Monday, May 20, 2013

The TV Elite

I recently watched Doctor Who's "Blink" because, while I can't get into the series, I had heard too many great things about the episode not to watch it.  Sure enough, there is a little of the cheesiness that turns me off to the Doctor and his companions, but, for the most part, the episode is a strong psychological thriller with Carey Mulligan going insane as she is told by a strange man in a number of DVD easter eggs that she is being stalked by a monster.  It didn't get me interested in watching other Doctor Who episodes, but it did get me thinking about my favorite single TV episodes.  I'm talking drama here, so we'll leave comedy (Seinfeld's "The Contest"; Curb Your Enthusiasm's "The Survivor"; The Cosby Show's "A Shirt Story"; and so on) for later.  This is mostly off the top of my head and it's just a beginning.  I guess I'd consider these the essential episodes of the series in question, though certain ones require context for true enjoyment beyond the artistic qualities.  So, in no particular order and admittedly ignoring anything before 2000 (and feel free to add on):

  • Breaking Bad:
    • "Hermanos" (S4E8) -- The shocking backstory of the mysterious Gus Fring.  One of the rare TV episodes I've ever left on the DVR so I could watch it again the next day.
  • Mad Men:
    • "Shut the Door. Have a Seat." (S3E13) -- Sterling Cooper goes Oceans Eleven.  "Very good.  Happy Christmas!"
    • "The Suitcase" (S4E7) -- This may be the only other episode I've watched again the next day.  Just Don and Peggy, the great dueling personalities, stuck overnight at work, fighting and mourning.
  • C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation:
    • "Grave Danger" (S5E24 and 25) -- Tarantino directs a terrifying, edge-of-your-seat two-parter as one of the CSI team is buried alive and slowly dying.
  • Lost:
    • "The Constant" (S4E5) -- Desmond and Penny, the quintessential love affair of 2000s network TV.
  • The Wire:
    • "Old Cases" (S1E4) -- It's a fine episode, like all of them, but it's all about "that scene" as McNulty and Bunk survey the crime scene and keep saying the same word over and over.
    • "Final Grades" (S4E13) -- The heartbreaking finale to the inarguably most heartbreaking season in TV history.
  • The Sopranos:
    • "College" (S1E5) -- Tony takes Meadow to look at a college and discovers someone from his past.  Carmela asks Father Phil over for the sexiest communion ever.
    • "Employee of the Month" (S3E4) -- Dr. Melfi is sexually assaulted.  Hilarity ensues.
    • "University" (S3E6) -- Ralphie is not a good guy.
  • Grey's Anatomy:
    • "Sanctuary" and "Lockdown" (S6E23 and 24) -- Yes, indeed.  "Sanctuary" is the more gripping one, though they have to go together.  The disgruntled husband of a deceased patient walks into Seattle Grace and starts killing doctors.  As shocking an episode of TV as I can remember.
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer:
    • "Hush" (S4E10) -- Not a great season, but this is daring artistically.
  • Dexter:
    • "The Getaway" (S4E12) -- The finale of the Trinity Killer season.  Oh, that ending...
  • The Americans:
    • "The Colonel" (S1E13) -- As finely plotted as you get, along with the next one.
  • Sherlock:
    • "The Great Game" (S1E3) -- Sherlock is sent around London solving seemingly disconnected puzzles that all come together around one man.
  • Friday Night Lights:
    • "Pilot" (S1E1) -- This may be my favorite episode of TV, ever.
    • "The Son" (S4E5) -- Saracen's father comes home.
    • "Always" (S5E13) -- The series finale, as Vince Howard leads East Dillon into the State Championship game and Mrs. Coach weighs her job options.


Phil said...

How about something from Homicide? Maybe the episode where the girl's case which haunted Bayliss is revealed, or when Pembelton comes back after the actor has a stroke, playing a man who has a stroke and has half his body paralyzed.

What about the BSG episode where the final five colons are first revealed? All along the Watchtower I think it was called... Good enough?

Josh said...

Homicide also had the strong guest spot from Robin Williams as a grieving father and the episode with Vincent D'Onofrio as the guy trapped between the subway car and the platform who was going to die as soon as they solved the case and moved the train. I hated the BSG finale so much that it didn't occur to me to look at the show, but that was a great reveal.