It's time for our annual list of the 50 best episodes of the past year. (For previous lists check the bottom of this column.) We'll be counting down 10 episodes a day until we get to the best episode of 2005 on Friday. The episodes on this list are based on nominations by myself and regular visitors to the site as to what we think the standout moments of the year were. In some cases while we were fans of certain series we couldn't pin down a particular episode we thought was of special merit so don't be stunned to see a few of our regular favorites missing from the list. Anyway, on with the show...
10. "everybody loves raymond: the finale" (cbs)
(originally aired: may 16, 2005)
A flawless example of how to leave without falling into the "finale" trap, "Raymond" teased us with a potential health issue for Ray only to rebound with exactly how'd you want to leave a "TV family" after all these years - eating dinner and cracking jokes.
9. "my name is earl: pilot" (nbc)
(originally aired: september 20, 2005)
I still can't get over what an unexpected gem this show turned out to be - funny but not schticky, sweet but not saccharin, offbeat but not screwy, "Earl" is just a genuine pleasure to watch.
8. "the office: diversity day" (nbc)
(originally aired: march 29, 2005)
My favorite 30 minutes of comedy from last year, "Diversity Day" was not only filled to the brim with side splitting moments - from Michael's Chris Rock impersonation to the "Indian Poker"-esque game of "guess my race" - but it also marked the beginning of the show's movement out of the U.K. original's shadow.
7. "everwood: a mountain town" (the wb)
(originally aired: february 21, 2005)
There probably wasn't a more heartbreaking scene last year than in this episode, which saw Ephram and Andy travel to New York for his Julliard audition. On a rooftop overlooking Central Park, Ephram - after years of hating his father - tells him he loves him and wants to make sure they stay close while he's away at school, oblivious to the fact (although we the viewer know and can see it on Andy's face) that Andy's decision to keep Ephram's ex-girlfriend's pregnancy a secret is literally moments away from exploding in their faces, estranging them once again. My heart sinks just typing this.
6. "jack & bobby: legacy" (the wb)
(originally aired: may 11, 2005)
A touching finale to an equally touching series, this episode gave us the goods on the pilot's closing revelation - that Jack (Matt Long) dies and Bobby (Logan Lerman) goes on to be elected president. And if that's not enough, we finally meet Jack and Bobby's father (Lou Diamond Phillips in a great guest role). I miss this show terribly.
5. "six feet under: everyone's waiting" (hbo)
(originally aired: august 21, 2005)
Even after beating all the likeability out of its characters over the course of its five seasons, one can't deny how truly amazing the show's closing moments were as we're given a tour of each character's future and their respective fates.
4. "battlestar galactica: 33" (sci fi)
(originally aired: january 14, 2005)
An adrenaline jolt marked the show's post-mini series debut as the Cylons begin attacking every 33 minutes for no apparent reason. This seat-of-your-pants reintroduction to the characters exemplified how unique and compelling "Battlestar" can be.
3. "lost: man of science, man of faith" (abc)
(originally aired: september 21, 2005)
Even cooler than seeing what was in the hatch was how we were shown - the episode opens with an unseen figure going about his daily routine in what appeared to be a flashback to one of the character's pre-crash lives, only to be interrupted by the very explosion used to open the hatch in last season's finale. There's just nothing like this show on TV, period.
2. "veronica mars: leave it to beaver" (upn)
(originally aired: may 10, 2005)
"I love you so much... I knew you'd come... I knew you'd save me," says Veronica Mars (the note-perfect Kristen Bell) to the greatest TV dad ever (Enrico Colantoni) as he rescues her from Aaron Echolls (Harry Hamlin, now revealed as Lilly's murderer) in the show's season finale. It was an episode that literally felt like reading the last chapter in a book you can't put down. Here's hoping for many more "Veronica" books to come.
1. "house: three stories" (fox)
(originally aired: may 17, 2005)
David Shore won the Emmy for writing this episode for one reason - it was absolutely the most original, the most compelling and the most unique hour on TV last year. It's here we follow House (the awesome Hugh Laurie) as he subs for a sick professor during which he weaves the stories of three patients (including that of, no joke, Carmen Electra) - stories which in an unexpected twist, reveal how and why he walks with a cane and eats painkillers like candy.