Friday, July 23, 2010

The Countdown Continues

So far, the summer-long countdown of the Best Episodes of the Season has showcased thrills and emotionally-charged moments, but this week, things are taking a more profound turn.  These episodes certainly gave us something to think about well after the closing credits.  But before we get to them, we have to go over the rules for the countdown. We ended up with 28 incredible episodes that demonstrate the diversity and quality of the current television state. The shows and their episodes are from both NETWORK and CABLE television. All episodes aired between June 2009 and June 2010. Each episode that made the final list moved us in some way; either by making us laugh out loud, cry our eyes out or just left us with that "wow" feeling that stays with you for a few days. So basically, it's completely subjective! Since this is a summer-long countdown to the number 1 episode, PTR will reveal a few each week all summer. So, be sure to tune in every Friday to find out which episodes are on the countdown! Today, we're going to take a look at numbers 18-16.

18: "Solace" - Parenthood
Sometimes one scene can make an entire episode. And that scene can be so powerful that it lands the episode on this list. Such was the case with this entry on the Countdown. Of course, this being Parenthood, the entire hour was awesome, but there was one scene in particular that made this episode stand out from the rest. It dealt with a mother and her daughter and a realization after relating an event that had happened earlier in the evening. In a bit of a role reversal, Sarah stayed up waiting for her mom to come home from an evening out at the art show with her charismatic instructor. After learning about her husband’s bad investment and revealing to Sarah that her father had had an affair, Camille was feeling a little sad and welcomed the attention her intriguing art teacher was giving her. They left Sarah at the first art show and headed off on their own. When she returned home hours later to her waiting daughter, she told her about the rest of her evening. She relayed the story matter-of-factly, but when she got to the part where she slept with her art instructor, the weight of the fleeting act fell on her like a ton of bricks. It overcame her and she realized what she had done and what it meant. It was heartbreaking. It was raw. And, it’s what made this episode so darn good! Written by Jeff Greenstein and directed by Ken Whittingham.

17: "Years of Service" - Nurse Jackie
It’s difficult to pull out episodes of this show to put on the countdown because it’s the overarching stories that make it so good. Every episode is a piece of the awesome-ness that is the whole. Having said that, this season’s ender had that extra something that made it a standout on its own. Part of the brilliance of Nurse Jackie is the way it makes you uncomfortable rooting for its title character. Let’s not mince words – she’s a drug addict and we tend not to root for drug addicts. Yet, we end up rooting for Jackie, and in some cases, we even root for her NOT to get caught. Yeah, it’s messed up, but that’s what makes the series so beautifully complicated. Still, there was something poignant and unnerving about Kevin and Dr. O’Hara confronting Jackie at the end. The truth is, she needs to be caught and now that she has been, she doesn’t seem quite ready to face facts. And this was after a super scary drug dealer shook her down in the hallway of All Saints for stealing his very expensive stash of prescription meds! Coop provided his usual unintentional dose of laughs with his plight to get another nurse fired (this time because he punched Coop for sleeping with his girlfriend). And then there were the sweet moments between Zoey and her new beau. He brought her duck sauce (LOTS of duck sauce) and she gave him a pocket watch that reminded her of him. Basically, this one had something for everyone and then some. And let us not forget that quintessential Jackie moment at the very end after being confronted… you know the one where she looked in the mirror and called herself a drug addict and then proceeded to laugh. Just another perfectly uncomfortable moment that makes this show one of TV’s best. Written by Liz Brixius and Linda Wallem and directed by Paul Feig.

16: "Time Keeps Slipping" - Medium

The folks at Medium have discovered a hidden gem and they wasted no time this season allowing her to shine. That gem is young actress Sofia Vassilieva who plays the multi-dimensional Ariel DuBois. Ariel could have been another typical troubled TV teen, but the writers decided to dig deeper and Vassilieva has been running with it and amazing me week after week. Her best work came during this intriguing and engaging hour that found Ariel losing time as she jumped to different points in her future. Imagine being in school one moment and then at a murder scene the next and then working at the school as a teacher the next… it would feel a bit discombobulating to say the least. But the real shocker was when Ariel got a ride home to a house she didn’t recognize with a husband she didn’t know and a young girl calling her “Mom.” She had no memory of any of the events in between these jumps, and her family (including her mom) couldn’t understand why she was acting like a stranger. Even the simple acts of kissing her husband and tucking her daughter in for bed felt foreign and uncomfortable. Of course, this being Medium, things were not as they seemed. This made waking up to find that she was still a kid and living with her family all that much bigger of a relief, and left us happy we got to go along for the ride. Written by Robert Doherty and Heather Mitchell and directed by series star Miguel Sandoval.

So, there's a look #18-16 on the countdown. What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Leave a comment with your thoughts. You can also view previous entries by clicking the "Best Episodes" label below.  And be sure to tune in next Friday when PTR breaks into the Top 15!


John said...

I thought "Medium" was a little uneaven last season, but the episode you mentioned was one of their best.

Jeff Greenstein said...

Thanks for the kind words on Parenthood - "Solace." Much appreciated.

...the writer.