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 2008 on Friday. The episodes on this list are based on nominations by myself, the staff and you the readers as to what we think the standout moments of the year were.
Obviously our final list will differ from the ones you sent in - but that's half the fun! So sit back, relax and enjoy the countdown!
50. "the middleman: the palindrome reversal palindrome" (abc family)
(originally aired: september 1, 2008)
"The Middleman" went out swinging for the fences in its season (and likely de facto series) finale - Wendy (Natalie Morales) is accidentally sent into an alternate universe filled with delightfully flipped versions of the cast. From the grizzled, eye-patch (and chap) wearing Middleman to a snow bunny take on Ida, there's was plenty of fun to go around.
49. "desperate housewives: free" (abc)
(originally aired: may 18, 2008)
We've seen the flash forward stunt before, but darn if that "five years later" title card didn't shake up the status quo and reinvigorate the ladies (and gentlemen) of Wisteria Lane.
48. "aliens in america: raja at sixteen" (the cw)
(originally aired: may 18, 2008)
The show's bittersweet swan song reminded us exactly why we'll miss this series - Raja (Adhir Kalyan) gets his first lesson on heartache after he falls for a local Muslim girl.
47. "the simpsons: mypods and boomsticks" (fox)
(originally aired: november 30, 2008)
Even in its 20th season, "The Simpsons" is still finding ways to push our satirical buttons, in this case our MyPod (cough, iPod) obsessed culture.
46. "scrubs: my princess" (nbc)
(originally aired: may 8, 2008)
"Scrubs's" episode-long trips outside the fourth wall are always appointment viewing - in this case the staff of Sacred Heart reimagined as a fairy tale. Our favorite: the Janitor turned giant ("Say, you want to go hollow out some villagers and use them as kites?").
45. "entourage: return to queens blvd" (hbo)
(originally aired: november 23, 2008)
While Vince's (Adrian Grenier) career got rescued by a last-minute infusion of magic fairy dust (in the form of Martin Scorsese), darn if the closing act didn't make us think all of it - including Vince's friendship with Eric - was about to go down the tubes.
44. "family guy: the man with two brians" (fox)
(originally aired: november 9, 2008)
The time between New Brian saying "Yeah. Now every time your sleeping with him, he's gonna be thinking of me." and the sound of Stewie dragging a trash bag filled with New Brian's carcass - priceless. The message here kids - new dogs shouldn't rape a child's favorite toy.
43. "law & order: knock off" (nbc)
(originally aired: december 3, 2008)
The flagship "Law & Order" isn't known for having any recurring plots, so color us surprised - and thrilled - when this installment saw Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston, never better) declare war on Governor Shalvoy (Tom Everett Scott) over his continued misuse of power. He's got my vote for D.A.
42. "the big bang theory: the bath item gift hypothesis" (cbs)
(originally aired: december 15, 2008)
Sheldon's reaction to Penny's Christmas gift - a personalized autograph from Leonard Nimoy - is about as close as you'll get to seeing a human being short circuit.
41. "csi: crime scene investigation: for gedda" (cbs)
(originally aired: may 15, 2008)
Gary Dourdan's exodus was nothing short of heartbreaking - from another end of shift/season visit to the local greasy spoon (see 2001's "The Strip Strangler") to Undersheriff McKeen leaning into Warrick's car to the haunting image of Grissom cradling Warrick's body.
COMING TOMORROW: #40-31