Oh, television. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
The year 2007 is drawing to a close, which can mean only one thing: lists! In consequence of which I present you with my list of the 10 best moments on television this year.
This is only my list, of course, made up of shows that I watch (which is why you’ll find nary a reality TV moment). If your top ten list is different, feel free to leave a comment letting me know what I’ve egregiously omitted (or criminally overrated).
10. Finally finding out who was behind the attacks on Ellen and David on Damages (“Because I Know Patty,” Oct. 23 on FX): The first season of this under-watched show had more twists and turns than a bag of pretzels. The complicated characters and complex story that were gradually revealed, piece by tantalizing piece, had me on the edge of my couch cushions until they (finally!) revealed the circumstances that precipitated the violent attack in the pilot’s opening scene.
9. Ian McKellen explains acting on Extras (“Ian McKellen,” Feb. 11 on HBO): There were so many terrific celebrity cameos over the course of Extras, but of all of them, no one seemed to take quite as much delight in mercilessly mocking himself as Sir Ian McKellen. “You are aware that I am not really a wizard?”
8. Slap #2 on How I Met Your Mother (“Stuff,” Feb. 19 on CBS): I know, I know, most people would put slap #3 from “Slapsgiving” here, but for my money slap #2 was the real winner, coming practically out of nowhere during Barney’s torturous one-man theater performance. “It’s a masterpiece of awful! It’s genius how bad it is, I kinda wish you guys could see it.”
7. The opening scene of Pushing Daisies (“Pie-lette,” Oct. 3 on ABC): “At this very moment in the town of Coeur d’Coeurs, young Ned was 9 years, 27 weeks, 6 days and 3 minutes old…” So begins the most original television series to debut in years. The soothing voice of narrator Jim Dale and the sight of a boy frolicking with his dog in a field of hyper-saturated flowers lulls you into a sense of whimsey bordering on the twee… that is immediately shattered when the dog is shockingly run down by a car. It’s that perfect balance between the magic of fairy tales and the harsh reality of life (and death), along with Bryan Fuller’s delightfully dry dialogue, that makes this show a singularly unique experience.
6. The redemption of Mac McGill on Friday Night Lights (“Black Eyes and Broken Hearts,” Feb. 14 on NBC): There were a lot of great moments in season one of Friday Night Lights (just don’t talk to me about this season), but Mac’s humble confession to Smash –“They made a mistake, son, just like I did”–at the end of this insightful two-parter about the insidious nature of racism was the moment I fell madly, deeply in love with the show.
5. Tracy’s therapy session on 30 Rock (“Rosemary’s Baby,” Oct. 25 on NBC): Alec Baldwin just seems to get better and better on 30 Rock, consistently providing the funniest moments of every episode. The highlight, though, is still this scene in which his Jack Donaghy seamlessly role-plays no less than five appalling racial stereotypes from Tracy Jordan’s past, to the horror of the onlooking therapist. “Dyn-o-mite!”
4. Four of the Final Five Cylons are revealed on Battlestar Galactica (“Crossroads” Part 2, March 25 on SciFi): I’ll admit up front that I was not a fan of the lead-up to this reveal. Mysterious psychic messages delivered in the form of lyrics from “All Along the Watchtower”? You’re kidding, right? Alas, they were not kidding. But despite that, there’s no denying the way my heartbeat quickened when those four characters finally came together and realized who they were. Particular kudos to Bear McCreary’s masterful score, which is what truly gave this moment its zing.
3. The identity of the Face of Boe is revealed (or is it?) on Doctor Who (“Last of the Time Lords,” June 30 on BBC One and Oct. 5 on SciFi): I won’t spoil it for you if you don’t know what I’m talking about, but let’s just say that this reveal, which came unexpectedly at the end of the season finale, had me (and my nine-year-old daughter) standing up and shouting “What? Oh my god! What?” at the television set. Bravo, Russell T Davies.
2. The flashback that turned out to be a flash forward on Lost (“Through the Looking Glass,” May 23 on ABC): Some people will tell you that they knew right away that we were seeing Jack and Kate in a post-island future. Me? I was blissfully ignorant until the very last moment. Yeah, probably the cell phone should have clued me in, but frankly, I’m glad it didn’t, so that I could be thoroughly blind-sided by Lost‘s greatest twist since the reveal of Locke’s wheelchair in season one’s “Walkabout.”
1. Pam’s reaction after Jim asks her out on The Office (“The Job,” May 17 on NBC): Yes, Pam’s speech in “Beach Games” was terrific, but if you ask me the real highlight of the year was this moment, in which somewhere in the vicinity of a dozen different emotions flash across Jenna Fischer’s face over the course of a mere eight seconds. “I’m sorry, what was the question?”
Happy new year, everyone! And best wishes for a speedy end to the writers strike and a bountiful crop of new television in the upcoming year.