Yeah yeah I know its practically a month into 2010, but I was at home for the holidays and my parents still use the dial up internetz. Basically anything that isn't AOL e- mail flips it out, so suffice it to say this blog was not getting updated. So here they are, a month late, but still as promised, my favorite TV episodes of 2009. Thank you for being patient, my one reader!
1. Shut The Door. Have A Seat. - Mad Men
I was having some issues with my cable and I couldn't watch this episode when it originally aired [I had to relegate Don Draper to poor quality illegal computer watching, where he does not belong], and I had my friend give me a bare bones recap to tide me over. When I heard the basic plot - Sterling Cooper is getting sold? Again? - I was kind of let down. That's it? But that's the thing with Mad Men, its beauty is in its nuances, and I should have known not to discount it so quickly. It was the little details - like when Bobby wondered aloud if his parents were getting a divorce because he lost Don's cuff links - that made this episode heartbreaking, but also strangely heartwarming. I don't think I realized my affection for Don as much as when he adorably took his things from Sterling Cooper in a Velveeta box, and it was hard to begrudge Roger still for his dalliance with Jane when he was cracking jokes left and right and acting like an old married man with our Joanie [Who, come on, he's always belonged with anyway]. In short, after a season where they all did a lot of terrible things, it was an episode which reminded us why we love these characters and why we bother to watch a show about them at all. So who else wants to send in their resume to Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce?!
2. Sectionals - Glee
Speaking of adorable, what's more adorable than Mr. Schuester? [Answer: only baby ducks and puppies]. This episode's big musical number was the Rolling Stones' You Can't Always Get What You Want, but I think it's pretty clear that this episode gave Gleeks everything they wanted. Our ragtag team of choir kids triumphed, Will finally realized Emma was the woman for him, and Sue Sylvester got her comeuppance. All predictable sure, but I watch Glee because its a comfort to know that sometimes things work out like they should - even if its only in a fake world. Now I have to wait until April for new covers of pop songs in the show choir style - are you trying to kill me Fox?! Good thing I follow Cory Monteith on Twitter.
3. Pilot - Jersey Shore
This entire show was pure brilliance in its pure ridiculousness, but nothing was quite as magical as the first time we met our new favorite guidos and guidettes. Remember the first time The Situation introduced us to his uh, "situation?" Or the first time you saw the Snooki poof? Or when Angelina "I'm the Kim Kardashian of Staten Island" "Jolie" showed up at the shore house with her belongings in trash bags? Or heard that insane duck phone quack? Or learned that "vibing" is actually a real term used on the Jersey Shore? Or, my personal favorite, agreed with JWOWW that she should probably leave the club to go eat ham and drink water if she wanted to avoid cheating on her bf? Magic kids, sheer magic.
4. St. Valentine's Day - 30 Rock
When Liz Lemon discovered that her neighbor was actually Jon Hamm, in the form of a doctor who liked to bake and who rented Monty Python movies off Netflix, I most certainly didn't blame her for wanting to go to there. This episode follows their first date, which in typical 30 Rock fashion goes incredibly and hilariously wrong - its not enough of course that Liz's breast falls out of her shirt, or that Dr. Baird's delinquent teenage daughter shows up, but Liz is also burdened with the family secret that the woman who Dr. Baird thought was his mother is really his grandmother, and that his "sister" is really his mother. Scandal! Equally scandalous is when Salma Hayek's character delays her date with Jack so they can go to church, and Jack uses the Our Father to send secret signals to Jonathan and causes such a scene in the confessional that the priest storms out. Ridiculous, all of it. But then, that's why we love 30 Rock.
5. The Incident - Lost
Sometimes the only thing on TV more ridiculous than 30 Rock is Lost [Or maybe Grey's Anatomy, but that's unintentional. Right?], especially with last season's mind bending time travel narrative. It all culminated in a plot to blow up an undetonated nuclear bomb named Jughead which through a series of typically convoluted events had ended up on the island, in an attempt to change history. If the plan worked, half our castaways would be returned to their proper decade, and if it really worked, that doomed Oceanic flight might never have crashed at all. Or something [there were a lot of details I don't feel like typing here]. But of course we never found out if the plan worked - the episode and season ended with a white flash but no indication of the outcome. If I had my way, even though she was the one who set off the bomb, Juliette would find some way to survive seeing as she's my favorite female character on the show. Unlike Kate, she doesn't whine, and is a badass. TEAM SAWYER + JULIETTE 4EVA.
6. Seder Anything - Gossip Girl
The best part of any Gossip Girl season is when all the main characters are forced to sit at a table together and spill all their secrets, whether it be for Thanksgiving, or in this case, Seder dinner. Only on Gossip Girl would you have a character like Serena, who attends a Seder dinner hosted by her ex-boyfriend's father and is interrupted by her current bf who she may have [but thank god it turns out, didn't] drunkenly married in Europe. Oh, and the cater waiter at this dinner? Serena's other ex-boyfriend. Who is now her step-brother. But of course they pretend to date again to make the current bf jealous. It's all positively Shakespearean, I tell you. And what other show would play as background music Right Round - which we all know is about blow jobs - during a nice Seder dinner? Only GG. Oh! And it has Wallace Shawn! I love that adorable little bald man.
7. JJ - Skins
Skins is like Gossip Girl but with actual emotional depth and oomph. Also, its England, so they can swear on TV. Last season, after they graduated, Skins pulled the brave move of replacing nearly their entire cast after two seasons, instead of finding themselves in some bad Saved By The Bell: The College Years situation. I was a little afraid I wouldn't like the new cast nearly as much as the old - can anyone really replace Dev Patel's Anwar?! - but I was pleasantly surprised. My favorite of the new bunch was Jonah Jeremiah "JJ" Jones, a boy with Aspergers who loves to perform magic and who sports an unmanageable mane of hair, so it only follows that the JJ-centric episode was my favorite of the season. In it JJ learns that he's not alone in his feelings of isolation, and as a result,decides to stand up to those who he thinks have been using him as a doormat. He also loses his virginity to a lesbian, as a "one time charity event." So you know, there's that.
8. Robin 101 - How I Met Your Mother
Neil Patrick Harris makes anything better, as evidenced by his recent entertaining guest judging stint on an otherwise uneventful episode of American Idol auditions. Obviously then any episode of HIMYM which features Barney prominently will be one of the best. And the only thing more adorable than Barney Stinson is Barney Stinson in love, so it was fun to watch Barney the cad try to learn what it was like to have a real girlfriend for once from his in love with love friend Ted. And this episode contained what might be my favorite of Ted's relationship deep thoughts: "It's funny...when you date someone, you're taking one long course on who that person is, and when you break up, all of that stuff is useless. It's the emotional equivalent of an English degree." And as someone who possesses not one, but two, useless English degrees I can say with certainty yeah, its totally true.
9. Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency - Mad Men
Yeah, Mad Men is on this list twice. But any TV show that can pull off an episode like this and not have it go completely off the rails totally deserves it. This episode would already have been entertaining - the scene in which the invading Brits put everyone on a flow chart which sneakily demotes the entirety of Sterling Cooper except Harry Crane is genius - but then Mad Men had to go and throw in a tractor. That's right, a tractor. Mad Men isn't really known for exciting action sequences, but the now infamous scene in which hapless secretary Louis accidentally runs over self important Brit Guy with a tractor gifted by clients John Deere had just enough macabre humor and actual horror to make it an instant classic. I didn't know whether to laugh or scream or both when the shot of our favorite ad men getting sprayed with blood flashed across the screen. And when Roger quipped "It's just like Iwo Jima out there" as he stood in front of a blood-streaked window getting squeegeed, it was so wrong, it was so right. But that's life isn't it? One moment you're on top of the world and the next...some secretary is running you over with a lawnmower.
10. That One Where Paula Abdul Choreographed a Dance Number - American Idol
I only watch American Idol on occasion, but when I heard there was going to be a disco night, of course I watched. I was sorely disappointed however, as no contestant crashed and burned and Paula [RIP your career] actually spoke with some sort of sense. For her I mean. Anyway, then I learned that on the stupid results show Paula Abdul would be choreographing a disco dance number for all the contestants. Praise Jesus! And as someone who danced in a Polish folk group for 20 years with the occasional heinous "novelty" number exactly like this thrown in, clearly I am in a position to say that the contestants did a good job, considering that the show also forced them to wear afro wigs and bad polyester shirts. But you know what they say: life is short, but art endures. So thanks Paula and assorted contestants, none of you will be famous in 2 years, but you gifted us with this ridiculous dance for all posterity. And we are forever grateful.
[Also, can we discuss the fact that someone got a job doing graphics for American freakin' Idol and they thought it was a good idea to use Comic Sans, like its 1998 and they were working on the cover page for their 7th grade book report?!]