[01/05/11 - 07:09 PM]
The 50 Best Episodes of 2010: #30-21
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

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!

30. "glee: the power of madonna" (fox)
(originally aired: april 20, 2010)

Two aspects of "Glee" rarely disappoint: Sue Sylvester and its musical numbers. So count us among the millions who were floored by Sue's rendition of "Vogue." Coupled with a surprisingly poignant take on "Like a Virgin" by Rachel, Emma and Finn and you have "Glee" at its tubthumping best.

29. "30 rock: when it rains, it pours" (nbc)
(originally aired: september 30, 2010)

Jack Donaghy essentially became "The Most Interesting Man in the World" in this installment, which - amongst the usual craziness (Paul Giamatti as an schlubby editor!) - showcased our favorite TV executive as he recorded messages for his unborn son. And while we loved the details about his life (went to Princeton on a "handsomeness" scholarship, was voted simply "most" by his high school class, authored the song "You're So Vain") and his sage advice (don't hire Sting for the musical entertainment at your wedding, what to do when a pair of snow leopards stalk you in the Japanese highlands), the episode's piece de resistance came when a distraught Tracy Jordan, who's also dealing with his own child's impending birth, finds himself inside Discovery Channel's "Cash Cab" while trying to get to the hospital. Just another testament to the show's wonderfully random comedic targets.

28. "the office: classy christmas" (nbc)
(originally aired: december 9, 2010)

Michael's antics reached another cringe-inducing peak in this episode, which saw Holly at long last return to his life - only to remind him once again she's moved on. His decision to dump Holly's Woody doll (a token of her beau's affections) in the garbage and pour coffee on him was surprisingly childish - even for him - and her hysterical reaction brought the tension to a level of uncomfortableness the show hasn't seen in years. Throw in Dwight's unexpectedly effective terrorizing of Jim - via snowball fight - and the edge of this episode got even sharper.

27. "how i met your mother: glitter" (cbs)
(originally aired: november 15, 2010)

The threequel to the Robin Sparkles saga didn't disappoint thanks to a smorgasbord of running gags (a near slap!) and the reveal that the '80s chanteuse was also featured on an innuendo-laden kids show in which she solves math problems in space with the help of Nicole Scherzinger (as Jessica Glitter) and Alan Thicke (as himself). If that sentence alone doesn't make you smile, come on, how can that not make you smile?

26/25. "grey's anatomy: death and all his friends"/"private practice: did you hear what happened to charlotte king?" (abc)
(originally aired: may 20/november 4, 2010)

A gunman's rampage and a sexual assault were two chilling plots tackled by the Shondaverse in 2010, as showcased in these installments. Whether it's Pete's initial discovery of Charlotte and Sheldon unknowingly evaluating the man responsible in the latter or Cristina's valiant efforts to continue working on Derek while at gunpoint and Meredith's attempts to stop her miscarriage on the former, both series offered up some of their most indelible moments in some time.

24. "house: help me" (fox)
(originally aired: may 17, 2010)

A crane disaster provided one of the show's most wrenching cases in recent memory: Hanna, a woman trapped beneath the rubble, refuses to allow House to amputate her leg. The ensuing events force House to revisit his own decision years ago to shun amputation, the end result of which has been a lifetime of pain. It's a character defining treatise that ultimately gets her to consent to the procedure however she dies anyway, sending House into a Vicodin-starved spiral - one which only Cuddy can save him from.

23. "in treatment: adele - week two" (hbo)
(originally aired: november 2, 2010)

Week after week "In Treatment" continues to provide evidence that most of our emotional problems are either manufactured by ourselves or have solutions that are right in front of us. So color us stunned to see Paul himself, the skillful master at finding said aspects in his patients, become consumed by just that in this episode. Between his pathological belief he has Parkinson's and his blindness to Gina's inferences about him in her book, it was a jaw-dropping half hour of television. Physician, heal thyself.

22. "supernatural: swan song" (the cw)
(originally aired: may 13, 2010)

If "Supernatural" has taught us anything over the years, it's that family connections are unwavering. (Well, that and all authority figures are dicks.) So when Sam asks Dean to promise him he'll make a normal life for himself after they take care of Lucifer - a plan which will inevitably doom Sam to spend eternity in a cage with him - it's not the big showdown that yanks at our emotions, it's the aftermath in which Dean forces himself to follow through with his brother's wishes, no matter how much he wants to spend his own eternity trying to rescue him.

21. "fringe: the plateau" (fox)
(originally aired: october 7, 2010)

It's one thing to suggest the root of all of the supernatural occurrences on the show are the result of a parallel reality infringing on our own. But to tell that story completely from the other side? Wow. I still can't get over this show's ambition - it just takes balls, plain and simple, to set up shop with alternate versions of our heroes and proclaim you're going to spend an extended time there.


TOMORROW: #20-11

  [january 2011]  


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