Welcome to 2014! Sherlock is back (and Greg Lestrade is lookin’ FINE). Community is back. Victor Garber is back. David Tennant is coming to American television. Parks and Rec hits its 100th. I’m finally going to watch Scandal and The West Wing (#resolutions). It’s all very exciting. But before we jump into the new year, let’s look back at the best of the last.
Best comedic episode: “Emergency Response” (Parks and Rec)
Ben and Leslie’s wedding was perfect, but of course it would be. What really gets me is what comes first: the whole team coming together, playing to their strengths and putting the town first, just like Leslie taught them. And if that’s not enough, there’s also “You’re On With Ron.”
Best dramatic episode: Broadchurch finale
*SPOILERS SPOILERS EVERYTHING SPOILERS*
The first season of Broadchurch was a taut and nearly flawless exploration of how fragile our communities can be. As every other relationship fell apart in the wake of Danny’s murder, DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) came together. Their begrudging respect for each other lightened the tone of the otherwise intense investigation, but it took a devastating turn in the final episode, when in a flash, he became the only person she had left. Alec and Ellie spent the season balancing each other out–he tempered her optimism, she softened his gruffness–but after realizing that her husband killed Danny, they essentially switched places. Suddenly Alec was the one reaching out a comforting hand, while Ellie was left jaded and alone. He’d been telling her all season to trust no one. He was right.
Best performance: Olivia Colman (Broadchurch)
I cannot stress enough how much this show belonged to Olivia Colman. Ellie’s journey from openness to cynicism was the thematic focal point of the first season, and Olivia Colman absolutely owned it. She carried herself with a kind of still, composed warmth and then threw her entire body into grieving her husband’s betrayal. It was absolutely gutting.
Biggest TV event: Doctor Who‘s 50th Anniversary
“The Day of the Doctor” wasn’t even a day–it was a weekend. It was a holiday full of Bad Wolf, my Doctor, Tom Baker, Capaldi’s eyebrows, archival footage, Murray Gold’s music, trivia nights, Jammie Dodgers, TARDIS hats at the movie theatre, Converse sneakers, and pure joy. It’s not often that your favorite show celebrates 50 years of stories, and I’m glad I dove into this fandom in time to witness it.
Best series finale: The Office
With season nine’s hot mess of a Jim/Pam storyline finally resolved, this episode was free to celebrate the real thesis of the show–“No matter how you get there or where you end up, human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home.” I’ll probably never be over Steve Carell’s last “That’s what she said,” or the way Jim looked at Pam just for answering the phone. The finale was the perfect tribute to what a family these people have become and what beauty this show has found in ordinary things.
Best final season: 30 Rock
Not a lot of people watched it, but the joke’s on you, because they got paid anyway.
Best new show: Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow has everything: sass, chemistry, diversity, history, Tom Mison’s eyebrows, John Noble, Rue, and soon enough, SpyDaddy. What started out as the most endearingly insane show of the new year has turned out to be exactly that, every week. Buoyed by a charming cast and writers who get the joke, Sleepy Hollow is never anything less than entertaining. Farewell, Yolanda.
Biggest reveal: The Mother (How I Met Your Mother)
It’s. About. Time. Pulling for Ted to find love with a mysterious stranger was a challenge. Pulling for Ted to find love with Cristin Milioti’s bass-playing, cookie-baking, Lily-sassing queen who eats croissant crumbs out of her bra? So easy and so, so right.
Biggest return: The Eighth Doctor (“The Night of the Doctor”)
No one saw this coming. Also, this is the fastest I’ve fallen for anyone since David Tennant roared “I DON’T KNOW” in his pajamas. Paul McGann can get it.
Best vows: Booth and Brennan (Bones)
I didn’t even know how badly I needed a B&B wedding until we got one. Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz held hands and made significant eye contact and it was gorgeous, but really, this wedding was all about the vows. We finally found out what Brennan wrote to Booth when she was buried alive all those years ago, and it turns out his sideways lovesick glances didn’t go so unnoticed after all. Best wishes, little duck family. You’ll always be the standard.
Best reality TV moment: Amy and Travis’s “Wicked Game” (So You Think You Can Dance)
This is why Amy won. She’d been adorable all season, but here, with Travis, she’s riveting. Amy dances with her soul exposed. Look at the way she breathes before she’s even started moving. She feels everything, pulls us in, and makes us feel it too.
Best musical moment: “Winston’s Birthday” (New Girl)
In the back half of New Girl‘s second season, Nick and Jess went for it like the young, hot, messy people they are, and it was absolutely the best thing this show could have done. Nick Miller went from lovable goof to outright man as he tried to prove to himself that he was worthy of Jess’s love. When he ignored her father’s warnings and fixed her a rooftop breakfast to the hopeful tune of Lucius’s “Until We Get There,” it was so clear that these two crazy kids were gonna make it after all.
Biggest game-changer: Danny Castellano’s dance (The Mindy Project)
You can keep your Red Wedding–this is the real watercooler moment of 2013. Danny Castellano can dance. Welcome to my top 5, Chris Messina. I’m afraid of how intense my feelings are.
Cancelled show I’ll miss most: Happy Endings
What other show could bring us Optimistic Red Velvet Walruses or the line, “I got a home movie that I made that’s just a bunch of scenes of old men buying fruit, so we’re in for a pretty steamy night”? Happy Endings, I found you too late to save you, but I’ll live my life in your memory.
Best line delivery: Adam Scott’s “I’m feeding your eagle” (Parks and Rec)