It's time once again for our annual list of the 50 best episodes of the past year. (For previous lists check the links to the right.)
As usual we'll be counting down 10 episodes a day until we get to the best episode of 2007 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.
We also wanted to take this time to tell you about WHY WE WRITE, a fantastic new blog created by "Eureka's" Charlie Craig and Thania St. John. It's a collection of essays by some of TV's brightest minds about... you guessed it, why they write. And as luck would have it, the essayists who've contributed thus far are behind many of the episodes on this year's list.
Our "50 Best Episodes" feature is designed as a celebration of TV's finest hours (and half-hours) so we're thrilled to give you a window into the minds of those who created them. With that mind, as the countdown continues, look for periodic excerpts from some of the WHY WE WRITE essays. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
As always, our list will differ from the ones you sent in - but that's half the fun! So sit back, relax and enjoy the countdown!
20. "kyle xy: the prophet" (abc family)
(originally aired: june 11, 2007)
The show's second season opener did the thing you never expect shows like this to do - reveal its biggest secret, in this case who Kyle actually is. More shocking, said revelation didn't derail the show, it actually strengthened what really makes it work - the characters and their relationships.
19. "brothers & sisters: game night" (abc)
(originally aired: april 15, 2007)
Every great episode of "Brothers & Sisters" generally involves the following ingredients - wine, an outside antagonist (in this case, a rival family that includes Jenna Elfman and Susan Sullivan) and secrets being told and/or spilled. This episode had them all in spades.
"Brothers & Sisters" & "Dirty Sexy Money" executive producer Greg Berlanti on why he writes: "I've never considered myself much of a writer. I'm not particularly great at it. On my best day I don't have half the talent of many people I've been lucky enough to hire and to work with. And this is not false humility. Ask any writer who works with me, they'll tell you how much I rely on their abilities, how often I struggle to craft the simplest of scenes. I know a lot of other writers feel like they suck too, but that doesn't make it easier (I know this because a large part of my day is convincing other writers they don't suck. Once finished, I go back into my office and convince myself I do suck all over again). The problem is, regardless of my limited writing talent, I love telling stories."
18. "damages: pilot" (fx)
(originally aired: july 24, 2007)
The latest FX jewel proved to be a "legal thriller" in every sense of the term. In the pilot's case, every scene, shot, word and action built on the previous one to create the rarest of TV feelings - you just know wherever it's going, it's sure to knock you out of your seat.
17. "family guy: blue harvest" (fox)
(originally aired: september 23, 2007)
Sure a "Star Wars" parody 20 years after the fact made it far from timely but damn if the show's panache for nitpicking the most random elements (the Death Star workers complaining about the lack of a hand rail, Danny Elfman taking over for a murdered John Williams, a debate about Robot Chicken, X-Wing fighter pilots being named "Red") made it one of its landmark efforts.
16. "house: half-wit" (fox)
(originally aired: march 6, 2007)
The episode's theme - is it worth not being able to do ordinary things in order to do something extraordinary? - not only proved be one of "House's" best debates but also provided a rare glimpse into what makes House himself tick.
15. "the sopranos: made in america" (hbo)
(originally aired: june 10, 2007)
While it was far from what the audience expected - not to mention frustrating as hell - one can't deny the fact the closing diner scene isn't one of last year's most iconic moments.
14. "mad men: five g" (amc)
(originally aired: august 16, 2007)
Our first real glimpse into who "Don Draper" really is proved to be the most bizarrely surprising on TV since Adrian Pasdar climbed into his cardboard box in FOX's "Profit."
13. "30 rock: rosemary's baby" (nbc)
(originally aired: october 25, 2007)
Jack Donaghy (a never been more perfect Alec Baldwin) role playing everyone from Tracy's past - in the vein of everybody from Redd Foxx to J.J. Walker - has to go down as one of the funniest scenes not only in the show's history, but TV comedy itself.
12. "traveler: pilot" (abc)
(originally aired: may 10, 2007)
Essentially one giant 60-minute, hold-your-breathe chase scene that broke the boundaries of what you can expect from a weekly television series.
11. "pushing daisies: pilot" (abc)
(originally aired: october 3, 2007)
One of the most original concepts to grace the small screen in years, "Daisies" literally didn't look like anything you'd seen before on television - visually and thematically.
COMING TOMORROW: #10-1