[01/07/02 - 12:00 AM]
The 50 Best Episodes of 2001 - #10-1
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

With the new year upon us it always seems proper to look back on the year that has passed. Last year we picked the 20 best episodes of 2000 in our first column of 2001 but we found this year we couldn't limit the list to just 20 episodes. So we decided to up the ante to 50 episodes this year - a true testament to how great television is nowadays. Myself, the staff as well as our various contributors and friends to the site offered up their favorites from the first year of the new millennium and we've compiled them here.

No doubt there are plenty of noteworthy series and episodes that aren't on this list not to mention many you might disagree with, nevertheless we hope you enjoy our picks. We conclude today counting down the 10 best episodes of 2001. So without any further adieu, let's resume the countdown...

10. c.s.i.: crime scene investigation - "slaves of las vegas"
(originally aired november 15, 2001)

The best episodes of "C.S.I." are the ones that take you inside a world you probably knew little about and this one about fetish clubs was no exception. Melinda Clarke turns in a great performance as Lady Heather, the owner of a fetish club in which one of the "ladies" has been murdered. A great foil to the straight-arrow, straight-laced Grissom, the tea session between the two offered up some of the best characterization of 2001.

9. twenty four - "5:00 a.m.-6:00 a.m."
(originally aired december 18, 2001)

"Daddy? Wait, who are you?" Holy crap did Richard Burgi scare the hell out of us in this outing of "24" as he murders the girl he posed as being the father of. And just when you can't be creeped out enough, the phone call to Bauer's wife that reveals to her Burgi's character is not what he seems had us screaming for the next installment. No show straps you in for a roller coaster ride better than this series.

8. sex and the city - "my motherboard, my self"
(originally aired july 15, 2001)

Best known for its comedic adventures into things that you'll only see on pay-cable, this episode featuring Miranda's mother dying ranks as surprisingly one of the most emotional of 2001. A true testament to how deeply these characters are connected beyond brunch to talk about their sexual escapades, the series has made amazing strides in the past six months to become one of the best on television right now. And how about the brief cameos of Steve and Aidan? Sometimes comedy delivers the best drama folks.

7. the sopranos - "employee of the month"
(originally aired march 18, 2001)

I don't remember the last time television made my stomach turn like this episode in which Dr. Melfi is viciously raped in her parking garage. The episode then posed the question - if you knew Tony Soprano, would you tell him about it and have him "take care of" the person responsible? Melfi's response is surprising considering the horrible nature of the crime. The episode takes its title from the moment Melfi noticies her rapist is the employee of the month at a local burger joint, another gruesome moment in the episode.

6. gilmore girls - "road trip to harvard"
(originally aired october 23, 2001)

About as perfect an episode of "Gilmore Girls" as you can get, this one gave us a "sneak preview" if you would of the life that's ahead for our favorite mother and daughter duo when they take a road trip to Harvard. Rory as expected shines to the prospects of college while Lorelai struggles with the idea of her eventually losing the closesness with her daughter that she is used to. This show makes you excited about life and its possibilities and this episode illustrated that better than no other in 2001.

5. six feet under - "pilot"
(originally aired june 3, 2001)

Alan Ball's opener to HBO's "Six Feet Under" looked at death in surprisingly new ways as his main characters - the "widows" of a funeral home patriarch - all react to his death in vastly different ways and set in motion all the plots of the first season. Peter Krause's jog at the end of the episode really hit quite an emotional punch - especially considering this is just the show's first episode.

4. alias - "truth be told"
(originally aired september 30, 2001)

Okay, I'll come out of and say it - this is probably one of the best pilots ever written, acted and produced. In a little over an hour I don't remember the last time I became as quickly attached to the characters involved and the events that happen to them. Complex, deep, emotional, there's too many words that can be used to describe how wonderful this episode was and how wonderful this series is.

3. buffy the vampire slayer - "once more, with feeling"
(originally aired november 6, 2001)

Joss Whedon has an ability to take "gimmick" episodes and make them so essential that one wonders how the story could be told without said "gimmick." This episode in which the town is cast under a spell that makes them sing and dance their innermost thoughts had all the makings of those "very special episodes" that break from the usual rhythm of a series. This one however found a way to knock down all the dominos that had been set up in weeks past and do it in a way that it really made you believe that this was the logical conclusion to those events and there was no other way to tell the story. Amazing stuff for sure.

2. the sopranos - "pine barrens"
(originally aired may 6, 2001)

Steve Buscemi directed this episode that almost defies explanation - tension filled Paulie and Christopher find themselves lost in the South Jersey woods being haunted by a Russian "boogyman." Witty and clever in a way that had yet to be explored on the show the idea of two mobsters who are broken down to their bare essentials and chased for their lives might sound strange (or even stupid) but the way Buscemi tells the story really makes this one of the most original episodes of 2001. I mean Paulie and Christopher fighting over ketchup packets for food thinking they will starve to death? Too funny.

1. buffy the vampire slayer - "the body"
(originally aired february 27, 2001)

While no doubt many expected "Once More, With Feeling" to top this list, I can't help but find myself hopelessly in love with this episode, featuring the events following Buffy's mom's death. This episode was just plain hard to watch in some parts just because it was so emotionally overwhelming. Anyone who has lost someone close to them will surprisingly find those frustrating, painful and too-hard-to-explain emotions realistically portrayed - and remember kids this is a show about vampires. How the Emmys cannot look at this episode and not recognize Sarah Michelle Gellar's acting abilities, Joss Whedon's fine script and direction not to mention the show's overall amazing quality is beyond me.

  [january 2002]  


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