Saturday, January 20, 2018

The 10 Best TV Episodes of 2017

The time has come. I haven't watched it all, but I have watched plenty. Too much, some would say.

The time has come to list my favorites of 2017, starting with my 10 favorite episodes of television from the year. After this I will count down my 20 favorite shows of the year, followed by my 50 favorite films.

10. Godless, "Homecoming"

The Netflix western miniseries Godless is a terrific seven episode show and the finale titled "Homecoming" is outstanding. The show moves at a methodical pace for much of the previous six episodes, all leading to a massive, dramatic showdown, and everything in this episode is done right.

9. Curb Your Enthusiasm, "The Pickle Gambit"

No one knew for sure if Curb Your Enthusiasm would ever return after its eighth season ended all the way back in 2011. It was a magical moment when a ninth season (and also we know a tenth and final season is coming as well) was announced and my goodness it didn't disappoint, a consistently brilliant season of television, but the finest single episode was "The Pickle Gambit".

8. Legion, "Chapter Six"

I thought it was going to be difficult picking a favorite episode of Legion early on in the season because everything was equally great, and then out of nowhere the sixth episode comes out of nowhere and steals the show, a completely brilliant installment from a top notch new show. Aubrey Plaza is INCREDIBLE in this episode, elevating everything else around her that is already great.

7. The Leftovers, "The Book of Nora"

The Leftovers turned out to be a top notch television series thanks to the second and third seasons. and color me surprised because the first season did nothing for me and I never planned on giving the series another chance. I'm thrilled I did and the finale episode titled "The Book of Nora" was a sublimely perfect send off. 

6. Game of Thrones, "The Dragon and the Wolf"

Three of the first five episodes I have listed here are either season or series finales. It's a tremendous accomplishment to end on a high note and leave the audience dying for more, having to wait months (perhaps even years) for the next fix. To be clear, this was the worst season of Game of Thrones thus far, as the show completely abandoned storytelling logical numerous times in order to tell a grand tale at a speedy pace. The finale, however, was so damn entertaining and compelling and all around strong, including a final season that despite the uneven season up until that point, left me asking, how long do we have to wait for more?!

5. Dear White People, "Chapter V"

Instead of a finale, the best episode of the Netflix series Dear White People was right smack dab in the middle of the season, a powerful and deeply insightful episode directed by the amazing Barry Jenkins, director of the Best Picture winning Moonlight. In only 30 minutes, this incredible episode has so much to say and it's crucial that people listen.

4. Twin Peaks, "Part 8"

I don't even really know what to say about this one. What a mesmerizing, terrifying, surreal work of art this episode is. I felt like I was watching a really vivid nightmare that I would oddly want to experience again once it was over.

3. This is Us, "Memphis"

I am a huge sucker for This is Us, a show that I have watched with my wife since day one and I look forward to each new episode, and my lord did I cry my eyes out during the powerful, deeply moving "Memphis". Sterling K. Brown is my favorite actor on the series and the fact that this entire episode focused on the relationship between him and his biological father made it hit all the right notes for me. 

2. Mr. Robot, "Runtime Error"

Holy shit. Holy fucking shit what an episode. I am a HUGE fan of Mr. Robot, my favorite show of 2016 (and it will be near the top again in 2017), and this episode was astonishing to watch unfold. By no means is the idea of an entire cinematic story being told without any cuts groundbreaking, it has been done before a number of times, but rarely is it done this well, a long take for the ages. 

1. Master of None, "Thanksgiving"

It takes a whole lot to top that episode of Mr. Robot. It took the masterpiece from the second season of Master of None, the best episode of television I saw from 2017. From the 1990's until the present we witness Thanksgiving and the way it impacts the character Denise (Lena Waithe) dealing with her sexuality and the way her family reacts to that topic over time. Just a perfect work from start to finish.