I hope all of you who celebrate it had a wonderful Christmas and are now looking forward to plenty of great New Year’s festivities. This is one of my favorites times of the year because it gives us a chance to look back on the year that was and remember all of the great things that happened during the last 365 days.
Here at NGN, that means looking back on the last year in the world of film and television, so in the days leading up to January 1, I will be posting some lists of what I consider the best of the TV shows and movies I watched in 2013. I hope you chime in with your own picks in the comments, and, for even more “Best of 2013” fun, go check out frequent NGN Contributor Heather’s lists, too.
Today’s “Best of” post features the 10 most memorable moments that leapt off my TV screen and into my heart this year. Some made me unbelievably happy, some broke my heart, and others made me feel awestruck by the incredible writing or performances that brought them to life.
1. Leslie and Ben Get Married (Parks and Recreation: “Leslie and Ben”)
Everyone loves a wedding, and the people at Parks and Recreation do weddings like no one else on television. Leslie and Ben are my favorite couple on television right now, so I was going to love their wedding no matter what. But the fact that their wedding was filled with so many little nods to their relationship and the show’s history made it even more special. Nothing I saw on TV in 2013 made me happier than this wedding, and it definitely wins my award for most-replayed moment of 2013, too. Oh Parks and Rec, I love you and I like you.
2. Nick and Jess Kiss (New Girl: “Cooler”)
It was the kiss heard ‘round the television world—and for good reason. It’s rare that a moment that was telegraphed for basically an entire episode still manages to surprise me, but that’s exactly what happened with this kiss. I was surprised that it happened after the moment seemed to have passed, but what really surprised me was just how incredible the kiss turned out to be. It was passionate, it was romantic, and, above all else, it was HOT. It was a kiss Jess could never forget, and I think the same could be said for all of us who watched it happen.
3. Dracarys (Game of Thrones: “And Now His Watch Is Ended”)
On a show that prides itself on its cinematic moments, Daenerys freeing the Unsullied stands heads and shoulders above the rest. This moment was one of pure triumph. After watching this young woman who has grown so much claim her full power as the Mother of Dragons, you couldn’t help but cheer for her. Everything about this moment was designed to give audiences the best kind of chills: from Emilia Clarke speaking Valyrian to the pounding of the Unsullied’s spears.
4. Will Finds Out (The Good Wife: “Hitting the Fan”)
No discussion of great TV in 2013 can happen without talking about the reinvention of The Good Wife. After nearly 100 episodes, the game was forever changed when Alicia and Cary decided to start their own firm—and it was changed in even better ways when Diane and Will finally found out about it. Seasons of shifting dynamics, changing loyalties, and complicated relationships exploded in what was one of the most compelling hours of television I’ve seen in a long time. And it started with a bang—this deliciously raw confrontation between Will and Alicia that felt like the brilliant payoff from the years of tension between these two characters.
5. “You Forgot Something…” (Once Upon a Time: “Going Home”)
If you need a reminder that Once Upon a Time can rip hearts out with the ease of the Evil Queen, look no further than the penultimate scene of this year’s midseason finale. As the beautiful score built and the purple cloud of magic engulfed familiar sights—from the clock tower to Henry’s beloved storybook—Emma and Henry’s family and the rest of Storybrooke’s denizens went back to being stories, transported to the Enchanted Forest while mother and son lost their memories of their time spent in the town. The way the heartbreak of that scene changed to bittersweet beauty as Emma’s false memories of keeping Henry took hold was gorgeous. And the way that bittersweet feeling changed to happiness and hope when Hook appeared at their door one year later was unexpected in the best possible way. The shifting emotions I felt during those final few minutes were the most potent I experienced while watching television all year, with both the sadness and the final burst of joy feeling earned in a very honest way.
6. Michael Scott Returns (The Office: “Finale”)
With a glowing smile and a perfect “That’s what she said” joke, Michael Scott came back to Scranton one final time to be Dwight’s best man when he finally married Angela. Although he wasn’t on screen for very long, Steve Carrell made the most of his appearance with a warmth and subtlety that showed how much both Michael and the show itself had grown since the early days of Dunder Mifflin. I don’t know anyone who loved The Office who didn’t cry while watching Michael and Dwight reunite with Jim looking on.
7. Castle Proposes (Castle: “Watershed”/“Valkyrie”)
Want to throw your show’s fandom into an emotional tizzy of epic proportions that leaves them breathless for months? Follow Andrew Marlowe’s lead, and have your season end with a proposal so surprising that it felt like a breakup scene until the final moments. No matter your feelings on the tone of the initial proposal, you can’t deny that it accomplished its purpose—it definitely got people talking about Castle. And the way the cliffhanger was resolved in this season’s premiere was full of the humor and heart that have defined Castle and Beckett’s relationship for six seasons, a relationship that has only gotten stronger since that proposal scene.
8. Mellie Gets Drunk (Scandal: “Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington”)
After this scene, I wanted to run out into the streets singing the praises of Bellamy Young. I love Mellie Grant, and this show-stopping monologue is the perfect example of why: She is an expert at playing the hand she’s been dealt. There’s something so refreshing about this woman who could so easily be a victim but instead chooses to find power in situations that should render her powerless. The complexities of Mellie Grant are laid before us in this scene, and they’re a joy to behold. Yes, Mellie, you are spectacular.
9. The Perfect Secret Santa Gift (The Mindy Project: “Christmas Party Sex Trap”)
Danny Castellano’s character growth was one of my favorite things about television in 2013. And it culminated with his choreographed dance for Mindy to “Try Again.” From Chris Messina’s smooth moves to Danny’s sentimental streak when it comes to Mindy, this scene was full of surprises, like the best kind of Christmas gift for fans of this show.
10. Harvey Vs. Stephen (Suits: “She’s Mine”)
I’m not a violent person at all, but there’s something about a man fighting for what matters to him that is unbelievably appealing to me. The buildup to Harvey and Stephen’s fight was perfect—from the shocking revelation about Stephen’s true role to Donna’s tearful apology sending Harvey over the edge. Gabriel Macht’s controlled fury in that adrenaline-fueled final scene was incredible. From the direction to the music, this scene proved that Suits, like Harvey, somehow manages to stay cool and stylish even in the midst of a bathroom brawl.
What were your favorite TV moments of the year?