Yesterday I paid homage to what I think were the ten best shows of 2010. Today I'm looking back on my favorite TV moments of the past year. While the best shows list was nice and orderly and numbered, this one is a bit more nebulous: although I've selected ten TV moments, I've chosen not to number them or give them a specific order, because honestly, it's just a pain in the ass that doesn't really matter, and everyone's gonna squabble over the list anyway.
So let's do this. For those of you who are months or years behind on your television viewing, please note that this list contains spoilers for "Lost," "Sons of Anarchy," and "Mad Men." Oh no! My spoiler alerts have spoiled the top ten list! SPOILER SPOILER ALERT!
The strength of this episode propelled "The Walking Dead" into my Best Shows of 2010 list. In a cinematic style matched on television only by "Breaking Bad," the 90 minutes that track Rick Grimes's awakening in an apocalyptic world move deliberately slowly, ratcheting up the tension in the bright Georgia daylight. Never before has a lit match in an empty stairwell been so scary.
Many critics found parts of this holiday episode too forced, but I thought it was the perfect balance of humor and emotion, tapping into our childhood nostalgia while maintaining a believable premise for the characters in the context of the show. As always, I enjoyed the tiny details that "Community" includes, like when John Oliver's "Christmas Wizard" opens the curtain of Abed's imaginary world and reveals the study room behind it. And yes, the ending made me cry. Shut up.
During NBC's late-night fiasco, Kimmel brazenly donned a wig and fake and did an entire show in character as Leno. And if that wasn't ballsy enough, he followed it up by going on the now-defunct "Jay Leno Show" and making fun of Leno to his face. Conan may be my favorite late-night host, but nobody has bigger cojones than Kimmel.
After a relatively disappointing and slow-moving season, showrunner Kurt Sutter salvaged the season with one of the most unexpected twists of the year (and certainly the most gratifying): Jax double-crosses the loathsome Agent Stahl, which leads to her death and frees his mother from the murder charges Stahl had framed her for. It. Was. AWESOME. But perhaps more importantly, the twist allowed Sutter to return the show to a delicate status quo, with new dangers and enemies looming for Season 4. I can't wait.
Showrunner Matthew Weiner has thrown enough curveballs to make us expect the unexpected (Season 3's formation of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce stands out), but Don Draper's out-of-the-blue proposal to Megan The Secretary -- following a season of binge drinking and hooker masochism -- left viewers floored. As with "Sons of Anarchy," this twist makes me even more excited for where the next season could possibly go (Peggy-Megan catfight?!?).
Oh man, I can't get enough of Oprah's retarded fans. They're like Twilight fans, except instead of getting off on fictional teen-vampire sex, they get off on sequined Uggs. Watch them lose their sh*t not once, but twice.
All because she was in a Snickers commercial and someone started a Facebook page that made it happen. Ordinarily I find Facebook to be a pretty lame way to start a grassroots movement, but even I have to admit that that was pretty cool. And by the way, she knocked her hosting gig out of the park.
The 2.5-hour finale was either emotionally satisfying or a total cop-out that left too many questions unanswered. I don't care. I'm just happy I don't have to deal with "Lost" fans any more.
I'm sure you could make the argument that other sports moments belong on this list, like the Saints' memorable Super Bowl victory or whatever happened in baseball. But that stuff happens (more or less) every year, with Americans choosing sides between the teams involved. This was an extra-time miracle from a beleaguered star player in the world's biggest quadrennial sporting event that sent the U.S. from the brink of elimination to winning its group. The video above still gets me. I love a non-ironic "U-S-A!" chant.
As the NBC's late-night fiasco unfolded in the most spectacularly disastrous ways, something amazing happened: the tightness that Conan O'Brien had had since coming to "The Tonight Show" melted away, and for two weeks he delivered funny and carefree shows while an army of Internet nerds rallied behind him. He closed his final show with a touching speech before playing rhythm guitar as Will Ferrell sang "Freebird," leaving a mark of originality on "The Tonight Show" that 17 years of Jaywalking segments could never do.