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!
30. "friday night lights: let's get it on" (nbc)
(originally aired: november 2, 2007)
It really is a testament to this show that the big moments - I genuinely thought Jason Street would be lost in the ocean forever after leaping from the booze cruise, only to have it turn out to be his first step back to peace with his condition - and the little ones - everything from Eric trying to woo Tami back to the bedroom, Saracen regaining his self-respect and Tyra breaking Landry's heart - feel equally natural and effortless.
29. "the knights of prosperity: pilot" (abc)
(originally aired: january 3, 2007)
Seriously - Mick Jagger buttering his popcorn with a Rolling Stones tongue statue, the red 1970s-era T-shirts, Rockefeller asking if there will be cookies, using a Jewish supply store as their clubhouse, Gourishanker describing his love of a certain female organ - what wasn't there to love about this show?
28. "andy barker, pi: fairway, my lovely" (nbc)
(originally aired: march 22, 2007)
I don't know about you, but the image of Peter Allen Vogt running in slow motion was burned into my brain for about a week after this episode aired - and I laughed every time I thought about it.
27. "how i met your mother: something blue" (cbs)
(originally aired: may 14, 2007)
Another master class in the show's trademark storytelling technique - this time involving how Ted and Robin's relationship unraveled, all set against the backdrop of Marshall and Lily's wedding. Even better - it actually tied together a half-dozen or so throwaway scenes from the past few episodes.
26. "chuck: pilot" (nbc)
(originally aired: september 24, 2007)
60 minutes, well 44 and change without commercials, of geeky heartfelt fun.
25. "it's always sunny in philadelphia: the gang finds a dumpster baby" (fx)
(originally aired: september 13, 2007)
After reading the episode title we knew this would be a "Sunny" classic.
24. "csi: crime scene investigation: living doll, part 1" (cbs)
(originally aired: may 17, 2007)
The fruit of its season long, unexpectedly riveting "miniature killer" arc, this episode defined the word cliffhanger as the fate of Sara Sidel - not to mention actress Jorja Fox's involvement with the show - was left up in the air.
"CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" executive producer Carol Mendelsohn on why she writes: "In high school, one of my teachers took an informal poll. She asked our class, �How many hours of TV do you watch a week?� I watched 49 hours. From the moment I got up in the morning to the moment I went to sleep. TV was my best friend. In study hall, while others were studying, I was conjuring up episodes of the Big Valley and The Virginian in my head. I could hear the voices of my favorite characters. And when a line I made up didn't sound right, I'd rewrite it. Some things never change. I never told anyone about these 'voices'. I didn't want to be labeled as a crazy. It wasn't until I got my first staff job that I confessed my eccentricity. And that's when I discovered that someone else heard voices, too. Writers hear voices. Which is why I never think of writing as writing. To me, it's more like dictation. Which raises a fundamental question. If I'm not doing the writing, who is?"
23. "extras: christmas special" (hbo)
(originally aired: december 27, 2007)
Sure the first hour was endless self-inflicted melancholy, but boy did those last few scenes - especially Andy's should-be-seen-by-everyone tirade against celebrity - made its swan song a classic one.
22. "the office: the negotiation" (nbc)
(originally aired: april 5, 2007)
Take your pick - Michael accidentally cross dressing, Dwight macing Roy, Darryl finding out how much Michael makes, Angela being turned on by Dwight macing Roy, "bibbity bobbity" - this was "The Office" in top form.
21. "the unit: five brothers" (cbs)
(originally aired: november 6, 2007)
While Hector's death was certainly shocking, just as unnerving was how the Unit took control of an innocent family's home and killed one of its members when their cover was about to be blown.
COMING TOMORROW: #20-11