When Sage and I began talking about doing a year-end post on our favorite television moments, we KNEW, despite my love for being ruthless and definitive, we would never be able to keep it to ten. Hell, we consider the fact that we narrowed the list down to 20 a feat of epic proportions. We posted our first ten, in no particular order, last week, so here’s our final ten moments.
Also, many of our top moments also appeared on Entertainment Weekly‘s list of great television moments of the year. Hey EW, stop spying on us and just give us jobs already would you?
11) Stefon Gets His Man – Saturday Night Live
I genuinely and devotedly ship Stefon and Seth Meyers. Bill Hader’s gay club kid/tour guide is one of the funniest characters to come out of the last ten years of SNL, but this love is not a joke, y’all. So imagine my delight when the show gave these two a sincerely romantic final chapter in Hader’s last episode.
It was a running joke in the Update sketch that Stefon was always in pursuit of “Seth Meyers.” (“I’m taking my girlfriend to Mexico.” “To kill her?”) And Seth was never grossed out by it – more bemused by his relentlessness. Stefon’s appearances were built on the sturdy base of Hader and John Mulany’s genius imaginings of New York’s nightmare clubs (“This club has everything. Charts, graphs, Powerpoint, a guy who still thinks Jamba Juice is good for you. And if you liked Russell Crowe in Les Miserables, you might want to hear Jasper the gorilla pass a kidney stone!”) But it was the chemistry between the guest and the anchor that brought Stefon to another level. Seth called Stefon “buddy” and encouraged him and was always glad to see him and kept asking him back to give these recommendations even though he knew they’d be useless to tourists. Well, the head canon just writes itself.
What I’m saying is that SNL essentially ended Stefon’s run with a sweet piece of fanfic. Having Anderson Cooper cameo as Stefon’s groom was genius, and a tip of the hat to wardrobe and props for packing the pews with Furkel, Wario Batali, Jewish Dracula Sidney Appelbaum, and the rest of Stefon’s underground friends. (EW ran a nice reflection by Hader on the conception and making of the sketch.) But when Seth Meyers pounded on that church glass in the only decent Graduate parody I’ve seen since The Simpsons, it was a real “MY SHIP IS BECOMING CANON” moment.
We’ve been missing Hader all season, and I don’t even want to talk about losing Seth. But at least when they’re both long gone, we can still imagine them together, arguing every night over whether they should stay in and watch The Daily Show or go out to Taste and dance the night away to a set by DJ Baby Bok Choy. Mazel tov, you crazy kids.
12) The reveal of the War Doctor – Doctor Who
2013 was a hell of a year to be a Whovian, so it was a difficult task to choose just one moment of Doctor Who to spotlight in this post. We wrote extensively about our feels on the 50th Anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor”. We could have very easily named the meeting of Ten and Eleven as our moment. Heck we could have made the fact that the “moment” manifested itself as Rose Tyler as our moment. But none of those moments would have been possible without the last few seconds of the series 7 finale “The Name of the Doctor”.
The second half of Series Seven tended to be a bit frustrating (not Series Six level frustration, but frustration none the less) but “The Name of the Doctor” FINALLY delivered on all the teases Moffat had been hinting at the entire season. We found out WHY Clara was “The Impossible Girl” and as Sage excellently put it in her recap, “it turns out that Clara IS just a regular human girl who did an extraordinary thing. And it’s pretty bad ass.” We had a LOVELY and heartbreaking goodbye (WE HOPE) to River Song. And any episode that features the Trio of Strax, Madame Vastra, and Jenny is a delight. It was a cracking good episode in general…and then in the final seconds Steven Moffat served up one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) “WHAT THE FUCK” moments of modern Doctor Who history. There was a Doctor WE NEVER KNEW ABOUT. A Doctor that when Eleven came face to face with him a look of sheer horror and revulsion passed across his face. And then…credits. See you in six months, Whovians.
Well played, Moffat, you bastard.
13) Danny’s Dance Routine – The Mindy Project
I have a serious problem.
His name is Daniel Mussolini Castellano.
The Mindy Project has come a long way since Kim posted her less-than-enthused review of early Season 1. And a good chunk of that progress is thanks to the evolving relationship between Danny and Mindy Lahiri. We’ve had just about enough of that “I act like I hate you because I reaaaallly like you” thing, thank you very much. They’re SO much better as allies and unlikely best friends. Instead of living in a constant cycle of Mindy behaving badly and Danny chiding her (Admit that you would have slugged Mr. Knightley a few times.), they’re now on equal footing – both fucked up, but in different ways.
The rest of the ensemble characters are still fairly thin – Max from Happy Endings is playing straight Max from Happy Endings – but Danny and Mindy are fully formed. They have weight. Every time the show lets us in on another one of Danny’s quirks, it’s like, “duh doy!” Of course, Danny sweats a lot when he plays in his divorced mens basketball league at the YMCA (“Single and cool! Single and cool!”). Of course, Danny’s bookshelves are composed mostly of John Grisham and the Jason Bourne series. Of course, Danny is friends with his toll booth driver, because he’s got a Springsteen-related daydream of the working man. Of course, Danny calls him Mom “Ma,” and can’t stop telling his brother that he has a “perfect face.” Of course, Danny thinks it’s pointless to spend his hard-earned money on useless tchotchkes for Secret Santa.
But we didn’t get to see where Danny Castellano REALLY lives until “Christmas Party Sex Trap.”
During one of my many, MANY rewatches of this moment, I dared myself to stay completely still.
It’s impossible. This act demands a full-body response.
He rolls up his shirtsleeves (unf) while telling Mindy that he picked “Try Again” for her present because she used to be obsessed with it, and “it was the first thing that ever really annoyed” him about her – basically confessing that everything she does is something worth remembering. And then he launches into a committed, smooth and hot as all hell version of the REAL choreography from the Aaliyah video. When he got home from work, Danny Castellano watched that video over and over again, practicing in the mirror until it was perfect. Are you dead yet? Well if not, here comes that heart-stopping smile when he does the “dirt off your shoulder” move (he’s so happy to make her happy) and a tender brush of his palm on her face to finish you off.
Mindy’s expressions shift. She’s bemused at first, then surprised and grateful, and finally, because she has a vagina and a beating heart, pretty turned on.* I know that plenty of fans were frustrated that Danny and Mindy didn’t officially happen in this episode, but then again, didn’t they? We’ve just moved from the playful flirtation phase to the unrequited love stage and that’s THE BEST PART. Let’s not rush it. Danny’s going to brush himself off and try again, and I can’t wait to see what his next move is.
P.S. Though, after watching this, a number of straight guys I know presented with a confusion that was not at all unpleasant.
14) “One ticket to Farhampton, please.” – How I Met Your Mother
It was a moment eight years in the making. For eight years How I Met Your Mother had given us tiny glimpses of the woman who would become Mrs. Ted Mosby. An ankle. A body whose face is obscured by an ever-present yellow umbrella. The back of a head as Ted delivers gut punching speech about how he will meet her 45 days from now. But never a face. We didn’t think we would EVER see a face until the moment Ted came face to face with his future bride.
So when the season 8 finale “Something New” was concluding with a musical montage of all the gang beginning their journey to the Farhampton Inn for Barney and Robin’s wedding and we saw a super cute pair of brown boots with a yellow umbrella, I thought that would be it. And then we were shown an entire shot of her from behind, revealing the mother to be a super cute and petite brunette. I gasped. That was the most we had ever seen of her. And then the person in from of her stepped aside…and we saw her face. I screamed for many reasons. I screamed because I KNEW who that actress was! It was Cristin Milioti, fresh off her stint as “Girl” in Broadway’s Once. SHE WAS THE FREAKING MOTHER OMG. Mainly though, I screamed because I couldn’t believe we finally SAW her. In that one moment, How I Met Your Mother flipped its endgame. We the audience knew who she was…and she couldn’t be more perfect. The final season of HIMYM has been a mixed bag so far, but one thing is certain: whenever the Mother is on-screen, the show is invigorated. There could have been no one else for our Ted Mosby than this woman. I can’t wait for him to meet her.
15) “We were having an affair.” – Masters of Sex
Showtime, between Dexter‘s loathsome final episodes and failing to pick up the Kyle Chandler Vatican pilot, you are lucky you produced my favorite new drama of the season. Michelle Ashford’s Masters of Sex obviously benefited from the success of its predecessors and its pitch could have been “It’s Mad Men, but with more tits!” for all I care.
What do I care about is that Masters is just as lean in its storytelling as Mad Men. Not a word wasted. Every single character is a tightly wrapped package of nuance (ESPECIALLY the women – hurrah!), which makes the subject matter all the more interesting. There are no lines drawn between open minds and prudes. So we’re lucky that we have an ensemble of heavy hitters, all on top of their game.
And leading that ensemble, we’ve got Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan. The nucleus of the show is the delicate dynamic between Virginia Johnson and Bill Masters – and it would have been so easy to get it wrong. Sheen may have gotten the only Golden Globe acting nomination for this show, but I have faith that Caplan will be recognized soon too. It’s a career-defining performance.
In episode 10, “Fallout,” Johnson and Masters are struggling to recapture their professional relationship after they went where we all knew they were headed: becoming their own subjects. Their sessions (which, let’s be real, were pretty hot) leave Masters feeling guilty and feeling guilty inspires him to do a really shit thing. He pays Virginia for her “participation.” Look at his face – he’s out of control and trying desperately to pull the brake. She calls him on it – you can see him swallow when she throws his “emotional” dig right back at him. Virginia isn’t interested in being the subject of anyone’s worship and she’s certainly not going to play the whore so that Masters can feel better about himself.
This tense little nugget of a scene represented everything about this show that I’ve already fallen in love with. It’s been an auspicious debut, and I can only assume that it will just get better.
16) Mellie’s Tragic Past Revealed – Scandal
When I first started watching Scandal, I must admit I was not the biggest fan of Mellie. Call it “Skyler White” syndrome. She was shrill. She was demanding. She was manipulative. She was hard as nails. And most of all she stood in the way of our heroine’s happiness. But as the series continued and Fitz proved more and more to be the worst person in the world, I fell in love with Mellie Grant. She is deeply flawed, she is complex, and she is STRONG. Strong beyond belief. She is a woman who has sacrificed everything in pursuit of her husband’s career and ascendance to power.
But we didn’t know JUST how much Mellie had sacrificed until season three’s “Everything’s Coming Up Mellie” (also can we just take a moment to appreciate the BRILLIANT episode titles Shonda Rhimes and company come up with?). The episode featured flashbacks to the beginnings of Fitz’s political career…back when he was an aspiring governor of California and very much in love with his sweet wife Mellie. That’s right. As I said in my gif-cap, this episode dispelled the theory that Fitz and Mellie were never in love. They very much were, which makes it all the more sad to see how the pursuit of power destroyed their marriage. Throughout the episode we saw Mellie slowly begin to change into the hardened sad queen that she is today and it all came to a head with the revelation that FITZ’S FATHER FUCKING RAPED HER. And NOT ONLY did he rape her, he got her pregnant. That’s right. Fitz’s eldest child isn’t even his…and he has no idea (that is GOING to come into play at some point, isn’t it?). Future Emmy Nominee (PLEASE MAKE IT SO) Bellamy Young’s performance in this episode was transcendent. Without saying a word we see her face morph from shock to fear to completely shutting down as Papa Grant violated her. We saw her revulsion when her husband snuggled her directly after the act, one lone tear dripping down her cheek (side note: how do people DO that?). We saw her being all business the next morning sitting across the table from the man who raped her the night before, demanding that he make things right with his son. It was extraordinary.
Many people criticized this storyline as an attempt to make Mellie more likeable. I don’t see it that way. Mellie’s rape didn’t make me like her any more than I did before. It made me unbearably SAD learning what she had been though. At its heart Scandal is about the potential power has to corrupt and the horrible things people do to keep power once they’ve gotten it. And no one on that show has been ruined by power more than Mellie.
Except maybe Cyrus. When are we getting THAT flashback episode, Shonda?
17) Will Graham Draws a Clock – Hannibal
Even if you have the most cursory knowledge of the Hannibal fandom, you must be familiar with our rallying cry/desperate plea. Will somebody PLEASE help Will Graham?
The lead actor drama category is stacked and Hannibal is – forgive me – an acquired taste. So it’s unlikely that we’ll see Hugh Dancy nominated for his work on the show. But his performance as the unraveling profiler is so committed that I was relieved to see him laughing and messing around in the first season gag reel. Phew, I thought. He’s okay.
Things are just not going well for Will Graham. The fact that his psychologist is a cannibal isn’t even his worst problem. But we didn’t know quite how thin his fraying thread was until Hannibal administered “the clock test” in “Buffet Froid.” He asks Will to draw him a clock face – an exercise meant to ground him and reestablish his connection to reality. Will, in his perspective, calmly and simply draws what he’s been asked and hands it over. It’s….not good.
We’ve seen Will’s visions. His waking nightmares. But they are fantastic and this is real. Even with all of Hannibal‘s beautifully art-directed gore, this moment was the most jarring of the season for me. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. And then Hannibal hides it from him. So, not only is Will hurtling towards madness, but he’s also completely alone. So before you judge a Hannibal fangirl or boy and our food/people puns and Will Graham/doge memes, just consider what we’re going through. And have a little pity.
18) Brennan’s Gravedigger Letter Revealed – Bones
Ask any fan of Bones what the best episode of the series is and they will likely tell you “Aliens in a Spaceship”. This episode, which aired waaaaaaaaay back in Season Two, was the first appearance of the Gravedigger and had Brennan and Hodgins buried alive in a car while the team scrambled to find their location before they ran out of oxygen. It was a fantastic episode for the entire ensemble (particularly Emily Deschanel and TJ Thyne) and of course was chock-full of all sorts of Booth/Brennan feels (the image of Booth SPRINTING towards the burial site is one of the most iconic images of the whole series). The episode featured Brennan and Hodgins, moments before they attempted to blast themselves out of the car, writing goodbye letters. Hodgins obviously wrote to Angela and Brennan wrote to Booth. We never saw what was in the letter, and like Jim’s Christmas Card to Pam and whatever the hell Josh Lyman wrote in that book he gave to Donna Moss, the letter became a piece of canon that inspired all sorts of speculation and frustration.
SEVEN seasons later, we FINALLY arrive at Booth and Brennan’s wedding. They fittingly have their ceremony at the rose garden at the Jeffersonian. My dear friend Mary, who watched the episode before me, had tweeted me saying, “I’m just WAITING for you to LOSE YOUR SHIT.” Booth says his wonderfully romantic vows and I started crying, thinking that was the moment Mary was talking about. AND THEN…BRENNAN PULLS OUT THE FREAKING LETTER AND READ IT AS HER DAMN WEDDING VOWS.
Dear Agent Booth, you are a confusing man. You are irrational and impulsive, superstitious and exasperating. You believe in ghosts and angels, and maybe even Santa Claus. And because of you, I began to see the universe differently. How is it possible that simply looking into your fine face gives me so much joy? Why does it make me so happy that every time I try to sneak a peek at you, you were already looking at me? Like you, it makes no sense. And like you, it feels right. If I ever get out of here, I will find a time and place to tell you, that you make my life messy and confusing. And unfocused and irrational. And wonderful.
Um. FIRST OF ALL, that means she knew she loved him in season TWO and Hart Hanson tortured us for YEARS after that.
Secondly, of course I was left a sobbing mess after that. Well played, Bones.
19) Stephen’s “Get Lucky” Dance Party – The Colbert Report
Stephen Colbert responds to MTV’s refusal to allow Daft Punk to perform on his show in the best possible way. There’s nothing else to say. “This is Colbchella, dammit. Let’s dance!”
20) Don’s Hershey Presentation – Mad Men
First of all, let’s discuss the fact that Jon Hamm has NEVER won a damn Emmy for his performance as Don Draper (His best chance was with season four’s “The Suitcase”, but they gave it to Friday Night Lights’ Kyle Chandler that year, and I will NEVER complain about that. #cleareyesfullheartscantlose). Travesty. The fact that Mad Men has NEVER won an Acting Emmy at ALL when it’s one of the best acted shows on television? CRIMINAL.
But that’s another rant for another post.
Hamm’s best acting showcase since the “The Suitcase” came in the season six finale “In Care Of”. Don was in a downward spiral for all of season six, as lost control of both his personal (CHEATING AGAIN DON?) and professional life, and it all came to a head in his pitch to Hershey. Don begins with one of his classic pitches, one that is very reminiscent of the pitch to Kodak in the Season One finale. He nails it and is on the verge of landing Hershey as a client. Don sits down and then looks across the table at Ted. Ted who he just sacrificed an escape to the firm’s new office in California for. Ted who broke Peggy Olsen’s heart. And Don just looks…tired. Tired of the whole charade of being the great “Don Draper”. Tired of the lies. Tired of the double life. And with Hershey in the palm of his hand, Don proceeds to toss it all away.
And with that meltdown (pun intended) the last vestiges of “Don Draper” fall away. Only Dick Whitman remains. The episode concludes with Don being placed on suspension at the firm that he helped build. On an outing with his kids, Don drives them to the decrepit house that he grew up in and with “Both Sides Now” swelling in the background, he reveals his roots to them. He and Sally share a look and the expression on Don’s face is one of sadness…and one of peace. He’s finally free. It’s nothing short of beautiful. Where does Don go from here, as we head into the final chapter of Mad Men? I, for one, can’t wait to find out.
And give Jon Hamm a damn Emmy please and thank you.
Here’s to a fantastic year of television! We can’t wait to see what 2014 will have in store for us! Let us know more of YOUR favorite moments in the comments.