Patricia Clarkson—“Parks and Recreation”: I didn’t think anyone could top Megan Mullally’s extraordinary turn as Ron Swanson’s ex-wife “Tammy 2.” And, well, if we’re being honest, Patricia Clarkson didn’t. But as “Tammy 1,” Clarkson brought a hilariously stern take on the character. While it was 180 degrees from Clarkson’s usual bright, sensual performances (Easy A, High Art, The Station Agent), “Tammy 1” was a buttoned up riot. I hope we haven’t seen the last of her. (p.s. I pretty much hate Mullally in anything else she’s ever done, which is why her guest spot on “Happy Endings” didn’t make this list.)
Josh Groban—“The Office”: For those of you who don’t follow him on Twitter or somehow missed him singing Kanye’s tweets, Groban’s comedic timing may have come as a shock. His warm, wide-eyed performance was particularly welcome in this, one of the harsher episodes of “The Office” I have ever seen. Groban’s affability and the bittersweet denouement were the only respite from the unrelentingly awkward and cruel Bernard family dynamics.
Parker Posey—“The Good Wife” : I don’t know who is in charge of Guest Star casting on this show, but they do a damn fine job. In a field of great players (including “Dexter“‘s Jennifer Carpenter as a prim Christian), Posey stood out for several reasons. As Eli Gold’s (Alan Cumming) ex-wife she was as sassy as you’d expect. But, more than anything, I love a good Josie And The Pussycats Reunion.
Jeff Goldblum—“The League”: This show also gets the best Guest Stars and this spot almost went to Seth Rogen who killed it as Dirty Randy in the season premiere. Ray Liotta was also aces. But top marks go to Goldblum and his vinegar strokes. Unfortunately, if you didn’t see the episode, this scene will make no sense to you. But Goldblum’s resemblance to Kroll is uncanny and his performance so enjoyable I was able to ignore Sarah Silverman entirely.
Carrie Anne Moss—“Chuck”: Ah, Trinity, I missed you so much. I had stopped watching “Chuck” altogether last season after the plot became a weak rip-off of “Alias,” and all the will they/won’t they tension was sucked from the Sarah/Chuck relationship. However, as is often the case with a flailing series when they have a firm end date on the horizon, some new life seeped back into the show this season. I especially enjoyed Ms. Moss as an adversary/love interest for Adam Baldwin’s Casey. Makes me long for the days of The Matrix and
“Models Inc.” Memento.
Jay Mohr—“Suburgatory”: I think we know by now that Jay Mohr is, in all likelihood, an epic douchenozzle. So it’s nice to see him embrace and harness that inner-nozzle for good as Dallas’s mildly d*ckish husband Stephen. Mohr was actually delightful, and that’s not something I’ve said about him in a good long while.
Brent Spiner—“The Big Bang Theory”: Why should Wil Wheaton have all the fun? Data was always my favorite “TNG” character, so it was great to see Spiner have his moment in the sun. Oh, sure, it was brief, but so is my patience with this show.
Nick Kroll—“Community”: Maybe it’s because I wasn’t expecting him, but Kroll absolutely nailed the part of the “head German” antagonist in this, my favorite episode of the season. “Community” had several higher profile guest stars including John Goodman, Michael K. Williams and Martin Starr, but no one made me laugh like Kroll. His delivery and accent were pitch perfect. I wish this had been the final episode of the fall season. Because the bitter, scathing tone came from outside the group in the form of Kroll, Harmon was able to bathe the Study Group dynamics in a warmer light. The series still kept its edge without resorting to some of the low blows of the “Glee” episode.
Zachary Quinto—“American Horror Story”: Oh god. Remember when “Heroes” was good? You probably forgot, but Quinto brought it all back with his absolutely scene stealing performance as the queeny ghost of an interior designer. Quinto was shrill, bitchy, wounded and phenomenal. Also, the man can fill out a rubber suit. Thanks to the batsh*t premise of the show, Ryan Murphy can bring Quinto back as often as he likes.