Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

The Top 10 Episodes of TV in 2012 — Part Two!

Yesterday I began my list of the Top 10 Episodes of TV in 2012click here for part one, listing numbers 10-6!

And follow these links to my other Best-of-2012 lists: my Top 15 Movies of 2012part one, part two, and part three, and my Top 15 Comic Book Series of 2012part one, and part two!

OK, let’s dive into the rest of my list of the Top 10 Episodes of TV in 2012!

5. Treme: “Promised Land” (season 3, episode 7, aired on 11/4/12) — David Simon’s criminally-underwatched series about post-Katrina New Orleans reached new heights of magnificence in season 3, and this episode embodies everything that is great about the show: the enormous, phenomenal ensemble of characters, each of whom is complex and compelling in his or her own right; the balance of comedy and tragedy; and above all, the spectacular music that is woven into the very fabric of the show.  It’s carnival time again, and “Big Chief” Albert struggles to march with his Indians despite his cancer, though for the first time we see his son Delmond fully suited up and a part of the tradition.  Davis hooks up with Janette; Colson struggles with his corrupt Homicide unit; Annie gets a high-paying but unfulfilling gig in Washington DC; Antoine tries to improve his skills on the trombone; LaDonna is threatened not to testify against the man who raped her; Sonny focuses on staying on the wagon despite the drunken Mardi Gras festivities surrounding him and receives unexpected support from his potential father-in-law Tranh; and Toni confronts her daughter Sophia’s older boyfriend, only to discover that Sophia had already dumped him a week ago.  Meanwhile, we get the double guest-star delight of Janette chatting with Emil Lagasse about the perils of moving from a small-time-chef into big business, AND her appearance on a Today Show cooking segment with Al Roker!  All this and DJ Davis (who began in series one as my least favorite character on the show, and is now one of my favorites, the compelling “every-man” character on the show) quotes The Wire! When he declared that “all the pieces matter,” I just about went to heaven.

4. Parks and Recreation: “The Debate” (season 4, episode 20, aired on 4/24/12) — The second Parks and Rec episode on my list!  In this installment, the climax of Leslie’s run for Pawnee city council approaches as all the candidates appear in a live debate.  There is so much comedic magnificence in this episode, I hardly know where to begin.  There’s Chris’ jovial declaration, in support of his amazing abilities to spin anything positively, that “if I had to have anybody tell me that I had cancer, I would want it to be me.”  There’s Ron’s speech before the campaign donors gathered to watch the debate: “If you like the debate, you will give us more money.  That is all.  Ron Swanson.”  (A Ron moment that is equaled if not topped later in the episode, when we cut to him cheerfully singing as he steals cable.)  There’s Leslie’s pre-debate strategy: “Nothing gets me more pumped up than Sarah McLachlan.”  There’s the appearance of loony Pawnee figures Perd Hapley and “legendary newswoman, newly single” Joan Calamezzo as the debate moderators.  Then there is the debate itself, in which Leslie competes with guest-star Paul Rudd (in top form) and a selection of other kooky Pawnee denizens.  The debate is comedy gold, one hysterical moment after another, as Leslie struggles to separate herself from the pack of no-nothing idiots she is competing with.  (The extended version of this episode found on the season four DVD has even more terrific debate comedy.)  The episode builds to a wonderful moment for Leslie.  After a half-hour of uncertainty, I loved her absolute certainty at the end: “I can do it.  I can crush him.  I promise.”  And her sweet and honest statement about why she wants to be on the city council reminds us of why Leslie Knope is a terrific anchor for this show.  But the episode really belongs to Chris Pratt as Andy, who knocks it out of the park re-enacting famous movies for Leslie’s campaign donors when it is discovered that they can’t watch the debate because he didn’t pay the cable bill.  Watching Andy passionately re-enact scenes from Roadhouse, Babe, and Rambo (“Bottom line: they go up-river.  It does not go well.”) will surely stand as one of the high-points of this great show.

3.  Game of Thrones: “Blackwater” (season 2, episode 9, aired on 5/27/12) — I fell in love with Game of Thrones during season one, and throughly enjoyed season two as well.  There were a few shaky moments in this sophomore season, but this penultimate episode was not only clearly the best episode of the season, but one of the finest hours of fantasy/action/adventure I have ever seen on television.  Abandoning the series’ usual format (in which we shift from place-to-place, spending time with the series’ various characters and their individual stories), this episode focused on just one story-line: the attack on the capital city of Kings’ Landing and the desperate attempt, led by the “Hand of the King” Tyrion Lannister, to defend it.  We’d been waiting two years for the series to give us a big action sequence, and my lord did we get it, as the astonishingly elaborate episode-long battle unfolded.  The action was spectacular — a visual effects triumph — but as with the very best of Game of Thrones, the real fun came from the individual character moments woven into the chaos.  We see Tyrion’s incredible cunning and unexpected bravery (“Those are brave men knocking at our door.  Let’s go kill them!”); Bronn’s pre-battle confrontation with the Hound and the Hound’s later shocking flight from battle; Cersei’s lament about her childhood, in comparison to the way her brother Jamie was raised; and both Shae and Sansa in perilous moments.  It was a thrilling hour of television, one that the show will have a very hard time topping in season three.

2. Sherlock: “A Scandal in Belgravia” (season 2, episode 1, aired on 1/1/12) — Barely making eligibility for this list (this episode originally aired on the very first day of January, 2012!) comes this magnificent installment of the BBC’s terrific Sherlock series, adapting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories to the present day.  This episode was genius in so many ways.  I loved how many individual mysteries were crammed into the episode.  I loved that we really got to see the passage of time and the deepening of Sherlock and Watson’s partnership.  I loved that we finally got to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Holmes’ famous deerstalker hat.  I loved the depiction of Irene Adler, a beautiful woman and intellectual equal to Holmes.  I loved Holmes’ death-defying deductions in Adler’s home.  I loved the mental back-and-forth between Holmes and Adler as they solved together the mystery of the man killed in the countryside.  I loved the note-perfect ending.  This was thrilling, sophisticated television, the best installment of this phenomenal show and one of the absolute best things I saw on television all year-long.

1.  The Daily Show — As has become my annual tradition, I am cheating with my number one entry and, rather than picking one specific episode, just praising the entire four-times-a-week run of The Daily Show, the funniest, smartest show on TV.  Genius level stuff.  Here are some highlights:

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Chaos on Bulls**t Mountain
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Drink Different – Pick Your Poison
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
RNC 2012 – The Road to Jeb Bush 2016 – A Fistful of Awesome
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
RNC 2012 – The Road to Jeb Bush 2016 – Republican Time Travel
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Post Democalypse 2012 – America Takes a Shower
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Post Democalypse 2012 – America Takes a Shower – Karl Rove’s Math
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone