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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Best Episodes of Television in 2014

Keep in mind that I'm a comedy guy and that's why the majority of the following episodes will be from comedy shows. But that's how television goes for me. There are very few exceptions. Enough about that, though. Here are the best episodes of the year!

18. Andy Samberg; St. Vincent (Saturday Night Live) - When Andy returned to Saturday Night Live to host the finale of season thirty-nine, everyone knew that there were going to be cameos aplenty. And with the Vogelchecks and the monologue, we got 'em. Armisen, Wiig, Hader, Meyers, Rudolph, Rudd; everyone was there! We got in the cage with Nic Cage and we found out when the bass dropped. Quality episode.

17. Answers (Wilfred) - The most mind-bending episode of Wilfred that there ever was was also one of the best from the fourth and final season. Perhaps it was also one of the best ever done. So many different answers for why Ryan sees Wilfred are explored with epic Easter eggery. Plus, Jason Gann without the costume? Jarring.

16. The Bet (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) - There's a lot going on this episode what with Charles' injury and Terry trying to go back into the field, but the real greatness comes when Jake plans a terrible date for Amy. They get called to a stakeout during it and when offered dismissal, Jake decides to stay. Glorious episode with the glorious Captain Holt stealing scenes.

15. Geothermal Escapism (Community) - I couldn't decide between Geothermal Escapism, Cooperative Polygraphy, and Repilot for so long, but I eventually had to choose the first. This was the episode where Troy left. Such a great episode with some actual intense drama for a game of hot lava. But that use of Come Sail Away sealed the deal.

14. Tina Fey, Adam Pally, and Grouplove (Late Night with Seth Meyers) - Well, this episode was an obvious inclusion. It's the one I saw live! But even if I hadn't seen it live, I still would have included it probably because it was such a great episode. The interviews were hilarious, the song was good, and Seth was funny as always.

13. Unafraid of the Dark (Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey) - This episode ended the run of Cosmos, but it was in such a beautiful and magnificent way. Cosmic rays, dark matter, and dark energy were all explored by Neil deGrasse Tyson and that would make for a quality episode on its own, but then the whole thing ended with a monologue from Carl Sagan that was lyrical and astounding and it made the whole thing just so unprecedentedly breathtaking for television.

12. The Desert (The Mindy Project) - Following a whole big ordeal with Cliff and Casey, it seems like Mindy has to choose between her current boyfriend and her ex-boyfriend. But then, serendipitously, it's Danny who marches to the back of the airplane and kisses Mindy. And we had to wait over two months for the next episode!

11. Grimmy (The Colbert Report) - Oh dear lord, the last episode of The Colbert Report was a breathtaking one. It began with Jon Stewart asking if Stephen was ready for the big night and Stephen acting as if he didn't know what he was talking about. Then there was a standard Report segment that made it seem like an average episode. But the rest of the installment blew it out of the water. Colbert did one last edition of The Word, killed the Grim Reaper, became immortal, sang We'll Meet Again with every celebrity, and then sailed into the moonlight with Santa Claus, Abraham Lincoln, and Alex Trebek. And then Jon Stewart thanked him for the report and all the goosebumps happened.

10. Will Smith and U2 (The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon) - I remember laying on my couch waiting for this episode to happen at 11:35 and when it did, it did not disappoint. Every second was amazing from the monologue to the second monologue to all the bits to the rooftop performance. There was something truly magical in the air that night.

9. G.I. Jeff (Community) - Looking back, there were so many great episodes from the fifth season of Community, but this one, I believe, is my favorite. Some said it was gimmicky, but I felt like it was classic Community and I think that's how the majority of people felt. The animation and G.I. Joe homages were flawless and it was peppered in with Community humor, meta-weirdness, and Jeff Winger struggling with his age.

8. Background Check (New Girl) - Quite possibly the best-written episode of New Girl in the history of the show. At its core, this episode was a bottle episode, but my goodness what a marvelous bottle episode it was! The laughs never really stopped in this one as the characters flowed together nicely and there was just...an abundance of humor. I think back on this episode of New Girl and I remember it as something special. A treasure.

7. Moving Up (Parks and Recreation) - One of the best episodes in the history of Parks and Recreation. It seemed like they made it as a backup plan for a series finale in case they were cancelled, but Mike Schur knew the show was coming back before the episode was created. But that's the true beauty and intelligence of the episode. They knew it wasn't the end and they still kept it a big display. It's an innovative show and this was an innovative episode with an astounding Unity concert, awesome career twist for Leslie, and an even crazier plot twist to end the episode and the season.

6. Bill Hader; Hozier (Saturday Night Live) - This was absolutely the best episode of SNL this season. No question. Not one sketch fell flat. Even the musical performances were great! After watching it for the first time, I thought about it again and smiled to myself. Take Me to Church, Like Real People Do, The Cat in the Hat, Stefon Returns, Herb Welch, Army Puppet. There were just so many memorable sketches. What an awesome episode!

5. The Equestranauts (Bob's Burgers) - This was a widely-acclaimed episode of the animated comedy and for good reason. The concept of the whole half-hour is so absurd, but the show itself is so absurd that it's able to keep up and follow through without ever fully committing to it. A great satire with great comedy makes for a great episode.

4. Downer Ending (BoJack Horseman) - BoJack is another great show in the lore of Netflix. It started off slightly slowly, but then picked up instantly and ended fantastically. But just before the finale was this gem. This wonderful episode that had everything it needed to have. Comedy as it should have had and then (as the episode title suggests) a profound and nearly-depressing ending. It's just...so re-watchable and heartbreaking. I'm not sure if that's a good combination, but it must be because it's the fourth best episode of the year.

3. Souvenir Shop / E.L.A.I.F.F. (Nathan for You) - I don't want to say too much about this episode because the best way to understand why it's up so high is to simply watch it. It's wonderfully indicative of why the show is one of the most brilliant on television right now. After watching it, I didn't even feel like watching anything else for the rest of the day because it was just so good.

2. Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency (Silicon Valley) - I have seen this on so many lists of the best episodes in television from this year and it makes me so happy. As I watched it for the first time, I could tell it was special. It had the most high-brow penis joke in the history of humor and one of the things that made it so great was that it dealt with actual, high-cost scenarios. There was a lot to lose, but it worked out for the Pied Piper crew. I'm really not sure how much more influential an episode can be on life.

1. Happiness (Wilfred) - "Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them." - Leo Tolstoy. The series finale of Wilfred was everything I could have ever wanted it to be. The episode preceding it was also amazing and I think I'd probably group them together since they aired that way. A wonderful ending with a striking song and so much closure. Literally every question raised over the course of four years was answered in true Wilfred fashion. And yes, I've watched it over five times since it aired.

1 comment:

  1. Background Check and G.I. Jeff would top my list of these episodes you have listed.