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December 20 2010

Ten best television episodes of 2010. Finale of Tim Minear's latest tragically foreshortened series "Terriers" gets some high praise.

Great list all-around, although I would have included Lost's "The End," replaced Breaking Bad's "Fly" with "Half Measures" and added Justified's "Fire in the Hole" somewhere.

[ edited by Wyndam_ on 2010-12-20 23:10 ]
Man, I so have to catch up and then start watching 'Breaking Bad' again - I only stopped because the censorship on early eps was mildly annoying. And it's cool to see "Men of a Certain Age" getting an honourable mention, that's a very likeable show IMO, funny and heartfelt.

And yep, good list. I'd also have got 'Fire in the Hole' in there somewhere (or maybe 'Bulletville', the season finale), great new show 'Justified', they've captured the Elmore Leonard "voice" perfectly IMO. And 'Community's rapidly making it really hard to pick favourites. 'Modern Warfare' is a good if slightly obvious choice (surprised they didn't mention 'Die Hard', maybe they thought that was so clearly a reference it literally didn't need saying ?) but 'Cooperative Calligraphy' and "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" from S2 were also amazing along with several other contenders. Also, maybe don't speak too soon re: topping the paintball episode, in "Aerodynamics of Gender" we see on Abed's Robo-HUD that he's intent on talking the gang into a sequel and so far, everything we see on the HUD in that episode has come to pass in some way (the women's "cycles", the blanket fort, the thing with his Mum etc.).

And 'Terriers' was very much cut down in its prime, 'Hail Mary' was excellent but any episode from the last 5 ish would be worthy IMO (preferably one with Steph in it - if I didn't know already I might've guessed that she was Donal Logue's real-life sister just because the sibling chemistry between them was so perfect).
While enjoyable, I don't think Terries' finale was its strongest episode. The Community, Mad Men, Walking Dead and Friday Night Lights eps chosen were all deserved. I remember commenting about their briliance on twitter at the time each one of those eps aired. I'm having a hard time coming up with other eps of any show that left me with feeling the way the above mentioned eps did. Justified and Dexter both had great seasons but one ep doesn't jump out to me.
Probably that Van Gogh episode of Doctor Who and a couple of those latter Lost episodes.
I love "Terriers" and think it's one of the best new shows in ages, but I don't know that I would call it "tragically foreshortened." The network did run the entire first series as planned, so while it would have been great if the story had been allowed to continue with more seasons, it was allowed to complete its original arc for both its creators and its viewers.
Man, The Son's been my only unseen episode on two top 10 lists this year. I need to watch FNL and soon.
WOOO! Whedonesque linked to Pajiba! I frequent Pajiba more than Whedonesque, but the two are my favorite fun sites.

And in case anyone is wondering, "Pajiba" sort of rhymes with a part of a woman. I didn't realize that forever, and was using an "h" sound instead.
Really good list. I'm amazed that I agree with almost the entire list. While I think that the Breaking Bad episode they chose is a great one, I'd probably choose a different one, but that's not a huge complaint. And nice to see Treme represented even though I agree completely with their criticism. That first season, as a whole, was definitely lacking, but the finale was great.

Yes, phisho, watch FNL. Great show, great episode, fantastic performance by Mr. Gilford.

Agree, Saje. Community has been so consistently brilliant, it's getting quite hard to choose favorites. I'll be getting the first season on DVD soon (thank you Santa ;)) and plan to rewatch the heck outta that.

Finally, so glad to see Terriers get the recognition it deserves. I know it's too late now, but more people really should get to see that wonderful show. We can only hope we get a DVD release sometime. Pretty please!

ETA: my disappointment that a site like Pajiba (that's been around for a little while, if I'm not mistaken) can't successfully use spellcheck. Come on.

[ edited by guidedby on 2010-12-21 02:08 ]
I haven't been watching several shows on that list, so it's hard to be objective. The Terriers finale, as good as it was, I still would opt for Sins of the Past as the episode to recognize. It just gripped me by my guts and wouldn't let go for days and days afterwards. I would put the last episode shown (not the last episode of the show) of Caprica on a list I'd create. I also think the last episode of Lost was highly satisfying for many fans. It's true you know. You don't always get what you want, you get what you need.
I keep hearing good things on Whedonesque about Community. I watched the first episode and thought "meh" - how representative was the first ep to the tone and quality of the rest of the series?
Bluey, I'd say Community doesn't really hit its stride until episode 7. I'd say you should at least watch the first half of the first season. Pay close attention to "Debate 109," "Environmental Science" and "Comparative Religion." I'd call those three representative of the series as a whole.
Yeah i'd more or less agree with that. If you watch up to "Debate 109" and the show hasn't grabbed you then it's probably not your thing but i'd give it until "Investigative Journalism" (the end of the first order of eps). I'd also say that there're great lines in there but the jokes move by pretty quickly and some of the humour comes from meta references, self-awareness and good-natured pokes at other shows so if you're really averse to that sort of thing it may not be your bag (e.g. "Debate 109" is, yep, episode 09 of season 1 and the show's full of little throwaways like that ;).

Comedies are so subjective though, you can only recommend them and see what happens, everyone's different in what they like.

I'll be getting the first season on DVD soon (thank you Santa ;)) and plan to rewatch the heck outta that.

Santa came early to my house guidedby (i'm telling myself it's cos I was such a good little boy. And not just a really impatient little boy with his own credit card ;) and it's a nice set. Commentaries on every episode and the "Study Break" shorts (which I didn't even know existed so nice bonus) were the highlights for me. And the episodes themselves of course which are highly rewatchable.
Thanks for your thoughts phisho and Saje! :) I will probably check it out.

I watched BSG and Babylon because of comments on Whedonesque, and really enjoyed both of them, so I am inclined to at least try out other Whedonite's tastes.

Two programs I've recently discovered that I would thoroughly recommend to other Whedonites are the BBC miniseries Sherlock, a modern re-telling of Sherlock Holmes and also Jekyll, which is a re-telling (kind-of) of Jekyll and Hyde.

Both by Steven Moffat (show runner of the current Matt Smith era Dr Who).

Both Awesome. (And so is Coupling, also by Moffat.)

Steven Moffat is rapidly becoming my favourite TV writer second only to Joss.

On topic: I haven't seen any of the 10 episodes mentioned, which makes me think I may be missing some good series!
Yep, 'Sherlock', 'Jekyll' and 'Coupling' (when Jeff was in it at least), all excellent TV. And further back in the mists of time, his first TV series, "Press Gang", was pretty decent too (aimed younger than the rest but it may still stand up, not seen it in getting on 20 years). So yep, Steven Moffat is there or thereabouts for me too, particularly after 'The Big Bang' which was a pretty masterful exercise in tying a series arc together more or less seamlessly while delivering a great individual episode (it'd be on my own top 10 list).

('Sherlock' made The AV Club Top 25 Shows of 2010 BTW and deservedly so, let's hope they can fit more in around everyone's schedule as soon as possible)
Yep I liked The Big Bang too, one of the best and cleverest time-twisty episodes of anything I've ever seen. (And the romantic in me liked the Rory part of the plot).

Also, according to a press release from the beeb, a new 3 ep series of Sherlock has been commissioned and will be airing in 2011, with Mr. Moffat and Mark Gatiss at the helm again. :-D

ETF link

[ edited by Bluey on 2010-12-22 22:00 ]
There are shorts on the Community DVD's? Sweet! Now I really have something to look forward to. Not to mention all the commentaries. I seriously can't wait.

Yeah, I could've bought it before, but I saw a decent amount of the episodes again when they were rerun during the summer. It was only after the second season began that I decided I wanted to own the first. And then Christmas approached, and I figured I could wait. (I think I'll also be getting Pushing Daisies' first season, so it'll be a good year :))

Also, nice to hear the good words about Sherlock. My parents loved them as well, and I have them sitting on my DVR. Guess I should be getting to those...
Episodes one and three in particular are very good, loads of little squee moments if you're a Holmes fan. The second one feels sort like an odd one out to me since it wasn't written by Moffat/Gatiss, doesn't feature many of the supporting players from the other two and maybe hews slightly too closely to the more "of their time" aspects of the stories (i.e. some people thought it was a bit racist) but it's still well worth a watch.

Yep I liked The Big Bang too, one of the best and cleverest time-twisty episodes of anything I've ever seen.

I know right ? Seen plenty of time-travel stories that play with paradoxes but that may be the first one that just goes "Yeah, it's a paradox, deal with it" ;).

(and hooray for more 'Sherlock' in 2011)
Having rewatched Press Gang relatively recently, I'd say itís a must for any Moffat fan. If you bear in mind that it was a show aired between 4-5 in the afternoon for young teens you should get past any preachiness that there is and will revel in the verbal battles between Lynda Day and Spike (no, not that one) and the smartness and cleverness of the plotting. I like Julia Sawalha in everything she has done but she was especially good in Press Gang.

PS: the music is awful.
Hate to say I never got around to Terriers, and now it feels like it would be a waste of time. I'm already mourning the loss of Rubicon.
Speaking of .... glad to see the Rubicon love here, but I actually thought Zack's second ep (A Good Days Work) was even better than the one they chose.

I would have put Mad Men's "The Suitcase" in the #1 spot. It was just brilliant, and so unexpected.

I never thought I'd be saying this, but I'd add a Fringe ep to this list. In fact, I think the last 6 eps were so uniformly excellent, I'm not even sure which one I'd choose (probably Entrada).
Which doesn't bode well for it's possible cancellation, considering my track record of loving shows that get canceled before their time.
Mad Men's another one I have to get around to watching, Shey, again primarily because of the praise I've read for it here on Whedonesque, anything that's described as both brilliant and unexpected is something that's close to a must watch for me.

(In fact, that's pretty much how I felt through the first episode of Sherlock, it's the closest I've come to re-watching an ep directly after watching it for a very long time).

I haven't actually seen the 3rd Sherlock episode yet, but I agree with you Saje, although I enjoyed the 2nd episode I definitely thought it was weaker than the 1st, I'm glad that the 3rd picks it up again.

And thanks for the info moley75, I'll have to find Press Gang and watch it.
Ah, Sherlock love. I knew it was going to be good when I heard about Moffat and Gatiss being behind it and I wasn't disappointed. I agree with the second episode being less then stellar when compared to the other episodes though. For something that was only three episodes long, it felt very standalone, whereas the others were less so.

Didn't see Jekyll though.

I watched BSG and Babylon because of comments on Whedonesque, and really enjoyed both of them, so I am inclined to at least try out other Whedonite's tastes.

Already done BSG, but hoping to do Babylon soon, after being encouraged to do so by a few on here. I asked for either that or Deadwood as a Christmas present, although I'm sure I'll buy which ever one I don't get shortly afterwards. Not seen either*, so really looking forward to both.

*Only seen the pilot episode of Babylon, which was clearly very rough around the edges and I have heard it isn't very representative of the actual show. It had some great ideas and a couple of interesting characters, although some were a little bland. I hear a few get ditched and changed around, which is probably for the best.
Vandelay, to be honest, I personally felt the whole first season of Babylon 5 was of similar quality to the pilot - my husband and I literally laughed aloud at the dodginess of some of the action sequences (some of the punches obviously do not connect). Also, a lot of the acting is wooden, not helped by the fairly low-quality of the dialogue. In my opinion the first season was enjoyably B-grade.

But please stick with it - it gets a lot better, everything about it, the acting, the writing, even the special effects and action sequences. And the plot is awesome. So awesome, in fact, that you need to have seen episodes in the first season to fully appreciate what comes later, because they get referenced!

And since we're (theoretically ;) talking about favourite episodes of TV series in this thread the 4th season episode Intersections in Real Time is one of my favourite episodes of any TV series, ever.
I actually stopped watching "Babylon 5: If Sinclair Were Any More Wooden He'd Be a Tree" about halfway through the first season. Then a bit later on a friend told me it'd really got better so I gave it another chance and man, was I glad I did. One of the earlier shows to be properly arc based and still one of the best at really using the arc to tell a better story (e.g. "Babylon Squared/War Without End").

But yep, even later in the run dialogue was never really JMS' strong suit, there's some poetry in there but there're a hell of a lot of clunkers too.

'Deadwood's also excellent BTW so win win for you Vandelay ;).
Something that really struck me in the pilot was that the alien characters seemed much more interesting then the humans. From the acting, dialogue and characterisation, the crew of the Babylon were all just a bit dull. Then the show would come alive when the ambassadors were on the screen, particular Londo and G'kar. I don't know whether it changes later on, but at that very early stage it seemed clear that this is where JMS's had his main interest.

@Saje - So I hear and I'm really looking forward to both. Kind of hoping for Babylon 5 though, as it's more expensive and presumbly not as heavy going. I'm also currently watching The Sopranos, also for the first time (nearing the end of season 2 and it is absolutely stunning), so a little bit of sci-fi that comes with a bit of cheese might be good balance.
Kind of hoping for Babylon 5 though, as it's more expensive and presumbly not as heavy going.

There's a lot more of it too ('Deadwood' sadly having been cancelled after 3 - cable - seasons). And Londo and G'Kar have one of the best intertwined character arcs in sci-fi IMO, quite a journey (at least partly because they're played by two of the better actors in the cast).
Vandelay, adding my opinion that B5 is a "must see" for any serious SciFi fan. I agree with most everything bluey said about season 1, except that I'd give it higher marks that the Pilot, and add that there were a few eps that rose to the level of giving you an idea of how much improvement was to come.

Interesting observation about Londo and G'Kar, based on the Pilot alone. Because they are indeed, throughout the series, IMO the most fascinating characters with the most fully realized arcs. Although the crew definitely gets more interesting.

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