Another weekend conversation leads to another Ted style top ten list. Some friends and I had a road trip to Salina (to see George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic) and this provided us plenty of entertainment on the way there and back. Just as a quick aside, the concert was totally sweet. Not naming any names, but there are river festivals out there that could learn a lot from Salina’s Smoky Hills River Festival. Anyway, I found that doing a top ten list of TV episodes is rough. Here's my attempt.
10. “Compassionate Leave” Edge of Darkness. Miniseries are TV too, and I had to give a miniseries ep at least one nod on the board. Sci-fi mini’s all popped into my head. Spielberg’s Taken, The Lost Room, Dune, and especially Tin Man; all are fantastic. But I gotta go with Edge of Darkness. Airing on the BBC in 1986, EoD has scenes that would be considered edgy even today. Great writing, great acting, and music written by the late great Michael Kamen and performed by guitar legend Eric Clapton. It’s a can’t miss.
9. "Jurassic Bark" Futurama. OK, not my favorite ep of the series. Those would be "The Farnsworth Parabox," "A Flight to Remember," or "Hell is Other Robots." But it's very notable for being a funny episode, AND joining "Brian's Song" on the list of things a man can cry while watching.
8. "Blackest Pitch" There Will Be Brawl. My favorite episode of the mini-series that proved to me that shoestring budget, web-only television could be just as good or better than anything big budget Hollywood could crank out. TWBB was epic, especially if you are (like me) an old school video game fan.
7. "Crossroads Pt. 2" Battlestar Galactica. So many things came together so well in this episode. Plus the score of an episode has never been more important to the series and more perfect than in this episode. Kudos to Bear McCreary for making the ending sequence of this ep one of the best ever.
6. "Hush" Buffy. I have absolutely no doubt that if Firefly had continued; my "Whedon" spot on the list would have gone to an episode of Firefly. (or Joss would have gotten 2 on the list) But even with all of the other great episodes of BVTS, Angel, Dr. Horrible, and even Dollhouse to pick from I can break down this decision easy. Hush = silent episode. Balls, BRASS balls.
5. "Dreams" M*A*S*H. Hard hitting and chilling. I loved the humor in MASH, but few episodes stick with me as much as this one. No matter how hard I try, there are a few images I will never be able to get out of my head. Specifically Loretta Switt in the bloody wedding dress and the choppers waking Alan Alda (who directed this ep) up from his dream. Not many actors have the facial expression "Fear Worse Than Death/Suicidal Anguish" in their repertoire.
4. I'll say "Humbug" The X Files. So many great episodes that it's hard to give them just one, but that's all they get. So I'm giving it to Darrin Morgan's first script. Every other script he was given primary writing credits on was also on my short list for this... list. And he wrote the best episodes of Millennium as well. There were other greats in XF; "Ice," "Grotesque," "Quagmire," and more... but "Humbug" is very special. Plus it guest stars a man who played a pivotal role in the next entry on my list. So here's the Mike Anderson twofer. (or threefer)
3. "Babylon" and "Pick a Number" Carnivale. It's a 2-parter, they can be listed as one. Carnivale is my all-time favorite show so it follows that I need an episode high up on this list. And this 2-parter early on in the series showed (in shocking fashion) that this series was not screwing around.
2. "A Game of Pool" The Twilight Zone OS. There was such a talented team of writers working on TTZ that it's hard to pick a favorite. Serling and Richard Matheson are my favorites, but my favorite ep was written by George Johnson. I'd break it down, but instead I just say watch the episode. No matter what your favorite genre of television is, "A Game of Pool" is guaranteed to satisfy.
1. "City on the Edge of Forever" Star Trek OS. These days this ep seems kind of like a hack premise in several ways. But the truth is, this episode MADE those themes a hack premise. This is what sci-fi time travel episodes all WANT to be. And none of them stand up this tall.