As the year draws to a close, so does our desire to reflect on that last 12 months. And it also means fulfilling that strongest human desire of all: ranking things, and for me it’s putting some sense of order to that TV-watching
habit obsession of mine. I think my favorite part about lists like these is how personal they are – a few of the episodes below may have issues with them, but for one reason or another they stood out to me and were particularly memorable to me. And there’s the wonderful fact of how volatile this list is: these may be my favorite episodes today, but there’s also the chance that I look back on this next year and wonder just what was I thinking; it perfectly captures my feelings at this moment in time, providing me with an introspective look into my own year.
But enough of this, let’s get to the list. Also, be on the lookout for my Best TV Shows of 2012, which will hopefully be out before the year’s end.
While comedies are burdened with the task of telling a tale in only 30 minutes, dramas have the equally difficult task of holding our attention for an entire hour, which – in a time when people want to digest as much as possible in as little time as possible – proves to be a progressively more daunting undertaking. With thousands of shows existing on hundreds of channels and countless methods of watching them, television isn’t the event that it once was.
It doesn’t hold our undying attention nearly as well as it used to. It’s something we leave on as background noise, it’s something we have playing on our computers as we also browse other websites, it’s something we occasionally glance at while we’re busying tapping away on our phones. Even the shows that stress social interaction, such as having viewers Tweet them episode reactions, force the audience to become detached from the viewing experience. Did TV shows just get less interesting or is it on us, have we changed how we’re willing to process media? Do we just want to know what happens and not how it led up to that?
I refuse to accept either excuse. In the greater landscape it may not seem the case, but there still are episodes that keep our eyes glued to the screen, episodes that will block out any other outside distractions, episodes that prove just how effective of a storytelling medium television can be. These episodes make us think, make us question, make us feel, and most importantly, for one glorious hour they make us forget about everything else around else as we are completely immersed in what they have to tell us.