It's time once again for our annual list of the 50 best episodes of the past year. Always, we'll be counting down 10 episodes a day until we get to the best episode of 2012 on Friday. The episodes on this list are based on nominations by myself, our merry band of freelancers and you the readers as to what we think the standout moments of the year were. And as always, be sure to revisit some of our previous picks in the archives.
Obviously our final list will differ from the ones you sent in - but that's half the fun! So sit back, relax and enjoy the countdown!
50. happy endings: sabado free-gante
(originally aired: october 30, 2012)
How could we not give a spot to this year's Halloween episode, which opens with the cast dressed as the Jackson 5 - in marionette form - with Brad as Joe Jackson? Easily one of the funniest moments of 2012.
49. new girl: fluffer
(originally aired: october 2, 2012)
It took a while, but "New Girl" finally seems to have found a way to start telling stories without having everything spiral off into their own silly tangents. Here Nick finds himself the emotional fluffer to Jess, who can't "get it up" so to speak in her no-strings-attached relationship with her new beau. It's a surprisingly revealing installment, both in its "Seinfeld"-ian premise and it's forthright discussion about Nick and Jess's own foibles.
48. bent: tile date
(originally aired: april 4, 2012)
Boy did this show find a way to sneak up inside and make you a believer or what? What could easily be dismissed as a low-key character study (which we did) eventually blossomed into a legitimately funny and rewarding show, one that took on the usual pitfalls and rewards of starting a relationship in a surprisingly adult way.
47. raising hope: jimmy's fake girlfriend
(originally aired: february 14, 2012)
Jimmy's declaration of love for Sabrina - a tour of their relationship as told via his improv class - was everything we love about Greg Garcia's shows: unapologetically silly, amusingly reverential and wonderfully heartfelt. Even better is that you never know which aspect is coming next.
46. the river: magus
(originally aired: february 7, 2012)
It's rare when a television series literally can do something that's never been done before. Here Michael Green and company posited a show about a mother and son - with a documentary crew in tow - looking into their husband/father's ill-fated expedition on the Amazon River. The end result was both genuinely chilling and unexpectedly clever, not to mention looked like nothing else you've seen on television before.
45. arrow: pilot
(originally aired: october 10, 2012)
A finely constructed hour that brims with the kind of confidence you rarely see in these kinds of shows, from its nesting doll of emotional stakes to its intriguing mystery throughline to its legitimately cool action to its star-in-the-making lead. If you want a recipe on how to make a superhero show: this is it.
44. spartacus: vengeance: libertus
(originally aired: february 24, 2012)
For a show that's killed and maimed people in every conceivable way possible, here's one we didn't see coming: bringing down the entire damn arena on everyone. Unexpected doesn't even come close to covering it. How about: insert-your-favorite-swear-word-here-ing awesome.
43. awake: pilot
(originally aired: march 1, 2012)
"Awake" took the idea of "high concept" to a whole other level, establishing two realities as the result of trauma suffered by our hero, Michael Britten. In one world his wife died in a car accident, in another his son, each separated by a night's sleep. The mechanics of the above alone were something to marvel at but the truly inspiring moment is when Michael declares that - contrary to every instinct of we the TV viewer - he's not interested in solving the mystery of his predicament and he'll do everything in his power to keep both worlds alive.
42. elementary: pilot
(originally aired: september 27, 2012)
Thoughtfully performed and slickly executed, somehow Robert Doherty, Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu managed to reinvent what's already been a heavily reimagined premise, a take that's brimming with discovery and awakening for not only the characters but for we the viewers.
41. last resort: captain
(originally aired: september 27, 2012)
Unabashedly ambitious and high concept, the opener to this unfortunately short-lived series swung for the fences in an engaging, thoughtful way. Shawn Ryan and Karl Gajdusek put a bunch of people in a submarine and pushed their preconceptions about country, family, justice and friendship to the breaking point. What else could you ask for from a TV show?