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CHUD's Best TV Episodes of 2017

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Only made it to 37 last year, but what the hell. There's so much TV now that getting to 50 should be easy. Starting with:

 

1. Twin Peaks: The Return, "Episode 8"

 

On a show that featured several episodes which ranked among the most indelible episodes of TV in the history of the medium, this might be the most memorable. (and it says a lot about the show that I say "might")

 

Basically, it's David Lynch's riff on 2001, surrounded by a lot of other crazy stuff. A live performance by Nine Inch Nails at the Bang Bang Bar might be the least memorable thing about the episode. When "STARRING KYLE MACLACHLAN" popped up, I laughed, because what else can you do?

post #2 of 22

2. American Gods, "A Prayer for Mad Sweeney"

 

One of the many minor miracles American Gods pulled off in its first season was taking two barely-there characters from the book -- Laura Moon and Mad Sweeney -- and turning them into two of the most compelling characters on the show.  And this episode was the exclamation point on that particular sentence.  Basically taking a break before the finale to spin us a bit of a fairy tale, wherein Old World magic is both a symbolic and literal source of comfort in a new world that's not always as welcoming as the history books would have us believe.  While Essie isn't explicitly made a blood ancestor of Laura, she's definitely a spiritual one, and her last scene with Sweeney, an old woman embraced by the magic she never truly let go, is a wonderful bit of whimsy that legitimately made me applaud.  If Bryan Fuller took this kind of sensibility with him when he left the show, it's doomed.

post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 

3. Better Call Saul, "Chicanery"

 

With help from his buddy Huell, Jimmy betrays Chuck, effectively ending his law career. Chuck's breakdown on the stand should be a fist-pumping moment, but it's too tragic to enjoy. Featuring a final shot for the ages:

 

post #4 of 22

image.jpg

4. AMERICAN VANDAL - "CLEAN UP" (Season 1, Episode 8)

 

Over the course of eight episodes, American Vandal has been many things - a satire of both true crime television/podcast and our obsession with true crime television/podcasts, a raunchy teen comedy, an exploration of gender and power (what isn't?), an affectionate parody that's a masterwork of execution, and, of course, an elaborate, multi-episode dick joke (#whodrewthedicks) - but the finale reveals what a deft, nuanced show we've been watching. Though the ending is left ambiguous on several levels (the knowing is the not knowing) and is bound to provoke theories and conspiracies among its fans for years to come, scenes like the confrontation between Sarah Pearson and "documentary filmmaker" Peter Maldono addresses the problems with this style of filmmaking in ways that actual documentaries (Serial, Making a Murderer) seem unwilling to. And watching the end to Dylan Maxwell's story is heartbreaking and subversive, emphasizing that it doesn't take much for someone who's been told they're a fuck-up their entire lives to finally let that sink in. It all adds up to the best teen dramadey since Freaks and Geeks, and the finale is a huge part of that. #whodrewthedicks

post #5 of 22

5. Legion -Chapter 6

 

 

 

That's only one highlight of a stellar episode where Lenny played by Aubrey Plaza dances through the minds of the cast and tries to convince them all they are mental.

post #6 of 22

6. FARGO - Episode 8 (Who Rules The Land Of Denial)

 

Overall, LEGION was probably my favorite non-TWIN PEAKS series of 2017, but this particular episode of FARGO was the best thing released this year with Noah Hawley's name attached to it.  The return of Mr. Wrench gave the strong-but-maybe-not-exceptional season a huge shot in the arm, and the chase through the woods that makes up the bulk of the episode was a masterclass in tension.  The icing on the cake is the surreal LEBOWSKI-esque bowling alley sequence featuring the great Ray Wise.    

 

 

And who knew DJ Qualls could be scary?  

post #7 of 22

* checks air dates * 19th Jan 2017, counts!

 

7. THE GOOD PLACE - "Michael's Gambit"

 

If you're not watching this show, stop reading and go watch this show!

 

I can't remember the last time a show has managed to masterfully troll me so well... and a sitcom no less. With all of us figuring out the parallel timelines in Westworld by epsiode two and Jon Snow not being dead in Game Of Thrones about ten minutes after the credits rolled on his stabbing, it is very very refreshing to be actually surprised by a TV Show, and the season one finale of this excellent comedy didn't half do that. 

 

All topped perfectly with that chuckle.

 

Image result for ted danson good place evil 

post #8 of 22

Can't agree with you enough - was really enjoying the show as a "light" comedy with smart chops and a great cast and then...that season finale and I was like - give Danson every god damn award in the book, stat. Didn't see it coming and enjoyed just wallowing in the shock. Took the series from good to great in one episode!

post #9 of 22
8. GAME OF THRONES - Spoils of War



Usually Game of Thrones waits until the next to last episode to give us the big "Holy Shit!" moment. This season we barely got halfway through the season before the dropped some of the most bad-ass dragon action I've ever seen on screen.
post #10 of 22
9. Bojack Horseman - “Time’s Arrow”



Few shows break your heart like Bojack Horseman does, and make no mistake this episode is Bojack at it’s most vicious and beautiful. This is one of a pair of episodes set largely inside a character’s inner monologue. “Stupid Piece of Shit” deserves recognition as the most incredible depiction of destructive self-loathing I’ve ever seen, but the heartbreaking revelations drawn from Beatrice’s dementia addled mind reach another level entirely.

"Time's arrow neither stands still nor reverses. It merely marches forward."
post #11 of 22

10.  BOB'S BURGERS  - "Bob, Actually"

 

Image result for bob actually

 

Bob's has been chugging along, producing reliably offbeat, consistently funny episodes for seven years(!) now, without ever really threatening to be a serious contender for best/funniest thing on TV.  But for my money, it aired its best episode ever with this year's Valentine's Day extravaganza.  There is fun stuff for Gene and Bob and Linda and Tina and Jimmy Jr., but the heart and highlight is the consummation of the will-they-won't-they relationship of the millennium (pre-teen, cartoon division):  Louise and Regular Size Rudy.  Louise is generally such a whirling dervish of chaos that providing her with a sincere romantic storyline seems impossible to do without selling out her characterization.  But the episode threads the needle perfectly, making it sweet and unhinged in equal measure. 

post #12 of 22
STRANGER THINGS Season 2, Episode 8
The Mind Flayer

Hitting the sweet spot of everything the show does best (suspense, comedy, nostalgia porn, monsters, informed D&D references), this was the big action finale of the season, and one of the best Aliens riffs in recent memory, going as far as to heavily feature Paul Reiser. Coming as it did after the controversial Eleven side adventure, this fulfilled all the season’s set ups and brought everything to a raging head. Probably the best decision made on this episode was to use Sean Astin, easily the most expendable member of the ensemble, as its POV character and protagonist.
Edited by Arjen Rudd - 12/6/17 at 10:47pm
post #13 of 22

12.  RICK AND MORTY - "Pickle Rick"

 

 

 

"What more do you want me to tack on here?  I turned myself into a pickle and 9/11 was an inside job?"

 

 

I rolled my eyes when I saw the promo for this one, but it turned out to be the best episode of the best season of the show.  Incredibly sharp jokes, amazingly dark riffs on action archetypes (JAGUAR!), and genuinely insightful character work.  Come for the rampant rat slaughter, stay for the terrorism and poop eating jokes, and finish up with the gentle reminder that thinking you are (or even being) smarter than the room doesn't mean you don't have to do the simple, unpleasant work of wiping your ass.  

post #14 of 22

13. GLOW, "Money's in the Chase"

 

 

Probably my favourite new show of the year. And the finale is one of my favourite episodes.

With the girls at their lowest, scrambling to get the show going, Sam in the wind on a bender and everything seemingly ready to come crashing down. Watching it all come together through sheer grit and determination and everyone stepping up produced one of the most fist-pumping hours of television I've ever seen. From Machu Pichu's big moment, to Bash taking the stage. to the FANTASTIC use of Pat Benatar's "Invincible" during the climax this paid off the investment and work the season had done before hand with grace and ease. The grin this episode put on my face didn't fade for like two weeks. 

post #15 of 22

14. Star Trek: Discovery - "Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad

 

star-trek-mudd2.jpg?q=35&w=984&h=518&fit=crop

 

 

Arguably Discovery's best episode so far (although I'd be willing to hear a case for the pilot episode), "Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad" is also the most Treky episode that the show has offered at this point in its run by trapping the titular ship in a time loop. It also does something that even the Original Show never really dared, by taking the lovable rogue Harcourt Fenton Mudd (now wonderfully played by Rainn Wilson) and turning him into a credible threat. The fact that it also tells a sweet but sad love story between two of the lead characters is just the icing on the cake.  

post #16 of 22

15. The MAGICIANS Season 2 Episode 1

 

The Magicians kept fantasy lovers hopes alive with a mixture of comedy and the realities of running a kingdom with it's wry wit and charm.  The season opener gains points for it's test to the gang to see if they were fit to rule with a  hilarious Patrick Swayze Dirty Dancing speech by the show stealer Eliot played by Hale Appleman. While I don't have that clip, I do have this crown ceremony clip from the same episode that shows how the cast has gelled together and can create very touching moments.

 

Season 3 can't come fast enough.

post #17 of 22

Preacher, Episode 7

 

I know that this show has been kind of 'meh' this year, with wild swings in terms of quality but when it's been on...it's really been there.  This episode was, in my opinion, was the high point of the season, based solely on the strength of Herr Star's history with The Grail.

 

 

Comedy gold!

post #18 of 22

17.  Saturday Night Live - "Kristen Stewart/Alessia Carr"

 

The most sustained and effective assault on the Trump administration that SNL put up this year, it featured the all-time surprise debut of Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer.  As I wrote in a blog post last February:

 

 
Quote:
An immediate classic and candidate for the best political sketch the show has ever done, it was just brilliantly constructed and taken to another level by McCarthy’s absolute tour-de-force performance.  It’s a long sketch, which is usually a bad thing for political material in particular, but right to the end it keeps finding new, bizarrely aggressive twists on Spicer’s frantic abuse of the press corps.  McCarthy never flags, never breaks, and never loses the thread even when stumbling over a single line or navigating through the audience’s delayed realization as to what they are seeing.  She clearly articulates every set-up over and around the audience laughter and nails every punchline, without ever pausing to vamp or drop the level of Spicer’s nonstop scream.  It should win her an Emmy, it will define Spicer in the public consciousness forevermore, and we can expect to see her charging Vanessa Bayer with the podium in clipshows, promos and interstitials for years to come.  SNL is always an uneven show, which is inevitable given the nature of sketch comedy, live TV, and the unforgiving clip at which the show airs.  But sometimes the writers really nail down a particular bit, a performer knocks it out of the park, and it creates something electric and hilarious.  And very occasionally, it may also double as a piece of trenchant political satire that even your grandma will see. 
 
Or at least the president will, because the sketch has apparently already sent ripples through the West Wing.  There have been reports that the president was highly displeased that his representative was mocked so thoroughly by a woman (and an overweight woman – it’s really hard to underestimate just how deep Trump’s intertwined women/body issues actually go) and that Kellyanne Conway ended a meeting early after being asked about the sketch.  I don’t want talk in grandiose terms like “game-changer” about a comedy sketch, but given Trump’s image obsession and Spicer's already rocky start, there is a real chance that this was the nail in the coffin of his tenure as the voice of the administration. 

 

 

Did SNL's portrayals contribute to the subsequent firings of Spicer and Bannon?  There's no way to prove or disprove that, but what is cerain is that these sketches really, really pissed off Trump.  And there was no higher calling in 2017.  

 

Oh, and the rest of the show was pretty good to.  But mostly, this:

 

 

post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schwartz View Post
 

17.  Saturday Night Live - "Kristen Stewart/Alessia Carr"

 

The most sustained and effective assault on the Trump administration that SNL put up this year, it featured the all-time surprise debut of Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer.  As I wrote in a blog post last February:

 

 

 

Did SNL's portrayals contribute to the subsequent firings of Spicer and Bannon?  There's no way to prove or disprove that, but what is cerain is that these sketches really, really pissed off Trump.  And there was no higher calling in 2017.  

 

Oh, and the rest of the show was pretty good to

Actually it was a pretty good episode.  Kristen Stewart started off a little shaky during the monologue, but hey, she pretty much came out on live TV unless I'm mistaken.  And she was one of the kind of hosts I love watching.  Just looked like she had fun with the skits, and she wasn't a constant cue card reader.

post #20 of 22

She dropped an f-bomb in the monologue, leading to the type of breaking I like, and a very good, quick recovery on her part.  It also had the great Totinos lesbian short.

post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 

18. Vice Principals, "Venetian Nights"

 

The penultimate episode of the best comedy of the last two years, McBride & Hill's ultimate achievement. 

 

Excellently directed by McBride, featuring the wonderful fight between Gamby & Russell, culminating with a climactic prom scene scored to the weirdest prom song I've ever heard:

 

 

post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 

19. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, "Hero or Hate Crime?"

 

 

The above situation is the impetus for an episode mostly set in one room, maybe the only great episode during this (possibly last) season of Always Sunny. The one Sunny that indulges in FX's lax language policy, and an amazing sight gag ends with Mac finally revealing what has been in his heart all along.

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