It's time once again for our annual list of the 50 best episodes of the past year. (For previous lists check the links to the right.)
As usual we'll be counting down 10 episodes a day until we get to the best episode of 2007 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.
We also wanted to take this time to tell you about WHY WE WRITE, a fantastic new blog created by "Eureka's" Charlie Craig and Thania St. John. It's a collection of essays by some of TV's brightest minds about... you guessed it, why they write. And as luck would have it, the essayists who've contributed thus far are behind many of the episodes on this year's list.
Our "50 Best Episodes" feature is designed as a celebration of TV's finest hours (and half-hours) so we're thrilled to give you a window into the minds of those who created them. With that mind, as the countdown continues, look for periodic excerpts from some of the WHY WE WRITE essays. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
As always, our list will differ from the ones you sent in - but that's half the fun! So sit back, relax and enjoy the countdown!
40. "californication: pilot" (showtime)
(originally aired: august 13, 2007)
Proof positive that David Duchovny can make even the most selfish asshole on TV a likeable guy.
39. "burn notice: pilot" (usa)
(originally aired: june 28, 2007)
Jeffrey Donovan's dry humor makes every scene in this 21st century take on "The Equalizer" worth watching.
38. "jericho: why we fight" (cbs)
(originally aired: may 9, 2007)
Say it with us: "NUTS!"
37. "brothers & sisters: 36 hours" (abc)
(originally aired: november 11, 2007)
The Walkers intervention - and subsequent detox - of Justin (a never better Dave Annable) was iron clad proof you're watching a "real" family on this show.
36. "dirty sexy money: the watch" (abc)
(originally aired: november 28, 2007)
I'm not sure which was more touching - Dutch's (Peter Strauss) heartbreak after learning one of the Darlings is his child or Nick's (Peter Krause) first "meeting" with his half-brother Brian (Glenn Fitzgerald).
"Brothers & Sisters" & "Dirty Sexy Money" executive producer Greg Berlanti on why he writes: "I've never considered myself much of a writer. I'm not particularly great at it. On my best day I don't have half the talent of many people I've been lucky enough to hire and to work with. And this is not false humility. Ask any writer who works with me, they'll tell you how much I rely on their abilities, how often I struggle to craft the simplest of scenes. I know a lot of other writers feel like they suck too, but that doesn't make it easier (I know this because a large part of my day is convincing other writers they don't suck. Once finished, I go back into my office and convince myself I do suck all over again). The problem is, regardless of my limited writing talent, I love telling stories."
35. "south park: imaginationland" (comedy central)
(originally aired: october 17, 2007)
Any show that can feature Orko from He-Man and terrorism in the same episode deserves a spot on this list.
34. "life: fill it up" (nbc)
(originally aired: december 5, 2007)
Jack Reese telling Charlie (Damian Lewis) that he didn't notice he had Rachel Seybolt all along still gives me chills.
33. "the riches: pilot" (fx)
(originally aired: march 12, 2007)
Just when you think TV has covered every subculture in America - here comes the Travellers.
32. "my name is earl: our 'cops' is on" (nbc)
(originally aired: january 4, 2007)
A clever twist on the show's usual format as Earl and company watch their 2003 appearance on "Cops," featuring Mike O'Malley and Kathy Kinney as the documented officers.
"My Name Is Earl" creator/executive producer Greg Garcia on why he writes: "I've written on other people's shows, my own shows, family shows, office shows, black shows, white shows, four camera shows, animated shows, single camera shows, shows that get slammed by the critics and shows that win Emmys. I've had the pleasure of experiencing almost everything you can experience in the world of sitcoms. The thing I had worshiped as a child has become my life. But don't get me wrong, I still hate writing. I hate it because it's hard. But if I don't write it, no one is going to say it. No one is going to block it or light it or film it or edit it. No one is going to watch it. And most importantly, no one is going to laugh at it. And as much as I hate the writing part, I love the laughing part. I need the laughing part. I'm addicted to it!"
31. "gossip girl: hi, society" (the cw)
(originally aired: december 5, 2007)
This episode, in which the dynamics of a dozen distinct relationships - from Rufus learning the truth about why Lily left him to Serena being shown her grandmother's true colors to Chuck having his heart broken by his best friend's girl - were changed in the span of a few minutes, proved "Gossip Girl" is much more than your typical teen soap.
COMING TOMORROW: #30-21