Friday, December 21, 2012

Top 10 Episodes of 2012 - Part 2

This is part 2 of 5. I asked 20 friends to write about their favorite TV episodes of 2012 and this is the exciting results. You can find Part 1 here.

Game of Thrones – “Blackwater” (Season Two, Episode 9)
By Eric Martindale

 “Those are brave men knocking at our door, lets go kill them.” – Tyrion Lannister

The Battle of the Blackwater is truly one of the most impressive things ever filmed for television. When you consider: A) it’s a battle sequence, and B) that a television show does it justice, it’s hard not to be impressed. Before Game of Thrones came along such things did not happen, however Thrones is constantly pushing the envelope on what’s considered possible for television.
Perhaps, in a post Lord of the Rings era many viewers have epic battle fatigue. I mean, let’s be honest, how many times in the past ten years have we been exposed to computer-generated armies charging at each other? Maybe spectacle has become more important than suspense (or cheaper). Yet, you have to admire how extraordinary it is when a show can pull something like “Backwater” off using a remarkable set, featuring real extras, incorporating excellent visual effects, all packed tightly within a television show’s budget. Even though I wouldn’t even consider this the best episode of the season, I find it to be a monumental achievement.
It appears that excellence is the norm and the future of Thrones.  And considering the genre, many viewers had to be waiting for the show to fall through the ice. Yet, here we sit two seasons and twenty episodes in and the show has continued to be relentless in its distinction as the greatest fantasy epic ever filmed for the small screen.
No fantasy epic is complete with out its climatic battle, and to think we’ve got so many more to come…

Eric’s Top 10 Episodes of 2012
1. Breaking Bad – “Say My Name” (Season Five, Episode 7)
2. Breaking Bad – “Dead Freight” (Season Five, Episode 5)
3. Mad Men – “Signal 30” (Season Five, Episode 5)
4. Game of Thrones – “A Man Without Honor” (Season Two, Episode 7)
5. Sherlock – “The Reichenbach Fall” (Season Two, Episode 3)
6. Game of Thrones – “Blackwater” (Season Two, Episode 9)
7. Mad Men – “Far Away Places” (Season Five, Episode 6)
8. Breaking Bad – “Live Free or Die” (Season Five, Episode 1)
9. Game of Thrones – “The North Remembers” (Season Two, Episode 1)
10. Sherlock – “A Scandal in Belgravia” (Season Two, Episode 1)

Girls  -- “Welcome to Bushwick a.k.a. The Crackcident” (Season One, Episode 2)

 [Plot spoils for what happens in this episode of Girls.]
As an early 20-something who recently graduated college, is broke out of her mind and has no clue what her future is the HBO show Girls is a voice of a generation. Maybe that is a bit too cliche but that's how this show is for me. The show is a well written, directed and acted depiction of today's young people. In the ten episode first season there was not one bad episode, but my favorite was episode 7, "Welcome to Bushwick a.k.a. The Crackcident".
The episode centers around a night where the four girls go to a warehouse party. Shoshanna accidentally smokes crack, Marnie sees her ex boyfriend with another chick, Jessa accidentally invites her boss to the party and Hannah navigates how she feels and what she wants from Adam (her on and off again booty call).
Throughout the episode the theme was relationships. Whether it was past, present or possible future. The main focus was Hannah and Adam's. Hannah sees Adam at the party and wrestles with how she feels when she learns more information about him she wasn't prepared for. She clearly likes Adam but up to that point she had not seen Adam outside of their booty calls at his apartment.
Something this show does well is the final scene. Hannah and Adam were arguing and Marnie pulls up in a cab to pick up Hannah. Adam is fed up and is about to leave on his bicycle. There is a wide shot of Adam and Hannah facing each other. Hannah has his book bag and doesn't give it back. Adam says, "Look kid, I don't know what you want from me. Do you want me to be your boyfriend?" Then Adam gets upset. "Is that it?! Do you want me to be your f***ing boyfriend?!" There is silence. Then there is a cut to Adam, Hannah, Marnie and Adam's bike crammed in the backseat of the cab. No one speaks but a small slow smile forms on Hannah's face. Watching it I feel so overjoyed. Because it is reminiscent of that giddy feeling you get when you are officially a couple with the one you like. There is only promise and possibility.
To finish off this review I have to mention one of my favorite funny moments, when Shoshanna was freaking out on crack. Best line was when Ray was chasing after her and yelled, "Shoshanna, I'm your crack spirit guide!" I seriously almost wet my pants when he said that.

Claudia’s Top 10 Episodes of 2012
1. Misfits – “Episode Four” (Season Four, Episode 4)
2. Girls – “Welcome to Buswick a.k.a. The Crackcident” (Season One, Episode 7)
3. Parks and Recreation – “Ron and Diane” (Season Five, Episode 9)
4. Game of Thrones – “Blackwater” (Season Two, Episode 9)
5. Girls – “Hannah’s Diary” (Season One, Episode 4)
6. Girls – All Adventurous Women Do” (Season One, Episode 3)
7. Parks and Recreation – “Ben’s Parents” (Season Five, Episode 6)
8. Spartacus: Vengeance – “Wrath of the Gods” (Season Two, Episode 10)
9. The Walking Dead – “When the Dead Come Knocking” (Season Three, Episode 7)
10. The Vampire Diaries – “The Departed” (Season Three, Episode 22)

Homeland – “Q&A” (Season Two, Episode 5)
By Dennis Sullivan

 [Spoils ahead for what happens in everything up to this episode of Homeland.]
Season One of Homeland is easily one of my favorite seasons of television because they have figured out a recipe for success. Claire Danes plays Carrie Mathison, a secretly bi-polar CIA operative who becomes obsessed with Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damien Lewis), a man with post-traumatic stress disorder after being a prisoner of war for 8 years. Based on intelligence from a deceased informant, Mathison believes Brody is working with international terrorist Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) to plan an attack on the United States. However, nobody believes her and this drives her into obsession. Her new desire sets for a chain of events that lead to an unexpected romance, illegal wiretaps, explosions, and a risky race against time.

By the end of Season One, we know that Brody tried to make Nazir proud, but a technical malfunction prevented it. Time for plan B: infiltrate the US government by becoming a Congressman. Carrie, whose mental health status had been exposed to the CIA, was distraught after losing both Brody and her job. She begins making a new life for herself when she gets drug back in. She then proceeds to fuck up everyone’s plans. Brody’s cover? Blown in the first episode. The CIA’s secret mission to spy on Brody? Blown in the fourth episode.

So the CIA responds in the only way they know how: kick Brody’s ass and hold him indefinitely. In an interesting parallel, they begin doing exactly what Abu Nazir did for 8 years: break Brody down emotionally to get him to flip sides AGAIN. Seriously, this poor bastard gets the psychological shit beat out of him AGAIN. Then he’s stabbed just because.

A game of words and technicalities begins while the clock is ticking down before somebody notices the national hero is missing. Who can outwit the other? Brody is faring well, despite the CIA’s best efforts. Then their wildcard is played. Carrie, who is doing a lot of work for the CIA despite being fired, is sent into the interrogation room and the two have an intense conversation that changes the entire course of the show. In fact, it takes just one word for everything to be different. One. Word. This conversation is powerful and beautifully showcases the acting talents of the two leads, but especially Lewis. He is back to being a broken man. At least Nazir has the decency of rebuilding him.

And on a completely different note, this is the episode where Brody’s daughter Dana (Morgan Saylor) goes on a date with the Vice President’s son and they kill a lady. Yup.

Dennis’s Top 10 Episodes of 2012
1. Breaking Bad – “Fifty-One” (Season Five, Episode 4)
2. Mad Men – “The Other Woman” (Season Five, Episode 11)
3. Homeland – “Q&A” (Season Two, Episode 5)
4. 30 Rock – “There’s No I in America” (Season Seven, Episode 5)
5. Breaking Bad – “Dead Freight” (Season Five, Episode 5)
6. Mad Men – “Commissions & Fees” (Season Five, Episode 12)
7. Parks and Recreation – “Win, Lose or Draw” (Season Four, Episode 22)
8. Happy Endings – “Party of Six” (Season Two, Episode 18)
9. The Walking Dead – “Beside the Dying Fire” (Season Two, Episode 13)
10. Community – “Digital Estate Planning” (Season Three, Episode 20)

The Hour – “Episode Six” (Season Two, Episode 6)
By J.C. Pankratz

At some point in Abi Morgan’s The Hour, never-say-die journalist Freddie (Ben Whishaw) confronts his hesitant producer Bel (Romola Garai) with this little gem: “Cut you to your core, you’ll find news running through your spine.” And finally, this season we can say the same of this terrific newsroom drama. Of course, The Hour is always about news---but last year’s series suffered, I think, from a slightly overwrought obsession with a Soviet conspiracy plot line that never felt quite real. This year, The Hour features a twisted plot that reaches from sex scandal to nuclear conspiracy, with its credibility and existence as a program in the balance. But it works magnificently, because The Hour also gives us new, better-realized characters---instead of shadows in the dark. Commander Stern (Laurence Sullivan), a two-faced police chief with a troubled past, stands out in particular as a complex portrait of an abuser. Angus McCain (Julian Rhind-Tutt) is transformed from an insufferably evil bureaucrat into a man with too many secrets and just as much to lose as The Hour itself. These are complex, difficult, destructive players in an all-consuming game for power during the global race for nuclear arms. Add to that the beautiful cinematography and art direction, and you really do have a show that’s difficult to stop watching.

This leads me to the finale: along with a better narrative arc and through-line, The Hour’s season has been an exercise in both destroying and rebuilding relationships. Here, Hector (Dominic West) and Marnie’s (Oona Chaplin) sham of a marriage endures obstacle after obstacle--yet by the end of the finale, you’re rooting for them just as much as anyone else. Chaplin in particular is luminous on the show, having been upgraded from sad housewife to a sharp and vibrant TV personality. Bel and Freddie’s strained will-they-won’t-they chemistry finally comes to a rather heartbreaking conclusion, though this season’s most compelling interaction is watching international news expert Lix Storm (Anna Chancellor) and head-of-news Randall Brown (Peter Capaldi) attempt to piece their mutual pasts together while searching for a daughter they’d given up into the hands of strangers. Capaldi is truly in his element here, and watching him interact with Chancellor’s verve and swagger is a treat. Watching his breakdown at the result is like a punch to the stomach, and perhaps the best moment on the entire show. In that moment, we see the core of The Hour--what happens when we pursue the truth, no matter the cost.

J.C.’s Top 10 Episodes of 2012
1. Game of Thrones – “Valar Morghuils” (Season Two, Episode 10)
2. The entirety of the 2012 Summer Olympics
3. The Hour – “Episode Six” (Season Two, Episode 6)
4. Homeland – ”Q&A” (Season Two, Episode 5)
5. Sherlock – “The Reichenbach Fall” (Season Two, Episode 3)
6. Doctor Who – “Asylum of the Daleks” (Season Seven, Episode 1)
7. Community – “Pillows and Blankets” (Season Three, Episode 14)
8. Parks and Recreation – “Halloween Surprise” (Season Five, Episode 5)
9. Game of Thrones – “The North Remembers” (Season Two, Episode 1)
10. Karl Rove and the Cast of FOX News on the night of Tuesday, November 6th 2012  

Continue on to Part 3 to find out Raylan Given's best moment, what makes Louie so special, the power of Leslie Knope, and oh yeah I finally write a review.

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