2012 was such a big year for comedy on television that it deserves more than a measly run down of the best episodes of the year. That is why you will find a whole bunch of awards below…as well as a top five list of the best episodes of the year. (Splitsider isn’t behind in the episode ranking game; Splitsider is ahead of awards season.)
Most Emotional Moment
Kristen Wiig Says Goodbye to Saturday Night Live
Most Triumphant Moment
Leslie Knope winning the election in the Parks and Recreation episode “Win, Lose, or Draw” on a recount.
Showrunner Michael Schur would later acknowledge the Friday Night Lights influence on the entire fourth season.
Best Use of a VPOTUS
Parks and Recreation in “Leslie vs. April.”
Best Use of a Burt Reynolds
Archer, in “The Man From Jupiter.”
Best SNL Sketch
Louis C.K. is “Lincoln”
Written by Seth Meyers.
Best Comedy Central Comedy
Key and Peele
Most Adventurous Late Night Host
After a week of shows in France last year, in May Ferguson went abroad to his homeland of Scotland with Mila Kunis, Rashida Jones, David Sedaris and the late Michael Clarke Duncan, a few months before his passing. While David Letterman and Conan O’Brien have done single episodes out of the studio in the past, Ferguson has topped them both by now hosting ten hours of programming filmed outside of the country.
The Weirdest Late Night Episode
Tie: David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon hosting their shows without an audience due to Hurricane Sandy.
It seems like Letterman was comfortable with a show without an audience, doesn’t it?
Best Adult Swim Comedy
Best New Adult Swim Comedy
The Eric Andre Show
Best Guest Star Performance
Parker Posey on Louie, in parts 1 and 2 of the excellent “Daddy’s Girlfriend.”
Best Breakout Animated Character
Tina Belcher, Bob’s Burgers
Best Comedy Central Standup Special
John Mulaney, “New in Town”
Best New Comedy Nobody Talks About
Don’t Trust the B- in Apt. 23
According to certain metrics, theoretically all the new shows are shows nobody is talking about, but Don’t Trust the B seems to always get left out of all of the conversations after its mediocre start. ABC’s decision to run their best episode yet — “A Weekend in the Hamptons” — on December 18th wont help with the ratings.
Best New Comedy
Comedy Bang Bang
Ben and Kate being really sweet is considered a stigma to some, but it also happens to have its funny moments and features a talented cast and writing staff. The Mindy Project with all of its false starts has at the very least unleashed Ike Barinholtz into the world. Go On gets credit for funny moments and for not bailing out of its dark premise for a network sitcom, and The New Normal has been nice and steady while recalibrating Ellen Barkin’s character to not be a ten thousand times more unpleasant version of Archie Bunker. But Comedy Bang Bang in its first season managed the rare trick of being funny with their own unique comedic language. Bang Bang also has opened the door wide open for podcasts to successfully transition into television.
Best Comedy You Completely Forgot About
The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret
Best Comedy That Was On Once and Will Never Be Seen Again
Best Comedy on HBO or Showtime/Show We All Agreed to Hate Before Actually Watching
Best Guest Voice by a Comedian on an Animated Show for “Kids”
Tie: Marc Maron as Squirrel in “Up a Tree” ; Kumail Nanjiani as Prismo in “Finn the Human/Jake the Dog” on Adventure Time.
Best New Comedy That Got Cancelled
Best Friends Forever
BEST EPISODES OF THE YEAR
5. Happy Endings, “Party of Six”
There is a lot of love out there for “Spring Smackdown”, and the show’s finest twenty two minutes was the November 2011 classic “The Code War”, but “Party of Six” illustrated how funny and entertaining the show could be with an entire episode of just the six members of the group trying to solve a problem, or more specifically, a curse.
4. New Girl, “Normal”
New Girl by the middle of season one became a great ensemble comedy, and not a sitcom revolving around the tomato soup ordering “adorkable” persona of Zooey Deschanel. “Normal” in particular had all of the main characters - and recurring guest star Dermot Mulroney - equally busy, its centerpiece being the introduction to the drinking game of our times, “True American.” (The rules are never fully explained, but that has not stopped tumblr.) All Jess wanted was for her roommates Nick, Schmidt and Winston to act “normal” around her new boyfriend Mulroney, but that is asking way too much from even the most centered character Winston, who was obsessed with getting revenge on his new boss played by the funny Phil Hendrie. Nick - a man who recently put in a word search and multiple spellings of rhythm in his “novel” Z is for Zombies on purpose - stabbed Mulroney with the invention he was hoping Mulroney would invest in: a cell phone/swiss army knife. The episode was so packed with plot that poor guest star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got overshadowed for probably the first time in his entire life.
3. 30 Rock, “Live from Studio 6H”
The first time 30 Rock attempted a live episode, it was simply a regular episode that happened to be live. With “Live from Studio 6H”, 30 Rock was essentially a half hour version of SNL (or to be more accurate, SCTV), where each sketch only had to adhere to one basic subject, specifically “live television from the past.” Like virtually every episode of 30 this calendar year, the jokes were quick and plentiful, and the celebrity cameos were actually funny and not just written for just shrieks from the studio audience. Impressively, when the show concludes in January after seven seasons, it will be doing so on a high note.
2. Community, “Digital Estate Planning”
If this list were the five “funniest” episodes of the year, “Digital Estate Planning” wouldn’t likely be in the number two slot. But since it is “best” comedy episodes, as in factoring in character development and pathos and all of the feelings, it should possibly be number one. For one thing, there was the utter nerve of the about to be fired Dan Harmon and his staff, making about two thirds of an episode airing on primetime network television in 8 bit video game graphics. For another, it made everyone’s least favorite character Pierce Hawthorne likable. That is until the discovery that Chevy Chase refused to do the final scene of the episode, in which Pierce would finally get to play catch with his always disapproving father, albeit only in Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne. After one reddit user made the entire video game, another person created the missing scene, having the pixelated Pierce smile after earning 4000 points. Community writer Megan Ganz confessed she was brought to tears from it, and I doubt she was alone in doing so.
(And the episode was funny.)
1. Louie, “The Late Show Part 3”
While Community is brilliant for somehow subverting and adhering to all of the rules of television simultaneously, Louie is brilliant by managing to never fall off the rails while seemingly not giving a shit about the rules at all. Its third season had a lot of great episodes, but none was more honest, satisfying, and cat nip for any comedy fan than the third and final part of “The Late Show” trilogy. Presented with virtually every comedian’s dream: the rare opportunity to audition to host a late night talk show, Louie jumped through the hoops of his somewhat psychotic talk show coach David Lynch and sidestepped a deceitful Jerry Seinfeld to destroy on his test show, only to get the Louie-esque news that he was simply a pawn in a chess match between David Letterman and CBS. But for once, C.K. recognized that he was not responsible for his perceived failure, and gave Letterman’s Ed Sullivan Theater the finger, yelling, “I did it! Yo Letterman! Fuck you!” to the score of the most triumphant brass instruments imaginable. And why not? He’s number one.