Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “Captain Peralta” (A)
It takes expert skills to combine the cop-heavy plot with the feels interwoven. But this episode does it. Bradley Whitford guest stars as Jake’s dead-beat dad and nails the charisma that keeps Jake coming back, but never gives him the father he needed. That lets Holt swoop in with “I’m proud of you.” Oh, my heart swells.
Togetherness — “Not So Together” (A-) / season finale
A structurally daring episode separates everyone, figuratively and literally. It ends on a bittersweet, ambiguous note that makes me excited for Season Two. Outstanding work from everyone.
The Mindy Project – “Confessions of a Catho-holic” (B-)
Sure, Stephen Colbert was great. But I can’t help thinking that the role of “a-hole priest” would have been played better by another Daily Show alum: Rob Corddry. Still, this episode provides several laughs, they’re just not as big as what’s come in recent weeks.
The Americans – “Walter Taffett” (A)
An elaborately plotted, emotionally twisted episode from first-time director Noah Emmerich. It’s engaging throughout, but will remain in my memory for two exquisite scenes: Martha silently crying and covering her tracks in the bathroom, and that incredible kidnapping set to Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.”
Togetherness — “Kick the Can,” “Ghost in Chains,” “Party Time” (average: B+)
The harshness of “Houston, We Have a Problem” was a fluke. This is a warmer, sweeter show. But it also doesn’t quite make the leap to greatness. These episodes are far funnier than the four that preceded them, with “Kick the Can” representing a bright spot in both the characters’ lives and the season. Still, I’m glad I stuck with this show.
The Simpsons (Season 8) – “Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment” (A)
When it comes to Springfield as another character, this is one of its best episodes. Maybe not as great as “Marge vs. the Monorail” (then again, what is?), but one of the most consistently funny episodes the show has ever produced.