The annual "Doctor Who" Christmas special premiered last night, and I have a very quick review of it coming up just as soon as I can't tell weapons from wool...
The Doctor helps a World War II family in the annual Christmas special
A familiar face returns for a fantastic Christmas episode
Even shows that weren't brilliant overall could offer momentary brilliance every now and then
Having already presented my lists of the best overall shows of the year, the best returning shows and the best new shows, it's time for my final superlatives list: 10 great episodes of shows that missed the cut on any of the other lists.
Some come from shows I like a lot, but not as much as some others that actually made a top 10. Some come from shows I once loved universally and now stick with for the occasional reminder of the good old days. And one comes from a show I came to hate pretty thoroughly, as a reminder that even bad shows are capable of greatness for an hour or two.
In no particular order...
How the show learned to embrace Britta's less appealing qualities
Last week, I introduced what will hopefully not be a very long-running series on HitFix, in which I plan to spend every Thursday until NBC returns "Community" to its schedule showcasing a different clip that speaks to why it's one of my favorite shows and why I'll miss it during its hiatus. (Though the show is being pre-empted tonight for NBC's "Who's Still Standing?" game show stunt, we still have a couple of weeks of reruns to go before "30 Rock" takes over the timeslot.)
Ryan Murphy and company will say goodbye to the Harmons and tell a brand-new story
Bask in the deadpan, misanthropic splendor of April Roberta Ludgate
When I wrote about why "Parks and Recreation" was my favorite show of 2011, I chose the clip from April and Andy's wedding ceremony to represent the reasons why. That whole episode was, to my mind, maybe the best the show has ever done, and a time capsule-worthy sitcom episode (certainly moreso than "Time Capsule" itself was). Both the episode and April and Andy's decision to get married on the spur of the moment were both incredibly silly and incredibly romantic, and the way the show turned April from a cynic sneering at everyone into someone who is reluctantly forced to acknowledge that she actually cares about a lot of people and things has been one of the best, most gratifying character evolutions the show has done. The April Ludgate of season 1 laughed at Leslie behind her back. The April Ludgate we know now thinks Leslie is awesome but doesn't like to admit it. Her heart has grown three sizes, but she keeps it hidden behind a cold, deadpan exterior. Like Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza's performance is all about minimalism, and because the acting is so small and quiet, any tiny deviation from the norm seems like a much bigger deal than when a louder, more emotional character like Leslie changes her mood.
The FX horror series ends its first season in a mostly upbeat fashion
I bailed on "American Horror Story" a half-dozen or so episodes into the first season. Just not for me. But my professional curiosity - coupled with a lack of original viewing options last night - led me to check out the season finale just to see what Murphy and Falchuk did in terms of wrapping up the season and setting the show up for the long haul. I'm mainly curious for the opinions of those who watched all the way through, but I have a couple of thoughts coming up just as soon as Lady Clairol and I get too chummy...
Dan and Alan offer their picks for the best shows of the year and discuss the 'Homeland' finale
It's time for the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast to count down our favorite shows of 2011. You already know what my top picks were, but now I can discuss them with Dan, here where his choices and/or rankings differ from mine, and listen to Dan's absolute dismay as I express my disinterest in his favorite character on a show on his list. Plus, at the end we break down our thoughts on the "Homeland" season finale.
A good news/bad news afternoon for HBO's boutique half-hours
The season builds to a harrowing, satisfying climax