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The Best Episodes of the Month: April 2012



As you may know by now, our opinions (about television) here at The Blogulator are valid. And as such as is true, we'd like to start helping you keep track of when the shows we love churn out particularly spellbinding and/or hilarious episodes. Below you will find five different opinions from five different Blogulator contributors as to what were the most successful episodes that aired (or were seen) in April of 2012. If there's one you've missed, get to Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, or your local cable On Demand menu stat!

Mad Men - "Mystery Date" (buy on iTunes or Amazon)
For as many gripes as I've had about the new season of Mad Men, I realize after every episode that my gripes don't really make a whole lotta sense, because this show is still one of the best shows on TV. And, specifically, outside of the somewhat bloated two-hour premiere, this season is knocking every episode out of the park in its own subtle way. Although, "Mystery Date" is perhaps one of Mad Men's least subtle episodes ever. Joan tells Greg to get the eff out of her house, poor little Sally learns about the nightmarish things going on in society, and Don has a literal fever dream nightmare where he freakin' strangles Madchen Amick to death and pushes her under her bed. It's an episode shrouded in darkness, so much so that this fake horror movie trailer made out of the episode actually isn't so far off from the overall tone. It certainly seems to be a harbinger of things to come as the season progresses. [Qualler]

Justified - "Slaughterhouse" (buy on iTunes or Amazon)
A lot rested on the third season finale of Justified. This season was more serialized than the two that preceded it. And with two new adversaries competing with Boyd Crowder for Marshal Raylan Givens' scornful looks, some have said this season tried to do too much in a short amount of time and paled in comparison to Season 2. While it did take a few episodes for Robert Quarles to gain some depth beyond being a wacky, volatile villain, once he did give us a peak into his disturbing past, steely-eyed Neal McDonough's performance jumped into Emmy-worthy status. And every episode subtly layered Mykelti Williamson's performance as Limehouse, a sort of down-home Wizard of Oz, smart enough to know when to strike, be even wiser to know when to just sit back and watch everything play out. And, for the most part, as exceptionally entertaining as this season was, the audience was also forced to sit back and watch how everything played out as well. Luckily, "Slaughterhouse" more than rewarded viewer patience a brutal final confrontation between Quarles, Limehouse and Givens. We were also given the extra payoff of Raylan realizing that, over the course of events spanning the entire series, his father had developed a deeper relationship with Boyd Crowder than he ever did with his own flesh and blood. So deep that to keep Boyd out of jail, Arlo took the fall for killing a man that betrayed Boyd in addition to confessing to shooting a State Trooper. Even just thinking about Raylan saying that Arlo "saw a man in a hat pointing a gun at Boyd" still gives me chills. What a way to cap off a ridiculously enjoyable season while adding one more thing to boil under that hat of our favorite US Marshal. [Sarc]

Revenge - "Scandal" (watch for free on Hulu)

God, this show. I started watching it at the beginning of the season with eyes narrowed in suspicion. The ubiquitous ad campaign and huge hype made me think that, like most things that networks (and studios and publishers) push heavily, it was expensive, but absolutely no good. I didn't think the sweet girl from Everwood could pull off being a cold-hearted vengeance machine, and figured that even if she could, she wouldn't be compelling because she was too inhuman and unlikeable. I didn't like the guy who plays Daniel when he was Max on Make It or Break It (yeah, that's a thing that happened), and don't even get me started on how much I dislike Madeleine Stowe. Nevertheless, I started watching--AND COULDN'T STOP. "Revenge" is probably one of the best shows on television, and for the most part lives up to its hype. Every time you think that the story is about to devolve, that Emily can't possibly lie her way out of this one, the show turns everything around, just to show you how wrong you are. "Revenge" is an intricate dance, a complex perpetual motion machine that defies prediction, and multiple satisfying surprises and twists give the impression that the show has so much more up its sleeve. I picked "Scandal" as my favorite ep of the month, but they're all good; "Scandal" does contain a couple of nice reveals, however--what really happened between Daniel and Tyler on the beach, Emily's emerging, genuine feelings for her ersatz fiance, the unsettlingly obtuse machinations of Emily's revenge master, Takeda (how awesome is it that she has a revenge master?), and heretofore uninteresting Ashley's attempt to leverage the Grayson family tragedy for her own gain by releasing bloody pictures of Daniel at the crime scene to the tabloids. I'm glad the show has another bit of scandal to chew on besides the David Clarke/terrorist/plane crash thing, which has always felt like a wrong note in the show, both because of its "too soon" element (anything that smacks of using a 9/11-ish event as a subplot in what is basically a really good soap opera is, I think, kind of cheap) and its general weird unbelievability. Not that I think it's going away--it's integral to the premise of the show--but the fact that other fucked up things are happening keeps it from turning into a stale old chestnut. Now if someone would just actually straight up kill Amanda, that would be super. [Anna]

Community - "Basic Lupine Urology" (watch for free on Hulu)

It's no secret how much I and 90% of the rest of the nerd contingent of the internet adores the Greendale gang, but upon returning after the dark nightmare that was its third season hiatus, every episode of this show just kept punching me in the groin more than the last - in a good way. And in particular, it took me a few minutes to realize why I loved "Basic Lupine Urology" (AKA the Law & Order ep) even more than the two other perfect episodes the show did this month (the Dr. Who/dreamatorium ep and the Ken Burns/pillow fort ep): because while I maybe wish I had a much deeper understanding of Dr. Who and/or Ken Burns documentaries, I am far more familiar with the tropes and minutiae of Dick Wolf's franchise. Just like great homage/parody Community eps of yore, such as the chicken fingers/GoodFellas one or the Charlie Kaufman/Abed is the Messiah one, every beat is played pitch-perfectly, a couple of my favorite details being the abundance of Greek NYC coffee cups suddenly on campus and Britta's role as the photograph analyzer (which in this case just means she can Instagram it to make it look old-timey). The biggest complaint that many have already hobbled at this twelve-jokes-a-second romp is that it lacks that tender center that deepens our love for the characters like so many forays into the study group's world has before, but I say they just had their cake and ate it too. The episode ends with yet another classic L&O bit, where the climax of solving the case is undercut with an out-of-left-field development that one of the case's primary constituents has died in the most horrifically tragic way possible, and here we got the off-screen death of one of the show's longest-running minor characters: Starburns. It's not huge, but it's a joke and a morbidly hefty moment at once, as we'll now always remember that the weird guy with the top hat and the cosmic facial hair died at the end of the Law & Order episode of Community. [Chris]

30 Rock - "Live From Studio 6H" (watch for free on Hulu)

"...because they thought two black people on the same show would make people nervous. A rule that NBC still follows today!"

Now, I wasn't the biggest fan of the initial foray of 30 Rock into a live episode.  Don't get me wrong- I LOVE a good gimmick.  Can't. Get. Enough. Gimmicks.  This is why I'm one of the only Blogulator crew that unabashedly watches competitive reality television (and not the high-rated shows either).  However, the previous live episode of 30 Rock just fell flat; it was live for the kitsch of being live without any, what do you call those?  Oh yeah, jokes.  Flash forward to the 2012 episode and it's genius.  All the gimmick, plus hilarious jokes and guest stars.  The live episode actually seemed like watching TGS. There were sketches, and funny ones at that.  I love the "flashbacks" to television past narrated by Kenneth, inserted for the purpose of "saving" TGS as a live show.  I watched several television parodies repeatedly, including the sketch of news reporters befuddled by Tina Fey's sex, and the Amos n' Andy spoof Alfie and Abner. Dr. Spaceman got some much needed play, Jon Hamm was in my two favorite sketches, and Paul proposed to Jenna after singing "Zou Bisou Bisou" from Mad Men - "A Little Kiss."  Perfection? Maybe not.  But consider my funny bone satisfied. [Jerksica]

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