.  The storyline is a 12 Monkeys style twister, containing a lot of hints about Lost’s future and Desmond’s past, but the heart of the episode is the powerful love story between Desmond and Penny, which steps to the center stage here.  

That’s all for today.  Click here for numbers 5 through 1!

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