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Best Television Episodes of 2012

January 10, 2013

So, what I originally wanted to do was a top 10 for comedy and a top 10 for drama and compare the two.  However, since I only watch 4 dramas at this point, I felt that wasn’t the best way to go.  So instead, I am going to just list what I thought were the best episodes of the shows that I watch.  So, now, without any further ado, here was what I found to be the best episodes from the shows I watch, listed in alphabetical order.  Also, it should be noted that there are possible spoilers from this point onward.

Archer: Space Race

Honorable Mentions: The Man From Jupiter, The Limited, Bloody Ferlin

This was the first of many tough decisions, because Space Race may not be the absolute funniest episode of Archer this season, but it had a great mix of all the things that Archer fans have come to love.  Of course, the guest appearance of Bryan Cranston which allowed him to say “Danger Zone” was just icing on top of the whole cake.

Bob’s Burgers: Burgerboss

Honorable Mentions: Moody Foodie, Beefsquatch, Full Bars, Bob Fires the Kids, The Deepening, Tina-rannosaurus Wrecks

While there may have been funnier episodes of Bob’s Burgers (although, not very many), this episode signifies when Bob’s Burgers became the best animated show on television.  Along with a guest appearance from Aziz Ansari, this episode just had so many outstanding moments that viewers realized they were no longer watching merely a “good” show but something that was becoming a great show.

Breaking Bad: Say My Name

Honorable Mentions: Live Free or Die, 51, Dead Freight, Buyout, Gliding Over All

This was a very tough choice as well because there were just some really outstanding moments in each of the honorable mentions.  Buyout had the best awkward dinner of all time, Dead Freight had a heart-pounding train robbery, Live Free or Die had magnets, and Gliding Over All had an outstanding musical sequence and a cliff-hanger ending.  However, Say My Name featured a great opening sequence that was classic Heisenberg and an ending that was classic Mike.  Of course, all the other episodes are worthy as well, but sometimes you just have to let the King do his thing.

Children’s Hospital: Wisedocs
Children's Hospital Wisedocs

This was one of the best episodes I think Children’s Hospital has ever done, which is saying something.  As a big Goodfellas fan, I thought this had some of the best elements of that movie, which is impressive in a show that has a 12 minute run time, and especially considering it also featured a Nick Offerman appearance.  While I feel most of the best episodes of Children’s Hospital come from the mockery of medical dramas, this episode proved they can do almost anything to hilarious results.

Community: Basic Lupine Urology
Community Basic Lupine

Honorable Mentions: Pillows and Blankets, Curriculum Unavailable, Digital Estate Planning, Introduction to Finality

Community has always thrived on their theme episodes but usually they just stick to a genre such as action movie, western, or television tropes such as bottle episodes or clip shows.  However, in Basic Lupine Urology they do such a fantastic homage to Law and Order (and all the various spin-offs) that fans of either show are left amazed.  Simply put, this was a fantastic episode that was an instant classic on a show that has produced many classics.

Eastbound and Down: Chapter 21
Eastbound and Down Chapter 21

Honorable Mentions: Chapter 14, Chapter 18

I was very close to picking Chapter 18 just so I could put a picture of Kenny Powers in his July 4th costume as the picture, but I decided to select the episode that was supposed to be the series finale.  Kenny has been one of the best characters for the past few years, and this would have been a fitting send off for him.  Of course, I’m curious to see where they go in the next (and presumed final) season, particularly given the finality that this episode seemed to have.

Family Guy: Yug Ylimaf
Family Guy Yug Ylimaf

Honorable Mentions: Viewer Mail #2, Ratings Guy

While Family Guy may not be as consistently funny as it used to be, this episode is one of the reminders that it can still pull off some creative and funny stories.  Granted, that may have been because it revisited some of the best moments in the show’s history, but still.  Plus, when you have a Stewie/Brian pairing as the main story, that’s usually a recipe for a solid episode.

Game of Thrones: Blackwater

Honorable Mentions: The Ghost of Harrenhal, The Old Gods and the New

The Battle of Blackwater is one of the many high points of the book series A Song of Ice and Fire, so it stood to reason that the episode of Game of Thrones that represented it would also be great.  It didn’t disappoint.  I can’t give too much away without totally spoiling it, but let me just say that this was an extremely ambitious episode of television and I thought it was fantastically done.

Girls: All Adventurous Women Do
Girls Episode

Girls was one of the most talked about shows of 2012 and also one of the most divisive.  I found it to be a show that was sometimes great and sometimes mediocre.  This episode was one that was mostly good (that sounds kind of Princess Bride-y), and the guest appearance of Jorma Taccone certainly help elevate this episode to be my favorite of the season.  I’m interested in seeing where they go next season and if season 2 will elevate the show into HBO’s pantheon or if it will end up being a just ok show.

Happy Endings: No-Ho-Ho

Honorable Mentions: The St. Valentines Day Maxssacre, Cocktails and Dreams, Party of Six, The Kerkovich Way, Boys II Menorah

Up until very recently, I was all set to pick Boys II Menorah as the best episode of the year for this show, which is saying something, because 2012 was very kind to Happy Endings, which keeps getting better and better.  Of course, the fact that it gets better and better meant that No-Ho-Ho (the most recent episode) was also the best of the year.  It took some of the great things about television holiday episodes and turned them on their ear, which I am always a fan of.  This was just a very silly episode while also having some heart, which is a great mix.  If you aren’t watching this show, you are sincerely missing out.

How I Met Your Mother: The Final Page

Thank God that this episode happened because I really wasn’t sure what to pick here.  I had been leaning toward the birth of Lily and Marshall’s baby, but I wasn’t thrilled about that choice, nor was I thrilled with the first half of season 8 as an option here.  But then this episode happened.  It had everything a HIMYM fan could want: Barney and Robin getting together, Barney doing some physical comedy while jinxed, Lily and Marshall hanging out with Seth Green, and Ted being successful in his career (Is it a poor indicator of where the show is that the professional success of the main character is behind a guest appearance in a list of good things about the episode? Probably).  I was hoping this would be the season where we meet the mother and the show ends (it appears that is not the case now), but I will take this as the highpoint of the season.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia: Reynolds vs. Reynolds: The Cereal Defense
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Honorable Mentions: The Gang Recycles Their Trash, Charlie and Dee Find Love, The Gang Gets Analyzed, The Gang Dines Out

Some may have found Season 8 of Always Sunny too meta, but I thought there were great moments in pretty much every episode.  Charlie and Dee Find Love featured a very manipulative Charlie, and The Gang Dines Out was just awesome, but Reynolds vs. Reynolds takes home the prize.  It had Charlie as a lawyer, Mac going on crazy rants, Frank  doing his thing, and Dee ending up with the raw end of the deal as usual.  Just a fantastic episode of a show that continues to get better.

Justified: Slaughterhouse
Justified Slaughterhouse-2

Honorable Mentions: Harlan Roulette, Watching the Detectives, Measures

Justified is a show that can manage to be cool, interesting, sexy, and funny all within the same episode.  Of course, toward the end of each season, we have the climax of the story and they don’t necessarily try to balance all those qualities.  This episode focused on keeping the story tense and the audience on the edge of its seat.  Of course, it did feature one of the show’s best lines of all time when Raylan talks about disarming Quarles, so there is that as well.

Louie: Barney/Never
Louie Barney:Never

Honorable Mentions: Daddy’s Girlfriend, Late Show

Before any Louie fans freak out, my original intention was to have the 3 episode Late Show as the choice, but I decided that if I was to follow the title of the post, I needed to pick a single episode and I couldn’t pick one single part of Late Show, so I chose the episode that I thought was the funniest, and that was Barney/Never.  This episode was just so laugh out loud funny, which isn’t always what happens while watching Louie (although, it happens all the time watching his standup).  A group of strippers crying to Sister Christian as they mourn a valued patron?  A kid diarrheaing in the tub? Just perfectly hilarious.  Robin Williams and JB Smoove certainly made the episode memorable as well.  Really, you couldn’t go wrong choosing either, but I decided to pick the single funniest of the year as opposed to the best storyline of the season.

Mad Men: Commissions and Fees

Honorable Mentions: A Little Kiss, Far Away Places, The Other Woman

A Little Kiss featured the internet hit Zou Bisou Bisou, Far Away Places was one of the most ambitious episodes the show has ever done (and it featured Roger Sterling tripping on acid, a major plus), and The Other Woman was just great work by Christina Hendricks.  However, Commissions and Fees was the best episode of the season, if for no reason other than Lane’s demise was so surprising.  Jared Harris had an excellent final season  (including punching Pete in the face which was amazing) and this episode was just a superb surprise way for him to go.  Farewell, Mr. Pryce, SCDP will not be the same without you.

Modern Family: Virgin Territory
Modern Family Virgin Territory

Honorable Mentions: Baby on Board, Arrested, Mistery Date

I am generally a fan of Phil-centric episodes of Modern Family, and this is no exception.  Episodes that allow Ty Burrell to be both goofy and heartfelt are what the show does best.  While I feel Modern Family may have lost a step, episodes like this are reminders that this show can still pull off really good episodes when it wants to.  Hopefully we have more of these to look forward to in the future.

The Office: Dwight Christmas
The Office - Season 9

Honorable Mentions: Here Comes Treble, The Target

The Office after the departure of Michael Scott has been looking for some kind of direction.  While it didn’t find one during season 8, season 9 has been improved in that department.  Of course, it hasn’t been perfect.  The Andy-Erin-New Jim (I refuse to call him anything other than that) love triangle has been done on this show before, and done better.  It’s like they want us to root for a character who we have never seen before this season over the character they got us to root for over the last few seasons.  I digress. Dwight Christmas is just a classic holiday episode of this show, and it plays on the strongest relationship of the show, Dwight and Jim.  Hopefully they continue the upswing in the final half-season of the show.

Parks and Recreation: Halloween Surprise

Honorable Mentions: Bowling for Votes, Dave Returns, The Debate, Win Lose or Draw, Ben’s Parents, Ron and Diane

This was an incredibly tough decision.  Season 4 was full of highlights, whether it is Tom’s bowling style, the return of Louis CK, Paul Rudd’s incompetent Bobby Newport Jr., the “Catch Your Dream” theme song of the campaign, Jerry getting pied, or the emotional election episode.  Of course, Mike Ehrmantraut (refuse to think of him otherwise) as Ben’s dad eyeballing Ron Swanson for the last piece of bacon wrapped shrimp was enough to earn an honorable mention, and the return of Tammy 2 is always welcome.  However, Halloween Surprise was just an all time great episode of Parks and Rec.  It had hilarity (Jerry’s fart attack) and heart.  The proposal was just fantastic.  Another example of why this is the best comedy on television.

Portlandia: Brunch Village
Portlandia Brunch Village

Portlandia is a show that is often bizarre while also generally funny.  This episode did a good job of nailing the off beat comedy that made it a hit in the first place, while also having a sustained storyline that brought back various character pairings from the run.  Tim Robbins as a maniacal wannabe war lord and Ed Begley Jr. as a competing breakfast restaurant owner was just icing on the crazy cake.

Saturday Night Live: Louis C.K.

Honorable Mentions: Maya Rudolph, Seth MacFarlane, Christina Applegate, Martin Short

I always think that people with comedic backgrounds tend to have the best episodes of SNL.  This isn’t a hard and fast rule (Justin Timberlake comes to mind), but usually this is the case.  That’s why two of my favorite episodes of 2012 featured former SNL cast members as the host, while another featured an acclaimed comedy show runner and director.  However, the episode of the year as far as I’m concerned goes to Louis CK.  The Louie/Lincoln mashup was awesome, the 10 to 1 bar skit was great, the monologue was classic Louis CK, and even the bizarre mountain people skit was entertaining.  I am hoping for a return visit to 30 Rock in the near future from the best working standup comedian.

The Simpsons: How I Wet Your Mother
simpsons how i wet your mother

Honorable Mention: Moonshine River

While it has become the norm to criticize the recent seasons of the Simpsons for not being up to the standard of the early seasons, but there are still usually one or two examples in a season of why this show has been on the air for as long as it has been.  Their take on Inception was one of these shows.  The delve into Homer’s psyche was a welcome adventure for the Simpson family, and just one of the many great episodes that they have made over the past two decades.

South Park: Raising the Bar
South Park Raising the Bar

Honorable Mentions: Reverse Cowgirl, Jewpacabra, Butterballs, Sarcastaball, A Scause for Applause, Obama Wins

Another very tough decision, as these season featured many classic episodes and moments such as the Dr. Seuss homage, taking on Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm, and Kony 2012, complete with director meltdown in the streets of San Diego.  However, as a hater of Honey Boo Boo and a lover of Cartman, this episode has to take it for me.  Just some really great stuff, as South Park does self-aware humor like nobody else (Cartman’s reality show is on at the same time as Honey Boo Boo, and he decides to take her down after she gets better ratings).  Plus, when you have a song as great as the James Cameron Pioneer song, well, you have a great episode of South Park.

Veep: Baseball

Veep is a show that I think has funny one liners but doesn’t sustain story lines or character development throughout episodes, much less from week to week.  While at times I feel like they are trying to just be as profane as possible because they are on HBO, they certainly make the most of the full range of the English language that they are given, even if the characters all sort of muddle together because of this fact.   However, Julia-Louis Dreyfus shines as the VP, and I thought this episode just had all of the facets come together better than any of the other ones.

30 Rock: Mazel Tov, Dummies
30 Rock Mazel Tov

Honorable Mentions: Leap Day, Live from Studio 6H, Aunt Phatso vs. Jack Donaghy, My Whole Life is Thunder

The final tough decision of the list (I know I’ve used that phrase a lot, but they were) and it is our 3rd wedding related choice (1st actual wedding episode).  While Leap Day is a classic twist on holiday episodes, Live from Studio 6H brings back the live show to 30 Rock, and My Whole Life is Thunder featured a final appearance from Jack’s mother Colleen (and the welcome appearance of Kermit the Frog), Liz Lemon getting married is the choice.  The characters that inhabit 30 Rock are bizarre selfish people, but I think we can all agree that it was great to see Liz finally settling down with someone.  The Princess Leia outfit was the perfect 30 Rock touch for the whole thing.


So, there you have it, my top episodes from the shows that I watch that aired new episodes in 2012.  Feel free to comment on the choices you would have made for any of the shows, and whether or not you agreed with my selections.


Hope you liked this post, and I hope you like what else I have to say.


From → Television

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