Best of 2011: Best Episode; Comedy

30 Dec

Hope you all had a great holiday. I meant to be back up earlier this week, but after a boozy holiday weekend, I came down with a sickness in which I bordered the line between this world and another. But today I am back with a special series, The Best of 2011! We will be going through different television categories and picking out the best that was in the year 2011.

First off we have the Best Comedic Episode of the year. Plenty of great episodes this year, but there could be only one winner. But first, lets look at the runner ups:

South Park; You’re Getting Old

While not the funniest episode of the latest season of South Park, You’re Getting Old was probably the biggest and most insightful turn the long running series has ever taken. Stan turns 10 years old and realizes the world has gone to shit. And since this is South Park, that phrase is taking literally. Stan can no longer enjoy ice cream, his favorite tween band, or Adam Sandler movies. The only way life becomes bearable for Stan is when he starts drinking and the episode ends with a hint that Stan may just have become a 10 year old alcoholic. After 15 seasons on the air, You’re Getting Old showed us that Matt and Trey just may be getting tired of the same jokes week in and week out. Thankfully for all of us, the rest of the season returned to nonsensical satirical comedy we have all come to expect.

Parks and Recreation; Pawnee Rangers

The majority of Pawnee Rangers focused on the differences between Ron and Leslie’s differnt ideas of fun as shown through their handling of two groups of kids, the meat and heart of the episode for me came in the second storyline that begat the most quotable line of the year “Treat Yo Self!” Tom and Donna go out for their annual ‘Treat Yo Self’ day and since Ben is so depressed, they decide to take him along to cheer him up. It all culminates with the above GIF, Ben crying in a Batman suit. Possibly the most amazing thing seen on television this year. While Parks and Rec had other more popular episdoes, including the Ron-centered Ron And Tammys and the fan favorite Li’l Sebastian, for me, Batman always wins.

Louis; Subway/Pamela

Comparative Poetry; New York Style

I was pretty close as putting this as my number one. Pretty much every episode of Louie is an amazing foray into the comedy behind our sad and misserable lives, or at least the sad life of one comedian. But the season 2 episode of Louie titled Subway/Pamela stuck with me long after the ending credits. The episode starts off with a beautifully shot contrast of the beauty of New York City. A brilliant violinist plays at a subway station, but the scene is slwoly altered as a homeless bag man comes down to the station and begins bathing himself. The juxtaposition of the high and low is something Louie strives for every week. To find a balance between how fucked up this world is and how beautiful it can be. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in this simple opening sequence.

But the heart of this episode comes from the gutwrenching honest confession between Louie and Pamela. The touching moment is one of the most real and beautiful scenes of love on television this year, and hits right at home for anyone who has been in a situation of unrequited love before. I could go on with how great the scene is, but just watch it yourself. As always, Louie says it better than anyone else could.



And the winner is…..


Community; Paradigms of Human Memory/ Remedial Chaos Theory

Could it of possibly been anything besides Community? You have read this blog before right? I kept tossing these two episodes back and forth, trying to decide which was the best and I was left rolling on the floor in confusion. So fuck it, they both win. The problem with deciding between the two is they both are perfect examples of exactly what this show is capable of doing so perfectly, but on two vastly different scales.

Growing up watching sitcoms, I dreamt of an episode like Paradigms of Human Memory. I always wished a show would have the gumption to do the obligatory clip show, but to actually make all the clips brand new. And of course like many of my childhood television fantasies, Community fulfilled that dream. They managed to tie in everything that makes a clip show bearable, the ruminations on what brought each character to where they are today, but did it without the quintesential problem of a clip show, that we have seen it all before. Not only was Paradigms of Human Memory a great episode, but it also showed yet again just how formulaic its own medium is when Jeffs final speech is pasted together over the course of 4 or 5 different clips.

On the other hand, Remedial Chaos Theory broke the mold for what a half hour sitcom can do. The different timelines episode has been done before on television (Malcolm in the Middle had its own brilliant episode) but it had never been so ambitiously attempted before. With 6 different timelines to cover in 24 minutes, it was amazing how well crafted Chaos Theory was. We got some great jokes, but the brilliance of timeline episodes is how they portray the role each character plays in a group. When Troy leaves, Pierce gets shot and the apartment catches on fire. He is a calming influence on the group. When Shirley leaves, the heart of the group is gone and results in some unkind and hurtful confrontations. Through each timeline we get a glimpse at how these characters need each other. It was a brilliantly well done episode, and one that only worked because it all made so much sense. Even in the ridiculous evil timeline, we are never asked to stretch our imaginations to the point of absurdity. This episode sent the internet abuzz with all kinds of crazy timeline theories, one of which I absolutely believed until Dan Harmon pointed out otherwise.


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