Top 10 Favorite Episodes of Television - All-Time

So I usually open these posts with some witty or stupid comment about my life, relating some meaningless story for amusement. And I would do this today too, except I really don't have much of anything to talk about. I've been just so exhausted all week and I'm not entirely sure why, but it probably has to do with waking up at 6:30am everyday, something I'm still not accustomed to. Or it could be my overeliance on commas in a sentence, which I figure that the more commas, the better, while fewer commas, are probably worse,. Anyways, grammer jokes aside, down to bidness. So while working on me and Chris Kordy's upcoming Podcast "Status Update", I started digging through lists of television series' that I loved but has for the most part been forgotten for an episode that we're doing (the podcast will launch at the end of this year BTWs, and I'm going to be pimping it pretty hardcore when we're getting ready to launch it). This got me to thinking, and I have compiled my list of my Top 10 favorite episodes on Television of all time. Now, this isn't a "best of" list, but instead is a list of my favorite episodes that I've ever seen, so there is a heavy emphasis on shows that I love dearly. Hit the jump for the list.

Warwick's Top 10 Favorite Episodes of Television

Honorable Mention: Angel - Smile Time

Also known as the Puppet Episode. In the episode, Angel (David Boreanaz) is turned into a puppet by demons who run a kids entertainment program as a way to brainwash the children into slaves(or something). Honestly, the plot of the demons takes such a back seat, because seeing the little Angel puppet running around and getting overly excited about everything is just so freaking hilarious that it steals the whole episode. Another brilliant moment brought to us by Joss Whedon, and easily one of my favorites all-time, just not in the top 10.

Honorable Mention: Arrested Development - Good Grief

I know, I know. People are going to be pissed at me for not putting this higher, but honestly as much as I love this episode and think that it's one of the funniest of any series ever, I just don't think that it had the same level of personal resonance that the other 10 episodes ahead of it had. But this is still a brilliant episode, as there is a running homage to Charles Schultz throughout, Gob tries to get into that Poof (a magazine), and the family deals with the "death" of George Sr (really he just found a loophole in the Mexican legal system - Money). Through and through every character shines in this episode, and it had some of the most memorable lines from this amazing series. Just brilliant stuff.

#10 House - Three Stories

From the end of Season 1, this is the episode where the show truly came together and the characters on it became truly unique individuals and fully realized, none more than Dr. Gregory House. House has to sit in and cover a lecture for one of the other doctors at Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital, and he tells the student three different stories of patients who came in complaining of leg pain, with three different diagnosis' and outcomes. The first two end with one patient losing their leg and the other recovering just fine. The third one, however, is left with a portion of his leg completely dead and a life-time of pain ahead of him. The twist of who the patients are is what makes this episode so gripping, as well as the choice faced by a minor supporting cast member. There have been other episodes of House that were better. But this one still gets to me, even to this day.

#9 Cupid - Heaven, He's in Heaven

Cupid was a really short-lived series, only lasting about 17 episodes on ABC, that starred Jeremy Piven as a mental patient who is convinced that he is Cupid, the Roman God of Love (despite the fact that the show has him interact with Greek Gods like Ares and Zeus, and refer to Mount Olympus which would make him the Greek God Eros - I'm a Mythology nerd.).  He thinks that he is trapped on Earth until he can pair up 100 true-love couples at which point he will return to Mt. Olympus and be a God again. The thing about this show was that it was never clear if he was the God of Love or if he was just very good at matching people up, and his therapist was the main foil and potential love interest for Cupid. Anyway, in this episode Cupid's therapist is working with a married couple who have fallen out of love because the wife is sick and tired of her husband breaking into song and dance in public, and he just wants her to enjoy life as much as he does. In the end, Cupid reunites them after teaching the wife how to dance and the husband and wife dance in the rain to "Can't take that away from me" by Sinatra. The whole episode was great and was one of those few moments where love was not something cynical but you could see that these two people genuinely loved each other.

#8 Family Guy - Petarded

While the last episode on this list was sweet and sentimental, this is the exact opposite. But it is uproariously funny and offensive throughout, and is easily my favorite episode of probably my favorite show currently on television. Peter discovers he is mentally retarded, and since Peter is a completely inappropriate individual naturally hilarity ensues through his realization that now people will be accepting of his oafish behavior since he is handicapped. And, because this is Family Guy, the cut-scenes are some of the funniest of all-time, from the documentary on Firetrucks being "a solitary predator" on the African plains to the world's worst day - a Japanease Business man in Hiroshima who gets a parking ticket and splashed with mud before hearing the sound of something falling from the sky. Just all around offensiveness in all it's glory, what Family Guy is best at.

#7 Scrubs - My Bed Banter and Beyond

Like House, this is a Season 1 episode and while there are numerous episodes that were better (most notably His Story 1 & 2, My TCW, My Occurence) this was my favorite. It not only signifies the shift of Scrubs from a good show to a GREAT show, but also every character has a shining moment in this episode. Carla and Turk show why they are one of the best couples from any show ever, Kelso is still in full-blown evil Kelso, and the main story of J.D and Elliot goes from sweet to heart-breaking in one of the most realistic TV relationship episodes. But the real star of this episode, as with most Scrubs episodes honestly, is John C. McGinley's Dr. Cox, with his monologues interspersed through the episode relating what he has learned about relationships to shrink at the hospital after Kelso forces everyone to go. Here's a quote from Cox on relationships:
I have not become a cynic. I haven't. Yes, I do happen to believe that love is mainly about pushing chocolate covered candies and, y'know, in some cultures, a chicken. You can call me a sucker, I don't care, because I do believe in it. Bottom line: it's couples who are truly right for each other wade through the same crap as everybody else, but the big difference is they don't let it take them down. One of those two people will stand up and fight for that relationship every time. If it's right, and they're real lucky, one of them will say something
#6 Heroes - Company Man

Whenever I get depressed about how quickly and how far this show has fallen, I will inadvertently look back to this masterpiece of an episode. This perfectly encapsulates what made Heroes so wonderful, yet when they try and recreate the magic of this episode they too often focus on the wrong aspects of it. This wasn't a brilliant episode because of the skipping around in time with flashbacks or retconning moments we've seen happen before, it was perfect because it was about the characters and their love and commitment to each other. Juxtaposing the origin of Noah Bennet with the present day hostage stand-off between Noah and Parkman & the Radiation Guy, the episode succeeding in being in two places at once and was wonderful because of it. Up to this point, Noah had been a mysterious person whose true allegiance and actions seemed to be for evil intent, but Company Man revealed that Noah was a good guy all along and was only doing whatever was necessary to protect Claire. Just a terrific episode all around.

#5 Sports Night - Six Southern Gentlemen of Tennessee

I'm going to say something, and the majority of people who are Aaron Sorkin fans are going to hate me for it: As good as West Wing was at times, this was Sorkin's best work. As much as I enjoyed the West Wing, there was always that part of me that said "I wish Sports Night was still on the air" because I liked it much better and I still think that everything that made WW good, SN originated and did better. Sports Night was basically a fictional version of Sportscenter and all the behind-the-scenes shenanigans and people obsessed with sports in a variety of ways. This episode revolved around the news story that seven football players at Tennessee had refused to play under the Confederate Flag and because of this had lost their scholarships, with the one student being the only one to stay in school despite this. What follows is an intense discussion about what they are going to cover until the show's executive producer, an African-American business man, goes on air personally and speaks out about the issue. This episode really hit home for me, as I am a firm believer that while we should acknowledge the past, the Confederate flag is to me a symbol that should never fly again in this country because it is inextricably tied to such a dark time in our nation's past.

#4 Firefly - Bushwacked

I had a really hard time narrowing this list down. I just want that clear. And the hardest part was narrowing down which Firefly episode to include, as I was torn between this, Serenity (the pilot), and Objects in Space. The last one focuses almost solely on River and the bounty hunter who invades Serenity, while the pilot was great but lacked the tenderness between the crew members and the show hadn't yet found it's rhythm. Bushwacked it is. This episode, the crew goes on to a believed to be abandoned transport ship to loot it, but they discover that the people hadn't left but were killed by Reavers. Soon the Alliance shows up and arrests Mal and the others for murder, and the subsequent interrogations of all the crew were priceless. Every character shows what makes them unique and provides a defining moment for all of them, none more so than Malcolm Reynolds. When asked "Why did you choose to name your ship after a battle you were on the wrong side of?" his answer of "Losing side maybe. Still not convinced it was the wrong one." sums up Mal to a T. I think it's interesting that several of these episodes I picked: the House one, Scrubs, and this one all relied heavily on monologues from different characters. I guess I really like that convention.

#3 The Simpsons - You Only Move Twice

My favorite Simpsons episode ever. All-time. It's the Hank Scorpio episode where Homer starts working as for a James Bond villain and in the end is given the Denver Broncos as a severance package gift. I can't even adequately describe how amazing this episode is. If you've never seen it, go see it right now. I'll wait for you to get back.

#2 The Office - Casino Night

My favorite episode of any sitcom, this had it all. Hilarious jokes, ungodly awkward situations, great moments from minor supporting characters, the escalation of the Michael Scott/Toby Flenderson hatred, and of course Jim and Pam. The end of this episode is something that I will always remember the first time I ever saw it, because it was such an incredible moment between two characters that we had really come to root for over the course of two seasons, and nothing that has come since has even come close to topping it. I know that I talked about this episode in my Out to Pasture - Office article, but I really did feel like it bore repeating. What an amazing episode.

#1  The Wire -
Mission Accomplished

I don't think that there was any way that this show was not going to be on the list, and there was not another episode that I've ever seen which comes close to topping this episode. The Wire followed not just the Baltimore police department but also the criminals that the police were trying to catch, and it showed that there was greed and corruption and bad people on both sides of the war on drugs. The finale of Season 3, this episode did what the show was best at which was humanizing the "villains" of the show and make them not just two dimensional figures but also fully realized and developed characters through and through. The best part of this show for me was Idris Elba's Stringer Bell, the man who ran Avon Barksdale's drug empire and was a ruthless and malicious individual, yet was so completely fascinating and you ended up rooting for. This episode resolved plot threads that had been building up for every episode of the series, all three years, and also set in motion the direction for the next two years at the same time without missing a beat. A death from earlier in the season is fully explored and mourned on both sides, good and bad, as everyone really feels the aftershocks of such a person's death. And the last act of this episode is a thing of beauty, a perfectly choreographed montage set to Solomon Burke's Fast Train. And the very end of the episode features two of the most different characters from the series sharing a moment and discussing what life is all about (it sounds hokey, but trust me). This episode alone convinced me that this was one of the best series ever made for TV, so give The Wire a show if you haven't already.

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