With 2011 now in full swing and the vast array of upcoming new and returning television series upon us, there’s no better time than now to reminisce about last year’s great television moments.
Over 50 new series premiered on television throughout last year, and combined with the series already running on air, it’s fair to say that 2010 provided more new and continual television viewing opportunities than any other year previously. Sure, that largely had to do with NBC completely ruining their primetime line-up and attempting to fix it with a slew of new programming, but we’ll talk about that a little later.
While watching television is a completely subjective experience and not everyone will agree with everything included on our list, I would like to note that we tried to be fair and looked at every television series, in an attempt to find something that could be considered for our list of best moments in 2010.
As usual, there will be some obvious choices that you probably already knew were going to be on the list, but I’m sure there are many moments that you’ll be surprised to see. Whether you agree with our choices or not, there’s one thing that remains certain… these were all great moments in television.
(Keep in mind, these are in no particular order.)
Many of our choices, especially ones relating to a particular series finale, will include spoilers and flat-out ruin the ending of the series for you. You have been warned!
Now, without further ado, we kick of this list with one of the most iconic series ever on television.
Lost – “A Long Awaited Reunion”
For 6 years, audiences around the world tuned in to watch the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 traverse a mysterious island in an attempt make sense of all the fantastical events that have continued to threaten their lives from the moment they crashed.
When Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse announced that Lost would be coming to an end in 2010, viewers waited in suspense to see what exactly was behind this mysterious island. With nobody safe from death and the number of episodes left slowly dwindling, everyone was focused on what would happen in the two-hour series finale.
After everything came together and the island was once again safe, the focused shifted to the sideways storylines that accompanied almost every episode of the final season. As the familiar members of the iconic cast began to reunite, it was revealed that everyone came together in a single church to “move on” together.
Whether you loved or hated the finale, Lost presented viewers of the world with some of the most intense and enjoyable viewing experiences ever on television. In the end, it’s not how many questions were answered or how many explanations for the unexplainable were revealed, it was (as the finale pointed out) the journey that was the most important.
The end of any television show will never meet the expectations of its many fans. If anything, it should simply serves as a symbolic bookend for viewers to take a step back, look at the past years of emotions and viewing experiences that this series brought and, ultimately, acknowledge it for the enjoyable journey that it was.
Ashes To Ashes – “The Railway Arms”
After 5 years of watching the wonderfully brash DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) “nick” criminals, with the ever reliable DI Ray Carling (Dean Andrews) and DC Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster) at his side, viewers were finally met with the truth about these beloved characters and what fate held for the franchise’s newest protagonist, Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes).
While anyone who has seen Life on Mars could easily conclude some possible outcomes that may have awaited Alex, it was with the appearance of the iconic “Railway Arms” where everything was beautifully wrapped up for Gene, Ray, Chris, Shaz (Montserrat Lombard) and Alex. In the end it turned out to be a group of fallen police officers stuck in Limbo with a young officer taking the form of Gene Hunt to help guide his brothers-in-arms into the afterlife.
Of course, one must not forget the wonderfully malevolent Jim Keats (Daniel Mays), who, as it turns out, was much more than this season’s antagonist. He was, in fact, some form of the devil.
It is with these moments in series such as this where one can only stand back and admire the beauty that can come from British television and unfortunately, how difficult it can be at times for American television to deliver something equally as pure.
True Blood – “Russell Edgington’s Primetime Debut”
Following the death of his long-time lover Talbot (Theo Alexander), at the hands of Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard), Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) lost what was left of his 3000 year-old vampire mind and decided to take on the entire world. With Nan Flanagan (Jessica Tuck), from The American Vampire League, watching (along with the rest of the world), Russell Edgington made his primetime television debut by ripping out the spine of a newscaster, revealing to the television viewing audiences what vampires are really capable of. Not to mention, threatening to eat everyone’s children.
With the third season of True Blood turning out to be a mess of characters, unfulfilling story-arcs and conclusion-less plots, the character of Russell Edgington was most certainly the exception to this season’s unfortunate rule of underwhelming revelations. As this shocking scene took place at the conclusion of the episode, “Everything is Broken,” it provided one of the few seasonal cliffhangers that this series used to be known for.
House – “Love Is In The Air”
While many television series have attempted to bring their two main characters together in a romantic relationship, few (very few) have executed it correctly without damaging the core elements that the series is known for.
After seven years, the prayers of most House fans were answered as House (Hugh Laurie) and Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) became a couple. Following the triumphant character piece that was the House season 6 finale, all eyes were watching as House season 7 premiered.
For their season opener, the producers of House wisely decided to base an entire episode solely on House and Cuddy’s relationship. While obviously providing fan service to everyone that has been hoping to see these two characters together from the beginning, it also allowed the producers to deal with every issue that could possibly take away from the core series… and it worked.
When House and Cuddy finally took their relationship to Princeton Plainsboro, the series was allowed to continue in a somewhat normal fashion. Following the perfectly executed premiere, each subsequent episode was allowed to implement elements of their relationship, without completely taking away focus from the specific patient of the week or seasonal story-arc.
Bones – “Brennan’s Breakdown”
This past season of Bones hasn’t exactly been up to standards, considering the past seasons and terrific storylines of the series. While some fans are more angered by this than others, there have still been some moments (some amazing moments), that have shown those watching that greatness is still possible from Hart Hanson and the producers behind the series.
As Brennan shot down Booth’s request for love in the wonderful, yet heartbreaking 100th episode, the series took a turn for the strange as Hanson and crew decided to split the characters up for a symbolic 6-month separation between the fifth and sixth season. Since then, the series has tried its hardest to overcome that lapse in decision making.
In “The Doctor in the Photo,” Emily Deschanel is given somewhat of a character piece where she is allowed to shine as an actress. Unfortunately, the heavy-handed writing didn’t allow for that as much the aforementioned season six finale did for Hugh Laure on House.
That being said, the notion of being confronted with the unfortunate decision that she had made by turning down Booth’s attempt at a romantic relationship, Brennan breaks down in front of Booth with a monologue of regret. It is this completely heart-wrenching scene that truly shows, to those previously skeptical, that Emily Deschanel is one of the most underrated actresses on television.
On top of that, this scene provided an immense amount of character development for Brennan and perfectly acknowledges to Booth that she is able to connect to another human being on a deeper lever. Something that will most certainly come into play as the series turns towards bringing these two together.
Dexter – “Behind The Curtain”
In these past seasons of Dexter, there has been a continuous, overt focus on the hilariously foul-mouthed Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) coming ever closer to the revelation of Dexter’s (Michael C. Hall) dark passenger. While this season was no different, Deb received a welcoming evolution of her character that not only saw her finally come into her own, but also brought her face to face to Dexter and his recent love interest/symbol of redemption, Lumen (Julia Stiles).
With only a single sheet of plastic separating her from Dexter’s horrific truth, the presumed audience quickly shifted their focus to Dexter and his reaction to the compromising predicament. That is, of course, until Deb started talking. While Deb was giving one of the most revealing monologues in her character’s history of the series, viewers stopped worrying about whether or not Dexter would be caught and instead took notice at how much Deb has grown through-out this lack-luster fifth season.
Doctor Who – “The New Doctor”
When David Tennant left Doctor Who after three seasons, fans around the world were left wondering who, if anyone could fill the time-traveling shoes that Tennant so wonderfully made his own. Upon the announcement the Matt Smith, the youngest actor ever cast in this role, would be taking over, viewers were appropriately apprehensive – just like they were when Tennant replace Christopher Eccleston. That is, until they saw the first episode.
While the first episode wasn’t the best, nor had Smith fully embodied the Doctor, everyone could see that when things finally came together, with Steven Moffat in control, Doctor Who would continue to be, as it has always been… Simply amazing.
The Walking Dead – “Dead Inside: Do Not Open”
As a whole, The Walking Dead could be considered a great television moment of 2010. With AMC tempting fate with a zombie-driven drama, all eyes were on the network as they continued to make waves with their numerous zombie promotions around the country. Of course, it wasn’t until the series premiere that audiences knew exactly how The Walking Dead had perfected the execution of such a niche series.
For the first time on television, a series with such a fantastical and fanatical subject matter was tonally developed with the same seriousness and heart as the other great dramas currently on television. While The Walking Dead continues to be praised with award nominations and critical acclaim, its success means much more to the world of television than anyone could have expected.
Now that The Walking Dead has achieved such success, viewers can now expect to see other fantastical topics that were previously deemed off-limits for television (or ones that were horribly executed in the past) make it to air with the appropriate development, execution and respect that it deserves.
Smallville – “The Future Lois Lane and Clark Kent”
With 22 episodes in Smallville’s final season and a group of producers that know how to drag things out, some fans were appropriately concerned that they would have to sit through 18 episodes of villains of the weeks, with 4 episodes left for “Superman stuff.” Fortunately, this was not the case and almost every episode of Smallville’s final season contained elements of Clark’s progression to becoming the Man of Steel.
While fans will likely have to wait until episode 18 or 20 before they’ll officially see Clark don the familiar red and blue outfit, the 200th episode of the series gave everyone a taste of something amazing… the future Lois & Clark.
When Brainiac transported Clark into the future, excitement quickly set in, as the first thing that was revealed was a newspaper with the words “Superman” on it. From that moment, everyone watching knew something amazing was going to happen.
Even though Tom Welling and Erica Durance have played the proverbial Lois and Clark for these past 10 years, they hadn’t actually become the Lois and Clark that fans of the comics and the numerous other entertainment iterations know them to be. That is, until this episode.
As the present-day Clark began to traverse the future Daily Planet, he ran into both future Lois Lane and future Clark Kent. What should have been a set of cheesy, over-acted scenes turned out to be an amazing realization that both Welling and Durance could, if given the chase, actually pull of a great interpretation of this two iconic characters, in their true form.
Justified – “A Modern Day Showdown”
After giving a drug lord 24-hours to get out of Miami, the television viewing audience was introduced to the best new character on television, Rayland Givens. As Givens makes his way to a sit-down with said drug-dealer, there is 30 seconds left in that 24-hr time-limit. With Givens’ promise to shoot him dead when time runs out, audiences were left in suspense as this U.S. Marshall readied his gun.
With a couple gun shots from the quick-drawing Givens, his promised is fulfilled and the character of Rayland Givens became engrained in the minds of all those watching. It is with Givens’ intriguing temperament, combined with the terrific storytelling, that brought this iconic Elmore Leonard character to life in Justified and, once again, continues FX’s status as one of the top television networks.
24 – “00:00:00”
Even though we only saw 8 days out of the life Jack Bauer in 24, the 9 years that it took to do so meant that this character will be forever remembered for his heroics against all odds, no matter the cost.
As the series came to an end, Bauer was forced to choose whether to kill the Russian president or relying on Chloe being able to make everything that had happened public knowledge. After some suspenseful action scenes and Jack almost being executed, President Taylor steps in and, for once, all is right in the world.
With Jack now having to flee the country, Chloe is tasked with protecting Jack’s family and, for the first time, the clock beings to countdown… stopping at “00:00:00.”
“The Late Night Wars”
What list of great television moments from 2010 would be complete without the shockingly public late night wars that saw Conan O’Brien exit The Tonight Show, Jay Leno return to 11:30pm and NBC completely ruin their primetime line-up.
When NBC requested that O’Brien move The Tonight Show to midnight, O’Brien made the most defining decision in his career and left the network that he called home for over 20 years. While matters such as this are typically left in the board room, today’s digital medium for news became the proverbial battlefield for most of NBC’s late night debacle.
In the end, O’Brien landed at TBS and is able to do the show he wants to do, with a network that completely believes in him and Jay returned to the show from which he briefly left. As for NBC, they’re still trying to rescue their fledgling primetime line-up and the man that was behind all of these terrible late night decisions, Jeff Zucker, was fired.
As you can see, 2010 was an amazing year for television. With NBC readying The Cape for this Sunday’s premiere and writers around the country preparing their best pitches for new television series to be included in this September’s pilot season, one can only expect that this year will be equally as great.