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September 24 2009

Joss Whedon: His Best TV Episodes Ever. TWoP picks Joss Whedon's best episodes of television to date. Episodes of his shows, not necessarily episodes he wrote. does a similar sort of thing with its "25 Best Whedonverse Episodes" list.

Awesome. Gotta say I pretty much agree with this list. :)
The Buffy choices, Man On The Street, and Dr. Horrible were all pretty spot on. Objects In Space is a gimme for Firefly, but Jaynestown? A fun ep, but nowhere near the level of Out Of Gas, Our Mrs. Reynolds, Ariel, or War Stories, to me. I would probably rank it behind Trash and The Message as well.

I never seem to agree with the Angel picks. Hero is mediocre outside of Doyle's death, and Smile Time, while good, I find overrated. Awakening is also pretty blah.

Still, a really good list overall. I think there could have been another Dollhouse ep on there... Epitaph One or Spy In The House Of Love or Needs, for instance.

EDIT: okay, somehow I missed Epitaph One and Out Of Gas being on there. But I still think there are more worthy Firefly eps than Jaynestown. And I still would have liked a third Dollhouse ep.

[ edited by bonzob on 2009-09-25 01:21 ]
I agree that Smile Time was overrated....good, but not amazing by any means.

And what's that about no supernatural element in The Body? Um....there was a vampire. And actually the only part of the episode I have an issue with. (Would've been nice to have that episode be demon free...well, aside from Anya that is. Or was she a human...I can never keep track of that...)
I thought that was a pretty good list overall. I can't say I disagree with any of the choices *except* 'Janes Town' which I've always found dull...
How can they overlook "Restless"? Principal Snyder as Colonel Kurtz, Buffy lecturing the First Slayer on professional appearance in the workplace, and that fantastic presentation of "Death of a Salesman". Plus, cheese!
Pretty good list but I don't agree with the Angel picks either. Hero is pretty bad. Smile Time is good but overrated. Awakening is a weird one - I absolutely hated it while I was watching it. I found it unbelievably cheesy and it made me go from loving the show to infuriated with it. But then, of course, it turns out that the whole thing is Angel's fantasy. They pulled the rug from under my feet very, very well. But I still couldn't say that it's one of my favourite episodes since I didn't actually like it while watching it and only realised afterwards how clever it was.

Really good Firefly picks (though I'd add the two hour premiere) but for Buffy I'd add Passion, The Zeppo, The Wish, The Prom, Restless, The Gift and Normal Again.
Jaynestown is great fun but the real treat is getting to see a whole new emotional layer to Jayne at the end, and then that great dialogue where he and Mal talk about heroes gives me chills. Good pick.
I'm always a little sad when Passion is left off these lists. I really think it's a masterpiece of an episode.

Still, they got some really great stuff. I was just thinking with sadness today about how I doubt I'll ever get attached to a show the way I have become with Buffy. If only because a large part of my love for the show comes from growing up with it.
Jaynestown and Smile Time are iconic.
Smiletime is awesome! It's all meta about sticking it to the man and how the network was making ME puppets. I love it for it's message. Because AtS Season 5 worked so hard to cut back, to make the network happy, and they and we, the fans, got gutted. Smiletime - where the network is hijacked by demons who turn Angel/ME into a puppet. To be that funny and subversive and full of meaning = awesome. It's all about the context of that tumultuous time as a fan back then.
These kinds of lists pop up from time to time, but this is the first list I've seen that really "nailed" my favorite episodes - including a few that don't often make such lists ("Who Are You", "Innocence", etc.) Great list - one clearly written by a real fan.
Anyone else notice not all of their synopses were quite right?

We can go round and round on this issue... again... but I have to say, not much I can argue with about this one. And I always, always, always have to appreciate a little love for Earshot; Buffy's conversation with Jonathan in the clock tower could be one of the most important pieces of writing in the history of humanity. It teaches empathy without being cheesy or cloying, which is a remarkable achievement.

(Also, I always thought the vamp in "The Body" was there to show that life always goes on whether you like it or not. Buffy still has to be the Slayer, no matter who's died. It feels rough and off-putting and out of place because that's exactly what real life feels like when it intrudes on your grief.)

[ edited by ManEnoughToAdmitIt on 2009-09-25 05:19 ]
Any list that DOESN'T include "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been" for an Angel pick is OK in my book. :-)
Yep, pretty decent list but it didn't quite read my mind as it seems to have with others. I liked Dollhouse from the start but for me 'Epitaph One' isn't up there with the very best Whedon episodes, it was good TV but it's no "Objects in Space" for instance (and "Out of Gas" is brilliant but you couldn't play it as a first episode, for it to work we have to really care about all the characters already - most definitely including the ship BTW). And there're a lot of 'Angel' episodes i'd include before 'Hero', nice send-off for Doyle though it was. What about "5x5" or "Sanctuary" or "A Hole in the World" or one of my later favourites "Damage" ?

It teaches empathy without being cheesy or cloying, which is a remarkable achievement.

Maybe more "preaches" it (in the good way) cos if you're old enough to watch 'Earshot' you're too old to be taught empathy, you either have it or you don't by that stage.

ETR a 'd' cos it's 'Damage' not 'Damaged'. Now i'm wondering if it really is one of my favourites or if i'm actually some sort of me imposter.

[ edited by Saje on 2009-09-25 09:45 ]
Not a bad list, but Fool for Love is certainly missing.
There's also a list of the top twenty-five Whedon-y episodes according to Entertainment Weekly here:,,20302134_20307632,00.html

I was thinking of posting it as another topic here, but then I saw this one, and I wasn't sure. If the powers that be think it should be its own topic, feel free to do that.
Solid list though I'd agree the Angel picks could be better (definitely think "A Hole in the World" should be on there). And Jobo, I feel the same way all the time. I think the closest I get is with "Lost" and maybe even "Bones" but nothing else (I also don't watch a lot of tv anymore).
I wonder how much of the Smile Time fame comes from the fact that it's rememberable. As a not-really-an-angel-fan, I'm hard pressed to remember the episodes, not just from the names but even from IMDB short descriptions. Smile Time is one of those that is both good and so different that you remember it.

I have to agree with Epitah One, I just watched it yesterday. It was good, but the pilot was better, and I would certainly put it to this list. The unaired pilot of course, not the pile of mediocrity they showed. I finally watched the unaired pilot yesterday too and it was so good, I was fuming for quite a while because how they messed up a good thing. The unaired pilot was probably the best series opening I've seen, and only the greenlighted S2 stops me from going all postal about it. I just hope that the execs actually let Joss do his show during S2, instead of forcing the long motorcycle chases and extended miniskirt dances.

About the other parts, no comment. These lists keep popping up, and mostly they have the same episodes, with some ones switching around, depending on who's doing them. I do like the voting sillinesses of
A mod or Polter-Cow could add EW's "25 Best Whedonverse Episodes" entry for the thread. The topic is just too similar, to actually deserve a front page entry of it's own.

I expect we'll have a busy day today, with the return of Dollhouse and all.
Yeah, I've been voting in the best episode competition and the buffyfest blog. I'm pretty disappointed that OMWF looks like winning though. Bloody singing.

However the top episodes in that pretty much reflect all of these best of lists. I find it really hard to pick with Buffy ones though, yeah the classic Joss ones stand out but there's so many good ones that it would be nice to see a "top 10 best Buffy episodes that always get left out" list.

Also agree with Eerikki that a lot of Angel episodes don't stand out so people pick on the 'different format' episodes like Smile Time or Are You Now or Have You Ever Been, or the episodes where something something pivotal happens character wise such as an important death.
There are episodes that deserve to be on there much more than "Jaynestown", "Hero" and "Graduation Day" (a giant snake? really?).
I go with The Body as best ever, ever, and then add in Objects in Space, which fascinates me each time I see it.
Man, firefly was so great... I forgot how many classic episodes it had in only 13 episodes..

Out of Gas, Objects in Space, Jaynestown, War Stories, Our Mrs Reynolds, Ariel....

I miss it so much.
For fun (and by no means my final list)--also, not including the film Serenity or the comics, because it's so damn hard to compare even 45-minute episodes, let alone features and 22-page books.

Hell, this is so hard I'm gonna do fifty.

1. The Body
2. Objects in Space
3. Once More, With Feeling
4. The Gift
5. Not Fade Away
6. Restless
7. Innocence
8. Lullaby
9. Out of Gas
10. Hush
11. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
12. A Spy in the House of Love
13. The Zeppo
14. Serenity (pilot episode)
15. Becoming, Part 2
16. Epitaph One
17. Fool for Love
18. Our Mrs. Reynolds
19. Darla
20. Dead Things
21. Earshot
22. Sanctuary
23. Who Are You
24. Reunion
25. Conversations with Dead People
26. Reunion
27. Passion
28. New Moon Rising
29. Villains
30. Man on the Street
31. Intervention
32. A Hole in the World
33. The Wish
34. Five by Five
35. Waiting in the Wings
36. Selfless
37. Seeing Red
38. I Only Have Eyes For You
39. Sleep Tight
40. Ariel
41. Reprise
42. Needs
43. Lovers Walk
44. Destiny
45. War Stories
46. Forever
47. After Life
48. Prophesy Girl
49. Epiphany
50. Graduation Day, Part 2

I'm sure I forgot something. But anyway, THAT was hard to do, and I went to fifty!

No picks from Angel season four--but then, that season is one long arc anyway, so it's pretty difficult to pick out any individual eps....

I love "Jaynestown" as well, although I'd put it lower on my list of Firefly episodes--below "Objects in Space," "Out of Gas," "Serenity," "Our Mrs. Reynolds," "Ariel," "War Stories," and "The Message."

I also like "Awakening," but it's mostly valuable for the twist. And yes, some of the satirical material earlier on. (This is how Angel actually sees himself? Yikes. Yikes yikes.)

I don't love "I Will Remember You" or "Hero."

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2009-09-25 15:29 ]
Maybe "Jaynestown" is on their list for the hoyay (see: one of their former writers', Shack's, Firefly reviews). They had to do a lot of reading-in to get there though.

I love the about-face so many reviewers and websites did on Firefly after it became apparent that, despite it being a ratings flop, it grew into a critical and highly-fan-appreciated success. TwoP says "we've long been fans of Joss Whedon's work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Angel"--no. Most of their writers, back in 2002 and even for a while after, trashed the heck out of Firefly. Which they were entitled to do. But it's dishonest to re-write history for the sake of looking more fanboy-friendly (Whedon fans are a big chunk of TwoP's audience), though revision of history is something the internet is sadly all too good at. There are better ways you could phrase it, something like, "and we came around on Firefly after giving it more of a chance/re-watching it on DVD, with the pilot and the episodes in order and the unaired episodes". Websites, especially critic sites like that one, often get so caught up in looking infallible, like they've always got their finger on the pulse of the "correct" opinion, they'll make shit up just to convince you of it.

I liked "Surprise" and "Innocence" just as much as everyone else during Season 2, but "Passion" is more the crown jewel of Season 2, IMO, along with "Becoming" (least they got that on there).

"Hero" got a lot of attention for its emotional Doyle send-off (and for killing off a main character that early in a show's life in the first place), but that's about all it deserves its accolades for. As others have mentioned here already, it's otherwise a pretty mediocre ep. There were far better Season 1 eps ("Five by Five", off the top of my head).
No picks from Angel season four--but then, that season is one long arc anyway, so it's pretty difficult to pick out any individual eps....

I'd pick out 'spin the bottle' as a reasonably standalone-ish episode from season 4, which is also awesome and would be on my list.

I'd also say that 'Apocalypse Nowish' and 'Smiling Happy People' are two of the best episodes of Angel ever.

[ edited by mortimer on 2009-09-25 16:32 ]
Maybe more "preaches" it (in the good way) cos if you're old enough to watch 'Earshot' you're too old to be taught empathy, you either have it or you don't by that stage.

I've taught the clock tower scene to high schoolers. They have empathy, but it's so frequently applied unevenly... I really hammered on the line, "Everyone is ignoring your pain because they're too busy with their own," and then asked how their worst enemies/rivals were feeling right now.

It was one of the best days of teaching I've ever had.
Sounds like you made a real difference ManEnoughToAdmitIt. But as you say they already had empathy, they just weren't applying it evenly. No episode of TV is going to "teach" empathy to a high-schooler that doesn't already have it but i'm not surprised that Buffy can be useful in thinking about empathy (among many other things).
@WilliamTheB - I was right there with you until you listed, "Dead Things". I can't STAND that one. :( But, it is YOUR list, not mine. Also, I hate to rain on your parade, but you listed "Reunion" twice, so there's only 49 picks on your list. Perhaps as suggested, maybe you should go with at least "Spin The Bottle" for one of those spots. :)
While best of lists are always arguable (how fun is that?) - to me the real genius of Whedon is the ongoing passion of the arguments, clearly showing the depth of connections he makes with his audience.
As far as the list goes... as someone who has actually experienced the unexpected death of a loved one at home, EW's pick of The Body - spot on. Can I watch it very often? No.
Is it an amazing depiction of the phases of grief? There is no doubt for me...
Reunion twice? Ok--"Spin the Bottle" (which I actually strongly considered putting on there anyway) it is. Just move everything below the second "Reunion" up one and place "StB" at 50.

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