Here are the best episodes of 2012. Obviously this contains spoilers:
10) “Argentina” — Dexter
One of the nicest surprises on television this year was Dexter’s renaissance in quality. After some misguided years and a true nadir of a season in 2011, Dexter finally embraced a real progression in the story—having Debra find out about her brother’s “hobby”—and was all the better for it. The tension between Deb and Dexter led to some of the show’s best scenes ever. And since Dexter didn’t spend the entire season chasing his usual Big Bad Guy, Season Seven actually had decent subplots, including great guest performances from Ray Stevenson and Yvonne Strahovski. In “Argentina,” the show was even able to address the weirdest element of last season—Deb’s crush on her brother—in an impressive and compelling way.
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What we read while we all just got along…
Mad Men’s recently wrapped-up fifth season was possibly its best season yet, and at least its best since season two. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the most ambitious season thus far because it dealt most directly with morality—and was the least preoccupied with subject of happiness.
Most of the time, Mad Men is all about happiness: Is happiness an illusion? Is it ever sustainable? Are the things that make people happy the same? Etc. This can be compelling, but it tends to get self-indulgent and repetitive quickly.
What made Season Five so different, though, was that it took as its starting point the idea that Don Draper, the perpetually self-loathing protagonist, was actually happy. He was finally in a happy marriage; he had a cordial relationship with his ex-wife and he was getting along with his kids; his company was relatively safe, and his relationships with most of his co-workers were good. This was so jarring to some viewers that they seemed intent to find problems where none existed. Every fight with he had with Megan supposedly hinted at the faulty foundation of the marriage—even if the fight was minor and they made up afterwards. People seemed completely unwilling to accept the idea that Don could be happily married and generally content; it was so unlike the Don we were used to. Continue reading »
What we read after Carlos Beltran’s “foul ball”…
- The best part about watching the Stanley Cup Finals (GO DEVILS!) is listening to Mike Emrick, sports’ master of verbs.
What we read while President Obama’s position on gay marriage was intelligently designed…
What we read while the Indians were mathematically eliminated…
5. “God,” Louie
One of the reasons the superlative in the title of this post is “memorable” and not “best” is to make room for episodes like “God.” It wasn’t the funniest episode of the first season of Louie—and it wasn’t even necessarily my favorite—but it was certainly the most distinct and memorable episode of a show that was consistently original. I remember watching the scene in which the creepy, nameless doctor tells a young Louie to stab Jesus Christ in the wrist and thinking, “It’s very unusual that this is on television.” The dark humor, the nuanced take on religion, and the controversial point of view are all things rarely seen on TV, and yet they were precisely the kinds of things that made Louie such an innovative and enjoyable show. Continue reading »