Top Five TV Episodes of 2009

The best album and best movie of the year/decade list are cliché, but I had to do them. This isn’t as cliché, but I figured since I graduate a Television Major, I should have some sort of TV list. Here’s my list of Top Five TV Episodes of the year.

5. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” Season 7 finale – “Seinfeld”

Come on, we get a fake Seinfeld episode in it. Need I say more? Hilarious season all together, but this episode has to be the pick. The beef with Mocha Joe, the ring stain on the antique wood, Jason Alexander’s Pamphlet (ahem, book) on “Acting Without Acting.” Even the semi-cheesy, Cheryl and Larry end up together part was slightly ruined (or David-ized, as I’m going to start calling it) when he realizes Cheryl was the one who left the ring stain, and wants her to call Julia and confess. Great ending. Hope it comes back for another season.

Here’s the final “Seinfeld” episode in the last scene:

4. “The Office” – Pam and Jim’s Wedding –  “Niagara”

Touted as the episode we’ve been waiting 6 years for, we’re all waited to see how Michael screws it up. The cards are set – don’t tell Pam’s old-fashioned Grandmother that she’s pregnant. Everyone thinks to themselves – when will Michael screw this up? How awkward will it be? How’s he going to try to fix it? But wait…Michael doesn’t screw it up, Jim does. Even Michael thought it was going to be him. He tries to fix it AND get Mima’s room in the process – “You’re that foul man that kept talking about intercourse.” He doesn’t get the room, but does convince Mima to stay. Yay Michael.

Some other bullet points:

  • Love the “going to a wedding” on Michael’s car.
  • Andy saying Erin smells like her mom.
  • Mental pictures with Jim and Pam.
  • Michael’s quest for love, as narrated by Dwight. Wonderful wingman, that Dwight.
  • Jim’s speech, pre-Pam can’t drink comment, where we get an extensive look into the truth behind his years of flirting – he does know how to make a photocopy, and can drive stick. But now he knows he can say he was waiting all those years for his wife. Collective awww from the onscreen crowd, and the crowd watching at home.
  • Office dance party the night before – where unfortunately for Andy, his killer moves result in an almost killer injury, and poor Pam has to be the designated driver to take him to the hospital, on the night before her wedding. Only on TV, right?
  • Michael might have the best present out of all of them…although we’re all kind of curious to see that nude version he has that’s just for him…
  • Jim cuts off his tie to make up for Pam tearing her veil.
  • The Niagara Falls real wedding was a great “twist…” (cameo by Line Producer Randy Cordray as the Ship Captain) Especially with it cut between the boat and the ceremony turned-Youtube video.

Overall a great mixture of typical Office comedy we’ve been expecting, and the Jim/Pam wedding we’ve all been waiting for.

Here are the videos

Part 1
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Part 2
Vodpod videos no longer available.

3. “Scrubs” Series (Season 8) finale – “My Finale”

This is a weird one, because if you look on your winter TV lineup, ABC is still showing new episodes of Scrubs. Technically it’s Scrubs, but they’ve added “Med School” to the title, signifying that it’s really a spin-off.

Back to the actual episode – Scrubs’ 8th season was officially it’s last, and thank god ABC took it from NBC’s scrap heap for its final season, to give it a proper sendoff. The episode, called “My Finale,” focused on J.D.’s last day at Sacred Heart.. The episode does keep with the Scrubs tradition of keeping real, hospital drama in there, without over-saturating it, and mixing it with the comedy.

Speaking of, here are some favorite of those moments for me:

  • The book of Dr. Cox rants JD gives his mentor. Reminds us of some great Cox Comments from years past…and of how much he hates Hugh Jackman.
  • Janitor keeping the penny in the door from the first episode, trying to get JD to admit he put it in there, 8 years ago. And he admits it.
  • Fantasy of having a sitcom finale ending to his last day, but having the lights turning off be a “code 2” because all the power is routed through 1 switch. Oh JD’s fantasies. New Scrubs won’t have those, because Braff officially left that version of the show too.
  • Great moment with Carla and JD, thanking her for being his teacher. and that Turk loves her as much as he loves JD.
  • Jordan hugging JD because she’s trying to be sentimental and “They did it once”
  • Janitor’s “real name” Glenn Matthews….or is it?
  • Cox’s admission of his respect and friendship with JD, as JD sneaks up behind him. And he smells like a father figure, fitting.
  • Cameo by creator Bill Lawrence as the janitor that takes down the Goodbye JD sign and says a final goodnight to him.

The final walk-through is the real finale part of the episode, JD’s flashbacks to people who have meant something to him throughout his 8 years at the hospital, and on the show. All following his telltale narration. Watching his possible future as a video on his goodbye banner caps off the episode, with the Peter Gabriel song “Book of Love,” as the soundtrack, matching the montage’s emotion perfectly.

Here’s that final montage –

2. “Mad Men” Season 3 Finale – “Shut the Door. Have a Seat.”

The show is amazing, and through only 3 season is already considered one of the best dramas of the decade (now almost officially over), but this season started off a bit slow, then picked up with the infamous lawn-mower incident. Coming off the JFK assassination episode, where the different characters dealt with the shock in different ways, Betty takes the most drastic action, and decides to leave Don for good. Their conversation with the kids before Don moves out was one of the more emotional scenes of the series; Sally, who was emotionally forced to grow up very fast this season, took it the hardest. This season focused a lot more on Don’s family, especially given the death of Betty’s father Gene. Sally took this the hardest as well, at one point yelling that “He’s dead, he’s gone and not coming back!” and that no one cares. Don’s affair with her favorite teacher, Suzanne Farrell, offered an interesting development throughout the latter part of the season, especially after season 3’s finale where Betty deals with the truth about Don’s infidelity. Don, despite all these things changing around him, still refuses to change his ways, and unfortunately their “perfect” family is broken up in the end.

In the advertising world, after some big business decisions made by the British powers-that-be, Don, Roger Sterling, Bert Cooper and Lane Pryce all decided to defect and create their own, startup ad agency, recruiting a handful of the old Sterling Cooper talent – Pete, Peggy, Sal, Joan and Harry. What will happen to those who’s invite to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce got lost in the mail? How will the new business venture fair, especially working out of a hotel room? Will Don’s family issues finally affect his work? How will Sally and Bobby deal with the divorce at such a young age? Matthew Weiner has yet to falter, so we’re expecting the moon for Season 4.

Here’s the episode (part 1…you can find the rest of them on this person’s youtube page)

1. “Dexter” Season 4 Finale – “The Getaway”

I think this one goes without saying. The only episode that literally made me say “Oh My God. Holy Shit…” as the final twist was unfolding. I’m not going to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it (although come on, if you’re a Dexter fan and have the means, you should have seen it already.) The season itself was a huge improvement over Season 3, where although interesting, it didn’t really pick up until the final few episodes. This whole season was edge-of-your-seat tension, as Dexter tried to balance a brand new family life with his “Dark Passenger,” all while following and observing the country’s most successful and prolific (two adjectives you wouldn’t expect to find before this word…) Serial Killer. The final episode did culminate in Dexter getting his man (no spoiler here, you knew it was coming), but when he gets back to his home on his way to the airport, he runs into a life-changing, plot-twisting surprise. Great work all season by John Lithgow, but especially in the final Dexter vs. Trinity scene. I actually re-watched it after having seen the final scene, as Lithgow drops very subtle hints about what his character did, without really saying anything.

The episode, like all great finales, brings countless questions about what will happen next year, not even based on the final scene (which was the bulk of why I chose this as number 1.) Most notably, that Debra is slowly finding out about Dexter’s origins, and has made the connection between him and his brother Brian, aka The Ice Truck Killer. What else will she find out next season about Dexter and his mysterious past? The writers certainly have high expectations riding on their shoulders, but coming off such a great season, they have the momentum to continue it.

It’s also worth noting that this episode gave Showtime it’s best single-episode rating in four years.

Keeping with my desire to not spoil anything, I couldn’t find a suitable video clip that does the episode justice without spoiling it. Just look for it if you’re interested. You’ll find it.

Stay tuned for my Best of 2009 Album and Movies list, and later Best of the Decade lists.

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