Part 1 of BuddyTV’s four-part countdown of the 100 best episodes of television for 2008.
#26 “Tearjerker,” American Dad
American Dad is rarely better than Seth MacFarlane’s flagship series Family Guy, but this episode was a brilliant James Bond parody that had it all. We dare you not to laugh at Roger’s attempt to win an Academy Award by making a movie about a mentally-retarded, alcoholic Jewish boy in Nazi Germany named Oscar Gold.
#25 “Greatness Achieved,” Prison Break
Season 4 of Prison Break had plenty of big moments, but one that was hard to forget was when Bellick sacrificed his own life for the greater good. But what really let this episode achieve greatness was the final showdown between Mahone and Wyatt, the man who murdered his son. Mahone ruthlessly dropped the Company agent into the ocean wearing cinder block shoes in a move of triumphant retribution.
#24 “The Arrival,” Fringe
Fringe has been somewhat disappointing for fans looking for a complicated, mythology-based sci-fi series in the same vein as Lost. However, with this episode that introduced “The Observer,” a bald man with a preference for spicy foods and jotting down odd events in his notebook. Suddenly, this rather procedural show became interesting.
#23 “Daredevils!,” Psych
Every episode of Psych is pretty funny, but this one was particularly noteworthy because of special guest star Jeff Fahey. Though Fahey made a splash in 2008 as the helicopter pilot on Lost, it was his role as an aging, carefree daredevil that made him truly stand out.
#22 “A Fine Meth,” In Plain Sight
USA’s witness protection drama worked as both a procedural crime show and a family drama, but in the first season finale, those worlds collided and, in a brutally honest scene, agent Mary Shannon berated her deadbeat mother and sister for pulling her down.
#21 “Something Borrowed,” Torchwood
Weddings are always special episodes, and when Gwen Cooper was supposed to marry Rhys, she awoke that morning to find she was pregnant with an alien baby. Torchwood’s strange blend of drama, comedy and sci-fi elements mixed perfectly in this memorable episode.
#20 “Go Your Own Way,” Dexter
In this haunting episode, Dexter realizes he may have gone too far and tries to end his friendship with Miguel Prado, only to find the student is trying to defeat the teacher as Prado joins forces with the Skinner. Jimmy Smits has never been scarier.
#19 “Mr. Monk’s 100th Case,” Monk
In the special 100th episode of Monk, a slew of guest stars returned to film testimonials for a crime documentary about the famous detective. It was worth it just to be reminded of the massive number of great guest stars this show has had over the years.
#18 “Two and a Half Deaths,” CSI
Once the writers’ strike ended, fans finally got a real treat when the writing staffs of CSI and Two and a Half Men switched shows for a week. While the sitcom still wasn’t funny, the CSI episode about a dead sitcom star that mirrored writer Chuck Lorre’s work with Roseanne and Cybil Shepherd was truly hysterical.
#17 “The Ember Island Players,” Avatar: The Last Airbender
If you love meta comedy, the penultimate episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender would be right up your alley. Before heading off for the final battle, Aang and his crew watched a play that chronicled their lives, allowing viewers to relive the entire series in a single half-hour without resorting to a clip show.
#16 “Little Boats,” Weeds
Every episode of Weeds has something good in it, but in this one, Nancy Botwin stepped up as a mom when she discovered her son’s disturbing sex lives: Silas was sleeping with a much older woman and Shane was gratifying himself to a nude photograph of his mother as a young woman. Yes, it was as gross as it sounds.
#15 “The Pilot Episode Sanction,” The Middleman
Translating a wacky comic book into a TV show is no easy task, but the pilot of The Middleman did it beautifully, capturing just the right tone between cheesy special effects and self-aware super hero parody.
#14 “Late Editions,” The Wire
This second-to-last episode of the series was memorable for many reasons, the most important being that Lester Freamon finally got justice by busting Marlo Stanfield’s drug organization. The simple act of Lester holding up a clock to show Marlo how he took him down was positively brilliant.
#13 “Rock ’n’ Runway,” Project Runway
It’s always funny when the designers have to make outfits for each other, but this one was especially difficult. Kenley had to design a hip hop look for Leanne, Leanne had to design a country look for Korto, and Korto had to make Suede punk rock. The results were outrageously fabulous.
#12 “Ghostfacers,” Supernatural
Supernatural took time out from the countdown to Dean’s death to air this very funny pilot for a new ghost-hunting reality show called “Ghostfacers.” The result was a clever mix of comedy and horror that served as a perfect break from the otherwise dire circumstances of the Winchesters.
#11 “The Bracket,” How I Met Your Mother
Barney tried to figure out which of his exes was trying to sabotage his conquests, and while that was brilliant, this episode merits a place on this list solely for the final scene, which saw Barney summarizing the lesson of the show on a computer journal in a direct homage to Doogie Howser M.D.
#10 “Welcome to Kanagawa,” Desperate Housewives
In the aftermath of the tornado that hit Wisteria Lane, Lynette bonded with a heartbroken Mrs. McCluskey and, in one of the show’s funniest subplots, Bree tried to whore out her son Andrew to their older gay contractor to get their house fixed while Susan did everything in her power to stop it so Bree would continue making her dinner.
#9 “Aftertaste,” Medium
Gregory Itzin became a star as the devious President Charles Logan on 24, and he gave an equally delicious performance in this episode of Medium as a politician and former P.O.W. who murdered a fellow solider along with the rest of his crew to stop him from exposing their dirty little secret – while prisoners, they ate a dead fellow solider to survive.
#8 “The Nigerian Job,” Leverage
With the look and feel of a TV version of Ocean’s 11,, Leverage got off to a great start as a cool new show that may not have the serious weight of other TNT original shows, but is more fun than anything else on TV.
#7 “Top 12 Perform,” American Idol
For the first time ever, American Idol allowed contestants to sing Beatles songs, and while the result was a mixed bag, there were several truly great performances, most notably winner David Cook’s “Eleanor Rigby,” Chikezie Eze’s surprising “She’s a Woman,” and Brooke White’s devastatingly beautiful “Let it Be.” And if you watch for trainwrecks, it doesn’t get better than Kristy Lee Cook’s disastrous “Eight Days a Week.”
#6 “My Princess,” Scrubs
The unplanned NBC finale of Scrubs was criticized because it failed as a season ender, but that’s because it was never meant to be one. On its own, this fantasy was a well-crafted, well-directed fairy tale that gave all of its stars a chance to shine.
#5 “The Palindrome Reversal Palindrome,” The Middleman
The season and possibly series finale of ABC Family’s The Middleman was a virtuoso look at a parallel world where everything was upside down, the best part being the do-gooder Middleman’s renegade biker persona. If this was the last time we’ll ever see this great show, at least it went out with a bang.
#4 “Dial M for Provenza,” The Closer
The Closer is great at creating compelling drama, but this hilarious episode put the spotlight on the brilliant G.W. Bailey as Lt. Provenza, as he loses the evidence against a trashy trophy wife played by special guest star Jennifer Coolidge. For a deadly serious crime drama, it was one of the funniest episodes of the year.
#3 “Monday Night Confession,” The Life and Times of Tim
This underappreciated HBO animated series had a lot of laughs, but none more than this episode where Tim pleasures himself in the bathroom of a church and then confesses to it during the priest’s Monday Night Confession, where he absolves you of your sins during halftime of a football game.
#2 “Quiet Riot,” Prison Break
Prison Break is a fast-paced action adventure series, which is exactly why this episode was so special. Michael and his team finally broke into the Company’s vault to steal Scylla, but the sensors required them not to make any noise. Nearly 15 minutes of this episode take place without any dialogue, amplifying the suspense level to new heights.
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