It's time for our annual list of the 50 best episodes of the past year. (For previous lists check the bottom of this column.) We'll be counting down 10 episodes a day until we get to the best episode of 2005 on Friday. The episodes on this list are based on nominations by myself and regular visitors to the site as to what we think the standout moments of the year were. In some cases while we were fans of certain series we couldn't pin down a particular episode we thought was of special merit so don't be stunned to see a few of our regular favorites missing from the list. Anyway, on with the show...
50. "n.y.p.d. blue: moving day" (abc)
(originally aired: march 1, 2005)
Sure it wasn't anywhere near the show's previous highs, but that final shot - a drifting pan over the now Sipowicz-run squad - is about as perfect of an ending as you could ask for this series.
49. "sleeper cell: immigrant" (showtime)
(originally aired: december 13, 2005)
This surprisingly strong installment saw Darwyn take an Afghani boy under his wing and try to save him, only to have it backfire is a shocking, holy-crap-I-didn't-see-that-coming way.
48. "unscripted: episode 7" (hbo)
(originally aired: february 6, 2005)
The opening sequence - in which Bryan and Krista's relationship is consummated and derailed through a series of jump cuts as Bryan flies to New York for his big break - was just one highlight in this unfortunately little seen series.
47. "arrested development: the sword of destiny" (fox)
(originally aired: march 27, 2005)
Somehow the producers got Ben Stiller to wear a fake "W" beard and play Gob's rival-turned-mentor magician. Just reason number 1,879 why I love this show.
46. "the office: the alliance" (nbc)
(originally aired: april 12, 2005)
The image of Dwight (Rainn Wilson) climbing out of a cardboard box is worth a spot on this list alone.
45. "c.s.i.: crime scene investigation: room service" (cbs)
(originally aired: september 29, 2005)
"C.S.I." has quietly (well, quietly in a nearly 30+ million watch on average but not many critics talk about it kind of way) been knocking out strong episode after strong episode and this was no exception. Two by-the-numbers storylines - a rising young movie star is found dead in a compromising position and an immigrant kitchen worker is murdered - get a surprisingly effective bump by being told as an "Upstairs/Downstairs"-esque fable.
44. "deadwood: a lie agreed upon, part 1" (hbo)
(originally aired: march 6, 2005)
Worth seeing for the Swearengen/Bullock scuffle alone as the long simmering conflict between the two boils over. And to top things off, it ends as Bullock's wife and son appear - only to see their new husband and father bloodied and nearly beating another man to death.
43. "battlestar galactica: kobol's last gleaming, part 2" (sci fi)
(originally aired: april 1, 2005)
Boomer shot fraking Adama! Three months, hell even three hours, was too long to see how this cliffhanger got resolved.
42. "desperate housewives: next" (abc)
(originally aired: september 25, 2005)
Say what you will about the show's rocky sophomore season but one can't deny how strongly it started. I mean, Bree (Marcia Cross) changed her dead husband's tie while he was in his coffin... during the funeral.
41. "the west wing: 2,162 votes" (nbc)
(originally aired: april 6, 2005)
A stellar reminder of how dramatic and surprising party conventions used to be, last season's finale made endless sequences of behind-the-scenes dealmaking absolutely riveting. And the closing moments - featuring Santos (Jimmy Smits) walking out with Leo (the late John Spencer) - were just too cool for words.