The Best of 2011… So Far – Television

Television used to be the last thing I’d get to on the blog. I kept up with so few shows in college, I had deceived myself into thinking there wasn’t much good out there. How wrong I was. Now it seems there are far too many shows to keep up with, so narrowing it down to five classic episodes will be a little tough. And who knows? As good as TV is right now, none of these shows might end up making the final 10 come January.

Bubbling under:

Men of a Certain Age – “A League of Their Owen”


5. Onion SportsDome – Pilot
Regrettably, Comedy Central axed this dead-on SportsCenter parody while giving another season of Ugly Americans, a show that’s literally too hideous to watch. But don’t blame the show. It had everything that made its print publication so endearing: sharp wit, clear focus and deep knowledge of the subject they’re mocking. Beyond hilarious jokes at the expense of overpaid athletes, pathetic commissioners and coverage of pointless contests (in this case, the World Series of Meth Hallucinations), SportsDome took on fame-hungry ESPN hosts. Too bad we won’t get to see more of this as we head into two lock-outs.

4. Community – “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons”
Just how big of a douchebag was Chevy Chase’s Pierce this season? Well, this episode took his meanness to Lebron-level heights of arrogance, giving everyone a valid reason to hate him. Yet it also proved how, despite the rest of the group’s selfish tendencies, they can still be extraordinarily decent and reach out to someone in need. On top of that, this was a meticulously organized, large-scale pop-culture parody, which Community just keeps getting better at.

3. Modern Family – “See You Next Fall”
It was as if everything that Modern Family was good at came together in one episode, which made no room for the stuff that didn’t work this season. It’s Alex’s middle-school graduation and she’s primed to make her valedictorian speech a verbal “eff you” to the classmates that ignored her. Claire and Phil might miss it if they don’t get there in time. Yet the show handles the hi-jinks and high stakes with the perfect balance of humor and heart–which is about 70-30 here.

2. Talking Funny
I sincerely hope there will be more than just this one-hour special, because honestly, I could listen to these four comedians talk about their stand-up history and the business of comedy and what truly makes something funny week in, week out.

1. Friday Night Lights – “The Right Hand of the Father”
A powder keg of an episode in a show that’s known for being quite an emotional rollercoaster. Vince (Michael B. Jordan) is finally becoming the leader of the East Dillon Lions, despite only having a leader (Coach) in his life for a few months. When he insists that Vince rise above the latest distractions that threaten to derail his–this week, it’s the hubbub surrounding a video taken at a kegger the previous week–he breaks down, shouting “He never taught me how to be better!” His dad, an ex-con, is back in the picture and Vince feels it’s too little too late for him to try to patch things up. Then Coach, wise as always, calmly replies, “I said strive, not be. That’s what character is–in the trying.” Considering everything that happen the rest of the season, this scene becomes even more important for these characters.

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