2009 Primies: Best Episodes

By on Jan 14, 2010 in The Primies |

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Aloha, dear TV junkies.  I may be on vacation, but thanks to some coffeshop wi-fi, I’m still able to update this here blog with cinnamon-bun-sticky fingers.  Surely you didn’t think I’d forgotten about honoring the best small-screen moments of 2009!  Listed below are my favorite episodes across the airwaves from all of last year.  Is the list comprehensive?  Maybe not.  Does the order tend to be arbitrary?  Perhaps.  But still, I believe this to be a pretty good representation of 2009’s highlights.  Writers and directors of the below episodes, I raise my iced-coffee cup to you.

  1. Battlestar Galactica “Daybreak, Part 2”  No matter if you loved the end or hated it, the final two hours of this show boldly went where no show has gone before. A catastrophic first hour was followed by a contemplative second. The epic space saga went out with a bang and then a whisper.
  2. Mad Men “Shut the Door, Have a Seat”  After an intense season of smoldering interpersonal drama, this episode was one of the most light-hearted and cathartic. In the vaguest terms I can use, Don closed some doors and opened others. He reinvented himself, and the show was reborn anew.
  3. Breaking Bad “Phoenix”  Often the penultimate episode of a season is just as climactic as the finale, as proven by Breaking Bad. Without spoiling anything, it was Walter White’s inaction during a gut-wrenching dilemma that made this episode so powerful.
  4. Glee “Sectionals”  Between Mercedes’s powerful “And I Am Telling You” rendition, Rachel’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade” showstopper, and the club’s “My Life Would Suck Without You” dedication, the musical numbers in this fall finale were brilliant enough to tide us over until the show’s return in spring.
  5. 30 Rock “Apollo, Apollo”  It’s hard to top Jack Donaghy’s excitement-puking and Kenneth’s Muppet-vision, but what made this episode the best of its season was the Polish singles’ line commercial that a young Liz Lemon debased herself by appearing in. Remember, just call 1-800-OKFACE.
  6. Dollhouse “Omega”  After the startling return of rogue-doll Alpha at the end of the preceding episode, this episode shows the making (read: programming) of a maniac. The Dollhouse made its bed, and now it might have to die in it!
  7. Breaking Bad “Negro y Azul”  Any episode that starts with a mariachi band and ends with an exploding turtle surely deserves a spot high on this list.
  8. Lost “Dead is Dead”  It’s Judgment Day for the conniving Benjamin Linus as “the Island” takes him on a painful trip down memory lane. By the end, his relinquishing of power leaves him impotent… and dangerously desperate.
  9. Glee “Pilot”  FOX was so excited about this episode, the network aired it four months before the series even started. With the well-crafted song-and-dance numbers, the satirical commentary on the high school food chain, and the hilarious immaturity of the show’s adult characters, I could not stop believing that Glee would be a hit.
  10. Grey’s Anatomy “Here’s to Future Days/Now or Never”  This show may be showing its age, but watching the end of this fifth-season finale was tantamount to mainlining adrenaline when the identity of the heroic (and doomed) John Doe was realized.
  11. Californication “The Apartment”  A day of reckoning comes for Hank Moody when all the major players in his life coincidentally convene under one roof. In true farce-like fashion, he scrambles to accommodate his girlfriend, his mistresses, his mistress’s husband, his daughter, his best friend, a few random prostitutes, and Rick Springfield, all the while trying to keep his indiscretions under wraps.
  12. Modern Family “Pilot”  The premise is simplistic—the daily travails of three families that are “nuclear” for the new millennium—but the writing and acting is refined. Oh, and the show happens to be hilarious. With this episode alone, this show skyrocketed to the elite of half-hour comedies.
  13. So You Think You Can Dance “Top 20 Showcase”  This was an episode without missteps—just the top twenty competitors dancing in their own genres, resulting in routines that were almost unmatched by the rest of the season. (Almost.) What was otherwise a filler episode turned into the best hour of the season.
  14. Fringe “There’s More Than One of Everything”  John Noble’s most impressive acting came when his character revisited the memories of a beach house with his son. And the alternate-reality story thread tangles as Olivia finds herself in the most improbable of locations in the ballsy cliffhanger.
  15. Lost “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham”  At last, we discover how He Who Shall Be Named Jeremy Bentham died. Frustrated by his failure to get the gang back together and feeling spurned by destiny, he decides to take his own life. But his real cause of death, which we find out minutes later, is even darker.
  16. Parks and Recreation “Beauty Pageant”  One of the first episodes of the season, this installment solidified Parks and Recreation’s status as suddenly brilliant. Example Leslie Knope line: “This [mural] depicts a famous fight between Reverend Bradley and Anna Beth Stevenson, widowed mother of seven. The original title of this was ‘A Lively Fisting.’ But, you know, they had to change it… for obvious reasons.”
  17. Damages “Trust Me”  Flash-forwards as a narrative technique are a hot ticket right now, but Damages uses them in a brilliantly manipulative way, revealing a little more of certain scenes in each episode. And in “Trust Me,” all the cards are laid out in this punch-out ending to a gripping season.
  18. True Blood “I Will Rise Up”  It started with an act of terrorism perpetrated by humans and ended with an act of tenderness by a human—Sookie Stackhouse—surprising the millennia-old Godric, who had seen the worst of our race’s behavior in his lifetime. Plus, this episode featured another dialogue gem from Lafayette: “I don’t know what you is, but I’m feelin’ you, and you a soulless bitch.”
  19. Top Chef “Finale, Part 1”  No matter what you thought of this season’s winner (or even the order of the runners-up), all Top Chef viewers could agree that Keven, Jennifer, and the Voltaggios were the four best contenstants. And to see them duke it out in Napa Valley (aboard a moving train, no less) was a treat.
  20. Lie to Me “The Core of It”  Like Parks and Recreation, this procedural drama also came back from its hiatus creatively reinvigorated. In this episode, Cal Lightman and his group have to contend with a murder witness with multiple personalities. Not only do they have to figure out which of her multiple personalities saw the crime, but they also have to find a way to trigger that personality. Guest star Erika Christiansen is scary-good as Sophie/Trisha/Jessie/RJ.