Monday, December 29, 2014

My 10 Favorite Sitcom Episodes of 2014

Just like in 2013 and 2012, I will list down my 10 favorite episodes of 10 different US sitcoms that I watched this year. I'm very easy to please and I don't really care if the humor is a cliche or slapstick as long as it is executed so well that it makes me laugh or even smile. Major plus points if you can deliver emotional, warm and fuzzy moments as well ;)

10.  Black-ish "Black Santa/White Christmas" (Season 1 Episode 10)

"Black people can't be racist!"

One of my favorite new shows this season is ABC's Black-ish because it balances family comedy with sharp but not offensive view of the African American culture in modern day America. This episode in particular was about Dre's quest to become the first black "Santa Claus" in their office Christmas celebration but he fails when his boss chose a Latina instead! I like how the episode poked fun of having the "ultimate race card". Other fun moments in this episode was Rainbow auto tuning the kids' voices for the Christmas song production number at Dre's Christmas party. Tracee Ellis Ross surprised me with how she can pull off the crazy comedic stuff her character does.

9. The Big Bang Theory "The Champagne Reflection" (Season 9 Episode 10)

My favorite part of this episode was the "highlights" of Sheldon's  web show "Fun with Flags" where he and Amy did a lot of goofy features for the show. I also like the main story with Leonard, Raj and Wolowitz where they were cleaning the office of a deceased old colleague and they discovered an old champagne bottle with a note that says that it is a gift whenever the scientist finally succeeds with his research but the scientist was not able to open it until his death because he failed with his research. It  lived up to the title as a simple champagne was able to make the characters (and viewers) reflect how not to spend your life focused on just one thing because before you notice it life has passed you by.

8. Brooklyn Nine-Nine  "The Jimmy Jab Games" (Season 2 Episode 3)

One thing I love about this show is how they can managed to pack a story that has material that can cover an entire hour-long episod in a 22-minute episode and yet it does not feel like the episode is half-baked. The titular game is as ridiculous as it sounds as it features a series of nonsensical but fun competitions. This episode showed how strong the ensemble is and the reason why this show is not suffering from the so-called sophomore slump.

7.  The Mindy Project  "Danny and Mindy" (Season 2 Episode 22)

 The Mindy Project is a show that annoys me from time to time but yet I can't stop watching it because the show can churn out gems such as the second season finale. While the show struggles to make strong subplots for its constantly changing supporting cast, they did a good job resolving the will-they-won't-they romantic tension between Danny and Mindy.. As a sucker for romcom movies, I absolutely love the romcom beats this episode had! So far this third season, the show has not ruined the Danny and Mindy pairing yet so all the effort made in this episode was not wasted.

6.  Mike & Molly "Mind Over Molly"  (Season 4 Episode 12)

 This episode was the one Melissa McCarthy submitted at the Emmy Awards and if not for the strong work of Julia Louis Dreyfus on Veep, I bet she would have taken her second Emmy this year because  she delivered a knockout performance in this episode. Just on the opening scene alone where Molly was blabbering to the psychologist the reason why she's there was just pure comedic perfection. It also had a nice emotional payoff in the end when Molly finally opened up to Mike about her dad.

5. Parks and Recreation "Moving On" (Season 6 Episode 21/22)

The 6th season finale of Parks and Recreation felt like it was designed to be a series finale in case NBC cancels the show (the show was renewed for a 13-episode 7th and final season to premiere next year) and I would not complain if it indeed was the series finale. The episode featured a lot of callbacks (Lil Sebastian, Duke Silver, Cones of Dunshire) and major plot developments like Leslie finally deciding to move forward with her career. Then there was the [spoiler alert] clever time jump in the end which perfectly sets up the final season of the show.

4. Mom "Free Therapy and a Dead Lady's Yard Sale" (Season 2 Episode 8)

My favorite new comedy last season continues to deliver a great mix of comedy and heartbreaking character drama on its second season. This episode was the last one they had this year and boy it was so good. When Violet goes to therapy to deal with her issues after giving her baby up for adoption, it unexpectedly opens up the truth about her dad. That counseling scene was so well executed  as it starts to be goofy then bam  it hits a dramatic plot point. I'm impressed how the show can handle its more dramatic elements without losing the humor unlike the other so-called comedies with dark elements.

3. The Middle "The Sinkhole" (Season 6 Episode 6) 

Sue learns to dance Tinikling for her P.E class! Yes that subplot alone was just enough to make this one of my favorite sitcom episodes of the year!  Of course there's the added bias because it was delightful to see a Filipino folk dance featured on one of my favorite shows but still the show was able to use the difficulties of dancing Tinikiling for its full comedic potential.  But apart from that subplot, the episode also features one fantastic scene where the kids discovered Mike's wallet that contains the "death napkin" which contains their will. It was one long take where the Hecks exchanged their frustrations, complaints, jokes and barbs toward each other. It was the scene the shows how strong the ensemble of this show is.

2.  Modern Family "Las Vegas"  (Season 5 Episode 18)

I know that Modern Family is way past its peak and the complaints why it constantly wins awards is quite justified (but let's face it, its closest competitors are more uhmmm.... dramatic) but the show can still deliver knockout episodes and this Emmy award winning episode for Best Directing was an example of this. Modern Family humor is usually rooted to misunderstandings and this episode maximized that to an amazing third act of excellent farce. Honestly, when I first watched this episode I found the beginning a little dull then the second and third acts happened and I was laughing my ass off each time the door opens in those three hotel rooms.

1. How I Met Your Mother "How Your Mother Met Me"  (Season 9, Episode 16)

The best episode of the final season of How I Met Your Mother where we finally find out about The Mother who before this episode was just a mystery that the viewers obsessively tried to figure out all throughout the show's run. At first I thought that it's best for the show not to reveal who the mother is because how can they live up to the hype they've been building up for years? But in this episode they were so successful in integrating the mother to the key events of the show and make us care about her even if this is the first and only season where we get to know her. I guess they were too successful in making us fall in love with The Mother that the series finale upset a lot of its fans (including yours truly although I was not as mad as the rest of the Internet) because of the unsatisfying conclusion to the mother's journey.  Best scene was hands down the part where The Mother is singing La Vien En Rose while playing the ukelele with Ted next door listening to it. That scene was pure magic and it was my favorite Ted-Mother moment until their actual meeting in the series finale which was so fantastic and worth all the years of anticipation. You know if the series ended on that scene, the show would have gone out on a high note and people will give them a pass for a largely disappointing final season but well what's done is done. Despite it all, I do miss HIMYM a lot and I was disappointed when CBS didn't pick up How I Met Your Dad to series because even if the creators have flaws they know how to make a romcom slash friends comedy on half hour TV work so well.

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