16. The Killing: I’m dropping this week’s “The Killing” to the last spot to highlight a statement: AMC duped us. They gave us a dreary, rain-soaked landscape; good actors; and deliberate, meticulous pacing. They provided the illusion of intelligence. And then “The Killing” revealed itself for what it actually is: A standard criminal procedure, only the beats and turns have been drawn out 13-fold. Take any typical episode of “Castle,” and expand it out, slow it down, and pad it with filler, and you’ve got “The Killing.” (SPOILERS) This week, the show completely erased the last four, maybe five, episodes of the investigation. That was the 9th episode, and in the 10th episode, we start again from square one. Cheap move, AMC.
15. Chuck: The season finale was slightly better than the trite, predicable episodes they’ve been parading out in front of us this season, but not by much. I am, however, intrigued by the show’s 47th reset. This is the one that’ll take. See the recap.
14. Raising Hope: The season finale of “Raising Hope” took us back five years to explore how they come to know that Maw Maw had Alzheimer’s Disease (or, “Old-Timer’s Disease”). It was a really solid episode, but honestly — and as much as I love Garret Dillahunt and Martha Plimpton in this — the show has already exhausted its premise, as “My Name is Earl” did before it.
13. Breaking In: The few of you who were watching “Breaking In” probably missed its final episode. After Fox cancelled it, the suits briefly considered giving it a second chance if it could survive without the post-“Idol” bump. It could not. The show’s finale managed only 3.3 million viewers. It’s a shame, too. It was not a bad episode. That also makes Christian Slater 0 for 3 on TV now.
12. The Office: The season finale of “The Office” was a terrible episode. From a storyline standpoint, the whole hour was scatter-shot, built around celebrity appearances rather than characters. Some of those appearances were fun — Spader was phenomenal. And the Jim of old that we know and love revealed himself again. But unless they make Jim the manager, the entire episode was for naught, except as a means to send Gabe away. Worse than that, with few exceptions (Spader), all that celebrity firepower couldn’t infuse the show with a damn lick of humor. As much as we had tired of Michael Scott, it’s episodes like these that make us appreciate how valuable he was to the show.
11. Castle: I’ve come to the conclusion that I only like “Castle” during sweeps weeks, when it breaks out of its traditional procedural mold. (SPOILERS) The season finale shattered that mold, killing off a regular, and then ending in a massive cliffhanger in which Kate was shot and Castle professed his love to her as she lay dying. Will Kate die? No. But the repercussions of Castle’s confession, and the identity of Kate’s killer is enough to keep me coming back next season, at least for the sweeps weeks.
10. How I Met Your Mother: It was a cruel episode for Barney/Robin shippers, and the psyche bomb was totally lame, but Marshall and Lily elevated the finale, as they have been doing all season long. See the recap.
9. The Borgias: Once “Game of Thrones” and “The Killing” came around, I think a lot of viewers lost interest in “The Borgias.” I’ve stuck with it, and it’s been consistently decent to good, although it never quite achieved the greatness of the pilot. The chess game of the last few episodes was enjoyable to watch, especially to see who would become the unexpected hero, the woman who would save the papacy. Plus that deliciously humiliating scene with Giovanni Sforza was an excellent way to end the season. I still put “The Borgias” ahead of both “Rome” and “The Tudors” as far as premium cable costume dramas go.
8. Cougar Town: I can’t believe they sold out Penny Can. Penny Can! To Lou Diamond Phillips! Oh, and Travis: Pull your shit together. man. Grow a pair.
7. Modern Family: I always find “Modern Family” more enjoyable when Mrs. Pajiba-hyphenate watches it with me. This was one of those weeks. Plus, watching Phil and Claire stumble down the hill en route to their daughter’s graduation was hilarious. Add that to Cameron’s stumble into the pool, and this week’s “Modern Family” was pratfalltastic.
6. The Good Wife: You know what made this episode so good? Not the seriously steamy elevator sex tease there in the end, but that scene between Chris Noth and Josh Charles. I mean. it’s no DeNiro and Pacino in Heat, but there was a lot of weight in that scene, and you could feel all of that television experience the two of them have had over the last few decades simmering to a head in that room. As acting scenes go, that was one of the year’s best.
5. Doctor Who: I will leave the analysis of this episode to C. Rob’s recap. A question, however: I know that some of you must be recent converts, as my wife is. I introduced her to the show, and she tore through the first five seasons. But she got so attached to David Tennant that she’s not been able to invest in the Matt Smith era. In that regard, I think having the months between seasons helped heal that loss, and I think the space between the two Matt Smith seasons did a lot to increase the mythos of the 11th Doctor. But she never had any time between Doctors, and she can’t seem to get into the Matt Smith era, as a result. Has this been a problem for anyone else?
4. Happy Endings: The only thing that kept “Happy Endings” from the number two spot this week was the fact that episodes two and three were clearly aired out of order here. It did clear up some confusion as to how Alex and Dave recovered from the busted wedding so quickly, but it was still irksome. Very funny episodes, and I think next season, the “Modern Family/Happy Endings” comedy block is going to be great competition for the “Community/Parks and Recreation” block as the best comedy hour on sitcom television. Also, I loved this scene:
3. Game of Thrones: Let’s hold off on discussion of this week’s episode until TK’s recap, which will be posted tomorrow.
2. Chicago Code: I don’t know how many of you are still watching Shawn Ryan’s heavy, dark cop show, especially after the announcement that it’s been canceled. It looks like Ryan might have anticipated that, as it seems like it’ll be a self-contained season (last week’s episode was part one of the finale). When it comes out on DVD, I strongly recommend picking it up. Obviously, it’s not on the level of “The Wire,” but as cop shows go, it’s the best to come along since “The Wire.” And this last episode was intensely good.
1. Parks and Recreation: I hope that Tammy I is Debra Messing. And I hope that Leslie runs for Mayor. And that Ben becomes her campaign manager. And that Ron becomes her Press Secretary. Because that would be amazing.