It's time once again for our annual list of the 50 best episodes of the past year.
As usual we'll be counting down 10 episodes a day until we get to the best episode of 2010 on Friday. The episodes on this list are based on nominations by myself, our merry band of freelancers and you the readers as to what we think the standout moments of the year were. And as always, be sure to revisit some of our previous picks in the archives.
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. "stargate universe: space" (syfy)
(originally aired: april 2, 2010)
The series shined its brightest in this installment, which featured the formal introduction of, well... they're never actually given a name. "They" are aliens and when I say aliens, I mean it in the truest sense of the word. Instead of being presented as humans with latex foreheads or cuddly animals as is custom to the genre, we're given frighteningly foreign creatures who only manage to communicate one word for the entire episode: "surrender." And if that wasn't enough, said episode resolved the mystery of what happened to Dr. Rush after Col. Young left him for dead: in a wonderfully surprising twist, he's discovered as a prisoner on board the alien ship.
49. "numb3rs: cause and effect" (cbs)
(originally aired: march 12, 2010)
The show's de facto swan song hit all the right notes as Charlie and Amita finally get hitched, restless Don settles down with Robin, David heads off to his own command and Larry is well, Larry. While there are 48 episodes ahead of this one, each installment of "NUMB3RS" always proved to be a solid investment.
48. "how to make it in america: big in japan" (hbo)
(originally aired: march 14, 2010)
2010's most unexpectedly enjoyable series earned high marks with this episode which saw our scrappy heroes Ben and Cam rebound from their jean sample disaster via simple luck while Rachel's ecstasy-driven night out with Darren produces even more doubts about their relationship. For all its haphazard happenstance, "America" somehow manages to capture the dual wonderfulness and sadness of being in your twenties when life is filled with endless possibilities... all of which are starting to dry up.
47. "entourage: tequila sunrise" (hbo)
(originally aired: july 25, 2010)
If there ever was a recipe for entertainment on "Entourage," having Johnny Drama play ping pong against an overly competitive/fragile-egoed John Stamos definitely are key ingredients ("It's going to be a long day for Uncle Jesse," Drama remarks). Toss in the return of Andrew Klein and an amusing cameo by Tom Sizemore (plus let's be honest, remove anything to do with Turtle and his tequila foibles) and you've got "Entourage" in top form.
46. "law & order: rubber room" (nbc)
(originally aired: may 24, 2010)
The landmark series signed off after 20 years just the way it signed on: with another yeoman's job on the crime procedural. What made it special however was the admirably low key way it said goodbye: with our heroes sharing drinks at Van Buren's fundraiser, capped with the news her cancer is in remission.
45. "smallville: homecoming" (the cw)
(originally aired: october 15, 2010)
It took almost 10 years, but we finally met "Superman" in this episode as Clark gets a "Christmas Carol"-esque tour of his past, present and future. It's a testament to the show and particularly Tom Welling that we didn't flinch at all upon seeing him in said mantle. He's our generation's Superman, plain and simple.
44. "raising hope: pilot" (fox)
(originally aired: september 21, 2010)
Greg Garcia's appreciation of the inherent sweetness and mischievousness in life once again beamed through his latest treatise as hapless Jimmy finds himself a father - and his parents grandparents - to the product of his one night stand with a convicted murderer. Only from the mind of Greg Garcia.
43. "no ordinary family: pilot" (abc)
(originally aired: september 28, 2010)
Instead of falling pray to the usual concept that superpowers are a curse, "No Ordinary Family" posited that not only can they be a blessing, they can even be downright fun. Said concept was fully embodied by Michael Chiklis's Jim Powell, who couldn't be more thrilled about being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
42. "cougar town: makin' some noise" (abc)
(originally aired: october 6, 2010)
"Cougar Town," or as the credits amusingly note "Badly Titled Cougar Town," was firing on all cylinders in this episode, which saw Grayson replace the college-bound Travis as the center of Jules's world/neuroses. Ever better, it was another step in the show's blossoming into a full-fledged ensemble as for every beat about Jules making Grayson wear glasses, there's another in which Bobby laments how women have ruined the half shirt look for guys, or Travis unconsciously making noise every time he throws a ball or Ellie horrified at the prospect of her new nanny trying to befriend her.
41. "true blood: everything is broken" (hbo)
(originally aired: august 15, 2010)
For a show known for its cliffhangers, none was more surprising than Russell Edgington's decision to go on live television and rip out the anchor's spinal column, proclaiming all vampires are in fact monsters. Indeed.