The Top 10 Episodes of TV of 2010 — Part Two!
Yesterday I began my list of the Top 10 Episodes of TV of 2010. Here now is the rest of the list, numbers 1-5!
5. 30 Rock: “Reaganing” (season 5, episode 5, aired on 10/21/10) — Jack boasts that he has reached a 24-hour state of perfection that he called “Reaganing,” in which he is unable to make any mistakes. But his perfect game is challenged when he’s faced with helping Liz sort out her latest sexual hang-up. The episode is packed with terrific moments: Kelsey Grammer helping Jenna and Kenneth scam a local bakery; Tracy’s incredible inability to deliver a single line necessary for a commercial; and the revelation of the origin of Liz’s sexual problem. (Hint: it involves Tom Jones.) Very funny stuff.
4. The Pacific: Part Ten (aired on 5/16/10) — I’m a big fan of the final chapters of The Return of the King that chronicle what happened after the victorious destruction of the One Ring and the defeat of Sauron. I also love the voluminous appendices, that detail the final fates of all of the main characters. Most stories choose to end at the moment of our heroes’ triumph, but I find something powerfully sad about exploring what happens in the days afterwards. This might help to explain why I was so taken with the final episode of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg’s HBO mini-series The Pacific. This episode is set after the end of the war, and we see our characters — most notably Eugene Sledge and Robert Leckie — return home and attempt, each in their own way, to rebuild their lives which were forever changed by their experiences in combat. I found the whole hour to be devastating, particularly the moment when we see Sledge’s father standing quietly, helplessly, outside his son’s bedroom door as he listens to the wails of his son who lies within, unable to sleep because of the haunting effects of the conflict. The series could have easily ended after Part Nine, but it’s the events of Part Ten that, to me, raise The Pacific to the level of greatness.
3. Parks and Recreation: “94 Meetings” (Season 2, episode 21, aired on 4/29/2010) — Yep, I’ve got a second episode of Parks and Recreation on my list. Ron Effing Swanson is threatened with actually having to do some work when he discovers that April has scheduled all of the meetings that he’s put off all year-long for one single day. The wonderfully rich ensemble of the show (which has been so beautifully fleshed out during the show’s second season, after a shaky start in the six-episode first season) gets to shine, when Ron solicits everyone’s help in taking those 94 meetings. The episode is loaded with great moments: Leslie’s failed attempt to protect a historical gazebo (“I really thought that gate would open in the middle”), Andy’s maniacal glee at assuming his alter ego (“Bert Macklin”), Tom Haverford’s furry boots, the return of Duke Silver, another fantastic Pawnee Town Hall mural — in this case, of a famous interracial wedding (“the reception was a bloodbath”), and, of course, the moment when Ron meets April’s family. This show just might be the best comedy on television these days, folks.
2. Treme: “Do You Know What it Means” (season 1, episode 1, aired on 4/11/10) — Set three months after Hurricane Katrina, this double-sized pilot episode introduces us to a large group of characters who live in the Treme district of New Orleans, all struggling to rebuild their lives. The ensemble of actors is magnificent, the writing is sharp, the production values are amazing, and the music is sublime. I was expecting a series that would be compelling but downbeat, but Treme is a show that is quite remarkably filled with life and humor, even as it never shies away from the horrors of the situation. Nothing could ever top The Wire, but David Simon and Eric Overmyer are sure giving it a shot. This pilot episode is a magnificent introduction to a phenomenal series. (Click here for my original review of this episode.)
1. The Daily Show — Four nights a week, every week, Jon Stewart and the Best #$%&ing News team on the Planet shine a white-hot spotlight on all of the craziness and absurdities of our world. This is genius television on display, on a daily basis. A treasure.