Ranking the ten best episodes of the week, from Sunday October 10th to Saturday, October 16th.
10. Castle: I had a hard time picking a number ten this week. The better overall “Sons of Anarchy” and “Dexter” are still in the slow parts of their seasons; “Glee” was good, but not fantastic; and “The Good Wife” was also good, but it takes an exceptional episode of that to make the top ten. Even “The League” and “Cougar Town” got some consideration this week. “Weeds” did not. Did anyone see it? It was a terrible episode, but the sex scene between Mary-Louise Parker and Zack Morris was insane. Mr. Belding would be proud. Anyway, I’m giving a charity nod to “Castle,” not necessarily because this week’s episode was better than the aforementioned shows, but because it was a better than normal week for “Castle,” which focused on steam punk, which was kind of neat. Plus, Nathan Fillion is starting a Twitter campaign to be the lead in the video-game adaptation of Drake’s Fortune, and he needs the exposure.
9. Boardwalk Empire: It’s starting to take off, and showing some more of what we’d hoped it’d be after the pilot episode. The tension is not quite there yet, but “Boardwalk” makes it into the top ten this week for the brilliant Michael Kenneth Williams’
scene alone. That may have been the best five minutes of television this week.
8. 30 Rock: There was a lot of debate on the merits of the live show of “30 Rock,” this week. I loved the novelty of it, but in execution, it fell flat, and in doing so, emphasized the show’s weakness, namely the Kenneth character, who is becoming not only more extraneous, but the live show revealed what a terrible, hammy actor Jack McBrayer is. Tracy’s subplot was also horrendous. On the other hand, by giving us the laugh track, the over-exaggerated expressions, and the sitcom conventions, the live “30 Rock” made me appreciate how much more I like the normal “30 Rock.” As some pointed out, it was a great episode of “SNL,” but even a great episode of “SNL” doesn’t match a normal episode of “30 Rock.”
7. How I Met Your Mother: “HIMYM” makes its first entrance into the Power Rankings this week; their better episodes are the ones where the ongoing relationship drama takes a backseat to their often inspired high-concept ideas, this one where the gang — taking different modes of transportation — raced to see who could arrive first at a restaurant where Woody Allen was purportedly dining. It recalled some of the better, earlier episodes, like “The Slap Bet.”
6. Community: Like “30 Rock,” I thought this Apollo 13/Armageddon episode was a cool, well-executed novelty — and I loved the music — but not actually as funny as previous episodes this season. They nailed the space movie conventions (the slo-mo walk was brilliant), but, then again, satirizing astronaut movies doesn’t lend itselt to a lot of incredibly inspired one-liners.
5. Parenthood: “Parenthood” gets my nod for the best show on television that no one is watching. I tend to watch them in twos, so its entrance here is based on the last two episodes — the “Date Night” episode, and the Asperger’s support group episode. Peter Krause is just so unbelievably fantastic in this show, and the scene where he welled up discussing the prospect of actually telling his son that he has Asperger’s was heart wrenching. Not an episode goes by where I don’t relate to at least something, or have at least a moment or two of warm fuzziness. Plus, Dax Shepard is killing it this season.
4. Modern Family: I should just ink this show in to the top five each week. Phil is funny — he just needs the right audience. Also, the pixellated biker shorts?
3. Terriers: I haven’t officially counted, but I must watch somewhere between 20 and 25 shows a week. Right now, “Terriers” is the one I actually look forward to the most. It is getting so goddamn good, and Shawn Ryan does such a superb job of blending the cases, the overarching storylines, and the relationship drama together. Right now, it is the best show on F/X, and that includes “Sons of Anarchy,” the middle episodes of which are kind of aimless.
2. Mad Men: This was the penultimate episode of the season — before last night’s finale — and it was one of those episodes where I yelled at the television when it ended because I wasn’t fucking ready yet. As of this writing, I haven’t seen last night’s finale, but if it lives up to this episode, it had to be brilliant.
1. Raising Hope: In a week of great comedy, “Raising Hope” stole the week, with a hilarious episode that focused on family portraits, and managed to extract the warm fuzzies with a traffic cam picture. A traffic cam picture. That’s how good this show is right now.