Every year I love to ask my friends to write about the TV episodes that really stuck with them and every year it’s an absolute delight to read what they have to say. This is the fifth year doing this and I think these just keep getting better. Below are 33 essays about different 2015 episodes. You also can read their Top 10 lists and then at the very bottom of the hysterically long article, you can see what is the collected Top 10 list based on the 31 submitted lists. Please leave a comment so you can say what you liked this year as well! But first let’s start off by getting a little weird…

Ash vs. the Evil Dead – “El Jefe”

(Season One, Episode 1)

Ash vs Evil Dead

By Ray Martindale

My favorite episode of the year is a tie between the pilot for Ash vs. Evil Dead and The Leftovers’ “International Assassin” and since you can only do one I’m going to do Ash vs. Evil Dead. However, as a side note… what the hell? No one is doing The Leftovers!? I’m calling shotgun on that for next year! Watch freakin’ The Leftovers!

Okay, so the pilot for Ash vs. Evil Dead was my co-favorite episode of TV this year! It does everything right & perfectly captures the spirit of the genre bending the Evil Dead franchise. It makes you laugh and cheer; it scares the crap out of you in certain parts and it will definitely gross you out!

The pilot opens on an obviously over-the-hill Ash, who is getting all jazzed up for a night out at the local dive bar. He arrives just in time for last call, as he tries to con an attractive barfly into some hanky-panky in the bathroom. It isn’t long before weird things begin to happen, and the legendary Ashley J. Williams must once again battle the evil spirits of hell!

It’s so fascinating watching Bruce Campbell step into the character again. I wasn’t sure what to expect. After all, this franchise essentially launched his career, and we have not seen a return to the character since 1992. I was pleased to see there was no rust, and Campbell delivers an amazing performance. Despite Starz inability to secure the rights to the third film in the franchise, this is very much the “Ash” from Army of Darkness. Each line is cleverly delivered with the same sarcastic charm & smugness that fans of the franchise have come to adore.

Ash’s name being included in the title is a first for the franchise, however it feels incredibly appropriate. This is Campbell’s show and the evil spirits—although incredibly frightening at times—function more as a sounding board for us to really get to know more about Ash, as a character. Don’t get me wrong, the blood still runs down the frame, but it has been 23 years since we’ve last seen Ash and his poor choices have definitely made for a harder life.

However, Ash seems oblivious as ever to his situation and a ragtag team is assembled to help Ash in his fight. Now, I could go into each of the actor’s performances & give you a few details, but I’ll let you form your own opinions. Suffice it to say, not all of the performances are great, but some are very good.

There are a couple scenes I do want to touch on, but I won’t spoil’em. First off, for those who are new to the franchise there is a clever exposition scene set in the warehouse of Ash‘s place of employment. (Sorry S-Mart fans). In this scene, clips from the first two films are projected on cardboard boxes as Ash relays the history of the Necrocomicon & the Evil Dead. It is very well done and effectively catches you up to speed with out slowing the pace.

The other scene is the big scare scene of the pilot. Two police officers are moving room to room in an attempt to clear the residence of any hostile assailants. The officers have been separated for few minutes as they cautiously search, & you just know something horrible is going to happen. Only it doesn’t… at first! As one police officer enters a room she finds an old wooden rocking chair. It’s very distinctly rocking on its own; creaking & groaning as the old wood bends. Then purposefully and abruptly it stops rocking. The camera pans to her terrified partner, his gun drawn on the rocking chair as he delivers his line in a shaky voice, “There’s something wrong here.” HA! No shit!

The pilot is a beautifully crafted horror story filled with suspense, action, romance and comedy. The series is an excellent continuation of the Evil Dead franchise, and it’s b-movie moxie and special effects are enough to make it easily accessible to any fan of the genre. So… what else is there left to say about the pilot for Ash vs. Evil Dead? If you asked me to sum it all up in one word, I’d say… “Groovy.”

Thanks for reading!

 

Ray’s Top 10 TV Episodes of 2015

1) Ash vs. the Evil Dead, “El Jefe” (Season One, Episode 1)

2) The Leftovers, “International Assassin” (Season Two, Episode 8)

3) Arrow, “The Fallen” (Season Three, Episode 20)

4) The Flash, “Fallout” (Season One, Episode 14)

5) Better Call Saul, “Alpine Shepherd Boy” (Season One, Episode 5)

6) Nostalgia Critic, “Hocus Pocus” (Episode 294)

7) The Leftovers, “A Most Powerful Adversary” (Season Two, Episode 7)

8) The 100, “Spacewalker” (Season Two, Episode 8) (Ray: “yea, I know it aired Dec 17th, 2014… I don’t care, the rest of the season aired in 2015”) (Austin: Not counting it for the end of article talleys!)

9) ESPN’s 30 for 30, “Chasing Tyson” (Season Three, Episode 4)

10) The Walking Dead, “Thank You” (Season Six, Episode 3)

 

Banshee – “Tribal”

(Season Three, Episode 5)

Banshee

By Aaron Wittwer

Banshee could have gotten by on its action set pieces alone. From the beginning, it has been clear that this show aims to provide the most tense and perfectly executed fight scenes in television history and, over the course of three seasons, that goal has not changed. The fights are as brutal, unpredictable and creative as ever, but as the show continues, something unexpected has emerged. Where initially it seemed as though the premise and setting were simply the perfunctory stage on which these fights would take place, it has become clear that something much closer to the opposite is true. This is a show that truly wants to tell a story, and occasionally does so by bursting into fight. (This is something like bursting into song but with more broken noses). Every punch has emotional weight and serves to advance the characters in a meaningful way. No scene is wasted, be it a fight to the death or a short conversation over coffee. Nothing is inconsequential and it’s because of this that a perfect little bottle episode like “Tribal” can be the best thing to happen on TV this year.

“Bottle” is the common terminology anyway, but “powder keg-coated-in-napalm” might be more apropos. The old Cadillac dealership which serves as the Banshee Sherriff’s Office is under siege. Bullets shatter the glass and shred the air as goodish guys, baddish guys, and civilians all scramble for cover. Ex-con turned fake Sheriff, Lucas Hood, barely manages to trigger the steel security gates he had installed after a similar situation several months prior. And while the Redbones, a revenge hungry gang from the local Indian Reservation, try to find a way to breech this ramshackle fortress, inside is no less tense for the shaky alliances and tenuous truces that must be forged in order for everyone to get out of this situation alive.

There’s a futility in trying to capture the emotion and anxiety this episode inspires. I could tell you about the ex-Amish crime lord, Kai Proctor; held captive in one of the jail cells as his mother dies at home. I could tell you about the reformed neo-Nazi covered in tattoos who had just come to the Sherriff’s office to submit a job application; he’s a bit of a wild card at this point. I could tell you about Chayton Littlestone; the seemingly unstoppable force of death and vengeance who has led the Redbones into this battle. I could tell you how, in the previous episode, Hood’s deputy/love interest found out his secret. How Hood was just about to flee town before she had a chance to out him. And now they sit, trapped together in a tinderbox of uncertainty and lingering romance. But all of these things are firmly founded in a history and a world that has been built up over two and a half seasons. Every step along the way is relevant and vital. Unpacking exactly why this episode works so well would take much more than this short review.

Suffice it to say, this episode is a series high point. Banshee borrows the cinematic conventions of many a classic western (with a heavy debt owed to John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13) and repurposes them as a pressure cooker for all of the tensions and relationships with which we’ve become so intimately familiar. It’s a claustrophobic, sweat-drenched hour—grim, but never hopeless which makes the heart-rending final moments all the more devastating.

But it’s best you start at the beginning. Come for the insane gunfights and fisticuffs. Stay because the story’s roots have dug in deeper than you ever expected. There’s only one abbreviated, 8 episodes season left. The creators are ending the show of their own volition, having told the story they wanted to tell. If they stick the landing –and I have every confidence that they will–then Banshee will undoubtedly secure it’s place alongside the likes of Breaking Bad as one of the most well-drawn and flawlessly constructed shows of all time.

(Really freaking difficult to whittle down the Top 10 this year!)

 

Aaron’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015 (Not including “Tribal”)

1) Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, “I’m Going on a Date with Josh’s Friend!” (Season One, Episode 4)

2) Ash vs. the Evil Dead, “El Jefe” (Season One, Episode 1)

3) Fargo, “Loplop” (Season Two, Episode 8)

4) Review, “Murder; Magic 8 Ball; Procrastination” (Season Two, Episode 8)

5) Hannibal, “The Wrath of the Lamb” (Season Three, Episode 13)

6) Rick and Morty, “Total Rickall” (Season Two, Episode 4)

7) Justified, “The Promise” (Season Six, Episode 13)

8) Adventure Time, “Stakes Part 2: Everything Stays” (Season Seven, Episode 7)

9) Nathan for You, “Smokers Allowed” (Season Three, Episode 5)

10) The Last Man on Earth, “Silent Night” (Season Two, Episode 10)

 

Billy on the Street – “For a Dollar, It’s Chris Pratt!”

(Season Four, Episode 2)

Billy on the Street

By Keith Jackson

And away… we… go!

Billy on the Street has moved to a new home, stepping up from “that’s a channel?” Fuse to “yeah, I’ve seen that once on my guide” truTV (also, repeats on the more recognizable TBS). Now in his fourth season star Billy Eichner’s also stepped up his format. He’s managed to stage even more elaborate features like “Shondaland”, where Amy Sedaris runs through an obstacle course of the works of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes. In “Billy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with Katie Couric”, he produced giant balloons of Rooney Mara, Sean Penn, Mila Kunis, & Maggie Gyllenhaal, floats dedicated to the 2009-2011 Showtime dramedy “The United States of Tara”, as well as one to Mark Ruffalo (the “Mark Ruffaloat”).

But as great as the big intricate segments are, and the fun that ensues when celebrities join to play games like, “What Does Katy Perry’s Cat Care About?” or “LaTina Fey” (where Tina Fey has to name 20 Latino performers). My favorite parts week after week are his interactions with regular people minding their own business. Because he’s usually all over the place with nonsequitous pop culture references, asking questions like, “When Matt Damon daydreams of running for Senate, what state does he imagine he’s in?” or just walking up to someone telling them to, “Put yourself in Demi Levato’s shoes,” then witnessing their reaction, or when he asked a passer-by to “name a website,” and they replied quite enthusiastically: “STAPLES.COM!” It’s hard to pinpoint one specific interaction.

But if I had to pick one, it would be “For A Dollar, It’s Chris Pratt!” for a single reason in particular: Rodney. Billy plays one of his mainstays, “Quizzed in the Face” where he walks up to someone asking if they’d like to win a BIG PRIZE! He can come across some great people like the favorite recurring guest, Elena. Many people, especially in his other game “For A Dollar”, are bewildered by Eichner’s energy and fast pace, but Rodney is calm and collected–he repeatedly gets shut down as he tries to go on about some impressive facts about himself, such as purchasing a van and a car, owning a toy train store(?) or how his parents bought an Upper West Side apartment for $22,000 and then sold it for… well, we don’t know, because as Billy exclaims, “this isn’t Antiques Roadshow!” Rodney even has a Yankees hat with his name embroidered on the back; how awesome is this guy?

It’s not typical for a Quizzed in the Face contestant to push back at some of Eichner’s off-the-wall multiple choice questions–usually they recognize which of the four is real and just laugh at the non-sensical ones and move on. I think Billy was a bit surprised and proud when Rodney turns the option about “teaching transgender people how to use Spotify” around on him. It creates a hilarious dynamic because Billy now realizes Rodney won’t let the craziness ruffle his feathers. He’ll speak his mind. When asked, based on Billy’s subjective opinion, “which Muppet is definitely not homosexual,” Rodney declaratively answers Kermit, because, “frogs are asexual.” Unfortunately this doesn’t line up with Billy’s thoughts, but he stands by his answer. (The two Stuyvesant grads do agree about Barney, however.)

Rodney pretty much makes the episode, for me. There has been some better celebrity guests than this episode’s: Chris Pratt. It is pretty fun to see New Yorkers not give any care to who he is, however. The “For A Dollar” segment is fun, as always, asking someone their opinion on if Tobey Maguire’s happy and another to twerk if they love Pixar, among others. But Rodney’s clearly the star of this installment even upstaging Star-Lord and the lead of one of 2015’s highest grossing films.

 

Keith’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Parks and Recreation, “Leslie and Ron” (Season Seven, Episode 4)

2) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, “Episode #2677” (Finale)

3) Gravity Falls, “Not What He Seems” (Season Two, Episode 11)

4) Game of Thrones, “The Dance of Dragons” (Season Five, Episode 9)

5) Billy on the Street, “For a Dollar, It’s Chris Pratt!” (Season Four, Episode 2)

6) The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “Kimmy Goes to Court!” (Season One, Episode 12)

7) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, “April 5, 2015” (Season Two, Episode 8)

8) Veep, “Testimony” (Season Four, Episode 9)

9) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, “August 16, 2015” (Season Two, Episode 25)

10) The Unbreakble Kimmy Schmidt, “Kimmy Goes to School!” (Season One, Episode 6)

 

Bob’s Burgers – “The Hauntening”

(Season Six, Episode 3)

Bob's Burgers

By Rachael Clark

Holiday themed episodes of Bob’s Burgers are usually some of their best. This season’s Halloween episode is no exception. The episode focuses on the fact that Louise Belcher has never been scared before in her life. She wishes she could get scared, however, she “sees everything that is going to happen from a mile away.” Bob and Linda decide this year they are going to try and scare Louise. They close their burger joint for the day and drive the Belcher children out of town to an unknown house where they display possibly the most pathetic haunted house ever witnessed. Flickering lights (which is scary because it can cause seizures, according to Tina), spaghetti as guts, and conjoined people by way of a large t-shirt. As the Belchers realize it is a lost cause and will not be able to frighten Louise, they pack up and get ready to head home. However, due to unfortunate circumstances, the Belcher family get stuck in the house that turns out may be haunted after all and a crazy man with gardening shears may actually be out to get them! This episode is full of wit, one-liners, and possibly a scared Louise Belcher.

Bob’s Burgers is a rare show that embraces a family’s actual love and support for one another along with their quirkiness. Each family member has a distinct and loveable personality, where they can bring out the best and worst in each other. “The Hauntening” episode is one of the few where the whole family is together the entire episode. Although it may be considered a Louise-centric episode, everybody shares equal screen time and lines. You see the whole family dynamic interact with each other and it is hilarious and heart-warming.

P.S. The ending is one of my favorite parts of the episode. Boyz 4 Now make a reappearance with a music video entitled, “I Love You So Much (it’s scary)”. It is a sweet song to remind us what Halloween is really about… Love of course!

 

Rachael’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Parks and Recreation, “One Last Ride” (Season Seven, Episode 12)

2) Marvel’s Jessica Jones, “AKA The Sandwich Saved Me” (Season One, Episode 5)

3) Game of Thrones, “Hardhome” (Season Five, Episode 8)

4) Veep, “East Wing” (Season Four, Episode 2)

5) Doctor Who, “Hell Bent” (Season Nine, Episode 12)

6) Orange is the New Black, “Empathy is a Boner Killer” (Season Three, Episode 3)

7) The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “Kimmy Gets a Job!” (Season One, Episode 2)

8) Inside Amy Schumer, “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” (Season Three, Episode 3)

9) Bob’s Burgers, “The Hauntening” (Season Six, Episode 3)

10) Drunk History, “Spies” (Season Three, Episode 4)

 

Community – “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television”

(Season Six, Episode 13)

Community

By Priyanko “Pranks” Paul

Community is a very difficult thing to write about, as I’m sure The AV Club, Slate, Alan Sepinwall, and various other sources will agree with.  It’s a bizarre, passionate, goofy little show that is seriously unserious.  Its season finale is my pick for one of the best episodes of the year, but the damnedest thing about it is, I’m not 100% sure about that pick.

I think, gun to my head, that if I had to describe this finale in a single phrase, it’d be “matter-of-fact.”  That’s the best part of it, in fact.  Abed spends the entire show going Full-Abed.  He comes right out and says, “I don’t know how likely Season Seven is.”  When Chang points out that The Simpsons, South Park, and Friends all made it past Season Six, Abed notes that those shows weren’t hemorrhaging characters every year.  This then leads into a series of mini-scenes wherein characters describe their own version of Season Seven.  It’s sort of a call-back of “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps.”

As usual, the show uses Abed to respond to all of its critics throughout the years — “Things have a certain shape to it.  If we stray from it, we’re weird.  If we stick to it, we’re boring.”  (This reminds me of “The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show” episode from The Simpsons, which was basically a response to fans who said the show had gotten stale…oh fuck, I’ve gone full Abed.)

Abed eventually continues that good TV is “a friend you’ve known so well, and for so long you just let it be with you. And it needs to be okay for it to have a bad day, or phone in a day.  And it needs to be okay for it to get on a boat with Levar Burton and never come back. Because eventually, it all will.”

So was this one of the “best” episodes of the show?  “Best” is such a strange way to describe Community, even for a diehard fan like myself.  “Favorite,” maybe.  “Rabid,” certainly.  When I first watched the finale earlier this year, it made me deeply emotional in a way that media rarely does.  Most of that was saying goodbye to characters and a setting that (I believe) we will never return to again.  Upon re-watching it, I was less affected.  It was at, various points, too loud and too soft, and defiantly imperfect.  But so was the show.

 

Pranks’ Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Community, “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” (Season Six, Episode 13)

2) Star Wars Rebels, “The Siege of Lothal” (Season Two, Episodes 1/2)

3) The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “Kimmy Has a Birthday!” (Season One, Episode 9)

4) Rick and Morty, “Mortynight Run” (Season Two, Episode 2)

5) The Flash, “Fast Enough” (Season One, Episode 22)

6) Marvel’s Daredevil, “Stick” (Season One, Episode 7)

7) Marvel’s Jessica Jones, “AKA Sin Bin” (Season One, Episode 9)

8) BoJack Horseman, “Escape from L.A.” (Season Two, Episode 11)

9) Master of None, “Parents” (Season One, Episode 2)

10) You’re the Worst, “LCD Soundystem” (Season Two, Episode 9)

 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – “I’m Going on a Date With Josh’s Friend!”

(Season One, Episode 4)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

By Jim Huang

Greg wants to ask Rebecca on out a date. And Greg doesn’t want to ask Rebecca out. Rebecca is in love with Josh. But Rebecca isn’t in love with Josh, or so she says. Greg knows that Rebecca is in love with Josh, despite all she says. Greg makes a decision. “You’re not that nice to me and you’re weird,” he says to Rebecca, “but every time you show up. It’s like boom. Feelings.” And then he breaks into song.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a smart, endearing comedy series with full-blown musical numbers – big, splashy, witty, old-fashioned production numbers in the best, classic tradition. The numbers have thoroughly up-to-date sensibilities, and they enhance and advance the story. Greg’s song is “Settle for Me,” and as the song begins he and Rebecca are transported onto an elegant black-and-white dance floor, Greg in tails with a big boutonniere and an even bigger smile. “So, even though, I’m not the one your adore, why not settle for me? Darling, just settle for me… I know I’m only second place in this game, but like two-percent milk or seitan beef, I almost taste the same.” As lovely as this dream sequence is – and it’s as lovely a musical number as you’ll ever see – it also has a goofy realism to it. Greg pleads, “say yes or no before I choke on all this swallowed pride” and “I’m so bereft, demeaning terms are all I have left.” He ends up in a weird broken condom metaphor that is immediately topped by an even weirder one about a training bra.

I could go on and quote and describe every bit of “Settle for Me,” but you really ought to see it for or better yet, watch the whole episode, the most polished and complete yet of this first-year series co-created by and starring Rachel Bloom, who’s also written most all of the songs with Adam Schlesinger (and others). “I’m Going on a Date With Josh’s Friend,” written by Erin Ehrlich, is a episode about dreams and making choices, things that Bloom’s character Rebecca Bunch really struggles with. A butter commercial has triggered Rebecca’s cross-country move from an apparently successful career as a New York lawyer to West Covina, California, a backwater that just happens to be the hometown of Josh Chan. Josh and Rebecca had a summer camp romance a decade ago, the last time Rebecca was happy. But that’s not why she’s here, Rebecca insists.

Ehrlich’s script skillfully plays with dreams, reality and choices, in the context of a series puts the protagonist’s sanity in question. Rebecca makes terrible choices for bad reasons, fully inhabiting the part of the crazy ex-girlfriend, but (maybe?) with enough self-awareness to note that crazy ex-girlfriend is a sexist term and, in the title sequence, to reply to the observation that “she’s so broken inside” with the angry comeback “the situation is a lot more nuanced than that.”

In the episode’s first act, it’s hard to see the nuance: Rebecca and Paula, the best friend and enabler a crazy ex-girlfriend could ask for, are hanging out in a skate park where Josh sometimes hangs out. Decked out in helmets and pads and skateboards, it’s Rebecca at her most pathetic. A call from her mother rubs it in, and she’s so discouraged that she takes the advice of Heather, a young neighbor studying Rebecca for her psychology class. Heather sets Rebecca up on Tinder for an anonymous encounter to “pound out” the depression. Rebecca can’t go through with it – her anxieties hilariously expressed in song, of course –and she resolves to make healthy choices. The next day, she’s drinking green leaf juice, she’s investigating Buddhism and she’s turned vegan. “Now I’m into all the good stuff,” she says. She then helps Josh with an application for his dream job at an electronics store. He offers to help with her love life, asking if she should go on a date with Greg or “hold out for something more magical?” Josh urges her to say yes to Greg.

The date is an outing to a taco festival, and it starts out well – awkwardly, but well. Their shared interest in the Triangle Factory Fire is an especially nice touch. As Greg asks, “Why is it weird to be obsessed with the flashpoint that single-handedly ignited labor reform in the US?” The two end up dancing, and the contrast between the real-life awkwardness versus the elegance of their ballroom dream is perfect. But a disagreement over the best guacamole turns nasty. Greg: “You can be a bit of a hypocrite. You’re not in general steeped in honesty.” Rebecca: “Your whole settle-for-me vibe. It’s weird and sad.” They seem to work through the argument. In a reprise of “Settle for Me” in a port-a-potty, Rebecca sings “as soon as I’m done peeing, it’s time to start being, a little more realistic than I’ve been. Maybe it’s time to grow up and just settle for….” She’s interrupted before she can get out the last word, and as soon as she steps out of the port-a-potty, she abandons Greg and sabotages the date.

Afterwards, Rebecca says to Heather “do you ever have one of those days where you’ve done something so horrible it feels like you did it in a dream and you just want to wake up and you want it to be ok. But there’s no waking up because you did it for realisies.” When Greg confronts Rebecca, he says “all I can see is what this night could have been.” In “Settle for Me,” we’ve seen it too.

At the end of the episode, Rebecca learns that the job application she helped Josh with was not successful. Josh has settled for working in his father’s radiology practice, where’s it’s “all cancer all the time.” Rebecca can’t stand it. She drags Josh back into the store, and she argues his way into the job: “I know nothing about life. But I know one thing, that Josh Chan loves you and that makes you the luckiest person … store in the world.” At the end of the day, Josh is the only one who gets to live his dream, and Rebecca is the one who made it happen.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is far from perfect. It’s uneven, still struggling to find its groove and its audience. (Ratings have, apparently, been low.) But the cast is talented and appealing, the quirky characters are more and more interesting, and the musical numbers are mostly just great. There’s more here than is apparent at first – “I’m Going on a Date With Josh’s Friend” got better each time I re-watched it – and it’s not like anything else on TV right now. Don’t miss it!

Jim did not submit a Top 10 Episodes list.

 

Digimon Adventure Tri. – “Reunion Part Four”

(Season One, Episode 4)

Digimon

By Josh West

Seven young kids go to camp for the summer, wind up living in a digital land. Well, there you have it. That’s Digimon all summed up for you. That’s it for my article Austin. …What? You want more?!?! But you hated The Digimon Movie! Why do you want me to torture you and tell you more about a show that is a sequel to a movie you hated and that isn’t even out in America yet?! Yeah, I don’t get it…but it’s your article…written by…a lot of people who aren’t you…ok.

So let’s start with some backstory. Digimon was a show in the late 90’s. Many people have had the argument of which came first, which one is better, and who copied off who when it comes to Pokemon and Digimon. None of that matters. What matters is that you understand the premise of Digimon back then. Just like I said before, Digimon is a show about seven elementary school aged children who go off to summer camp. While there, some crazy shit happens and those seven kids get transported to the digital world. Think of it like an alternate universe. So anyway, once landing in the digital world, each child discovers that they have been assigned(?) a partner Digimon. Think of them as Pokemon but they return to their weaker selves when they use up too much of their energy.

So hand-in-hand/claw/paw/wing, the kids and the Digimon team up to stop the various evils of the digital world and save the day! Also, they find an eighth child and her Digimon partner. Then there was a second season that introduced some new kids that got Digimon partners and some new evils in the digital world. They fight. They win. Then we get an epilogue telling us that everyone had kids who look just like they used to and that the digital world is like a vacation destination now. Sounds like we are done following our little heroes right? WRONG!

The show that I am reviewing is Digimon Adventure Tri, “Reunion Par Four”. Digimon Adventure Tri so far has been a whirlwind of nostalgia. The show looks amazing! The art style is different but in a good way. It makes everything a little more fluid compared to the original. The digivolution sequences are especially good looking.

If you don’t remember from the first two seasons of Digimon, Tai and Matt were always butting heads. Tai had the attitude of rushing into the fight and the outlook that they will always come out on top. He was the optimistic one. Matt always had the outlook of fighting as a last resort. He tried to look at things with a level and clear head. In “Reunion” Tai and Matt seem to have loosened up on their outlooks. Matt, while still being the rational one, is more comfortable with fighting. He doesn’t hesitate or back down from a necessary fight. Tai, on the other hand, has become very hesitant. He no longer rushes into these fights. Many times in “Reunion Part Four” are we shown Tai looking around at some of the damage that is being caused by Digimon in the real world. He seems to be freaking out. We see him hesitating to even enter the battle, even though the rest of the group has already digivolved and started helping.

I think the writers want the audience to see Tai’s struggle as a way of showing him growing up. In the earlier parts of “Reunion” it is clear that there is some sort of tension between Tai and Matt. Sora, the love interest of both characters, even says something about the tension when Mimi, the aloof but sincere world traveler, tricks Tai and Matt into the same ferris wheel car alone. In this car they have a conversation that, in tone, mimics conversations from the earlier seasons. But the roles are reversed. Matt is telling Tai that he needs to stop running away from the fights, that the group needs him. Then Alphamon then appears and starts attacking a small cat-like digimon, damaging the city in the process. While the rest of the group starts fighting Alphamon, Tai is frozen. He is unsure what to do. This is such a difference from the Tai we are used to. Seeing Tai think about the outcome of his actions is an interesting way to make this series seem more grown up. Gone are the days where you can destroy a city and not worry about it.  After some harsh words from Matt, and remembering fighting together in the original series, Tai agrees to fight. We see Agumon and Gabumon digivolve while attacking, showing each stage of digivolution along the way until they finally digivolve together to form Omnimon. Omnimon and Alphamon have a pretty even fight and just when it looks like Omnimon is going to win, Tai remembers all of the destruction and looks worried, losing focus. Alphamon then opens up a portal and disappears. The group checks to make sure everyone is ok and we learn about a new Digidestined girl.

This season of Digimon has been a pretty even mix of looking back and looking forward. The digidestined can no longer fight with reckless abandon. They must make each blow count, each blow hit, and try not to damage the surroundings. Watching Digimon as a child, I had the rush to the fight attitude that Tai did. They were in the digital world, stuff can get destroyed there. But now, even watching the old episodes and these new ones, I find that I can very easily relate to why Tai is being so hesitant. If you like the first or second season of Digimon in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, then Digimon Adventure Tri is going to be a wonderful nostalgia trip and feel like an updated story of our favorite digidestined crew.

 

Josh’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Doctor Who, “Hell Bent” (Season Nine, Episode 11)

2) The Walking Dead, “Here’s Not Here” (Season Six, Episode 4)

3) Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “S.O.S.” (Season Two, Episodes 21/22)

4) Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “4,722 Hours” (Season Three, Episode 5)

5) The Walking Dead, “Conquer” (Season Five, Episode 16)

6) The Flash, “Fast Enough” (Season One, Episode 23)

7) Marvel’s Jessica Jones, “AKA Sin Bin” (Season One, Episode 9)

8) Marvel’s Daredevil, “Speak of the Devil” (Season One, Episode 9)

9) Arrow, “Green Arrow” (Season Four, Episode 1)

10) The Walking Dead, “Thank You” (Season Six, Episode 3)

 

Doctor Who – “Heaven Sent”

(Season Nine, Episode 11)

Doctor Who

By Michelle Manzo

The following review contains spoilers for the last episodes of Season Nine, including the conclusion of this episode. Spoilers begin on the third paragraph. 

This season of Doctor Who was refreshing. Peter Capaldi and the 12th iteration of The Doctor finally seem to be free from the shadow of Matt Smith, and Capaldi’s performance overall this season was fantastic. Bringing on Maisie Williams as a guest star added a character of great depth to the mix, and Jenna Coleman’s finale was among one of the most emotional exits of any modern companion.

There was really only one episode of Doctor Who I didn’t care for this season, and at first thought, narrowing my choice down to one standout episode to discuss seemed difficult. However, there can be no doubt that “Heaven Sent” stood out not only as one of the best episodes this season, but in Doctor Who’s entire run.

Fresh off he heels of the death of Clara in the previous episode, The Doctor is enraged. We have no idea what is next for The Doctor, or who was responsible for ultimately bringing Clara’s death about. It starts in a way that is similar to just about every Doctor Who episode. But then, after about five minutes, my fiancée Kate and I looked at each other and said, “This is fucking weird.”

As usual though, the pieces began to fall in place as The Doctor spends thousands, then millions, then billions of years slowly escaping from his version of hell to discover what was on the other side – a return to a planet this series has seemingly been building up to since it returned in 2005.

Peter Capaldi is nothing short of spectacular in this episode. He is literally the only person in the episode, and beautifully carries the entire hour on his shoulders. It’s a calculated, emotional, and exhilarating performance.

The scenes in the TARDIS where the Doctor is developing a plan in mere seconds were an incredible storytelling device that truly brought us into the mind and psyche of The Doctor.

The reveal at the end, whether you saw it coming or not, was as exciting and emotional as I could have hoped for.

It was one of the very best episodes of the modern series without the awe of Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, or a famous figure from the past. “Heaven Sent” was simply The Doctor at his very best.

 

Michelle’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Doctor Who, “Heaven Sent” (Season Nine, Episode 11)

2) Game of Thrones, “Hardhome” (Season Five, Episode 8)

3) Game of Thrones, “The Dance of Dragons” (Season Five, Episode 9)

4) Doctor Who, “Face the Raven” (Season Nine, Episode 10)

5) Doctor Who, “Hell Bent” (Season Nine, Episode 12)

6) Parks and Recreation, “One Last Ride” (Season Seven, Episodes 12/13)

7) Master of None, “Mornings” (Season One, Episode 9)

8) Marvel’s Daredevil, “Daredevil” (Season One, Episode 13)

9) Parks and Recreation, “Leslie and Ron” (Season Seven, Episode 4)

10) Marvel’s Daredevil, “In the Blood” (Season One, Episode 4)

 

Game of Thrones – “Hardhome”

(Season Five, Episode 8)

Game of Thrones

By Zach Bundy

The following review has spoilers for the episode “Hardhome”.

With only three episodes left in Season Five, “Hardhome” ups the game. The common occurrence of Game of Thrones is to have an ‘Oh Shit’ moment at the end of the second to last episode of the season, but Christmas came early this year. The OS moment is the battle at Hardhome.

In the episode we see Jon Snow and Tormund Giantsbane journey to the last stronghold of the Wildlings to meet with the remaining leaders to convince them to move south of the wall. Jon pleads with them to save their people because winter is coming. Some are convinced while others refuse, but their minds are changed quickly when the fight comes to them, in the form of an army of whites lead by White Walkers and the leader of them himself, whom from here on out I will refer to as King Walker.

As the whites attack the camp, Jon Snow tries to find the White Walkers kryptonite, dragon glass, that he brought with him. As he scrambles to find it in a dilapidated hut, he faces off with a walker, whose staff turns any weapon he uses into ice. When the fight is almost lost Jon reaches for Longclaw, his Valerian steel sword. As a last ditch effort to save his own life he puts it up to block an incoming blow from the walker, and hears the clank of metal on metal. The walker is just as surprised as he is, and in a blink Jon swings again and right through the walker, turning him into ice, which shatters upon the blow.

King Walker has been observing this fight the whole time. After seeing Jon’s victory he knows he has met his match and decides to unleash hundreds and hundreds of whites. The whites dive of the cliff that King Walker has been watching from. This prompts Jon and the rest of the Wildlings to flee to the ships at the harbor. After most make it onboard, Jon and King Walker have a stare down from ship to shore. As King Walker raises his hands all of the dead Wildlings that fell in battle arise as whites, and it is at this moment that Jon realizes the enemies’ vast strength… Oh Shit!

In a season full of moments that will excite any Thrones fan, this episode has the best. It finally shows you how dangerous those beings we were introduced to in the opening of the first episode are. Five seasons later we see firsthand that the White Walkers are truly the show’s villain.

 

Zach’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) The Leftovers, “International Assassin” (Season Two, Episode 8)

2) Game of Thrones, “Hardhome” (Season Five, Episode 8)

3) The Leftovers, “I Live Here Now” (Season Two, Episode 10)

4) The Leftovers, “A Most Powerful Adversary” (Season Two, Episode 7)

5) Game of Thrones, “Mother’s Mercy” (Season Five, Episode 10)

6) The Leftovers, “Axis Mundi” (Season Two, Episode 1)

7) Game of Thrones, “A Dance of Dragons” (Season Five, Episode 9)

8) The Comedians, “The Red Carpet” (Season One, Episode 3)

9) The Comedians, “Billy’s Birthday” (Season One, Episode 7)

10) The Comedians, “Go for Gad” (Season One, Episode 5)

 

Granchester – “Episode 5”

(Season One, Episode 5)

Grantchester

By Larry D. Sweazy

Set in the village of Grantchester (near Cambridge) England in the 1950s, this series caught me by surprise. Based on a series of cozy mystery novels by James Runcie, the series features an Anglican vicar-turned-sleuth, Sidney Chambers (James Norton). Chambers is a former member of the Scots Guard and WW II vet and battles with PTSD and depression, all the while maintaining a congregation and a single life. He is aided in his side-job as sleuth by the spectacular Robson Green as the grumpy Detective Inspector Geordie Keating. Chambers and Keating share the bond of war and a passion for backgammon. Keating is reluctant to be involved in Sidney’s investigations until he discovers the vicar’s talent for understanding human nature.

In episode 5, Sidney and Detective Keating head to London, invited to a Jazz club by a Sidney’s sister, Jennifer. When the sister of Jennifer’s boyfriend (he’s black, she’s white) is murdered, Sidney and Keating dig up and old case, a police cover up, and Sidney has a deep crisis of faith after he ends up in bed with a jazz singer. Not your typical cozy mystery with an examination of race and class in the 1950s.   There is a believability and underlying grittiness to the show that keeps it from being preachy or too sweet.

 

Larry’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Outlander, “Wentworth Prison” (Season One, Episode 15)

2) Grantchester, “Episode 5” (Season One, Episode 5)

3) River, “Episode 1” (Season One, Episode 1)

4) Orange is the New Black, “Ching, Chong, Chang” (Season Three, Episode 6)

5) River, “Episode 2” (Season One, Episode 2)

6) River, “Episode 3” (Season One, Episode 3)

7) Game of Thrones, “The Wars to Come” (Season Five, Episode 1)

8) Fargo, “Waiting for Dutch” (Season Two, Episode 1)

9) Grantchester, “Episode 1” (Season One, Episode 1)

10) Home Fires, “Episode 1” (Season One, Episode 1)

 

The Great British Bake-Off – “Deserts”

(Season Five, Episode 4)

Great British Bake-Off

By Andrew Rostan

A few months ago, the nerd community on Twitter began tweeting about The Great British Bake-Off, which had recently come to Netflix. I soon found out why; it’s one of the best and most addictive reality shows. It has many trademarks of the genre—grandiose setting (a vast manor in the countryside), wisecracking hosts (longtime comedy team Melanie Giedroyc and Sue Perkins), expert judges who don’t mince words, and a wide variety of contestants—but it also possesses a beautiful spirit of mutual support and camaraderie amongst the competition and a suggestion to the viewers that such amazing creations are possible. The beautiful shooting, editing, and music are bonuses.

The episode that epitomizes the show is the fourth, Desserts. The original twelve contestants have been cut to nine so there is now room for confessional interviews in between the challenges, allowing all the personalities to come out even more, and the dessert challenges offer startling creations and more entertaining moments than many scripted shows. There’s the joy of Mel and Sue drawing out the word “saucy,” a grandmother flexing her biceps, a cantankerous Scotchman getting a wee nip of brandy and complaining that sticky toffee puddings don’t need to look good, standout work from a seventeen year-old taking her finals when she isn’t baking and a professional builder who always keeps a pencil tucked behind his ear, and the most drama I’ve ever seen involving making baked Alaska on a steaming day. It’s fifty minutes of rich, entertaining television.

Andrew did not wish to submit a Top 10 list of episodes.

 

Hannibal – “The Wrath of the Lamb”

(Season Three, Episode 13)

Hannibal

 

By Jackie Jones

The following review has spoilers for the end of Season Three of Hannibal.

It’s been difficult for me to explain why I love Hannibal. Most all points I try to make about why it’s an excellent show, come out as happy laugh-gurgles. To those that have suffered through a Hannibal conversation with me, sorry/not sorry.

The show’s creator, Bryan Fuller, has managed to take Thomas Harris’ characters and storylines and create a world that feels entirely new with a few hints of familiarity. The casting choices and writing are fantastic, it’s aesthetically haunting and beautiful, and gurgrlllleargergljjrhegwerhwug. If you haven’t seen Hannibal but like crime, drama, horror, attractive people, and sexually charged interactions between murder-husbands, then you should check it out!

‘The Wrath of the Lamb’ was an excellent Season Three/series finale and an incredible piece of television. We see Jack Crawford comfortably plotting murder back in his office at the FBI. Alana Bloom has married Margot Verger and they have a son; a Verger heir. Dr. Chilton is still talking mad shit, even after having his lips ripped off and entire body engulfed in flame. And Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham team up one final time to take down a serial killer, before they share one final heart-wrenching embrace and tumble off a cliff together.

It sounds like an insane episode BECAUSE IT IS ONE. So much happened in this episode that I hardly had the chance to mourn the end of my favorite TV show. Though the part of me that couldn’t help but compare the show to Harris’ novels was going slightly mad, as a fan of the show I felt incredibly pleased with the way things ended. This episode is currently (and will likely remain to be) my favorite episode of all three seasons, and of 2015. It’s clever, shot expertly, and entirely satisfying.

 

Jackie’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Hannibal, “The Wrath of the Lamb” (Season Three, Episode 13)

2) Hannibal, “The Number of the Beast is 666” (Season Three, Episode 12)

3) The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, “A Body in the Bay” (Season One, Episode 1)

4) Wet, Hot, American Summer: First Day of Camp, “Dinner” (Season One, Episode 5)

5) Hannibal, “Digestivo” (Season Three, Episode 7)

6) Broad City, “Citizen Ship” (Season Two, Episode 7)

7) Hannibal, “Contorno” (Season Three, Episode 5)

8) Better Call Saul, “Uno” (Season One, Episode 1)

9) Hannibal, “Dolce” (Season Three, Episode 6)

10) Wet, Hot, American Summer: First Day of Camp, “Campers Arrive” (Season One, Episode 1)

 

iZombie – “Astroburger”

(Season One, Episode 11)

iZombie

By Alan Gordon

Ultimately, it’s the writing that matters. I don’t watch as much television as the rest of the contributors, given my one and a half jobs. Actors are amiable, pretty people, and the better ones will rise above mediocre writing. But only for a while. Nathan Fillion’s charm can only conceal the repetitive nature of the Castle formula for so long. I finally saw an episode of the long-running Bones when they crossed over with Sleepy Hollow, and the constant “Let-me-give-you-some-exposition-and-scientific-explanation” tone drove me up the wall in seconds.

Yet a writer who will eschew formula, or screw with it, can give me appreciation and delight beyond measure, as such amiable entertainments as Chuck and Leverage did. With the exception of 8 and 10, the shows below surprised and impressed me with the writing alone. I am not saying that they are necessarily the best, or in the order I would rank them. Indeed, I would probably put the Amy Schumer episode first if I did. But I want to express one writer’s appreciation.

1) iZombie: “Astroburger”

iZombie could have taken the basic premise and kept it cute, formulaic and over the top. Instead, they layered several premises and then did a smart thing: They made it subtle. Promising surgeon Olivia Moore – yeah, Liv Moore, okay, so that wasn’t subtle, but … – becomes a zombie. In order to survive without killing, she jettisons her career and fiancé to become a medical examiner, giving her access to the brains of the dead. When she consumes them, she temporarily gets flashes of their memories and aspects of their personalities. This allows her to assist in investigating their murders, while concealing her true nature from the homicide detective.

As I said, could have been way too much. But the depictions were often quiet and unexpected. A dose of maternal instinct caused her to smooth down an errant cowlick on a colleague. The brain of a dead soldier led her to stand at respectful attention when his widow entered the room. Rose McIver, another gorgeous, multi-talented New Zealander coming to take a job away from lesser Americans with her flawless accent, gets to show major range.

It took the show about five episodes for the cast to settle into themselves [it took Buffy all of Season One], but the writing allows them to stretch and trade leads. Not every plot depended on Liv for the solution. Detective Babineaux, her counterpart, was just as likely to make the final connection. And the subplots involving personal lives, zombie subcultures, and the evil pharmaceutical company that caused everything were woven in skillfully.

In “Astroburger,” Liv takes on the brain of a psychotic murdered in an institution, and becomes her own unreliable narrator. The effects end up creating three levels of illusion, and they used the first, an animated demon plaguing her world, to set up the second. And I never saw the third level coming, and it was heartbreaking.

Give this show a watch. Thank me later.

2) Inside Amy Schumer: “Twelve Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer”

Brilliantly written, performed, acted, and shot. Ranks with the best of the Sid Caesar sketches.

3) Doctor Who: “Heaven Sent”

Just when I had given up on Steven Moffat to do anything other than phone it in, along comes a well-written compelling episode. If only he hadn’t gotten so lazy with the rest of the season. In fact, the finale undercut “Heaven Sent” badly. Oh, well.

4) Penny Dreadful: “Memento Mori”

Speaking of Doctor Who: Eva Green has owned this series, but don’t discount Billie Piper. She was great when she was the young Rose Tyler in the Doctor Who reboot, but somewhere along the last ten years, she’s acquired some serious acting chops. [She absolutely stole her scenes in the Who 50th anniversary show. From John Hurt, no less.]

In this episode, her Lily dominates, finishing with a fierce scene with Rory Kinnear’s monster that is virtuosic and damn near Shakespearean in its quality. “We flatter our men with our pain.”

5) Grey’s Anatomy: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”

The Thanksgiving dinner from hell is a standard. This one wasn’t. Particularly fascinating was the sound design — the clinking of silverware with no other ambient sound, and at odd moments, a dog barking somewhere in the distance.

6) Nashville: “Stop the World (And Let Me Off)”

By my count, eleven different storylines juggled in one hour, and not a single ball was dropped.

7) Face Off: “Surprise of the Century”

The special effects make-up reality show is smart enough to up its game with the challenges. For their 100th show, they recruited couples who wanted to get married in make-up that reflected their fantasy selves. Then they actually got married. On the show. Because host McKenzie Westmore is also an ordained minister. Because of course she is.

8) MLB: “The New York Mets”

Hey, I watch them on the TV. This was a strange and dramatic year, and our local broadcasters, Gary, Keith and Ron, are knowledgeable, opinionated, and not afraid to critique sloppy play.

This was a year of miracles and wonders before they fell to the fundamentally better Kansas City Royals in the World Series. My two high points: 42 year old pitcher Bartolo Colon charging a slow roller down the first baseline, going behind his back to throw out the runner as he crossed the foul line and never breaking stride as he continued into the dugout. And the hard grounder up the middle that relief pitcher Carlos Torres deflected with his foot that was then smothered by the diving Daniel Murphy, playing first, who then threw out the runner at first which was being covered by a very alert Carlos Torres. No one has ever seen that before.

9) Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “Josh’s Girlfriend is Really Cool!”

Brave show. An hour comedy format with an unlikeable leading character. And original musical numbers! Let’s see if they can sustain the tension. This is the one with Gabrielle Ruiz as the new girlfriend/yoga instructor. The video, “I’m So Good at Yoga,” is insane.

And personal note: I know Ms. Ruiz. She did a concert of a musical of mine last year, and is as talented and more importantly nice a person as they come. Happy to see her get so much exposure. In every sense of the word.

10) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: “Finale”

Not his greatest show, nor even the greatest finale – See Colbert’s last – but respect.

 

Alan’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) iZombie, “Astroburger” (Season One, Episode 11)

2) Inside Amy Schumer, “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” (Season Three, Episode 3)

3) Doctor Who, “Heaven Sent” (Season Nine, Episode 11)

4) Penny Dreadful, “Memento Mori” (Season Two, Episode 8)

5) Grey’s Anatomy, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (Season 12, Episode 5)

6) Nashville, “Stop the World (And Let Me Off)” (Season 4, Episode 5)

7) Face Off, “Surprise of the Centry” (Season 9, Episode 3)

8) Major League Baseball, “The New York Mets” (Season 111)

9) Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, “Josh’s Girlfriend is Really Cool!” (Season One, Episode 2)

10) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, “Episode 2, 677” (Finale)

 

Jane the Virgin – “Chapter Thirty”

(Season Two, Episode 8)

By Molly Raker

What telenovelas are good at are finales, so for my favorite episode I have to go with the most recent mid-season finale, “Chapter Thirty.” It has such a great pay-off and includes all the great things I love about Jane the Virgin: flashbacks, Jane’s thoughts and, of course, Rogelio.

Rogelio, is my main guy. He always makes me laugh every episode from his ringtone, his friendship with Michael and his celebrity feuds (Brittney Spears!). In this episode he goes from his typical celebrity acts to discussing unknown trust issues he has with Xo about Jane. And a new passion project that isn’t a Mad Men rip off!

The theme of this episode was trust and how to handle it. Rafael finally got his POV taken seriously over the lie he told to Jane. He does need a break, his life is now a popular story rightfully named Curse of the Solanos. How much can this guy endure? His sister’s mom is potentially a mob boss and his sister is talking to another mob boss who kidnapped his son! Rough life!

The love-ish triangle got some development this episode via Jane’s romance writing. We get a glimpse into her mind of who she thinks is her Knight in Shining Armor. To no surprise, it’s Michael which we all knew no matter how hot Rafael’s abs are. Will she act on her feelings??

One of the great parts about this episode is Petra’s storyline, she has really grown as a character who I can actually like (kind of). Her pregnancy has done wonders for her since her lies and scheming are effecting the babies (TWINS!), she goes through her own therapy and spills everything to Rafael and to her surprise he isn’t mad. Forgiveness is key to a healthy life, which her mom needs to learn.

So now I must wait five awful long winter weeks for the show to return so I can see how the cliffhanger gets resolve which I’m sure in soap opera fashion it will be resolve within an episode.

Like every year, I hate ranking things but here’s my list. Note, I’m not caught up on Hannibal, Fargo, The Leftovers and The Americans. Too much good television!!

 

Molly’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Parks and Recreation, “Leslie and Ron” (Season Seven, Episode 4)

2) Community, “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” (Season Six, Episode 13)

3) Broad City, “Knock Offs” (Season Two, Episode 4)

4) Marvel’s Daredevil, “Daredevil” (Season One, Episode 13)

5) Mr. Robot, “eps1.9_zer0-day.avi” (Season One, Episode 10
6) Jane the Virgin, “Chapter Thirty” (Season Two, Episode 8)

7) Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “Ava” (Season Three, Episode 8)

8) Master of None, “Indians on TV” (Season One, Episode 4)

9) Doctor Who, “Heaven Sent” (Season Nine, Episode 11)

10) Mad Men, “Lost Horizon” (Season Seven, Episode 12)

 

The Jinx – “What the Hell Did I Do?”

(Season One, Episode 6)

Jinx

By Sarah Staudt

The following review spoils the final moments of The Jinx, starting in the third paragraph.

I don’t have live TV in my apartment, but my boyfriend does. Normally, my cable-cutting existence doesn’t bother me at all. There are times in the media landscape when nothing, nothing can replace the feeling of watching something completely batshit crazy happen on TV and knowing that everyone else in the world is seeing it for the first time at the exact same moment. I am so damn glad I was one of the lucky people who watched Episode 6 of The Jinx live on March 15 of this year. Those of you who have seen the show know the moment I’m talking about. The rest of you, stop reading now, if you haven’t been spoiled already by the media, and go watch this show.

First, while those people leave, I want to talk a little about how friggin’ crazy the subject of the miniseries is. The series is so fascinating because, quite literally, all director Anthony Jarecki has to do is leave the damn camera and microphone on and let us meet the jumpy, quirky, and utterly demonic character that is Robert Durst. Durst has this horrible quality about him that completely sucks you in. His eyes are oddly black, in a way that I’ve never seen before. Although I’m not exactly a believer in demonic possession, the thought un-ironically crossed my mind once or twice that if the devil walks among us, he would have Robert Durst’s eyes. Things like that about Durst aren’t a trick of the camera, or anything Jarecki does; they’re just who this jittery little monster of a man is. Watching his interviews, I had the unsettling feeling that Durst evades categorization. He’s not your average serial killer, or your average privileged New York prince. He’s not even insane. It would somehow be more comforting if he were.

Ok, everyone who hasn’t seen it gone now? Ok, so of course, the moment I’m talking about that makes the finale of The Jinx the most jaw dropping moment of TV I’ve ever experienced is that bone chilling statement on a mic, accidentally left on in a bathroom, of a small, quirky 60 year old man, walking freely around New York, saying, “I killed them all”. And having no idea that anyone was listening. I can’t even imagine how crazy it must have been to discover that moment on tape in the editing room, as Jarecki and his team did. I would watch the documentary about the making of this documentary in a heartbeat.

A lesser show would have made all six episodes a self-congratulatory game. “This is how I, Andrew Jarecki, caught Robert Durst”. But that’s not the show that Jarecki makes at all. Instead, the moment is all the more shocking because before that episode, I’d been lulled into an odd, false sense of security. As the evidence against Durst mounts, I was left with the feeling that no one, not even a crazy person, would be talking to a camera if he had actually killed his wife, best friend, and a random roommate and hacked them into bits. Jarecki lets you live in that space, thinking that maybe what this documentary is about, is something like the elusiveness of truth, the power of self-delusion, or some other high falutin’ concept. But it’s friggin not. It’s about a crazy cold-blooded killer just lying on camera for six hours and then getting caught like a Scooby Doo villain! It’s nuts! And except for the one carefully chosen moment of foreshadowing Jarecki allows himself, the first time Robert Durst leaves his mike on and his lawyer swoops in to tell him to turn it off, Jarecki plays this thing straight. He doesn’t give in to a self-congratulatory tone. He lets that shocking moment be as shocking as it’s meant to be.

We live in a world of spoilers and of tropes. A media world that so often denies us a truly jaw-dropping moment. But for those of us who stayed spoiler free, and watched that crazy time HBO had a murderer admit his crimes in a bathroom stall, the allure of surprise got us again. There’s nothing like being honestly shocked by what you just saw on your TV. And for that, it’s my best episode of the year.

 

Sarah’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) The Jinx, “What the Hell Did I Do?” (Season One, EPisdoe 6)

2) You’re the Worst, “There’s Not Currently a Problem” (Season Two, Episode 7)

3) Marvel’s Jessica Jones, “AKA WWJD?” (Season One, Episode 8)

4) You’re the Worst, “LCD Soundsystem” (Season Two, Episode 9)

5) Hannibal, “The Wrath of the Lamb” (Season Three, Episode 13)

6) The Unbreakble Kimmy Schmidt, “Kimmy Makes Waffles!” (Season One, Episode 13)

7) Marvel’s Jessica Jones, “AKA Smile” (Season One, Episode 13)

8) Parks and Recreation, “One Last Ride” (Season Seven, Episode 12)

9) Another Period, “Divorce” (Season One, Episode 2)

10) The Jinx, “Family Values” (Season One, Episode 5)

 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – “April 5, 2015”

(Season Two, Episode 8)

Last Week Tonight

By Adam Lord

The Government Surveillance episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is not a good example of what the show is like, but it is the best example of what the show is trying to do, which is to ‘dumb down’ complex or boring issues and actually make us more knowledgeable and passionate, sometimes about things we didn’t even know we should care about.

This episode breaks the solo commentator convention of the show by having Oliver interview Edward Snowden, a man who most Americans don’t know, as the on-the-street interviews he conducts suggest. He begins the episode by explaining what government surveillance is and why we should “give a shit” about it. He travels to Russia to interview Snowden, a man who cared so much about our privacy that he broke the law to reveal how the NSA could gather personal information from anyone who uses the internet. Which is everyone.

Part of the argument Oliver makes in the interview is that Snowden’s reason for revealing what the NSA could do was to benefit the American people, to give them a chance to decide what kind of government they want. The problem that Oliver points out is that government surveillance is too complicated for anyone without advanced knowledge of it to understand, let alone have an opinion on. However, Oliver beautifully finds something that people can relate to: the government seeing their dick pics. Everyone he interviewed who didn’t know Snowden was very passionate about having their dick pics private, so Oliver asks Snowden discuss the many ways the NSA can obtain our dick-tures.

And it works. And that’s what the show as a whole is about: ‘dumbing down’ topics for us so we can actually encourage change in tangible ways. Other episodes masterfully do this as well (such as the Televangelists and Net-Neutrality episodes), but if you’re looking for a flawless execution of Oliver’s main mission, Government Surveillance is it. Also, interviewing a man accused of treason is just good TV.

 

Adam’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, “April 8, 2015” (Government Surveillance) (Season Two, Episode 8)

2) Hannibal, “The Wrath of the Lamb” (Season Three, Episode 3)

3) Inside Amy Schumer, “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” (Season Three, Episode 3)

4) Better Call Saul, “Mijo” (Season One, Episode 2)

5) Nathan for You, “Electronics Store” (Season Three, Episode 1)

6) The Jinx, “The State of Texas vs. Robert Durst” (Season One, Episode 3)

7) Marvel’s Jessica Jones, “AKA WWJD?” (Season One, Episode 8)

8) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, “Episode 2, 677” (Finale)

9) Game of Thrones, “Mother’s Mercy” (Season Five, Episode 10)

10) Marvel’s Daredevil, “In the Blood” (Season One, Episode 4)

 

The Late Late Show – “January 30, 2015”

(Season One, Episode 20)

Late Late Show

By Austin Lugar

Late night talk shows are a fading curiosity. Back in the days of Johnny Carson, this was the only way to see the celebrities you love in such a casual setting. Now you can see almost every celebrity tweet about their daily activities and you can tweet at them, if you are so inclined. The late show’s nightly monologue satirizing the news is never feels as biting as what The Daily Show or The Nightly Show can do with more time per topic.

So what’s the point of them anymore? There are more late night shows than ever and some of them are still fun like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The ones that work capture these curious moments of human interaction and display it in a delightful and innovative format. And nothing captures that more than a hilarious self-sabotaging trainwreck.

After Craig Ferguson announced he was leaving The Late Late Show and James Corden was going to replace him, CBS filled those months with a series of guest hosts. This included people like Judd Apatow and Regis Philbin who were well equipped to take on this duty. Why CBS decided that the January 30th show should be hosted by comedian Adam Pally will perhaps always remain a mystery.

What happened in this hour of television is already a cult legend. A few months later, Pally was in Chicago to attend a Q&A for his movie Night Owls and I stood in line to ask him about this. The director of Night Owls laughed after my question and said that everywhere they go, people ask about this insane moment of television.

The show didn’t even take place on a real set. They were so in-transition that Pally had to host the show on the CBS This Morning news set. Most of the first half of the show is Pally and his co-host Ben Schwartz wondering what in the world is happening. The two of them goof off, make fun of what’s going on, mock CBS for their complete ambivalence and Pally’s lack of hosting abilities.

All of this would play well with an audience, but there is no audience. There is only just confusing silence. It’s two guys up against absurdity; they have no allies because according to Pally on-air, even the crew hates him. The interviews are amazing because they’re unlike any talk show interviews. NFL star Martellus Bennett ends up talking more about Oscar films than football, Pally doesn’t know how to delve deep into Beth Stern’s picture book about their pets and wacko comedian Eric Andre simply spins in his chair for an endless number of minutes.

Pally and Schwartz are stuck in a satirical nightmare of their own creation and they power through it with wit, self-awareness and the ability to laugh about what’s going on. They’re convinced that CBS will never let this episode air and state this several times. It’s just so bizarre entirely because it’s so real. There is no fake persona being put on by anyone and the whole format is exposed. The result is one of the funniest episodes of television of the year. I would absolutely watch these two have to suffer through the insanity night after night.

The question I asked Pally in Chicago was, “What were the consequences of the episode? Was CBS mad about what you said about them?” He said that he was brought in for a usual Hollywood meeting the next day and they thanked him for stepping in and helping them out. He says, there’s no way they watched the episode. Because of course they didn’t.

 

Austin’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) The Leftovers, “International Assassin” (Season Two, Episode 8)

2) Doctor Who, “Heaven Sent” (Season Nine, Episode 11)

3) Mad Men, “Person to Person” (Season Seven, Episode 14)

4) Game of Thrones, “Hardhome” (Season Five, Episode 8)

5) Last Man on Earth, “Alive in Tuscon” (Season One, Episode 1)

6) Transparent, “Mee-Maw” (Season Two, Episode 5)

7) The Americans, “Stingers” (Season Three, Episode 10)

8) Rectify, “The Source” (Season Three, Episode 6)

9) BoJack Horseman, “After the Party” (Season Two, Episode 4)

10) Nathan for You, “Smoking Allowed” (Season Three, Episode 5)

 

Mad Men – “The Milk and Honey Route”

(Season Seven, Episode 13)

Mad Men

By Beau Thompson

The following review has spoilers for the entire series of Mad Men, except for the series finale.

Off the asphalt and in a humble motel room of a small town is where we find Don Draper in the penultimate episode of Mad Men. And it’s in this room that he gets the comeuppance he has been afraid to receive for as long as the show has started. Or is it the comeuppance he has secretly been wanting to have? One of the longest and most compelling elements of Mad Men is the story of how Dick Whitman and his CO where caught in an explosion in the Korean War and how Dick Whitman, desperate to start a new life, switches his name tags and leaves the service under his CO’s name, Don Draper. Dick leaves the little family and humble life he had behind to form a new life that we have seen established and fallen apart throughout Mad Men. But as much as he tries to leave that old past behind, the past would catch up with Don again and again. First it was Don’s wife, then Dick’s younger half brother. Then Pete finding out, then Betty. Don hates that he has to face this past and worries if there will ever be a time when it will be inescapable and everything he worked so hard to make for his new life is shattered. It was seeing this all finally come to a head in “The Milk and Honey Route” that made this my favorite episode of Mad Men’s final (and great) season.

It wasn’t Don’s episode alone. Besides two brief scenes closing him out in the finale, this was Pete Campbell’s final episode. While Don seems to always be running away from his mistakes, Pete is not afraid to confront them and make himself a better person. There is no running away from your problems, a theme we see in this episode. Is there anyone that has changed as much as Pete in this show? He started off as a cheating, uppity ladder-climbing snot nosed brat that I desperately wanted to see punched in his cocky smile. And I did, indeed, see him get punched on a couple of occasions. But now, sitting there with his brother, who is going to meet up with a woman that he is cheating on his wife with, Pete looks at him not unlike in Season Five when Don silently judges him on a similar situation and I see how has become one of my favorite characters.

“It’s fun until it isn’t” he tells his brother. Peter always tried to find something to be happy of, a higher position that he got himself, that when he gets it, he realizes all along that it was with the woman he was going to marry in the very first episode that he was most happy with all along. Seeing Pete and Trudy reunite and decide to move away from New York with their daughter and start a new life together was one of the happiest moments Mad Men has ever awarded us. You thought this family was a lost cause, but here you see Pete and Trudy kiss and Pete say, “Good morning” before he leaves to gets the preparations made. In facing his problems, Pete became a better person for it and now got probably the most storybook ending of the entire cast.

The revelation of Betty’s lung cancer was a good way to keep the spirits from not getting too high though. As cliché as cancer can be in a drama show, when this is revealed, nearly at the end of the series, I couldn’t help but go “Well, that makes sense.” Smoking is everywhere in Mad Men and honestly, Betty was probably the one who smoked the most – it was her only vice.

I’ve read how this was Betty’s “redemption” and I call bullshit on that. She never needed to be redeemed. She simply was trying to find her place, her own happiness, yet didn’t have the easy means, as she had to raise the kids, unlike Don, who, for all intents and purposes, has practically been living the life of a man with no family responsibilities since their divorce. It’s great that she does find what she wants to do in life, even if it is going to be cut short, but she is strong in accepting it head on and deciding to keep going to school for psychology. It doesn’t matter if she only has a few months to live, she found what makes her happy and she will continue doing it for as long as she can. And who couldn’t shed a tear in her message to her daughter, Sally? Seeing their relationship come to this point where Betty trusts her with the arrangements after she dies has been a long time coming. Both are accepting of each other.

But let’s get back to Don. You see how everyone else in this episode has been brave about facing their demons, yet Don has to practically be dragged and pulled to a veteran’s fundraiser by the motel owner, and fellow veteran. I have friends and a relative that have served in the military. I know that, even as close as I might be to them, I will never have that connection to that point of their lives. I can have empathy towards them, but I can not have the understanding of what it is like to risk my life in a foreign land for months on end, which is why I know that there is something extra special between veterans, who, even if they don’t know each other, are the only ones that will ever truly understand each other when it comes to that time in their lives.   I say this because Don does not feel this. In a time where he should feel some piece of belonging comfort among people that understand him, he only feels like a criminal, afraid of being caught, and he is, isn’t he? Obviously what he did was illegal, but he left his family behind, something that affected his younger brother for the rest of his life, and eventually led to his suicide in season one when Don still did not want anything to do with him. Don’s decision to just leave everything, to keep leaving everything when he doesn’t like it, has been a detriment to all his loved ones.

Though he tries to confide in the veterans, saying that he killed his CO (in the explosion that he accidentally caused) he only serves to make himself feel more alienated, as even that is only a half truth and he can’t bring himself to admit that he took his CO’s identity. Then, in the middle of the night, the men who were so loving towards him bash down his door, hold him down and beat him, demanding to know where the fundraiser money went. And with that, in that little motel room, Don’s worst fear has come. Don didn’t take the money. But he did take the real Don Draper’s identity. Those veterans serve as the ghosts of the past, craving retribution for his deeds. I think Don ultimately feels relieved at this. By the end of the series, I think he realizes how foolish it is to run from everything, but that’s all he knows how to do. Whether it is literally driving hundreds and thousands of miles away from home or drinking or getting lost in excessive sex, his problems will still be there. Don’s most notable choice had caught up with him, one way or another.

In the end of the episode, when he returns the stolen money, taking the fall for the teenager working at the motel that reminds him of himself, Don seems to feel more at peace, giving the kid his car and sitting at a bench, waiting for a bus to take him closer to California. Don has shed another piece of burden that he has kept with him for so long.

I give this breakdown because I selfishly wanted to get another chance to for one last time. Mad Men’s episodes have always been like puzzles, or those portraits that you stare at long enough to see a hidden picture. You can enjoy what happens on a surface level, but it’s finding the parallels, symbolism and the running themes that has always made Mad Men so engaging, so brilliant. The show rarely hit the audience over the head with what it wanted to be about, which is probably why it had such a low viewership in its first few seasons. But those who stayed recognized the greatness that was there and after getting award after award, Mad Men last seven seasons (spanning eight years, nine if you count the year gap between seasons four and five). I’m happy to have been one of the those people to have watched the pilot when it premiered on AMC. I didn’t really realize that such storytelling could be TV’s domain, yet I was pleasantly surprised. The series is near perfect, only having a couple of stumbling blocks in some of the middle seasons, but rarely has a show trusted its audience to work for what it is about and rarely has there been such complex and compelling characters and themes. That Don Draper could find a climax to his long gestating burden of stolen identity in a little motel room with characters that he nor us had ever seen in the series before or ever again, shows how Mad Men had only gotten better at what it was already so good at near the end. It’s one of the main reasons why I’ll miss it.

So, here’s to Mad Men; it deserved everything that it had coming.

 

Beau’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Mad Men, “The Milk and Honey Route” (Season Seven, Episode 13)

2) Better Call Saul, “Pimento” (Season One, Episode 9)

3) Marvel’s Daredevil, “Nelson v. Mudock” (Season One, Episode 10)

4) Better Call Saul, “Five-O” (Season One, Episode 7)

5) Marvel’s Daredevil, “Speak of the Devil” (Season One, Episode 9)

6) Mad Men, “Lost Horizon” (Season Seven, Episode 12)

7) Mad Men, “The Forecast” (Season Seven, Episode 10)

8) Marvel’s Daredevil, “Cut Man” (Season One, Episode 2)

9) Mad Men, “Person to Person” (Season Seven, Episode 14)

10) Better Call Saul, “Bingo” (Season One, Episode 7)

 

Marvel’s Daredevil – “Rabbit in a Snowstorm”

(Season One, Episode 3)

Daredevil

By Evan Dossey

In 2015, the Marvel machine kept churning like never before, producing some of the finest Marvel entertainment of its entire run. Netflix’s Daredevil brought something new to the Marvel Universe, something audiences had yet to see: a street-level do-gooder whose primary conflicts resonate from the core of his conflicted moral character rather than ‘save the world’ ticking clocks. Daredevil dove deep into the workings of Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), a blind lawyer-by-day, vigilante-by-night. What makes a Marvel hero? How does a fundamentally broken man overcome himself to be the hero his city needs? And what about his dark opposite, Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’onofrio) a criminal who thinks he can fix everything by breaking everyone?

Episode 3, “Rabbit in a Snowstorm,” is notable for being the only episode to really feature Murdock in the courtroom setting, and it is one of several high points in the series. Murdock’s conflict between acting as a lawyer while actively flaunting the law after-hours is rich, and “Snowstorm” gleefully mines it. Murdock has to defend a guilty man, and play the system in order to reach the moral verdict while not abdicating his responsibilities as a defense lawyer. Meanwhile, he does what he can by night to gather information from his client on the elusive Kingpin.

While full of action and intrigue, “Daredevil’s” greatest strength, what makes it quintessentially “Marvel,” is the focus on Murdock, his friends Foggy (Elden Henson) and Karen (Deborah Ann Woll), and arch-nemesis Fisk. Fisk makes his debut in “Snowstorm.” His appearance lacks the intensity of later episodes, instead leaving us with a strange, clam, introduction to a man whose entire body screams violence. It’s a hell of an introduction, the kind of scene made to sit in the audience’s mind for a week, despite having been crafted to an audience to binge-watch.

Marvel’s Daredevil is a dazzler, and “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” is one of its hallmark chapters.

 

Evan’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Charlie Work” (Season 10, Episode 4)

2) Hannibal, “The Wrath of the Lamb” (Season Three, Episode 13)

3) Marvel’s Jessica Jones, “AKA WWJD?” (Season One, Episode 8)

4) Mad Men, “Person to Person” (Season Seven, Episode 14)

5) Doctor Who, “Hell Bent” (Season Nine, Episode 12)

6) Doctor Who, “Heaven Sent” (Season Nine, Episode 11)

7) Better Call Saul, “Alpine Shepard Boy” (Season One, Episode 5)

8) Ash vs. the Evil Dead, “El Jefe” (Season One, Episode 1)

9) Parks and Recreation, “One Last Ride” (Season Seven, Episode 12)

10) Arrow, “Haunted” (Season Four, Episode 5)

 

Marvel’s Jessica Jones – “AKA WWJD?”

(Season One, Episode 8)

Jessica Jones

By Claudia Johnson

Netflix has been on a role with their original series. The writing, acting and cinematography are giving the factory-pumped shows on network television a run for their money.

The latest show to captivate audiences is Marvel’s Jessica Jones. As some may know Jessica Jones is a comic turned online series about a tough skinned woman, with super strength just trying to stay alive from Kilgrave, a man in fashionable purple suits, that has mind control.

One of the themes I’ve noticed in the show is the complexity of situations and people. People, as well as the decisions they make, are not cut and dry. There are layers to why we think and act the way we do. That is why one of my favorite episodes is “AKA WWJD?” The episode explores the definition of good vs evil and nature vs nurture with the pasts of the protagonist and antagonist. Kilgrave is evil, by definition. But after the viewer gets to see parts of his past, it’s clear he wasn’t just born evil. Questions are also raised as to whether he can change. Is Jessica Jones the person who can change him?

Jessica on the other hand has a better start than Kilgrave. Even though they both experience on their tragedies, Jessica is good. Though she is scarred by her own past she tries to help those around her. That is in stark contrast to Kilgrave, who doesn’t seem to care about anyone other than Jessica. Though he has a sadistic way of showing it.

The episode, as well as the show, opens up questions like how much are we accountable for our actions? At what point, or is there a point at all, where the things that we do, good or evil, is excusable?

Jessica Jones is the type of superhero show that people who aren’t into superhero shows can enjoy. It gives a more realistic touch with complex characters, plausible situations, gritty backdrop and amazing camera work and editing.

 

Claudia’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Marvel’s Jessica Jones, “AKA WWJD?” (Season One, Episode 8)

2) Master of None, “Parents” (Season One, Episode 2)

3) The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “Kimmy Has a Birthday!” (Season One, Episode 10)

4) Modern Family, “White Christmas” (Season Seven, Episode 9)

5) Empire, “The Lyon’s Roar” (Season 1, Episode 8)

6) Adam Ruins Everything, “Adam Ruins Sex” (Season One, Episode 10)

7) Scream Queens, “Hell Week” (Season One, Episode 2)

8) The Flash, “Fast Enough” (Season One, Episode 23)

9) Game of Thrones, “The Gift” (Season Five, Episode 7)

10) Sense8, “I Can’t Leave Her” (Season 1, Episode 12)

 

Master of None – “Indians on TV”

(Season One, Episode 4)

Master of None

By Ryan Lugar

First off, if you haven’t taken the time to binge watch Master of None on Netflix yet you are very far behind.  The show is brilliant, beautifully shot, and modernizes adult concepts for the “young professional” perspective.  Aziz Ansari, to put it briefly, nailed it with this show.  And more specifically, he nailed it on Episode 4 of the season.

Master of None does a beautiful job of addressing major issues in our society and making them approachable through Aziz’s humor and wit.  “Indians on TV”, if you couldn’t guess from the title, is an episode that focuses mostly on race.  In the episode Dev, Aziz’s character, experiences racism firsthand and also secondhand.  During an audition he is strongly requested (forced) to do an Indian accent for a part and then he mistakenly gets placed in an email thread that has a racist remark.  He is then forced to make a decision that is shown throughout the show, either take the high road or take the low road.  He, of course, initially takes the low road and tries to us it to have an edge over the producer who made the remark.  However, he eventually finds his way to the high road because his character is incapable of behaving that way even if his peers suggest otherwise.

Dev is no angel in the show, as it is shown in “The Other Man”, but that is what makes him and the show so relatable.  These are not over-the-top experiences that can only be captured in a television show.  He experiences real life feelings that are easily translated to the viewers’ own.  With a typical Aziz fashion, he uses modern day technology too to bring that aspect to the show to life.

The show is listed as a comedy, which can’t be argued. Yet the topics and issues that are dealt with each episode make the show so real that the comedy itself is sometimes brought in to dissolve into a dramatic feel.  Dev goes through issues that make you sit back and say, “Oh damn, that’s real heavy stuff”, rather than viewing a number of television shows that simply throw in a laugh track to make you forget the reality of a situation.

As the title of the show states, Dev is truly a master of nothing.  He’s a single man in the big city that believes he is as smooth and smart as he presents himself, but in reality relies on his friends and family through life’s stumbles, which is what makes the show so beautiful.

 

Ryan’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Master of None, “Indians on TV” (Season One, Episode 4)

2) Anthony Jesselnik, “Thoughts and Prayers”

3) Master of None, “Mornings” (Season One, Episode 9)

4) South Park, “Stunning and Brave” (Season Nineteen, Episode 1)

5) South Park, “Safe Place” (Season Nineteen, Episode 5)

6) You’re the Worst, “LCD Soundsystem” (Season Two, Episode 9)

7) You’re the Worst, “There is Not Currently a Problem” (Season Two, Episode 7)

8) Master of None, “Old People” (Season One, Episode 8)

9) You’re the Worst, “The Sweater People” (Season Two, Episode 1)

10) Master of None, “The Other Man” (Season One, Episode 5)

 

Mr. Robot – “eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt”

(Season One, Episode 9)

Mr. Robot

By Nick Rogers

The following review has spoilers for the plot twists at the end of Season One of Mr. Robot.

The future has arrived! The wait is over!

So go the exclamations of promotional posters on the walls of Mr. Robot — a sort of claustrophobic computer store that, even in 1994, seemed dated, dingy and doomed. A radio DJ laments the canceled World Series. It certainly is autumn in America — a nation about to toss its traditionally touted dream of upward mobility for all in favor of suspicion, supremacy, selfishness and other tools of weapons-grade class warfare.

A customer brusquely accuses the shop owner’s son, Elliot, of stealing $20 from his wallet. The stunned shopkeeper tries to initiate discussion, but the customer grows impatient at mere suggestions of misunderstanding or innocence. The father refuses to pay. The customer angrily departs. Elliot cops to the swipe, which his father, surprisingly, puts toward two tickets to Pulp Fiction

“Why am I not in trouble?”

“Even though what you did was wrong, that guy was a prick. Sometimes that matters more.”

That last line encapsulated everything that eventually clicked into place about Mr. Robot. This sum-total magnum opus of moral rectitude was the last thing you’d expect on USA and a series that seemed to dance on the edge of narrative disaster (particularly for those of us with post-traumatic stress after Dexter’s sixth season).

With evocative writing from series creator Sam Esmail, smart direction from Tricia Brock and persuasively emotional performances from Rami Malek and Christian Slater, “eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt” offered Mr. Robot’s finest moments in a season lousy with them. Even the good among us indulge minor moral flexibility now and then; Mr. Robot is an inventive, wondrous, richly rewarding look at that most interesting aspect of humanity — fallibility.

While the season finale flung us into the aftermath of an apocalyptic financial hack, this penultimate episode charted the series’ emotional apex. We already knew Mr. Robot (Slater), the hack’s presumed mastermind, was actually the presumed-dead father of a now-grown Elliot (Malek). In “m1rr0ring,” we discovered what we had suspected at first, then didn’t believe, then were sure of again, then were certainly wrong about — that Mr. Robot was but a figment of Elliot’s fractured mind.

It’s a testament to the show’s slippery nature that right up until the final reckoning, we thought maybe, just maybe, Elliot’s father wasn’t really dead. But this episode was thankfully less about coming clear about the specter and more about how it only further muddled things.

The reveal cut across chic nihilism or a cheap Fight Club retread (despite a lovely “Where is My Mind?” piano cover that was everywhere on great shows in 2015). It crystallized Esmail’s exploration of existential angst. For Elliot, who was certain he knew the ins and outs of human impulse but didn’t even know himself. For Elliot’s supposed nemesis Tyrell Wellick, who, no longer able to suckle the system’s teat, feels he can only help Elliot bring it down. For a society that’s just one digital disruption away from disarray. And for us, as viewers, unmoored by an unreliable narrator as we’ve never been on TV and, rather poignantly, made culpable in Elliot’s self-delusion by his direct-address narration. (It’s a rich, if wincing, joke in the final scene when Wellick calls Elliot “the one constant in a sea of variables.”)

“m1rr0r1ng” also underscored the dimensions of Malek’s bravura performance as Elliot, TV’s most compelling character right now — smug, jittery, unpleasant, utterly unraveled by what is just his latest realization of mental illness. “m1rr0r1ng” hurtles Malek through a gauntlet of disbelief, anger, relief, denial, acceptance, his voice cracking in pubescent terror and rising to the husky howl of unpredictable anger. Week in and week out, Malek was frightened, frightening, riveting.

On its surface, Mr. Robot may seem like an irredeemably nasty piece of fiction. But it insists, without atonal friction, upon the worth of love, connection and intimacy that Elliot craves truly craves. For that cold-open flashback to 1994 has another purpose: It reveals that Elliot, time and again, has conjured the idyllic image of a father who forgave, who loved, who guided, who understood there was growth in failure even if Elliot’s abusive mother he widowed did not.

Each is a hole the real people in Elliot’s life could fill if only his damnable mind didn’t intervene. While season two will undoubtedly investigate the corporate conspiracy that’s really pulling the hack’s strings, it will almost certainly delve into Elliot’s deliverance — or lack thereof — on this identifiably human front.

The future has arrived. The wait is over. The next great drama is here.

 

Nick’s Top 12* TV Episodes of 2015 (besides “eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt”)

1) The Leftovers, “International Assassin” (Season Two, Episode Eight)
2) Mad Men, “Person to Person” (Season Seven, Episode 14)
3) Review, “Cult Leader; Perfect Body” (Season Two, Episode Four)
4) Parks and Recreation, “Leslie & Ron” (Season Seven, Episode Four)
5) South Park, “The City Part of Town” (Season 19, Episode Three)
6) Banshee, “Tribal” (Season Three, Episode Five)
7) Billy on the Street, “Billy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” (Season Four, Episode Six)
8) Master of None, “Parents” (Season One, Episode Two)
9) Fortitude, “Episode 7” (Season One, Episode Seven)
10) The Jinx, “Chapter 6: What the Hell Did I Do?” (Season One, Episode Six)

11) Silicon Valley, “Two Days of the Condor” (Season Two, Episode 10)
12) Catastrophe, “Episode 6” (Season One, Episode Six)

* Cut me a second consecutive break for stretching the format slightly farther. TV was so good this year that I could have easily done a 50-episode list (or more).

Additional 2015 TV Awards from Nick Rogers

30 SHOWS WITH GREAT EPISODES I DIDN’T MENTION: Agent Carter, The Americans, Arrow, Better Call Saul, BoJack Horseman, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Carmichael Show, Difficult People, Drunk History, Fargo, The Flash, Fresh Off the Boat, Game of Thrones, Girls, Halt and Catch Fire, Hannibal, House of Cards, Justified, The Last Man on Earth, Limitless, Louie, Man Seeking Woman, Marvel’s Daredevil, Orange is the New Black, Orphan Black, Ray Donovan, Strike Back, Togetherness, Veep and The Walking Dead

MOST IMPROVED SERIES: Orphan Black

MOST DISAPPOINTING RELATIVE TO ITS PAST GREATNESS: True Detective

MOST UNEXPECTEDLY ENTERTAINING NEW BROADCAST SERIES: Limitless

BEST NEW BROADCAST DRAMA: Agent Carter

BEST NEW BROADCAST COMEDY: Fresh Off the Boat

BEST NEW CABLE / STREAMING DRAMA: Mr. Robot

BEST NEW CABLE / STREAMING COMEDY: Master of None

SEVEN NEW SHOWS I’VE YET TO CRACK: Another Period, Bloodline, Deutschland 83, Documentary Now, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, The Man in the High Castle, UnReal

NINE SHOWS ON WHICH I AM PERILOUSLY BEHIND (a month or more): Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Empire, Fargo (I know, guys. I know.), Into the Badlands, The Knick, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Quantico, Rectify, Supergirl

THE SHOW I WISH I’D NEVER STARTED: Scream Queens

 

Nathan for You – “The Movement”

(Season Three, Episode 3)

Nathan for You

By Dennis Sullivan

Despite television’s modern golden age, I will not be discussing any of those shows with beautiful cinematography, high-caliber writing, and edgy plots. Instead, I will be telling you about Nathan for You, a show that blends satire of a reality show with cringe-comedy to create one of the most consistently laugh-out-loud shows for three years running.

The genius behind Nathan for You, and yes I said genius, is a combination of two factors: the character played by host Nathan Fielder and the people who go along with his ridiculous ideas (which I suspect is merely because of the fact a television crew present).

As the introduction states, Fielder’s goal is to use his savvy Canadian business college degree (look at his really good grades!) to help struggling businesses make it in a competitive world. However, the advice is questionable at best and awful at worst.

The best episodes tend to be the ones that have a real-world impact. Season ONe produced an insanely viral video of a pig saving a baby goat. Season Two also earned international notoriety with Dumb Starbucks. Season 3 produced The Movement, a new weight loss fad that produced an Amazon best-selling book and frequent morning show darling.

The goal of this weight loss program was to help a moving company with staffing costs by convincing people that they could lose weight by moving furniture instead of going to a gym. This would help the company by people paying to be his staff, instead of the company having to hire people to do work. It’s not an awful sounding idea, but as the owner says “people don’t usually pay to work.” True, but the plan will happen regardless.

Fielder finds an….interesting….spokesperson to be the face of The Movement. This guy is hysterical and over-the-top enough to go for anything thrown at him. This becomes especially handy when Fielder hires a Craigslist ghostwriter to write the spokesman’s story despite giving him no information and never meeting the subject. The book that was written is the aforementioned best-selling book, which includes wonderful tales of a childhood friendship with Steve Jobs and volunteering with jungle children. Once written, the spokesperson is booked on a bunch of morning shows to share these made-up stories and discuss how moving furniture is the best weight loss program.

Surprisingly, this whole actually scheme works. There is interest from the public, so he actually finds volunteers to complete a moving job for free. The weirdest part? They actually seem to enjoy it a bit (although the owner of the furniture is a completely different story!).

No, this isn’t a sustainable business model, but watching the events unfold is great television. It is sometimes hard to imagine that people cannot catch on to the fact Fielder is pulling a Colbert. He puts on the facade of a lonely man desperate for friends and female companionship, but also demands to be taken seriously in spite of acting in ludicrous ways to push the boundaries of politeness. His interactions with people unaware they are dealing with a character are beautifully awkward, occasionally cringe-worthy, and always worth watching.

 

Dennis’ Top 10 Episodes of 2015

(NOTE: Because I have not watched them yet this list does not consider Bloodline, Louie, Mad Men, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, or Narcos. So take that for what you will.)

1) Game of Thrones, “Hardhome” (Season Five, Episode 8)

2) BoJack Horseman, “Chickens” (Season Two, Episode 5)

3) The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “Kimmy Goes Outside!” (Season One, Episode 1)

4) Fargo, “The Castle” (Season Two, Episode 9)

5) Orange is the New Black, “Trust No Bitch” (Season Three, Episode 13)

6) Jane the Virgin, “Chapter 22” (Season One, Episode 22)

7) Nathan for You, “The Movement” (Season Three, Episode 3)

8) Looking, “Looking for a Plot” (Season Two, Episode 7)

9) Marvel’s Daredevil, “Cut Man” (Season One, Episode 2)

10) Better Call Saul, “Hero” (Season One, Episode 4)

 

Orange is the New Black – “A Tittin’ and a Hairin’”

(Season Three, Episode 10)

Orange is the New Black

By Lauren Hall

The following review has spoilers for the entirety of Season Three.

“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within all of it.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates, journalist for The Atlantic, author of Between the World and Me (which just earned him both a MacArthur Genius Award and the National Book Award for nonfiction) wrote his book as a letter to his son about being a Black man in America. Like Coates’ book, this season of Orange Is The New Black is raw. It is blunt at times, poetic at others; it meanders yet is clearly centered on a specific point/meaning. It is in your face, unapologetic, ready to topspin your sense of morality and make you consider the justice in vengeance. And—it’s content is wholly unavoidable, in this age when Freddie Gray is a household name, Donald Trump is attempting to ban “Muslims” from America, and 1/3 women experience sexual harassment.

So, why am I starting a review of Orange Is The New Black’s Episode 10 “A Tittin’ and A Hairin’” talking about a male author?

Because the genderized sexuality women’s bodies factor heavily into the third season of OITNB. Jenji Kohan, like Coates, is making a statement about bodies—how bodies are systematically, structurally manipulated and marginalized. The character Red puts it best when she explains to Healy why she was flirting with him in hopes to earn her old work assignment as head chef (i.e. her sense of purpose in life) back:

“No one in here is people. You think this is a normal relationship, human to human? I hurt your feelings and you forget that when you leave here tonight, you lock me in behind you. You take a woman’s power away her work, her family…You leave her one coin, it may be tawdry and demeaning, but if she has to she will spend it.”

In this OITNB season, control over bodies takes many forms in—of exploiting them for money, i.e. Piper’s panty smuggling—and even the potentially oppressive forces of faith, like that experienced by Black Christian Cindy or White Amish Leanne. The difference in control over bodies is dependent upon ethnic background, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and the intersectionality of these. This season exposes many of them: Boo abhorred by her mother for her sexual orientation, Sophia violently attacked for her gender identity, Soso’s exclusion that leads to depression that leads to pill-induced knockout, Chang’s whole life demeaned because she was not seen as “pretty.”

Interestingly, OITNB creators made an attempt to separate white people from Whiteness—i.e. the political, social, and economic oppression, and privilege used to keep other’ed individuals from equitable opportunities and lives. Piper was, frankly, a bitch this season. She was an incredibly flat character who only appeared three-dimensional when she kicked Flaca out of the panty scheme, or connivingly got Stella sent to max. Piper ranted about how her hard work made her deserve the American Dream, which seemed to evoke the ideology of Whiteness. Pennsatucky’s statement seemed to extend this theme:

“It’s all about corporations because they look after us and you get religious freedom…that’s too bad because if you were Christian then you could tell everyone what to do and then they’d do it so they don’t hurt your feelings because that’s against the law.”

But, Pennsatucky’s statement, when juxtaposed with the trauma and injustice we see her endure, was jolting; it exemplifies just one of the moments when privilege was complicated. Pennsatucky’s statement connotes power, but it what researcher/educator/artist Jeffrey Andrade Duncan terms “False Hope.” This sense that one is free, in control, or has power and determination in their own lives was not true for her.

Pennsatucky’s Mama was right, “A Tittin’ and A Hairin’” (i.e. puberty) does make boys see her differently, treat her differently too.

We saw Pennsatucky raped—three times. Her narrative of backwoods parties, alcoholic miners, and a Mama who forces her to binge-drink Mountain Dew is not a tail of freedom. Her mother explains—in Episode 10’s “A Tittin’ and A Hairin’”—about getting her period in a way that poetically circumscribes the shame or embarrassment that girls are typically made to feel about their period. Her Mama describes the menstrual cycle as, “life coming out of you.” Her mother celebrated Pennsatucky not being “a little grubber” anymore with double fudge chocolate ice cream.

We learn the extent to which the imprisoned women yearn for their motherhood—to right their actin’ up teenage boys (e.g. Mendoza and Sophia), or to give them better options in life (e.g. Ruiz taking Daya to camp). We also go through the entire drama of Bennett proposing to Daya then fleeing after visiting Cesar who pulls a gun out on his son to convince him to eat his fries. Daya wants to give her daughter options too, and her mother undulates between seeing Daya’s baby as a paycheck to a grandchild. Much of Daya and Ruiz’s story attests to how much mothers need their daughters, and the vicious cycle this creates. Daya’s baby gets taken by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) instead of by Pornstache’s wealthy, seemingly-loving mother. Really this is about people needing people.

As much as the women slash each others’ reputation, insult each others’ children, steal each others’ food, or even abuse one another physically, there are moments, quiet or in some way secluded, outside to share an illegal cigarette, or in the kitchen, sitting on a bed when these women’s visceral, vulnerable, yet hardened humanity comes out. Like when Mendoza jokes about Ruiz being a shitty mom to Daya or the sharp-tooth nerve singe when Boo tries to purchase Pennsatucky for a sexual act attempting to get her to admit she was raped. OITNB creators do an excellent job of juxtaposing moments like these, when support or even love contrast with women’s memories of silence, poor influences, or lack of options that resulted in their desperation (or, like in the case of Norma, rage), which led them to prison. The new counselor Berdie’s empathy-creating theatre class only begins to get at letting women express their pain and articulate it, even catharse it some way.

Yet there are so many aspects of these women’s experiences or past traumas that cannot be fully mended. Pennsatucky can always be counted on to say it bluntly in a truth we didn’t know could carry so much meaning and complex implications. In response to Boo’s encouragement that she seek revenge she said she didn’t have rage, but rather, “I’m just sad.” No matter if this makes your heartbreak or makes you want to Lysistrata in protest or seek more violent revenge, or judicial ones this sentence is telling. It encapsulates the oppression, carries with it all the deadened silence that too often surrounds sexual violence, or in the case of Sophia hate crimes that get you locked in solitary “for your own protection.”

OITNB women, and we as viewers, are in the throws of contemplating what is purported as “for our own protection.” Cindy’s grappling with faith exemplifies this. She was told to look to her family’s Christian faith as a sanctity, or at least a guide, yet she wanted to convert to Judaism because:

“Honestly, I think I found my people.

I was raised in the church; where I was told to believe and pray and if I was bad, I’d go to hell and if I was good I’d go to heaven, and if I asked Jesus he’d forgive me and that was that.

And here y’all saying ain’t no hell; ain’t sure about heaven, and if you do something wrong you got to figure it out yourself.

And as far as god’s concerned, it’s your job to keep asking questions and to keep learning and to keep arguing.

It’s like a verb; it’s like you do God and it’s a lot of work, but I want to learn more.

I’m a Jew.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates tells his son to embrace the “Struggle”—to survive, yes, but also to bring others to witness wrongs and inequities so that someday things will change. As Coates said in an NPR interview, when asked about why his book didn’t describe or inspire hope, he affirmed that if you’re looking for hope you have missed the point.

If you are looking for hope in OITNB’s “A Tittin’ and A Hairin’” then you have missed the point.

OITNB creators end the season with an ironic statement, when all the women are rejoicing in a still-in-captivity lake, as if it were the idealized white (or maybe just popular?) America spring break. Though they are not free, and so many social, political, and economic inequities are left emblazoned in our hearts and minds after this season, at least Red got to cook, Cindy got her Mikveh (what Ginsberg calls a “Jewish baptism”), and Soso found a prison family.

Go, watch this season, and figure out why it is necessary for us not to hope, but to think, act, interact, vote, and live differently.

 

Lauren’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Narcos, “La Catedral” (Season One, Episode

2) Show Me a Hero, “Parts 5 & 6” (Season One, Episodes 5/6)

3) Master of None, “Parents” (Season One, Episode 2)

4) Death Note, “Episode 11” (Season One, Episode 11)

5) Girls, “Sit-In” (Season Four, Episode 5)

6) Inside Amy Schumer, “12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” (Season Three, Episdoe 3)

7) The Mindy Project, “While I Was Sleeping” (Season Four, Episode 1)

8) The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “Kimmy Goes to School!” (Season One, Episode 6)

9) Grace and Frankie, “The End” (Season One, Episode 1)

10) Community, “Modern Espionage” (Season Six, Episode 11)

 

Parenthood – “May God Bless and Keep You Always”

(Season Six, Episode 13)

Parenthood

By Sara Rust

It seems that the writers of Parenthood were thinking about the opening verse of the theme song, “May God bless and keep you always, May your wishes all come true” when they planned our final goodbye to the Braverman Clan. This episode had everything you could ever imagine; a wedding, adoption, father-daughter bonding, a new business, and the loss of a beloved patriarch. Hank, played by Ray Romano, makes all of our hearts melt by asking Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) for Lorelai…errr Sarah Braverman’s hand in marriage. It apparently wasn’t enough to make us all sob so then Hank asks Sarah’s (Lauren Graham) son to be his best man, forcing an ugly cry on anyone with a heart. Fast forward to the wedding where we see Sarah’s nephew, who has Asperger’s just like her new husband, taking the couple’s family photos. The whole wedding is a silent montage with the most beautiful music playing over even more beautiful scenes.

Julia (Erika Christenson) and Joel (Sam Jaeger) have just rekindled their marriage flame when their adoptive son’s biological mother calls to say she’s had another baby and she wants them to adopt her. Just when we think they’re going to pass and work on their own marriage, they adopt this gorgeous baby girl and make all doubts of their love fall flat.

Adam (Peter Krause) decides to move on from the Luncheonette, the historic recording studio he co-founded with his brother Crosby (Dax Shepard) to become the headmaster of Chambers Academy, a school he co-founded with his wife Kristina (Monica Potter). This leaves Crosby (and his niece Amber, who just gave birth) without a job and wondering where their future lies. Crosby goes to his father, Zeek, for a little guidance. Zeek proves once again that he’s the world’s best father and instills the confidence needed for Crosby to take over the Luncheonette. This is Crosby who had a child he didn’t know about for most of the child’s life, started dating the mother again, cheated on her, proposed to her, and then had another baby with the coolest name ever, Aida. I would love to see where this story goes.

Sensing that he’s nearing the end of his life after many troubling incidents with his heart, Zeek asks Sarah if he’s been a good father. You can feel the end of the season, series, and Zeek are coming as Sarah starts to cry as she tells him he’s been the best father. A few days later Zeek’s wife of 40 some years, Camille, finds him slumped over in his chair. The whole family gathers on a baseball field for one last game during Zeek’s celebration of life, bringing the whole series around to a perfect finish. Even though the episode could have ended there, the brilliant writers gave us a peek into how everyone ends up. We see how wonderfully everyone is adjusting to life without Zeek as Camille goes to an inn they visited in France, Amber has found love (with yet another Friday Night Lights Alum), Julia and Joel have another baby, and the whole family is as tight as ever. I haven’t experienced a series finale so satisfying since Six Feet Under. It must be a Peter Krause thing.

 

Sara’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Parenthood, “May God Bless and Keep You Always” (Season 6, Episode 13)
2) The Mindy Project,” Best Man” (Season 3, Episode 21)
3) Doctor Who, “The Witch’s Familiar” (Series 9, Episode 2)
4) Parks and Recreation, “One Last Ride” (Season 7, Episode 13)
5) The Big Bang Theory, “The Opening Night Excitation” (Season 9, Episode 11)
6) Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, “Auditions” (Season 1, Episode 4)
7) Difficult People, “The Children’s Menu” (Season 1, Episode 5)
8) Another Period, “Pageant” (Season 1, Episode 4)
9) The Muppets, “Pig Out” (Season 1, Episode 4)
10) Mad Men, “The Milk and Honey Route” (Season 7, Episode 13)

 

Parks and Recreation – “Leslie and Ron”

(Season Seven, Episode 4)

Parks and Recreation

By Abby Eddy

As the final season of Parks and Recreation came to a close, the series reminded audiences why they fell in love with the show in the first place.

In the episode “Leslie & Ron,” there was a look back on Leslie and Ron’s fallout, but a heartfelt reunion and realization of what the two had accomplished over the years. (As if for a minute, Leslie and Ron could be mortal enemies. Blasphemy!) In the end, Leslie and Ron realize that they are an unstoppable team and need one other to work together to make Pawnee a better place.

Many times final seasons for TV shows can spell disaster and tough scrutiny. Parks and Recreation expanded on its heart from the previous seasons and helped create a satisfying ending (or some could say a future) for all of its central characters.

In a season that was complete with Billy Joel and Pearl Jam references, it would be hard to top this story arc even if the show had been granted an eighth season. Parks and Recreation will be remembered for playfully making fun of its quirky, well-written characters, but what made the show so relatable was its undeniable heart.

And whether you live in Indiana or New York, you can only hope your office is as hardworking and has as much spirit as the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department.

Thanks for the memories, Parks and Recreation. We’ll never forget you, Mouse Rat or Li’l Sebastian.

 

Abby’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Mad Men, “Person to Person” (Season Seven, Episode 14)

2) Master of None, “Old People” (Season One, Episode 8)

3) The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “Kimmy Goes to School!” (Season One, Episode 6)

4) Billy on the Street, “Billy Plays ‘Is Beyonce Scared of That?’ with Jason Sudeikis” (Season Four, Episode 4)

5) BoJack Horseman, “Chickens” (Season Two, Episode 5)

6) Girls, “Home Birth” (Season Four, Episode 10)

7) Difficult People, “Pledge Week” (Season One, Episode 3)

8) Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “Yippie Kayak” (Season Three, Episode 10)

9) Orphan Black, “History Yet to Be Written” (Season Three, Episode 10)

10) Broad City, “The Matrix” (Season Two, Episode 6)

 

Project Greenlight – “Hug and Release”

(Season Four, Episode 8)

Project Greenlight

By Ken Jones

The fourth season of Project Greenlight is about the unlikely bromance of amateur director and professional mannequin Jason Mann and Pete Jones, writer of the artistic genius that is Hall Pass. Last year I wrote about the delightful ride into chaos that is The Chair. I am now a huge fan of watching insane people make bad movies.  The producers of Project Greenlight the incredibly stupid decision to give 3 million dollars to the only person that did not beg for the opportunity to make their movie. What they got was Jason Mann, a hamster turned human, that spends all of his time arguing to shoot his movie on film and pissing off his magical producer Effie Brown.

It is difficult picking the best episode of this season; its one of those shows that is always over way too soon. But this episode has Effie saving the movie and Jason reacting as only an anemic vampire can and Craig Haves, an editor who is certainly too good for this, absolutely lose his mind as Jason fights against every note HBO gives him. It also unveils the ultimate irony of the show. Effie is a producer wholly concerned with females and black people not playing stereotypical roles, yet the whole season really only has two black people, both of whom are portrayed as having some anger issues.

Between The Chair and this season of Project Greenlight you may be thinking that all filmmakers are crazy people that stumble through every movie. In my experience you would be absolutely correct. Perhaps the reason that I love these shows so much is that they prove that documenting real life for television can be captivating. Unfortunately these shows don’t make much money and overproduced and scripted “reality” crap does.

 

Ken’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Better Call Saul, “Five-O” (Season One, Episode 6)

2) Rick and Morty, “The Wedding Squanchers” (Season Two, Episode 10)

3) Doctor Who, “Heaven Sent” (Season Nine, Episode 11)

4) Game of Thrones, “Hardhome” (Season Five, Episode 8)

5) Community, “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” (Season Six, Episode 13)

6) Parks and Recreation, “The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion” (Season Seven, Episode 10)

7) Master of None, “Parents” (Season One, Episode 2)

8) Archer, “Pocket Listing” (Season Six, Episode 9)

9) Project Greenlight, “Hug and Release” (Season Four, Episode 8)

10) The Last Man on Earth,  “Christmas” (Season Two, Episode 10)

 

Rectify – “Hoorah”

(Season Three, Episode 1)

Rectify

By Eric Martindale

Why aren’t you watching Rectify? I’m serious. You sit there with your wine and cheese debating Hannibal, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, and you’ve never even heard of this show. Okay, Maybe you’ve heard of it. But you aren’t watching it. I know this because according to the ratings Austin and myself are the only people to have seen an episode.

Instead of telling you how perfect it is (it is), or how beautifully shot it is (it is), or how wonderful the writing is (it is), or how it’s the best acted show on television (it is), I will instead spend this entire segment trying to frame its brilliance in some way that might actually get you to watch it. This will be difficult. Because you won’t. But what the heck! Like Winston Churchill said, “Never in the history of television, have so few, risked so much, to get someone to watch a nuanced Christian family drama on the Sundance Network.”

Okay, so, the story revolves around Daniel, a convicted murderer on death row who is released 19 years after being detained on a not-so-technical technicality. Once released back into his family’s care he finds that the only thing holding them together was the struggle to get him out. Daniel’s release is Chernobyl and what ensues is the fallout. Rectify’s deliberate pace takes every opportunity to cherish the moments in between the moments. It’s hopeful, but hopeless. The world is beautiful but we’re destined to take it for granted whether we like it or not.

Did Daniel actually do it though? I am three seasons in and I couldn’t answer that question. Oddly, it’s superfluous. The show teeters on answering the question with, “So what if he did?” It’s been 19 years, so everything has changed. So why can’t Daniel?

The drama, as I said, is in the day-to-day moment’s post Daniel’s release from death row. This isn’t vindication, mind you. He can still go back. And that’s the drama we’re left with leading up to the Season Three premiere, “Hoorah.” In this episode the narrative stops being about whether he goes back to prison or not. That issue, at least temporarily, is seemingly settled. Now it’s the aftermath. “Hoorah,” as the title is a punch line to a bad joke. An Atheist, a Christian, and a Jew walk into a bar. Except no one is laughing. And people keep secrets. And people lie. And people die. The small town claustrophobia clamps on the noose so tight through the duration of the episode you’re either going to cry during the whole thing (I did), or be left breathless through an entire episode. This is especially the case during a very troubling dinner sequence. The episode makes you consider your own family’s dinner table. Who there is most important to you? Who there do you love the most? Does the question make you squirm in your seat or the answer?

Each year Austin comes to me to pick a show for this thing. So far I’ve done Game of Thrones (A good season), True Detective (THE good season), and Breaking Bad (The best season). I’ve never felt more passionate about this tradition than I do with Rectify. Rectify made me want to affect the world more positively. I’ve never had any storytelling medium do that. It’s trippy. Perhaps it’s because Rectify is drama. Real drama. Real family drama. What’s more relatable than that? The answer is nothing.

Save your imps, ads, and fava beans and for the love of God, watch Rectify

 

Eric’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Rectify, “Hoorah” (Season Three, Episode 1)

2) Mad Men, “Person to Person” (Season Seven, Episode 14)

3) Hannibal, “The Wrath of the Lamb” (Season Three, Episode 13)

4) Rectify, “Thrill Ride” (Season Three, Episode 2)

5) Outlander, “The Devil’s Mark” (Season One, Episode 11)

6) Mad Men, “The Milk and Honey Route” (Season Seven, Episode 13)

7) Rectify, “The Source” (Season Three, Episode 6)

8) Rick and Morty, “Total Rickall” (Season Two, Episode 4)

9) Better Call Saul, “Five-O” (Season One, Episode 6)

10) Better Call Saul, “Pimento” (Season One, Episode 9)

 

Rick and Morty – “Mortynight Run”

(Season Two, Episode 2)

Rick and Morty

By Pedro Aubry

This year I will be reviewing Rick and Morty. This season was fantastic, and it was really hard to settle on a favorite episode, but after going through the season a couple of times I’m going with Episode 2, “Mortynight Run”. This episode follows our favorite duo as fun times are had in various places, most notably Blips and Chitz, and whatever the Gear World is called. (Everyone there is composed of gears). The episode opens with Rick teaching Morty how to drive the spaceship, and they are joined by the insecure Jerry who is promptly left to have a fun time with himself. Later they have a gaseous being, named Fart, accompany them and things get a bit crazy from there.

I like this episode for several reasons. The Jerry sub-plot is fun to watch, as the show lets Jerry gets to be Jerry, in all his plain and simple mediocrity. As for Rick and Morty, well Rick is basically the same pessimistic (realistic?) ass he always is, and Morty, when faced with Rick’s lack of morality, decides to firmly take a stand for what he believes is right. I like how Rick, who could probably end the story at any time doesn’t really put up a fight against Morty, apart from his commentary, and lets Morty see the full consequence of that can come from his own narrow view of morality.

Morty has had grim life lessons before, such as coming to terms with his own insignificance while burying his own dead corpse, but now his adventures with Grandpa have challenged and possibly shattered his beliefs on the universe and sentient life as a whole. Just how much does this change Morty, we don’t know yet. In watching this, I had roughly the same beliefs as Morty, though not nearly as strong. I would’ve gone along with Rick and just been a bit angry for a while. But as the show went along I definitely saw myself coming around to Rick’s point of view, and as the series continues it’s hard not to get sucked into the dark reality of Rick’s world (which I must admit seems a bit easier to live in and cope with). Now just how good this is for an adolescent Morty, I have no idea. So give the episode a watch, and see where you fall on the fluid spectrum of morality of their infinite universe.

P.S.

I really really really really wanna play that game, “Roy”. Please someone create this for me.

 

Pedro’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) The Leftovers, “I Live Here Now” (Season Two, Episode 10)

2) Hannibal, “The Wrath of the Lamb” (Season Three, Episode 13)

3) The Leftovers, “International Assassin” (Season Two, Episode 8)

4) Game of Thrones, “Hardhome” (Season Five, Episode 8)

5) Hannibal, “The Number of the Beast is 666…” (Season Three, Episode 12)

6) You’re the Worst, “Spooky Sunday Funday” (Season Two, Episode 8)

7) Better Call Saul, “Pimento” (Season One, Episode 9)

8) The Returned, “The Returned” (Season Two, Episode 8)

9) Mad Men, “Person to Person” (Season Seven, Episode 14)

10) Rick and Morty, “The Wedding Squanchers” (Season Two, Episode 10)

 

Sense8 – “Demons”

(Season One, Episode 6)

Sense8

By Kevin Brown

Sense8 is an ensemble drama about eight people from across the globe who share a psychic connection as a result of [insert sci-fi plot device here].  And of course, there’s [insert malicious sci-fi institution]coming after them, so of course, cooperation is essential.   Truth be told, the less time you spend musing over how and why this is happening and the more time you simply bask in the aesthetics of the Wachowskis’ vibrant storyworld, the more you’re likely to get from this series.

As with most Netflix shows, it’s hard to look back on one piece as anything other than a fragment of the season (one thing I lament from the golden years of Network TV).  The first few episodes make it difficult to discern whether this experimental narrative structure is visionary or ridiculous.  Plot arcs are rushed out, central characters are introduced like archetypes, themes are heavy-handed, and one couldn’t be blamed for initially deeming this the Wachowski’s attempt at a serialized Cloud Atlas  (Disclaimer: I am one of those people that really liked Cloud Atlas)

But, if I had to pick one episode that stands out, it’d have to be “Demons”.  While most fans probably remember Episode 6 as “the orgy episode” (and yes, that is a thing), I reflect on this piece as the moment where it became clear exactly where the showrunners were going with all this madness, what that madness might entail, and the extent of possibilities this madness could yield if developed correctly.

There’s a whole socio-political angle to the show as well, as we have main characters from all over the world sharing consciousness and experiences, creating a sort of cultural think-tank for any crisis that may emerge in one of their lives.

High concepts aside, this is a story that puts eight central characters everywhere all the time, sharing in one another’s sensory experiences and always on reserve to weigh in on unfolding events.  If one gets attacked, flight-or-flight kicks in for the others.  If one is coping with powerful emotions, another will usually show up to talk them through it.  If one or more of them are having sex, well…“Demons” is the episode in which all of that starts to take form.  It’s the point when the characters start to really come to terms with these psychic links and question why it’s happening, and like many great shows before it, this process of questioning is often more fun than the answers.

 

Kevin’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Mr. Robot, “eps1.0_hellofriend.mov” (Season One, Episode 2)

2) Game of Thrones, “Hardhome” (Season Five, Episode 8)

3) BoJack Horseman, “Hank After Dark” (Season Two, Episode 7)

4) The Leftovers, “No Room at the Inn” (Season Two, Episode 5)

5) Doctor Who, “Heaven Sent” (Season Nine, Episode 11)

6) Louie, “Untitled” (Season Five, Episode 5)

7) Veep, “Election Night” (Season Four, Episode 10)

8) Justified, “The Promise” (Season Six, Episode 13)

9) South Park, “Safe Space” (Season Nineteen, Episode 5)

10) Show Me a Hero, “Parts 5 & 6” (Season One, Episode 5/6)

 

South Park – “Where My Country Gone”

(Season Nineteen, Episode 2)

South Park

By Nick Hussong

Since early in its run, almost twenty years ago now, South Park has been simultaneously one of the smartest and one of the dumbest shows on television. Which way a viewer perceives it is entirely up to them. The show contains both cutting satire and juvenile jokes. It can be enjoyed by someone who does not understand the satire and simply enjoys potty humor. At the same time, it can be enjoyed strictly for the social commentary by people who would never laugh at a dick or fart joke.

In its 18th season, South Park began running storylines. That is, events from one episode would be remembered in future episodes. The most obvious example was that Randy Marsh was Lorde. South Park has flirted with this idea before, like when Mr. Garrison had a sex change, but it was always limited in scope. In its 19th season, South Park has pushed this to a new level, having events not only carry over, but build to a climax. Along the way Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and the rest of the South Park team still managed to include their usual commentary on up to the minute current events. The result has been the best season of South Park to date and quite probably the best season of any cartoon (and that is coming from someone who has a deep appreciation for The Simpsons’ Seasons Three-Nine).

The episode which best encapsulates the heights to which the show has risen is the second of the season, “Where My Country Gone?” The episode begins with Kyle getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom for a speech he gave on why Caitlyn Jenner was a hero. However, the speech President Obama gives preceding the ceremony was fully intended to make the audience think that it was going to be about Ahmed Mohamed and his clock. Airing nine days after Ahmed was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school, Obama’s remarks begin, “Last week we were all reminded that intolerance still exists in our country. It took a very special young student to light up social media and we’ve invited him to the White House today to show our appreciation.” The President then brings Kyle on stage, rather than Ahmed. It was a quick, but deliberate misdirection made all the more brilliant because it will not suffer years down the line when Ahmed and his clock have faded from our social consciousness; it is appropriate within the storyline of the season, because it is tied to the end of Episode 1.

The beginning of the season also saw the addition of a major new character on the show, PC Principal; a frat boy meathead who enjoys nothing more than drinking beer, working out, and that feeling he gets when he rhetorically defends a marginalized community from systems of oppression. PC Principal became the principal of South Park elementary and began enforcing PC rules on the very much not PC South Park Colorado. “Where My Country Gone?” sees the predictable backlash against this new normal. It comes from South Park’s resident ignorant deviant, Mr Garrison. Garrison is upset that the country’s new culture of tolerance and openness has allowed illegal immigrants to enter the country and nobody seems to care.

“They just keep crossing the border with their dirty families, playing their stupid music…We should have put up a god damn wall.”

But in the South Park universe, Canadians are the immigrant scourge. Mr Garrison gets fired by PC Principal as a result of his anti-Canadian rhetoric, leading him to write a country song called “Where My Country Gone?” The song becomes popular with white people who feel disenfranchised because of lines like, “There’s a great big hole in the liberty bucket / ‘Cause someone forgot to tell the foreigners to suck it.” Due to his increased profile, Garrison decides to run for President despite admitting, “I may not understand politics or immigration policies or the law or basic ideological concepts.” In keeping with his anti-PC ignorance his plan is to fuck all the immigrants to death. Literally.

Mr. Garrison is a clear parody of Donald Trump. But, it turns out that the Canadians have been fleeing their country for the United States because they elected a Canadian version of Trump as their Prime Minister. They thought he was just a joke, but by the time they finally got around to figuring out who the real candidate should be, Canadian Trump had already been elected. Mr. Garrison crosses the border into Canada to investigate.

What he discovers is a dystopian nightmare Canada where the streets are deserted and Canadian Trump is engaged in a self-serving solo dance party. True to his word, Mr. Garrison wrestles Canadian Trump to the ground, huffs some poppers, and violently fucks him to death. Fascinatingly, this goes a long way to fixing the immigration problem in South Park. Since Canadian Trump has been fucked to death, all of the Canadians feel comfortable returning to their home country.

There are a lot of reasons that this was the best TV episode of 2015. The first and primary one is that it showed one parody of Donald Trump violently, and very literally, fucking another parody of Donald Trump to death. It also included a fairly standard South Park trope, wherein the gang has to use a lesson learned from pop culture to fix a problem in their lives. In this case it is the plot of The Lion King II which, in this case, means that Butters has to give a Canadian girl a “hot Cosby,” the new South Parkian phrase for sex. It also introduces a trope that will run throughout the 19th season, that every time Caitlyn Jenner drives a car she hits and kills a pedestrian, lest the public ever forget that the real Caitlyn Jenner very much got away with exactly that. Finally, it fits neatly into the overall storyline of the season in more ways than can be enunciated here, save to say that it introduces us to PC Principal’s enemy, Leslie, a rivalry which does not find its climax until the season finale.

So, better than they ever have before, the South Park folks have turned an unflattering mirror on the United States and demonstrated real problems that need real solutions while deftly reminding us not to take things too seriously.

 

Nick’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) South Park, “Where My Country Gone?” (Season Nineteen, Episode 2)

2) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, “July 19, 2015” (Mandatory Sentencing) (Season Two, Episode 22)

3) South Park, “Stunning and Brave” (Season Nineteen, Episode 1)

4) The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, “December 8, 2015” (Donald Trump Wants to Fuck His Daughter)

5) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, “March 22, 2015” (Municipal Violations) (Season Two, Episode 7)

6) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, “July 12, 2015” (Stadiums) (Season Two, Episode 20)

7) It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Charlie Work” (Season Ten, Episode 4)

8) South Park, “The City Part of Town” (Season Nineteen, Episode 3)

9) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, “March 1, 2015” (Infrastructure) (Season Two, Episode 4)

10) The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, “September 28, 2015” (Trevor’s First Episode)

 

Star Wars Rebels – “The Siege of Lothal”

(Season Two, Episodes 1/2)

Star Wars Rebels

By Jonathan Williams

To frame my choice, I want to disclaim that this is not the best show of the year (that would be Masters of None) nor the best culmination of a season or series-long arc (BoJack Horseman or Rick and Morty might walk away with that prize).  But I want to argue that this was one of the year’s best episodes of TV, in terms of its individual contribution to helping a series be watched and loved.

“The Siege of Lothal” follows an entertaining Season One finale (“Fire Across The Galaxy”) that resolved many of the show’s plot hooks — which can be a serious disadvantage!  This is exactly when shows often falter, having lost their initial direction and facing network demands to both “provide an entry for new viewers” and “focus on what worked in the first season”.  Showrunner Dave Filoni aces this metaphorical trench run by turning off his targeting computer and trusting in The Force… and I mean that almost literally.  The genius of this episode is to shake off the ham-fisted programming choices, which are responsible for the show’s worst decisions (e.g. anything involving Zeb or Sabine) and let Star Wars be Star Wars.  Without disrespect to the fantastic Clone Wars series, the franchise hasn’t felt this true to its roots in a long time.

In particular, “The Siege of Lothal” successfully 1) respects the themes which have anchored Star Wars since 1977, and 2) considerably ups the ante with its new antagonist.  To my first point, the strong Original Trilogy vibes that this episode puts out go beyond individual stills and scenes (which are too many to list, though in the first five minutes we see a CR-90 Corvette under attack, gunners in the turrets of a VCX light freighter hunting TIE Fighters, a sunset approach to a Ralph McQuarrie-esque skyline, and Lord Vader dressing down Imperial civil servants).  It also trades in many of the same emotions: Ahsoka’s shock at learning Darth Vader’s identity mirrors Luke’s in Episode V and adds another sad layer to Star Wars‘s penchant for pitting pupils against former masters.  Ezra’s resolve upon watching Tarkintown burn recalls Luke in front of the charred Lars homestead.  And so on.

This blends in to my second point, which is the hypnotic, terrifying power that “The Siege of Lothal” gives to its newly-introduced villain, Darth Vader.  He doesn’t snarl or twirl his mustache like the Grand Inquisitor of Season One.  He doesn’t embrace Evil as a role or religion.  He simply DOES terrible things, and neither gloats nor acts flippantly casual afterward.  He is always right.  And he cannot be beat.  “The Siege of Lothal” does a fantastic job of showing this, not telling it to us, never moreso than when a seemingly-defeated Vader force-pushes an entire AT-ST’s worth of rubble off of himself.  (Though his complete massacre of an entire Rebel capital ship and fighter squadron runs a close second.)  We see that everyone in “The Siege of Lothal” is terrified of this… thing, from rebel pilots to Jedi to Imperial ministers, and we see their fear justified.  Those without fear are soon dead.  And this fear allows Rebels to tap into some of the original trilogy’s power.

Better shows have stumbled worse when starting their second seasons.  “The Siege of Lothal” gives Star Wars fans new hope while tackling the difficult job of changing course, and so gets my vote as the hardest-working episode of the year.

 

Jonathan’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Master of None, “Indians on TV” (Season One, Episode 4)

2) Master of None, “Ladies and Gentlemen” (Season One, Episode 7)

3) BoJack Horseman, “Escape from L.A.” (Season Two, Episode 11)

4) Community, “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” (Season Six, Episode 13)

5) Star Wars Rebels, “The Siege of Lothal” (Season Two, Episodes 1/2)

6) Master of None, “Parents” (Season One, Episode 2)

7) Master of None, “Mornings” (Season One, Episode 9)

8) Rick and Morty, “The Wedding Squanchers” (Season Two, Episode 10)

9) Marvel’s Daredevil, “Path of the Righteous” (Season One, Episode 11)

10) Rick and Morty, “A Rickle in Time” (Season Two, Episode 1)

 

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – “Kimmy Kisses a Boy!”

(Season One, Episode 5)

Unbreakble Kimmy Schmidt

By Leigh Montano

UNBREAKABLE!

If you’ve seen the show, you’re now singing the insanely catchy theme song for Tina Fey’s latest foray into the sitcom world. If you haven’t seen the show, what is wrong with you and why haven’t you done this yet?

I have to admit that when I heard the premise for The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I thought, “I don’t know how this is going to be funny.” A woman who has been a captive of a religious cult and kept underground for the past 15 years and then goes to New York? Yeah, that doesn’t scream comedy to me either and yet it is one of the few shows that made me laugh out loud every episode. And not just, “oh, haha, that’s cute,” but laughing so hard I couldn’t catch my breath

The show goes beyond the catchy theme song and the contagious cheerfulness of the main character, Kimmy Schmidt. It also explores a lot of kinda deep topics without ever preaching to the audience. While the premise itself is inherently dark, the show never feels depressing. This is definitely because of Kimmy’s never ending supply of optimism and willingness to find the good in every situation.

The supporting cast also helps the show. Tituss Burgess, Jane Krakowski and Carol Kane round out the cast and provide Kimmy with some much-needed guidance along the way. Everything from not getting into vans with strangers to the dangers of excessive plastic surgery seems obvious to a generation of millennials who have had these lessons drilled into us by every sitcom, cartoon and after school special we’ve seen since the early 90s but since Kimmy was stuck in a bunker with only three other women and Rev. Richard Wayne Gary Wayne without access to the outside world, she has to learn these lessons with the help of her new friends.

I was hooked on the show after the theme song played in the first episode. Ellie Kemper is so incredibly charismatic and so believable as a naive teen stuck in an adult’s body. The scene where she first uses an automatic hand dryer is brief but makes me smile every time. The jokes are, of course, wonderful and so well thought out (DONA MARIA MOLE SAUCE!). As a native Hoosier, I could easily take offense to the jokes poking fun at Indiana but they’re so spot on you can’t help but laugh with them.

The episode that solidified my love was Episode 5, “Kimmy Kisses a Boy!” Kimmy’s friend from the bunker, Cyndee, comes to New York, along with her obviously gay boyfriend, to visit Kimmy. Titus tries to woo the obviously gay boyfriend, Kimmy tries her hand at love with the emotional maturity of a middle schooler and then enrolls in an GED program to get her goals back on track. Though she may be emotionally stunted, Kimmy is surprisingly aware of what she wants out of life. Hell, I don’t even know what I want and I wasn’t kept captive in a bunker for 15 years. She knows that she wants to experience all of the things that an adult on TV should like having a job and an education and a boyfriend and she has the tenacity to do it all without ever relying on her fame as an Indiana Mole Woman to get her those things.

This show has definitely stuck with me and continues to make me laugh every time I watch it. It’s a show that even though I’ve seen it all numerous times, I still laugh at new jokes I didn’t catch the first, second, fifth time around. My love of this show is definitely rooted in Kimmy Schmidt though. So many times in my life since watching this show, I’ve found myself quoting little inspirational things she said like, “Just take it 10 seconds at a time,” and I have definitely found myself power posing more often than I’d like to admit. Kimmy’s tenacity and optimism truly makes her unbreakable.

 

Leigh’s Top 10 Episodes of 2015

1) Mad Men, “Lost Horizon” (Season Seven, Episode 12)

2) Mad Men, “Person to Person” (Season Seven, Episode 14)

3) The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “Kimmy Goes to School!” (Season One, Episode 6)

4) The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “Kimmy Makes Waffles!” (Season One, Episode 13)

5) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, “August 16, 2015” (Televangelism) (Season Two, Episode 25)

6) Marvel’s Daredevil, “Cut Man” (Season One, Episode 2)

7) Marvel’s Jessica Jones, “AKA WWJD?” (Season One, Episode 8)

8) Jane the Virgin, “Chapter Twenty-Two” (Season One, Episode 22)

9) BoJack Horseman, “Yes and…” (Season Two, Episode 10)

10) Bob’s Burgers, “The Oeder Games” (Season Five, Episode 21)

 

The Group’s Top 10 List

Game of Thrones2

Using a simple point system where a person’s #1 pick gets 10 points, #2 gets 9 and so on, here are the Top 10 Episodes of 2015 the received the most points from the 29 Top 10 lists.

1) Game of Thrones, “Hardhome” (Season Five, Episode 8) (66 points)

2) Mad Men, “Person to Person” (Season Seven, Episode 14) (56 points)

3) Doctor Who, “Heaven Sent” (Season Nine, Episode 11) (48 points, tie)

3) Hannibal, “The Wrath of the Lamb” (Season Three, Episode 13) (48 points, tie)

4) The Leftovers, “International Assassin” (Season Two, Episode 8) (47 points)

5) Marvel’s Jessica Jones, “AKA WWJD” (Season One, Episode 8) (34 points)

6) Community, “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” (32 points)

7) Master of None, “Parents” (Season One, Episode 2) (31 points)

8) Parks and Recreation, “Leslie and Ron” (Season Seven, Episode 4) (29 points)

9) Doctor Who, “Hell Bent” (Season Nine, Episode 12) (28 points)

10) Parks and Recreation, “One Last Ride” (Season Seven, Episode 12) (27 points)

  • 88 different shows were on a Top 10 list. (10 more than last year)
  • 27 of those shows first premiered in 2015. (2 more than last year)
  • 191 different episodes were on a Top 10 list. (5 less than last year)
  • The top three episodes (“Hardhome”, “Person to Person”, “Heaven Sent”) were on seven different Top 10 lists.
  • 6/10 Better Call Saul Season One episodes were on a Top 10 list.
  • 3/6 The Jinx Season One episoes were on a Top 10 list.
  • 6/10 Master of None Season One episodes were on a Top 10 list.
  • 4/7 Mad Men Season Seven Part Two episodes were on a Top 10 list.
  • 7/13 Marvel’s Daredevil Season One episodes were on a Top 10 list.
  • 5/10 Game of Thrones Season Five episodes were on a Top 10 list.
  • 5/10 The Leftovers Season Two episodes were on a Top 10 list.
  • 6/13 The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season One episodes were on a Top 10 list.
  • 5/12 BoJack Horseman Season Two episodes were on a Top 10 list.