As the last of this season's finales faded to black last week, we all said our teary goodbyes to the 2010-2011 television season. So now, before we muster the strength to move on and fully embrace the wealth of summer programming that lies ahead, let's take a therapeutic look back at the episodes that stood out the most during the 2010-2011 TV season.
We asked a few of the
monkeys staff members of TV.com to name their favorite episodes and threw them into a list for ya' (because everyone loves lists!). There were just a few rules: To qualify, episodes had to air between late last summer and the end of May 2011— So Mad Men's fourth season is in, but Breaking Bad's third season is not. And for variety's sake, no show could earn more than one entry, much to the chagrin of TV.com's in-house Community Fan Club. There were several bitter arguments over which episodes ranked high, which ones got shafted, and which ones weaseled their way in, but in the end we think we came up with a decent list. (And because ten spots just weren't enough, we awarded honorable mentions, too.)
10. Modern Family's "Unplugged"
What made it good: It was fun to watch the tech-obsessed ModFam kids try to survive with out their gadgets, but the real treat was seeing Phil and Claire attempt to navigate their own lives without using their toys after Phil declared a contest to see who could stay unplugged the longest. Meanwhile, Cam and Mitchell were beat at their own game after scheming to out-diversify competitors in enrolling Lily in an exclusive preschool. Season 2 may live in the shadow of Season 1, but "Unplugged" brought back its glory for at least one night.
Other great Modern Family episodes: "See You Next Fall," "Dance, Dance, Revelation"
9. Boardwalk Empire's "Family Limitation"
What made it good: After a slow start to the first season, "Family Limitation" was a sorely needed segment. It really developed Al and Jimmy as friends, accomplices, and frenemies—and Nucky and Margaret as something more than a philanthropist and a needy widow. But the final moments, where Van Alden performed self-flagellation, left scars on us as well.
Other great Boardwalk Empire episodes: "Nights in Ballygran," "The Emerald City"
8. Fringe's "Entrada"
What made it good: "Entrada"—which jumping back and forth between universes and Olivias—served as the final chapter to the first half of the season, exposing Fauxlivia to Peter as a fraud, returning Olivia back to her rightful universe, and setting a whole bunch of craziness in motion that would make Season 3 the best network sci-fi since Lost. Maybe even better.
Other great Fringe episodes: "The Day We Died," "Subject 13," "The Last Sam Weiss"
7. Archer's "Placebo Effect"
What made it good: Cancer is never funny, with one exception: When superspy Sterling Archer was diagnosed with breast cancer. "Placebo Effect" was the strongest episode of the season on account of its non-stop onslaught of jokes that reminded us of the best of Archer's first season. Off-color jokes about marijuana, the Irish, and Zima all made this one a winner.
Other great Archer episodes: "El Secuestro," "Stage Two"
6. The Walking Dead's "Days Gone Bye"
What made it good: Who thought a zombie movie that never ends would become one of the biggest hits of the season? The opening episode of The Walking Dead created an atmosphere that's rarely seen on television: one of paralyzing, terrifying, pee-in-your-pants horror. Seeing the backs of zombies' skulls explode didn't hurt, either.
Other great Walking Dead episodes: "Wildfire," "Tell It To the Frogs"
5. The Good Wife's "Closing Arguments"
What made it good: Sometimes, a season finale just works brilliantly, and that was certainly the case with "Closing Arguments." A great case was closed with a satisfyingly twist-y ending, and for a moment, Alicia and Kalinda set aside the tension between them—but the final scenes with Will and Alicia were absolutely perfect.
Other great Good Wife episodes: "Ham Sandwich," "Foreign Sandwich"
4. Game of Thrones' "The Wolf and the Lion"
What made it good: There may very well may be a better episode of Game of Thrones to come, as the first season is still going. But "The Wolf and the Lion" hit all the necessary marks to make this a watershed episode in the series' young life. This was the moment when any fears that the show would be generic fantasy were relieved, with the visceral violence of the tournament, the final battle between Jaime and Ned, the insanity of Lysa and The Eyrie, and Renly's man-on-man love. The Lord of the Rings this show is not.
Other great Game of Thrones episodes: "Winter is Coming," "A Golden Crown," "You Win Or You Die"
3. Justified's "Brother's Keeper"
What made it good: The breakout episode of Justified's breakout second season pushed the series from "another good FX show" to "the network's best." Everything clicked in this pivotal episode—acting, writing, direction—and something had to give. "Brothers Keeper" didn't just shine because of what happened in the episode, but also because of the consequences Raylan and others would come to face as a result of what happened in the episode.
Other great Justified episodes: "The Spoil," "Reckoning," "Debts and Accounts"
2. Community's "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons"
What made it good: Dungeons & Dragons is easy to mock. But if Community had simply made fun of it, "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" wouldn't be on this list. Instead, the gang played an earnest round of imaginary swords and sorcery in the name of saving the life of a suicidal classmate, and sufficiently disarmed a potentially heavy topic with some of the best jokes delivered all season—including Annie's erotic seduction of an elf maiden.
Other great Community episodes: "Paradigms of Human Memory," "Mixology Certification," "Epidemiology"
1. Mad Men's "The Suitcase"
What made it good: Peggie and Don's relationship has always been a curious thing, and "The Suitcase" finally blew it open for all of us to see. But we'll all remember the moment when Don learned of Anna's death, the one person who truly knew the real man behind the name.
Other great Mad Men episodes: "Waldorf Stories," "Public Relations"
Louie's "The Bully"/"Night Out"
Supernatural's "The Man Who Would Be King"/"The French Mistake"
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's "Who Got Dee Pregnant?"
Terriers' "Change Partners"
Being Human's "I Want You (Back From the Dead)"
The Office's "Goodbye, Michael"
30 Rock's "Live Show"
Sons of Anarchy's "NS"
What episodes are on YOUR list?