Bonus: Psych: Dual Spires: I stopped watching “Psych” sometime during last season, but it’s still on the DVR (there were something like 14 unwatched episodes). And after so many people suggested in last week’s Power Rankings that the omission of Dual Spires was criminal, I felt compelled to check it out. And damn you all to hell, it was fantastic. That was the “Psych” I remember: Twin Peaks. Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, Dana Ashbrook, Catherine Coulson, and Robin Lively. Wicker Man. The Village. Pretty in Pink. Large Blackmun in a town with no black people. And cinnamon pie. You assholes may have convinced me to return to “Psych.” Hell, the theme alone was one of the best things on television two weeks ago.
10. Cougar Town: If you loved “Scrubs,” Seasons 1-4, 7, then there’s no reason you wouldn’t love “Cougar Town.” It’s the same sensibility, plus alcohol. Lots of alcohol. And Busy Phillips.
9. Friday Night Lights: This week’s episode was a little too close to Season Two with the melodrama, and who knows what it means for Julie? I think “Friday Night Lights,” though, is still the only show I stick around to listen to the closing credits song, which is a helpful transition back into reality.
8. Raising Hope: All you need to know about this week’s splendiferous Christmas episode was that Cloris Leachman’s character, wearing a fake beard for a live nativity set, looked in the mirror and asked, “Who the hell moved my vagina?”
7. Top Chef All Stars: They’re not screwing around this season with All Stars, keeping the chefs up the entire night for a Night at the Museum challenge. Jennifer, one of my favorite chefs and one who I had pegged for the top five, had a meltdown, turned into a bitch, and had to pack her knives, though I’m surprised she didn’t end up using them on the judges.
6. The League: “The League” is a show that I like to watch, but it’s usually never more than mildly amusing with bursts of genius. It’s an entertaining show, even if it is “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” with fantasy football. But this week’s two episodes (the last two of the season) were hilarious, in particular the second-to-the-last episode, in which poor Pete broke his penis with a first-grade teacher who had worked out her vaginal muscles a little too hard.
5. The Office: The return of Amy Ryan helped “The Office” have easily its best episode of the season, although where the hell did Timothy Olyphant go? It almost feels like the last year or so the show has been in a holding pattern, waiting for Holly to return and Michael Scott to become likable again. Plus, I know some people were annoyed with it, but I really liked the snowball fight. It’s nice to see that, occasionally, Dwight gets the better of Jim.
4. Dexter More like Part I of the finale (see the recap), the penultimate episode of the season set up the finale perfectly (and hold your thoughts on last night’s finale — J. K. Barlow returns with a finale recap this week.
3. Boardwalk Empire Take it from Aggie, in her finale recap: Last “Sunday’s episode was a beautiful exercise in restraint that for me, worked much better than some of the over-the-top visual drama we’ve been treated to all season long.”
2. The Walking Dead: There’s nothing like a season finale that leaves you with one overriding thought: There is no hope. (See TK’s fantastic recap)
1. Community: The Christmas episode, which wasn’t nearly as funny as most episodes of “Community” was nevertheless amazing, both for its sweetness and its degree of difficulty. Offering a recap or synopsis would be an exercise in futility, however. The AV Club said it all, brilliantly. Here’s a snippet:
But when you come right down to it, if a show that’s capable of this level of emotional acuity doesn’t do an episode like this at this time of the year, that’s probably a kind of a failure. I’d never claim “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” as perfect, and I wonder how it will play at other times of the year, but I’m staggered by how much I care about the characters and want them to be OK, the kind of caring you only feel in the very, very best sitcoms, where the people are, sure, fictional, but feel more real than that somehow. When the gang gets together at the end to watch Rudolph, all nestled together on Abed’s couch, well, there’s nowhere I’d rather they be, even if they have actual families. They’ve built a family together, somehow, and that tops all else, at the end of the day.