I'm not going to number these anymore. Realized that I was creating the kind of listing I'd started on this project to avoid.
Gilmore Girls --- Raincoats and Recipes
How do you pick the best episode in a series that (as long as the Palladino's were in charge) never seemed to miss a step? Lorelai and Rory's fast talking, hysterically, and (let's not forget) coffee fueled relationship proved that you could have a mother daughter relationship who cared about each other. This episode, at the exact midpoint of the series, may have been it's finest hour. The Dragonfly Inn opens, Emily and Richard have a breach, and Luke and Lorelai finally acknowledge what we've known since the Pilot --- they're perfect for each other. But critical was Lorelai's decision to sleep with a married Dean, the episode that would have the girls first real breach, and show that, for all their fast talking, these women were human.
The Office (American version) --- Casino Night
It took me a little while to understand this shows appeal but it's really growing on me now. And it's not just that this is the episode where Jim and Pam relationship finally solidifies that I picked it. I want things to work out for Michael personally. Yes, he's an inept boss, and it's amazing the Scranton Branch of Dunder Mifflin is still standing. But that is his charm. And in this episode where he fails to successfully juggle his two romantic entanglements, we begin to wonder if he can get any happiness out of life. Then again, maybe Dwight is his sole mate after all. God knows he's the only to treat him seriously.
Damages --- Trust Me
Though I'll never convince my mother, this is one of the most inventive and daring shows on TV. And though some people said the second season was weaker than the first, I think this one may have been the best I've seen so far. Patty Hewes is ruthless, but in the last couple of episodes of this season, she loses just about everything she has. And though the flashbacks made it hard to see how it was possible, she still manages to come out ahead in her war against UNR. And the confrontation between Ellen and Patty at the end was astonishing (without the expected buildup) that it mesmerized. Here's hoping that DirectTV picks it up for a fourth season cause this is one show I'd gladly follow all the way to the end.
How I Met Your Mother --- Swarley
There are any number of good episodes to pick for this series, but I like this episode not just because it puts supercouple Lily and Marshall back together, but because it gets under the suited veneer that is Barney Smithson. Watching him reel in reaction everytime someone mentions this nickname he got at a coffeehouse was even funnier than a Robin Sparkles video. (I especially liked the bit at the end where McLaren's suddenly becomes Cheers.) Oh Neil Patrick Harris, is there anything you can't do? There doesn't seem to be any evidence to the contrary.
ER --- The Ambush
I hold that this was one of the most overrated series in history, but that doesn't change the fact that when it was good, it could be brilliant. Ignore the gimmick that it was 'live', and you get to see for the first time the underpinnings of the staff of County General. Doug and Carol still being flighty about their relationship, Carter readjusting to his new status at the ER after leaving his surigical reisdence, Benton snubbing his student while worrying about his premature son, and Mark Greene, the heart of the show, still reeling from a brutal attack a few weeks earlier. All trying to do their jobs while there's a camera in their face. Almost as a throwaway, William H. Macy's Dr. Morgenstern, the chief of staff, suffers a heart attack. I always felt his leadership was critcal to the show. His gradual fade out was a blow that this show had trouble recovering from.