Top 10 Episodes of TV in 2009 — Part One!
Hi everyone! It’s that time of year again — welcome to the first of my four Best of 2009 lists! We’re kicking things off today with part one of my list of the 10 Best TV Episodes I saw in 2009!
Let’s dive in, shall we?
10. Lost: “Jughead” (season 5, episode 3, aired on 1/28/09). The craziness of Lost‘s superb time-hopping fifth season kicked into high gear with this episode, and all sorts of fascinating connections were made. Trapped in the past, Locke meets a young Charles Widmore and Richard Alpert and we finally get an explanation for Alpert’s weird childhood visit to Locke (that we saw in “Cabin Fever” ). Meanwhile, Daniel Faraday discovers that the American army came to the island in the 1950’s to test hydrogen bombs, explaining a lot of tiny references that have been layered into the show since back in the second season (such as Ana Lucia pointing out to Goodwin that the Other they killed carried an army knife from decades ago). But this episode gets the nod because of its focus on one of my very favorite Lost characters: Desmond, who spends the hour attempting to unravel the secrets of Daniel Faraday. Mind-bending Lost at its best.
9. Dollhouse: “Belonging” (season 2, episode 4, aired on 10/23/09). Oh Dollhouse, we hardly knew ye. Though Joss Whedon’s short-lived series was frustratingly hit-or-miss, episodes like this make we wish fervently that the show was continuing. This episode spotlights Sierra, one of the “dolls” (men and women regularly programmed with completely new personalities in order to meet the whims of the Dollhouse’s wealthy clients), and we learn how the young woman once named Priya came to be a doll. It is a twisted, heartbreaking story, and an absolutely riveting hour of TV.
8. The Office: “Broke” (season 5, episode 23, aired on 4/23/09). I’ve been a bit let-down by The Office this year, but the mid-fourth season run of episodes centering around the Michael Scott Paper Company were classic, and this episode provided a note-perfect culmination of that storyline. Michael & co. have finally succeeded in cutting into Dunder Mifflin’s business by undercutting their prices, but that action has also left Michael’s company penniless (and unable to afford even a delivery van for the paper they’re selling, as we see in the episode’s opening). Luckily, David Wallace decides to try to buy Michael out. The negotiations that follow are hysterical — and also a stunning moment as Michael rises to the occasion by serving as a surprisingly sly negotiator. Also, Charles Miner (The Wire‘s idris Elba), who has been running the Scranton branch in Michael’s absence, is finally undone by his ill-chosen support of Dwight.
7. 30 Rock: “St. Valentine’s Day” (season 3, episode 11, aired on 2/12/09). Liz foolishly insists that she and Drew (guest star Jon Hamm from Mad Men) have their first date on Valentines’s Day, while Jack’s new girlfriend Elisa (Salma Hayek) insists that he celebrate the day with her in church. The escalating chaos that befalls Liz and Drew on their first-date-from-hell is a riot, but what earns this episode a place on this list is Jack’s prayer/phone call to his assistant while sitting next to Elisa in church: “Our Jonathan, who art in the office, hallowed be thy reservation…” Oh, and I should also mention the waiter’s reaction to Jack sitting alone in front of an enormous dessert at his favorite restaurant: “I’m sorry, is this a Sixth Sense thing? Should I bring a place setting for your friend?” Genius.
6. Curb Your Enthusiasm: “Officer Krupke” (season 7, episode 8, aired on 11/8/09). Larry’s plot to reconcile with Cheryl by casting her as George’s wife in the Seinfeld reunion is imperiled when another actress (Elisabeth Shue) auditions very well for the role. Jeff is in hot water with his wife Susie because she found another woman’s panties in his car, so Jeff desperately begs Larry to tell Susie that the panties are his — which leads to the classic moment: “I’m Larry David, and I happen to enjoy wearing women’s panties.” Larry gets into an argument with the fellow behind the counter at the department store where he left a pair of his pants, as they debate the difference between “lost” and “gone.” (I’m with Larry on this one.) Larry meets a police offer with the same name as the famous character from West Side Story. All of those story-lines are terrific, but what elevates this episode beyond the rest is the phenomenal closing moment when Jeff shows up at Larry’s door wearing a neck-brace: “you’ve got to tell Susie I was in a car accident!” (I won’t spoil the meaning of that gloriously dirty joke for those of you who haven’t yet seen this episode.)