Here to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a list of my favourite episodes of TV of 2015. It was tough to narrow down my absolute favourites, and there’s certainly some fantastic episodes that deserve to be on this list, but this is the list that ended up feeling right. Please note that this list is ordered by date of broadcast and nothing more.
“If-Then-Else” – Person of Interest (Aired January 6th, 2015)
I love Person of Interest. In my warped mind, this show is a successor to the Buffy spin-off Angel, as it continues the themes Angel focused on in a compelling and modern setting. Redemption, fighting the good fight only because it’s the right thing to, and focusing on the plights of world-weary adults rather than adolescence really brings to mind that Whedon show about a vampire with a soul. Also, both of them star Amy Acker which is a big plus. With “If-Then-Else”, this show (of which I’ve written extensively about before) gets experimental by forcing our heroes into a trap and showing several timelines based on different responses to said trap, most of which ending in despair. Through these different outcomes we see funny, touching, and dark explorations into the show’s characters, most intriguingly, with the show’s all powerful AI, “The Machine”, that drives much of the plot. It was the best episode in a series filled with valid contenders, and it’s one that will likely set action and emotional highs that’ll be tough to beat for Person of Interest and its many recent copycats.
“Leslie and Ron” – Parks and Recreation (Aired January 20th, 2015)
This was it, the episode the first part of the show’s final season was building towards. The decision to start this season after a time-skip that moved past the destruction of Leslie and Ron’s relationship was bold to say the least, and the choice to have a time skip itself seems to have been made for the sole purpose of having this plot for an episode. With that said it was sooo worth it because this ended up being my favourite episode of Parks and Recreation, mostly because it managed to impress and defy my expectations even with what was basically a slam dunk premise. Leslie and Ron coming together? Trapping the show’s two strongest characters in a single room for twenty minutes? How could that not be awesome? Even with that said, it really shocked me with how hilarious and touching it was, and on top of that, it gave legitimate and understandable reasons for their relationship falling apart in the first place, which is way harder to execute well than it sounds. It was pretty much the perfect Parks episode, and it also contained the best use of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” ever put on television (yes, even better than on The Office).
“12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” – Inside Amy Schumer (Aired May 5th, 2015)
Great satire seems hard to do these days. Most of the time, the argument being conveyed completely devours the humour, and at other points, the jokes completely obscure the message. This was not the case with this particular “sketch” that filled the entirety of an episode of Inside Amy Schumer. The premise pardodies 12 Angry Men, and it covers 12 men deciding if Amy is hot enough to be on television. The humour is as prevalent as the razor sharp indictment of Hollywood’s sexist double standards and this episode succeeds with flying colours at accomplishing the herculean task of getting me to laugh while also really thinking about what I was laughing at. The argument here is as memorable as the many hilarious one liners uttered by a wide array of amazing guest actors. This episode was the ultimate in the age old “guy” discussion of “Is she hot”.
“Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” – Community (Aired June 2nd, 2015)
I actually don’t have much to say about this episode other than that it was a perfect way to end a show like Community. It was funny, self-referential, and examined television as a medium in a way that left room for some legitimately touching moments between characters we spent 6 years growing to know and love (and 2 brand new ones that pretty much just nailed it), and an eccentric creator and his love for his audience. The biggest laughs from this episode were its chilling end tag and Britta’s show pitch (which includes one of the funniest F-Bombs I’ve ever heard on television).
“Blaine’s World” – iZombie (Aired June 9th, 2015)
This was iZombie‘s graduation. The instance in which it went from being a good show to a great one. Blaine’s world acts as the culmination of everything the first season has been building towards, concluding with easily the best action scene I’ve seen this year and some shocking twists and story developments. It is the season long battle between our heroes and the show’s deliciously detestable villain, Blaine, coming to a head, and it was made all the more satisfying by the impressive build up that went into it. It was dark, it was fun, and it was majorly ambitious. The fact that season 2 capitalizes on the momentum set by this episode makes it all the more sweeter.
“Escape from L.A”. – Bojack Horseman (aired July 17th, 2015)
Not one drop of blood is spilled in this episode of Bojack Horseman, but it still manages to be what is easily the darkest episode of television I’ve seen all year. It’s about a protagonist that once again reveals himself to be a broken person, in an episode that faces the cold reality of being the underdog: that people who are in a bad place (suffering from depression in Bojack’s case) tend to make a lot of wrong choices. Ya, this episode was hard to watch because it showed how Bojack failed again and again at being the adult in situations that desperately required him to be one, but it was the right move in evolving the show and Bojack’s character.
“Digestivo” – Hannibal (Aired July 18th, 2015)
This was Hannibal at its best for me, and certainly where I feel the series should have ended. It featured everything you could want in a finale: Fantastic resolutions to all the main characters, an explosive confrontation with a persistent nemesis, and truly shocking moments (including one particularly gruesome incident that I wrote about in another article). It was also called back to so much of what made the show enjoyable in the first place, like outlandish characters speaking ridiculously macabre dialogue over a civilized and otherwise reserved dinner. While most would disagree with me, I found the actual (probable) finale to the series to be a bit too esoteric, a conclusion that seemed made to appeal to people who prefer visual splendor and artfulness over evolving character dynamics and arc conclusions. “Digestivo” in contrast, was everything I asked for and more.
“Total Rickall” – Rick and Morty (Aired August 16th, 2015)
This installment of Rick and Morty was a send up to the clipshow episodes we’ve seen many times before where the cast of a show would just reminisce about stuff they’ve done in the past instead of doing something new or interesting to save time and money for the people making the show. The twist on this premise that’s been done before on television (including in one of Dan Harmon’s other show’s Community) is that the clips are of things that have never been shown before on the show, but this episode puts an extra twist to the premise by making the clips themselves the enemy. Here, the clips are just a product of alien parasites that insinuate themselves into the lives of their prey by creating false memories of their time together. An enormous host of personalities come to play, including a surprising turn by beloved character (and my personal favourite cast member since even the first season) Mr. Poopybutthole, solidifying this episode as an all-time classic. That it manages to find some real emotional stakes in this insane premise is doubly impressive.
“Halloween of Horror” – The Simpsons (Aired on October 18th)
This was the best episode The Simpsons produced in years, focusing on a fairly grounded and relatable premise and the emotional connection Homer and Lisa have. It’s the rare Simpsons episode that remembers that Lisa is just an 8 year old girl, and that Homer’s most significant trait besides his dim-wittedness is his love for his family. It also helps that the episode’s song number (which I believe is based on a track from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) was a lot of fun and surprisingly catchy. This episode alone is what got me reinvested in this show after it famously degraded with age.
“WWJD” – Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Aired November 20th, 2015)
“WWJD”, or rather, “What Would Jessica Do”, was by far the best episode of Jessica Jones. It was so good that I knew with absolute certainty that nothing the show would produce after would ever match its highs, and that’s because it puts the season’s central relationship (between Jessica Jones and her source of trauma, Kilgrave) front and centre. It’s as fascinating as it is creepy, as we get see deep into the scarred and warped minds of both of these two as they verbally spar, casually chat, and even team up for one particularly amazing sequence. This was the Jessica Jones episode that gave me everything I didn’t know I wanted, and I’ll likely never forget it as a result.
Quote of the Day:
Instead of a traditional quote to close out this update, I’ll leave a video of your loving Uncle J that I absolutely love to play on New Year’s. If you really think about it, it’s the best possible New Year’s Resolution out there: