Welcome to 2015! Friends is on Netflix. Broadchurch is almost back. Parks and Rec is never leaving us, ever. I’m going to finish The X-Files, cry about it, watch The Fall and Hannibal and everything Gillian Anderson has ever done, and then watch The West Wing for real this time. All of my resolutions are pop culture resolutions.
It’s been ten years since the Doctor told Rose that she was going to have a really great year, five since we saw it happen, and fifteen since Mulder and Scully’s world didn’t end, so if history repeats itself, it’s safe to say that we’re in for some feelings. I’m ready. But before we jump into the new year, let’s look back on the best of the last.
Best comedic episode: “Moving Up” (Parks and Rec)
This show and its characters have come so far, and that was never clearer than at the Pawnee/ Eagleton Unity Concert. Ginuwine honored Li’l Sebastian, Ron went public as Duke Silver, Andy performed with Mouse Rat one more time, and all of Leslie’s hard work — the years she’s spent improving her town — finally paid off. She got Pawnee and her big promotion. In a show so insistent that nobody achieves anything alone, it’s fitting to think that success doesn’t always have to be lonely. If people will fight for us, sometimes we get one more night onstage with our band. Or in Leslie’s case, three years. I still get a rush of joy when I think about it.
Best dramatic episode: “Bad Blood” (Sleepy Hollow)
If episode titles could be retired, “Bad Blood” would be off limits by now. There would be a whole wing of the TV Hall of Fame called “Vince Gilligan Is So Much Better Than You,” and it would just play “Bad Blood” on a loop. But Sleepy Hollow did The X-Files proud with its first season finale, which changed the game for every character. Abbie was left in Purgatory. Ichabod was buried alive. VICTOR GARBER ATE GLASS WITH A BRITISH ACCENT. It was the best kind of madness, and it had me wishing away all of the months that stood between this and the next chapter.
Best comedic episode of a dramatic series: “The Sign of Three” (Sherlock)
In a season of gifts to the fandom, Sherlock’s speech at John’s wedding was the greatest gift of all. Spanning most of the episode, it looked back on intriguing cases and stag night shenanigans before turning abruptly into a gorgeous tribute to their friendship. Sherlock “will solve your murder, but it takes John Watson to save a life.” The wedding itself proved that, as Sherlock recognized all the signs of a murder plot in progress and solved the case in time for John to bust through a door and be a doctor. The evening ended on a bittersweet note, questioning whether every marriage must necessarily come between friends, but not before Benedict Cumberbatch did a pirouette.
Best dramatic episode of a comedic series: “Cooperative Polygraphy” (Community)
Pierce’s Last Will and Testament turned out to be one affirmation after the next, which is fitting. He always had a knack for seeing people’s hidden insecurities, and while he sometimes used his friends’ weaknesses against them, in the end, he just wanted to build them up. He wanted them to be better than he was. Community is a show about realizing potential, which is easier to see in others than in ourselves, and this episode summed it up perfectly.
Best dramatic performance: Eva Green (Penny Dreadful)
I was going to give this one to Martin “Am I a pretty lady?” Freeman, but the ladies of Head Over Feels just honored him so thoroughly that I’m going to direct you to their Showman of the Year post and take this opportunity to give a shout out to Eva Green, who terrifies me.
Best comedic performance: the cast of Parks and Rec
To quote Ron Swanson, “I still think awards are stupid, but they’d be less stupid if they went to the right people.” Like these people.
Strongest start to a new comedy: Enlisted
The Hill brothers had a sweetly competitive dynamic that worked from the start. Randy couldn’t raise his voice except to defend Pixar characters. Derrick instigated at a level most of us can only dream of. Pete had a chip on his shoulder and PTSD that was written and portrayed with respect. Enlisted started a conversation that we need to have. This was a show about our duties to our literal family, but it was also a show about how far we’ll go for the people who become our family. I would welcome it back with a glittery sign if I could.
Canceled show I’ll miss the most: Selfie
As Eliza, Karen Gillan took a character who could be a one-note punchline and turned her into someone endearingly oblivious and deceptively big-hearted. As Henry, John Cho was charming and uptight and totally smitten. They needed each other, their chemistry was obvious, and I wanted more time with them both.
Best musical moment (dance): Danny Castellano’s Diamond Dan striptease (The Mindy Project, “We’re a Couple Now, Haters”)
Danny Castellano has moves, and he’s not afraid to use them on his girlfriend — which is great not only because he is dead serious about pleasing her, but because it puts Mindy in the position most shows save for men. (See Vanity Fair’s great piece on this show and the female gaze.) Also it’s hot. It’s just really, really hot, and it can be set to any piece of music ever composed, because art knows no borders.
Best musical moment (song): Eliza sings Sia’s “Chandelier” (Selfie, “Imperfect Harmony”)
When Henry backed away from a potential relationship with Eliza, what started as a vulnerable karaoke performance spiraled into one of the most devastating breakdowns on TV this year. Eliza fell back on old habits, and Selfie sent the message that it wasn’t here to pretend. Change isn’t easy. If this show goes no further, let’s at least make sure that this scene makes Karen Gillan a star.
Best relationship arc: Clara and the Twelfth Doctor (Doctor Who)
It may have taken a while for the new Doctor to find himself, but while he did, Clara stepped up to run the show, proving herself to be bolder, tougher, and more caring than she ever was before. She and the Doctor made each other better, and they look SO GOOD together, and just try to tell me that you’re not still broken up about their brief goodbye. (“Thank you for making me feel special.” “Thank you for exactly the same.”) Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman sparkle, and I’m delighted to know that we’re not through with them yet.
Best line delivery: Ben Schwartz’s “The Closer? Foof.” (Parks and Rec)
It works for everything.
What were your favorite moments of the past year? What are your pop culture resolutions? Let’s discuss! And check out Give Me My Remote for my complete list of Top Shows and Top Episodes of 2014. Here’s to a new year.