All of these selected moments made a truly lasting impression on me this past year: a show-stopping dance number directed by a personal creative hero, a shocking action sequence that takes its time building the tension before exploding, and two wonderful character-revealing comedy sequences. The shows herein are amongst my favorite currently on air, representing an eclectic taste but akin in delivering top-notch entertainment, creating some of the most indelible characters and scenes for them to play in.
And now the best pieces of a whole.
Glee – Safety Dance Flash Mob, “Dream On” – A show filled with many memorable moments, this choice is probably due to my bias of all things Joss Whedon, He Who Can Do No Wrong. However, it is a wonderful sequence that not only further demonstrates Whedon’s creative acumen (cannot gush enough about his choice to cut in shots that look like clips from the inevitable viral video this flash mob will become) it was also a beautiful piece for supporting character Artie who features mostly in the background, save for the occasional need of a little R&B flavor in some songs (see “Billionaire” or “Umbrella/Singin’ in the Rain”). Kevin McHale got to show off some serious dance skill that obviously couldn’t happen due to his character’s confinement to a wheelchair, and with the episode’s dream theme we thankfully (or heartbreakingly) get to watch Artie experience his deepest wish.
Breaking Bad – Parking Lot Shoot-Out, “Ambush” – How much praise can I heap on Breaking Bad in general? Suffering from what I call the “middle child syndrome,” this AMC drama has found much critical, and award-winning, praise but seems to consistently fall in the shadow of its big brother Mad Men. Both dramas deserve equal accolades, but what Breaking Bad has over Mad Men in spades is the ability to create tense scenes where the audience too-often questions whether the characters they’ve invested so much in will be making it out of any given episode alive. And this is the crux of what I’ve decided is the best scene from a one-hour drama in 2010. The actions of anti-hero lead, Walter White, in the previous season – killing New Mexico’s leading drug kingpin – brought in two of the scariest hitmen television has ever seen, The Cousins. It seemed no one was safe when these twin cold-blooded killers were around, and this scene with Walt’s DEA brother-in-law set in their sites was literally the most breathtaking moment I’ve witnessed on TV.
Modern Family – Song for Lily, “Dance, Dance Revelation” – It’s near-impossible to single out one definitive moment of Modern Family as being the greatest. Absolutely every character is given a chance to shine with every actor stepping up and knocking a performance out of the park, making it the definition of a stellar ensemble show. Saying this I will admit to playing favorites, and it’s that favorite character who provides the majority of my enjoyment when watching. Only because his defining episode, “Fizbo,” aired in 2009 I’ve chosen this scene from late 2010 as his best, demonstrating why Cam is both the heart and funny bone of the show.
Parks & Recreation – Ron’s Whiskey Harp, “Sweetums” – Another show that contains the best ensemble comedy group assembled on television, Parks & Recreation came into its own during the show’s sophomore year thanks in large part to how the characters’ relationships were continually made real and interesting as each episode progressed. Again, my urge to play favorites wins out as I highlight the MVP character of the show, Ron Swanson. The dynamic between Ron’s Director of the P&R department and his Deputy Director (and show lead) Leslie Knope is second only to the stellar team of 30 Rock‘s Jack Donaghy and Liz Lemon. This sequence demonstrates Leslie’s constant need to play by the rules coming to blows with Ron’s equally constant need to maintain an upper-hand and most importantly always be right. Both go way too far to prove their points, but ultimately we see that they want to project a strong image of themselves out of their underlying respect for each other.