Jan. 19th, 2015

Choosing TV episodes is harder than choosing movies. There are so many episodes to choose from, and my natural inclination is to try to spread things out among multiple shows. But the urge to do a list is irresistible. I settled on eleven instead of 10 this time out. As with movies, the top 5 will be on my Hugo nominating ballot.

11) Doctor Who: "Mummy on the Orient Express" This wasn't my favorite season of DW, but it had its pleasures. I'm not entirely sure why, but the retro feel of this episode is what stuck with me.

10) Haven: "The Old Switcheroo" (2-part episode) Haven is reliably, consistently interesting, especially for the characters/actors. Which makes choosing this episode easy. By grabbing on to the old body switching trope, and giving the actors a chance to have some fun playing each other's characters, they created something that rose above their usual level.

9) Warehouse 13: "Savage Seduction" I'm going to miss W13 - we need more shows that have their balance of action and silliness. And nothing was sillier than this episode, where the characters were trapped in a telenovela.

8) Constantine: "Blessed are the Damned" Constantine may be the most faithful comic book adaptation currently on TV, and one of the most faithful ever. That was a compliment. They've captured the feel of the DC/Vertigo comic, and Matt Ryan is a close to a live action John Constantine as I could have imagined. "BatD" stood out for the twists and turns involved, the angelic characters, and the balance between the single-episode plot and the overall story arc.

7) The Neighbors: "Oscar Party" No action here, just silliness. The Neighbors made me laugh on a regular basis, and played some wonderful games with the fourth wall. Obviously, with a comedy, I'm going to pick the one I thought was funniest.

6) Agents of Shield "Beginning of the End" AoS started slowly, then picked up tremendously in the second half of its first season, building to a great season finale.

5) The Flash: "Going Rogue" The Flash is one of my three favorite new shows of the year. (See The Librarians, below. The other, Jane the Virgin, isn't genre.) There were lots of good episodes, but the chemistry between Barry and Felicity (visiting from Arrow) put "Going Rogue" over the top.

4) Sleepy Hollow: "Bad Blood" From the beginning, Sleepy Hollow has exceeded expectations. The first season ended with one of the best cliffhangers I've seen.

3) The Librarians: "And Santa's Midnight Run" I normally hate Christmas episodes. They're preachy, sappy, and forced. This was none of those things, thanks to a smart script, a note-perfect guest performance by Bruce Campbell as Santa, and a chance to learn more about a couple of the lead characters. Damn, I like this show.

2) Phineas and Ferb: "Klimpaloon Ultimatum" I've been a P&F fan for years. Which means, in this case, that I'm making a pick based purely on what I love about the show, and ignoring episodes that might better appeal to Hugo voters. What other show would even come up with the concept of Klimpaloon "the magical old-timey bathing suit that lives in the Himilayas", let alone come back and do a second episode centered around it? Not to mention gags like a show sponsored by Random Swimwear, whose slogan is "Get Wet. Arbitrarily." Really, you should be watching this show, preferably from the beginning.

1) Orphan Black: "By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried" Sometimes, it comes down to a single scene. Orphan Black built up an outstanding, twisty arc. But in addition to everything the show already did well, the season finale gave us the dance party scene, showing us what the amazing Tatiana Maslany can do with just body language, and what this show can do to grab our attention with fairly low-tech effects.



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