We are back with our second annual Summer TV Awards here at The Whiteboard! We decided to do our awards in the summer to avoid cutting most network seasons in half if we did them at year’s end like our game and music awards. We are generally looking at shows that aired during the Emmy period which runs from June 1st of 2012 to May 31st of 2013 though for a couple of shows that ran into June of this year we are including the last bits of their seasons too. Over the course of three blogs, we’ll be looking at some of our favorite characters, episodes and shows from the last year of television. Our first blog talked about characters and actors (check it out here). In Part 2, we will be taking a look at some of our favorite episodes as well as certain scenes and moments. Here they are (note that the descriptions may contain spoilers for the show that is receiving the award):
Best Cold Open
This award goes to the episode with the best cold open (the segment that precedes a show’s opening credits) or at least the one that stuck out in our minds the most from this past year.
Matt’s Pick: Breaking Bad, “Live Free or Die”: The opening to Breaking Bad’s fifth season finds Walt having a meal at Denny’s with a much different look than we’ve become accustomed to (new glasses, a full head of hair and a beard) and using an alias. He meets up with a man and purchases some heavy artillery and he’s coughing and taking meds in the bathroom. But what led to this point? Flashforward-style openings like this are tricky, but this one hits the right balance between intriguing viewers without giving too much away. It’s a nice teaser of what’s to come without taking away from the current goings-on that made up the rest of the season. The banter with the waitress and Walt arranging his bacon in the shape of the number 52 are just the proverbial cherries on top.
Omarey’s Pick: The League, “Training Camp”: This year starts off with what looks like an actual draft and then we see our characters. I like all of the cameos. Ruxin and RG3 look pretty tight and Trent Richardson making fun of Andre is pretty hilarious. I liked everyone ragging on Andre’s team’s name (although I think) the Double Ent-Andre’s is a funny name. It ends when we realize that it was all a figment of Ruxin’s twisted imagination and our new season is set to begin.
This goes to the episode with the coolest scene that runs right at the end usually after the final commercial break over the credits.
Omarey’s Pick: 30 Rock, “Last Lunch”: After a wholly satisfying finale packed with sad goodbyes and funny moments we end it with this great tag. We see Pete with a mustache who finally gets caught up to after a year of faking his death by Paula and his family. Liz is producing the hilariously titled “Grizz and Herz” and a fake Tony award speech and flashing from Jenna. We also got confirmation that Kenneth is immortal and we got to see Liz’s super hot great granddaughter. Awesome way to end a great show.
Matt’s Pick: Happy Endings, “No-Ho-Ho”: The Happy Endings’ gang finds a hip-hop dancing Santa figurine. And they try to outdance it to hilarious results. It’s better to let the video do the talking in this case (check it out on Youtube here). Alex clearly wins the battle, but I think really we all win with this classically fun ending sequence.
This award goes to our favorite moment or the one that just blew us away with how cool it was.
Matt’s Pick: Dany Freeing the Slaves at Astapor, Game of Thrones: This past season of Game of Thrones is the first I watched having read the source material beforehand. It’s a different experience for sure. I went in hoping my favorite moments would be as cool portrayed in the visual medium as they were in my imagination. Dany freeing the slaves in Astapor is probably my favorite moment from the books (though choosing one is tough) and it was everything I wanted it to be. From the reveal that she knows Valyrian to her turning the slaves against their masters to Drogon flying around roasting her enemies it was a really spectacular scene. The march out of Astapor with that unforgettable orchestral score just made it that much cooler. I remember rewinding and watching that scene a few times in a row and then again the next day. Easily the moment of the year for me.
Omarey’s Pick: Methylamine Train Heist in Dead Freight, Breaking Bad: I loved this scene because it was just so fun. The setup and planning of the heist with Jesse, Walt, Lydia and Mike was neat. It was cool to see Walt school Jesse and Todd on why the heist would work. The plan was actually really well thought out. It is always good to have Bill Burr back. I loved the tension of the scene especially when things didn’t seem to be going according to plan. I loved the joy of the celebration and that was immediately replacement by the agony knowing that they had been seen and what they had to do. It was a cocktail of emotions and it was fantastic.
This award goes to the best pilot episode amongst the new crop of shows this past season.
Omarey’s Pick: The Americans, “Pilot”: The pilot felt like we were dropped right into the action and the characters were immediately likable. You get invested in their lives and stories really quickly. It does a good job of presenting drama, with a little comic relief, at least enough for a smirk, and some action. The Jennings family is fun to watch and the relationship of Elizabeth and Phillip is great. I like all of the tension in the show from the FBI neighbor to the missions to the relationship stuff. The show itself definitely did its job, getting me interested in watching more.
Matt’s Pick: The Americans, “Pilot”: The Americans’ pilot episode does exactly what a pilot needs to do. It sets up all the pieces for the show in a limited amount of time and hooks viewers in to keep them watching going forward. It’s not just a spy show, but one about family and the struggle these two things create for the pair of married KGB agents the show revolves around. But it has those great spy moments too with a couple of kickass fight scenes and the kind of edge of your seat, tense moments these undercover agents encounter as they work to keep those covers intact. Throw in some great acting performances and this episode had me sold on The Americans. Oh and good old Phil ate that one guy’s hot dog. That didn’t hurt.
We expect even more from season and series finales here at The Whiteboard. This category highlights the best finale from this past year.
Matt’s Pick: 30 Rock, “Hogcock!/Last Lunch”: Series finales are especially tough to pull off. They need to both wrap up remaining storylines and say goodbye to the cast of characters that in many cases viewers have spent years falling in love with. 30 Rock felt like it had everything its series finale should have. There was one final bit of madness in the writer’s room as they decided what to have for their final lunch on the show. There was the way they closed out TGS. There was the culmination of years of teases about Kenneth. But the best bits were definitely the sendoffs to various character relationships. While Liz and Jack’s was the standout (his short boat ride and epiphany was amazing), others were great too (Liz and Tracy’s was surprisingly touching for taking place in a strip club for instance). When I think back on series’ finales, there are some I enjoyed more than 30 Rock’s, but this one felt like one of the few I wouldn’t change anything about.
Omarey’s Pick: Person of Interest, “God Mode”: I love this show and I feel like it delivered another awesome finale. There was only one silly thing in it that had to do with one of the world’s worst snipers. Other than that the rest of the episode was great. Root teaming up with Finch and Reese with Shaw made for some good times. They were both on a mission to find the machine. There was a great scene where Reese and Shaw stop a crazy guy from killing people at a wedding for some nice comic relief. I also loved the opening scene where the machine was helping take people out. The flashbacks that explain what happened to Nathan Ingram and why Finch walks with a limp were incredible too. There are a lot of cool threads that this season left off on, that it will be cool to pick up on in the fall.
Best Comedy Episode
This award is for the best episode in a comedy during this past season.
Omarey’s Pick: Happy Endings, “The Marry Prankster”: I loved this episode. In addition to having an amazing cold open, this episode had a great premise. The cold open itself is so hilarious, everyone dreams of winning the lottery so we can imagine just how excited and then disappointed Max will be during and then after the prank. Max’s reaction is even crazier than one could imagine dropping F bombs on his friends, telling them he is not going to share his winnings and then dropping the line, “Get your poor hands off of me,” on Dave who tries to console him. The episode then continues to bring the laughs with tons of awesome pranks including the couch cushion one Alex does to herself. There is also a little heart in the episode with the proposal of Pete to Penny. It was neat to see Penny get a little happiness. Finally the tag of the episode has a Usual Suspects-esque reveal with Alex that was cool.
Matt’s Pick: Suburgatory, “The Wishbone”: I recall thinking this was a good maybe even great episode of Suburgatory and then the last ten minutes happened and it became the kind of episode that gets this award. It had all the absurdity and laughs you’d expect from a holiday in Chatswin, but it was the way it hit the emotional beats that really surprised me. The moment where Ryan of all people swoops in to save the day by leaving the titular wishbone for Lisa after she had finally reached her breaking point with her mom and boyfriend packs a wallop, but so does the scene with Tessa and Alex lying on the floor. It might seem odd to be praising this episode for its dramatic elements given the category, but those were just the cappers to a hilarious, heartfelt Thanksgiving episode of Suburgatory.
Best Drama Episode
This category is for the best episode in a drama series during the last year.
Matt’s Pick: Game of Thrones, “And Now His Watch Is Ended”: I’m not going to lie, that Daenerys moment I discussed earlier in this blog is the biggest reason I chose this episode, but it was excellent before the show transitioned to Essos at the end. We had the fantastic introduction of Beric Dondarrion. There was the madness at Craster’s Keep which sends Sam headed in a new direction and sees the death of an important character. We get to see how Jaime is coping without his sword hand for the first time. And then all the usual machinations in King’s Landing from Varys’ revelation to those manipulative Tyrell ladies to just the beautiful scenes in Baelor’s Sept. Heck it even had the best Theon scene of the season before that storyline became repetitive. As of now, it’s my favorite Game of Thrones episode, ahead of even the much beloved (and deservedly so) episode 9’s, so that is saying something.
Omarey’s Pick: Golden Boy, “The Next Question”: This episode was almost my finale of the year. The problem with that was that it was a series finale instead of a season finale. The cliffhangers they introduced in this episode were really intriguing. Agnes going off with their deadbeat father, played by Michael Madsen, Arroyo’s wife finding out about his cheating but not who he has been cheating with, and Deputy Mayor Holbrook’s confrontation of Walter and the gun shot. There are so many ways this could have unfolded. The real meat of the story was rookie detective, Walter Clark finally figuring out Owen’s cold case. The story took an even bigger emotional turn when it was revealed that it was one of Owen’s first cases as detective and that it fell on September 11, 2001. That hit me like a ton of bricks. I like the way they set up stuff and brought it home with this episode. I liked the Dworaczyk cold case and how it related to Don Owen, his past and how it all tied in with 9/11 as well. I thought they did a really good job with dealing with such a difficult subject.
That will do it for the second part of our Summer TV Awards. Let us know who you’d pick in these categories during this past year. Be sure to check back in next week for the final part of our awards which will focus on our favorite shows from this past year.