Nine years! Nine years, I’ve asked friends of mine from all different times in my life to write me a short article about an episode of TV they loved this year. On a personal level, it’s fun because I get to see people I care about write excellent pieces. On another level, it’s a wonderful glimpse in the year in television. None of us are professional TV critics; we’re just people who are excited about the episodic medium. These are the episodes that made us cry, made us laugh, helped us figure out our own anxieties and truly wowed us.
It’s here! It may be a week late but it’s here! My favorite article of the year which seems egotistical but it’s not because the reason I like it so much is because of all the words everyone but me put. (Perfect sentence.) Enjoy this year’s breakdown of the best TV episodes of 2017 from a variety of my friends, all with a unique perspective.
American Gods — “The Secret of Spoons”
(Season One, Episode 2)
By Robbie Mehling
“We’re not taking the highway. Not now. Not ever,” says Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) as they drive from Indiana to Chicago and beyond. This summer I did my own personal road trip from Minneapolis to Southern Indiana using back country roads. First you turn left, then right, then left again as you meander past cornfields and farmhouses. It certainly takes longer but the possibility exists for some truly stunning views, more so anyway than the interstate rest stop. It’s this mentality that runs through Neil Gaiman’s original novel and is certainly present in Bryan Fuller’s adaptation. This show moves at a slow pace as the whole first season only covers the first few chapters of the book. But I think it works incredibly well as it meanders through folklore, mythology, and back road America.
Six years! I’ve been doing this silly article for six years! (I take 11 month breaks in-between articles so it’s not that impressive.) It remains one of my favorite things to do because every time I get a new article in my inbox I am surprised and entertained by all the different things that my friends have picked up on. Also—as seen by the other article this week—I see a ton of TV, but every year people bring up shows that I don’t watch that now I suddenly want to. So enjoy and find something great to watch!
Once again I watched too many shows this year. You don’t need a lengthy paragraph explaining my madness. Basically it comes down to sleep less, watch more. Oh and don’t see Hamilton until the end of the year because basically since then I’ve just been watching Hamilton clips and watching my DVR overflow. But there are plenty of shows that I haven’t caught up with or I’m too behind on that aren’t on my list. They are…Banshee, Bosch, The Fall, The Get Down, Queen Sugar, One Mississippi, Quarry, Scrotal Recall/Lovesick, Steven Universe and Underground. And now let’s begin with something easy.
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)
By Ray Martindale
This is an absurdly long list so let’s make the intro really short! I saw arguably too much TV this year, but when TV is this good, it’s almost best to always keep the DVR rolling. Just because this list is so big, doesn’t mean that any of the lower entries on this list are bad shows. I ended up picking 50 out of the many more that I watched because these were all shows that made me excited to watch and talk about. I highly recommend all of them.
But of course I didn’t see everything. I’m either behind or haven’t started the following shows: Banshee, The Fall, Flesh and Bone, Getting On, The Knick, Luther, Making a Murderer, Manhattan, Mozart in the Jungle, Penny Dreadful, Red Oaks, Strike Back or Survivor’s Remorse. I hope you forgive me. Let start this!
The Carmichael Show
“So you really think protesting makes people accountable for their actions?”
“Okay, then why did I see George Zimmerman at a Dave and Busters, Maxine?”
This is the fourth year writing these silly TV articles and they are some of my favorite things to work on every year. In the previous one, it’s just me ranting about a ton of great shows. This one is easily more fascinating each and every time. Why? It’s because my friends are fascinating.
Critic polls always are a great way to look at a year of art but they are limited by the fact they all are critics. That is what their perspective is. TV is a medium that everybody watches and has an opinion on. Since there are so many installments of a show and so much time is devoted towards the story and characters, everyone is a little bit of a critic as they decide whether they should keep going or not.
Every year I’ve increased the number of people I have writing in this because I’m greedy. I want to read more and more thoughts about what is exciting my friends. So this year I do have some excellent film critics, but I also have lawyers and news producers and video editors and actors and directors and students and marketing experts. I have people who work at a film festival. I have people who work in Spain. I have people who work in sports, in advertising, in publishing and for colleges and nursing homes. I have writers who write about cowboys and skeletons and fools. What connects them all—besides their regret about having me as a friend—is their love for art.
So without further ado, here are everyone’s Top Episodes of 2014!
The Americans – “Echo”
(Season Two, Episode 13)
By Nick Rogers
No matter what we watch, my friends always want to discuss TV shows more in depth than movies. That doesn’t mean that they like these shows more than the movies we watch, but there’s something subject to debate when you break up a story into installments. There’s the theorizing about what happened next and arguing what episode was better. To view a show in segments tricks you to analyze parts of the whole and to watch the show over a course of weeks makes you more invested.
So I love talking with my friends about their thoughts on these excellent shows. Every year I like to ask them to write for my blog and show everyone their perspective. Here are 23 of my friends and myself writing about some of their favorite episodes of the year equipped with their Top 10 list. Due to when I’m posting this, there are few episodes in 2013 that sadly won’t be up for consideration like the Treme series finale, Matt Smith’s final episode of Doctor Who and the Downton Abbey Christmas Special.
At the very end you can read about what episodes were the collected Top 10 with other bits of trivia. But first let’s head over to the CW…
“Three Ghosts” (Season Two, Episode 9)
By Aaron Wittwer
TV may be getting too good. I tried to write a Top 10 and found it to be almost impossible. Luckily I’m in control of my own blog so now I have a Top 20. It’s not just that my favorite shows keep getting better, it’s that more channels are making quality entertainment. The Sundance Channel proved to have some of the year’s best programs, Netflix made huge waves with launching entire seasons at once and more and more foreign imports are making its way stateside.
People are trying to say that the Golden Age of Television is fading, but it only seems to be growing stronger. Almost half of my shows on this list are first seasons of new shows. Every week of the year seems to have at least a half dozen great shows on the air. So even with watching so many shows, there are some that I have missed usually because I don’t have the time to catch up with them.
Thus, I apologize (not really) for not being caught up on Call the Midwife, Enlightened, The Good Wife, The Legend of Korra, Parenthood, Scandal, Shameless (both versions), Skins and A Young Doctor’s Notebook. Also I haven’t even started Arrow, Bad Education, Borgen, Dancing on the Edge, Last Tango in Halifax, The Venture Brothers or The White Queen. So many shows and now here are the seasons that were the best of 2013…
20) Treme Season Four (HBO)
“So what is it exactly that you want to do, hmm?”
“I want to get Caldonia’s reopen. Take over Raul’s lease, revitalize Rampart Street, fight the good fight for live music and New Orleans.”
One of the reasons why I like television so much is that it feels more communal than any other form of entertainment. Usually walking out of a movie, my friends don’t like to talk about it as much but if they finished a season of a show they need someone to talk to. So once again, I have recruited my friends to talk about their favorite episodes of 2012. Below you will see a wide range of opinions and writing styles which makes it all the more fun.
Small warning, there is occasional foul language and in one circumstance a lot of foul language. Most of the time, the author is vague about what happens in the episode or season, but in cases where that is not true, a spoiler warning is attached.
At the very end of this very long article, check out what episodes occurred the most Top 10 lists as I formulated the results of everyone’s picks.
“The Man From Jupiter” (Season Three, Episode 4)
By Ryan Lugar
Burt and Ernie. Buzz and Woody. Cheech and Chong. These are some of the most dynamic duos over the course of history, but they all fall second to one last duo. A duo that can do no wrong, in all the wrong ways. I am of course referring to Sterling Archer and Burt Reynolds. The combination of Archer’s black turtleneck and Burt Reynolds’ amazing moustache cannot fail.