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The Amazing Race
Best Episode: ''Part Like The Red Sea'' (season 23, episode 9)
Annie Barrett: ''Nicole would never have thought to go look at Leo's successful angklung — she's a good person, doncha know? — it was only after an evil person's screamed suggestion corrupted her that she got the idea to run over and try to peek at Leo's instrument. God's Gift chases Leo in circles around a very small, crowded area full of children as her voiceover reminds viewers, 'We are running this race in an honest way. It is important that our children see that we set a good example for them.'''
Worst Episode: ''Get Our Groove On'' (season 23, episode 5, shown)
Annie Barrett: ''Brandon and Adam know they're doomed?but they fight through it anyway, eventually easing into the hamminess required for cash payment. 'Lookit, two weirdos!' is my favorite beckoning call of the whole season. 'Fifty zloty gets you a kiss!'''
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American Horror Story: Asylum
Best Episode: ''Madness Ends'' (season 2, episode 13, shown)
Jeff Jensen: ''It didn't matter if Lana really believed that she thought of herself as an innately good person and that said goodness dwelled within Johnny. All that mattered was that he believed it. And he did. Johnny moaned in despair — it sounded like ''Mom'' — and said, ''I've hurt people.'' Lana took away his gun and made one more true confession in a long day full of them. ''It's not your fault,'' said Lana, raising the revolver to Johnny's head. ''It's mine.'' Chilling words in a season in which the monster who damaged and nearly destroyed Lana's life shamefully insisted that she only had herself to blame for the abuse he inflicted upon her. We debate: Lana's sense of culpability/responsibility: Healthy or tragic?''
Worst Episode: N/A
Fact: All four of the Asylum episodes that aired in 2013 were damn good.
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American Horror Story: Coven
Best Episode: ''Fearful Pranks Ensue'' (season 3, episode 5, shown)
Darren Franich: ''It was a stunning sequence, beyond Freudian in its staging. Fiona, a mother grieving for an adult child who hates her, found a mother grieving for a child that never had a chance. She brought that child back to life...but the tension of the scene was in the ambiguity of that action. We have yet to see a good mother-daughter relationship on Coven. When the young mother said, 'I'll be your mother until the day I die,' it was a tender moment. It could also be a threat: 'You'll be dealing with me for the rest of my days.'''
Worst Episode: ''The Sacred Taking'' (season 3, episode 8)
Darren Franich: ''Myrtle played Schubert's Last Sonata for the assembled witches, awaiting the moment when the fire of Supremehood would enter one of them. It was not to be. Fiona reappeared, seemingly mostly upset about the fact that Myrtle wasn't playing Schubert properly.''
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Best Episode: ''Contestant's Choice / One-Hit Wonders (AT&T Idol? Fan Theme Pick)'' (season 12, episode 22, shown)
Annie Barrett: ''The judges lie 23 times during the Top 4 performance night. Let's count them all!''
Worst Episode: ''Music of Motor City'' (season 12, episode 30)
Annie Barrett: ''Lazaro's subsequent trio with Burnell Taylor and Devin Velez on 'I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)' was a complete disaster — Devin, who was in the middle, had to basically step in for more than half of Lazaro's parts after Lazaro couldn't remember them. Lazaro looked like he was about to cry the whole time until the end, at which point he struck another killer pose. The guys received a thorough lashing from Nicki Minaj. 'Don't ever do that again. All three of you, go. Go! Go! Get off the stage!' RUDE.''
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Best Episode: ''A New Attitude'' (season 4, episode 11, shown)
Annie Barrett: ''The illusionists were in too deep, and it turned out they actually really, really liked each other — a weird, foreign feeling neither recognized as true friendship so they kept up the charade. 'Perhaps pretending to be gay allowed them the freedom to speak honestly,' the narrator helpfully suggested. G.O.B. admitting 'I have feelings for you' was so sweet and believable, but I collapsed into a giggle fit at Tony's equally wondrous delivery of 'We were really thirsty' after the two shared a slowwwwww glass of water.''
Worst Episode: ''The B. Team" (season 4, episode 4)
Annie Barrett: ''Michael?lies to Rebel (still a no-name) over drinks after her Scottish band's bagpipe jam (either good music played horribly or horrible music played well) and they get it on in a photo booth. He finally learns her name from a tattoo visible on the evidence: Rebel. Michael thinks she's Ron Howard's girlfriend, not his daughter. At this point he also thinks Brian Grazer has two boyfriends.''
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Best Episode: ''Sacrifice'' (season 1, episode 23)
Nuzhat Naoreen: ''From terrific action sequences to some incredibly poignant moments, the episode wrapped up this season's most pivotal storylines and set the stage for a stellar season 2 in a way that was both cinematic and substantial. Oh and of course, thanks to the final scene, absolutely shocking.''
Worst Episode: ''Burned'' (season 1, episode 10, shown)
Nuzhat Naoreen: ''Before Garfield can set the chief on fire, Arrow shoots the lighter out of his hands. Garfield tells Arrow he's not afraid to die, and then Arrow responds with this soapy gem: 'I know. You're afraid to live.' Oof.''
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Best Episode: ''Week 1'' (season 17, episode 1)
Kristen Baldwin: ''Eventually the Bachelor Pad refugee gives up and yields her spot on the couch to Ashley. 'I have not forgotten about the tie,' says the Bachelor tentatively. 'I also brought a rape whistle in case I'm in trouble.' What's this? A sense of humor?''
Worst Episode: ''Week 5'' (season 17, episode 5, shown)
Kristen Baldwin: ''Before we know it, [Tierra] is sneaking up behind Sean while he's filming a confessional and — as the off-camera producer sets things up perfectly by asking him, 'Are you anticipating any other surprises tonight?' — placing her hands over his eyes. And then...we SMASH CUT to black. OH MY GOD YOU GUYS IS HE DEAD? Oh...phew. It was just a commercial break.''
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Best Episode: ''Week 9'' (season 9, episode 10, shown)
Kristen Baldwin: ''Let's stop the tape right here and just state the obvious: Brooks is not in love with Des. He knows it and Team Bachelorette knows it, but both parties don't want to admit it. Even so, we've all been burned too many times to believe that he's actually not going to go through with the overnight date, and most likely the proposal as well...haven't we?''
Worst Episode: ''Week 1'' (season 9, episode 1)
Kristen Baldwin: ''Nick R., 26: The title under his name may say 'Tailor/Magician,' but this compact Chicagoan prefers the term 'custom clothier.' In his spare time he performs tricks (or shall I say, illusions) in tiny clubs using an ironing board and prop bottles of wine.''
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Best Episode: Nick's Eviction (season 15, episode 7)
Darren Franich: ''I misjudged [Helen]. I figured she was operating from a position of weakness. Her number-one ally was in the crosshairs; her opposition was a tangled web of strong alliances. The Moving Company. The Aaryn Brigade. Helen was on the block next to the Enemy of Aaryn?I figured Helen would spend the next few weeks trying to organize a failed resistance against the shadow power in the house. I was wrong.''
Worst Episode: Ohhhhhhhh, Amanda (season 15, episode 18, shown)
Darren Franich: ''Then it got very serious very quickly: 'That's the Shaniqua coming out.' Then, just doubling down on the terror now: 'Am I racist now? I'm racist now.' Allow me to respond to Amanda in a quiet and sober manner, reflecting the magnitude of the sociopolitical topics involved: JESUS CHRIST YES YOU'RE RACIST NOW!!!!!! SHUT UP!!!!!!!!''
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Best Episode: ''Anslo Garrick Pt. 1'' (season 1, episode 9)
Jodi Walker: ''Garrick arrives in a blaze of bullets and unnamed-government-employee-casualties, just in time to cut the power and trap Liz, who's sneaking into the office on her sick day, in an elevator. As James Spader rolls out effortless euphemism after hyperbolic metaphor in voiceover — 'Garrick is not a precision instrument, he's a blunt force object' — Garrick turns their makeshift FBI headquarters into an exact replica of the Facility level of GoldenEye 007 for Nintendo64. NBC owes somebody some royalties.''
Worst Episode: ''Wujing'' (season 1, episode 3, shown)
Lanford Beard: ''At the end of the hour, Robert Koch's 'Here With Me' added context to Liz's dilemma with the lyrics 'Caught in the riptide, I was searching for the truth,' then noting, 'There was a reason I collided into you' — could that reflect her uneasy alliance with Red?''
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Best Episode: ''Ozymandias'' (season 5, episode 14)
Denise Warner: '''Ozymandias' is a poem written by Percy Shelley about the downfall of kings — how all people in power will eventually lose that power. Shelley might as well have been writing about Walt. And Walt — who built a meth empire worth upwards of $80 million — has certainly lost almost everything.''
Worst Episode: ''Rabid Dog'' (season 5, episode 12, shown)
Denise Warner: ''With only four episodes of Breaking Bad left, are you worried that this episode might throw the entire series off track? Hopefully it's just a blip, and none of us rabid fans will have to be put down like Old Yeller when it ends.''
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Best Episode: ''Legacies'' (season 2, episode 15)
Mandi Bierly: '''The only person that could take down J.R. was J.R.,' John Ross said. And he held out his hand to Bum. Tears! Bobby handed John Ross the letter and left him alone, kneeling at the grave. 'Thank you, daddy, for watching over us. I love you,' he said.''
Worst Episode: ''Trial and Error'' (season 2, episode 5, shown)
Mandi Bierly: ''The best thing to come out of the trial (or worst) was always level-headed Christopher seeing the kind of pain a child goes through when one parent brainwashes them against the other. He told Pamela he didn't want their kids to be raised with their parents poisoning their minds against each other and he agreed to mediation. The babies kicked, and Pamela had Christopher feel them. He teared up. He's such a crier!''
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Dancing With the Stars
Best Episode: ''Trio Challenge'' (season 17, episode 9)
Annie Barrett: ''Leah and Tony's jive trio with trouper Henry Byalikov (watch the video over at PopWatch) instantly ranked among my all-time favorite moments in the House of Flying Swaggers and Disco Ball Dreams, as they SPOOFED THE JUDGES from a duplicate bizarro judging table right across the stage from the real one! ? The big star, of course, was Tony Dovolani as Bruno. He's had, what, 17 billion years to prep for this, the role of a lifetime?''
Worst Episode: ''Finals'' (season 16, episode 18, shown)
Annie Barrett: ''After much hemming and hawing on my part, Zendaya and Val are not my pick to win, but they are totally deserving if they do win, and Val deserves a trophy just for competing after an accidental elbow to the eye during dress rehearsal. Aggggh! Not the face! (Crew guy shares my grave concern for one of Val's best assets.)''
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Best Episode: ''A Beautiful Day'' (season 8, episode 1)
James Hibberd: ''A great final season opener. It leaves us all set up for next week, with Dex getting one-upped left and right. Vogel has him figured out. Deb is infuriating him with her rebellious behavior, yet he has no right to stop her.'' premiere
Worst Episode: ''Remember the Monsters?'' (season 8, episode 12, shown)
James Hibberd: ''When a series launches about a guy who's a serial killer working at a police department, the central tension is 'When will his coworkers find out and how will they react?' ? Twice the show has set up a huge ethical conflict [and] let Dex off the ethical hook?.''
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Best Episode: ''The Day of the Doctor'' (50th Anniversary Special)
Adam Carlson: ''Although the show was a celebration of the whole 50-year history of the character, it felt like current showrunner Steven Moffat was specifically reflecting on the modern era. The end of the Time War was the offscreen inciting incident for the whole post-reboot Who: It was the Doctor's version of Uncle Ben's death, writ cosmic.''
Worst Episode: ''The Rings of Akhaten'' (series 7, part 2, episode 2, shown)
Darren Franich: ''Seriously, props to Matt Smith: This episode was weirdly low on action and heavy on the Doctor saying Big Huge Giant Awesome Things — the equivalent of giving the big speech from Braveheart, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Any Given Sunday back-to-back-to-back — and he nailed every line to the wall.''
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Best Episode: ''Episode Five'' (season 3, episode 5, shown)
Denise Warner: ''The new mother [Sybil] starts seizing in the middle of the night. The room becomes chaotic. Cora is crying, Robert is yelling again. Sir Philip doesn't really know what is going on or what to say. Mary starts shaking her sister. Edith just stands there like a deer in the headlights. Matthew is astounded that something like this could happen in 1920. At least they all still look elegant in their pajamas.''
Worst Episode: ''Season 3 Christmas Special'' (season 3, episode 9)
Denise Warner: ''I have so many feelings that have basically incapacitated me. I really don't how how I — or we as Downton fans — are supposed to go on. Although we knew, or basically knew, this was coming, it's still a huge punch to the gut. First Sybil? Now this? Yes, Dan Stevens didn't want to sign on for more seasons. And he could not have been written off unless his character died. So in that way — it made sense. Yet, I'm heartbroken for Mary, who doesn't know what has happened to her beloved, and I mourn the loss of the Matthew-Mary dynamic.''
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Best Episode: ''Enemy of Fate'' (season 5, episode 13)
Jeff Jensen: ''The last moments of Fringe took us to back to the day in the park in 2015 when Peter and Olivia were enjoying a lazy sunshiney day with their daughter Etta In another timeline, this bright moment came to a dark end when The Observers invaded and Etta was taken from then. But this was a new timeline and different day, and so instead of losing their daughter, Peter and Olivia scooped her up and took her home. At long last, the girl would get that bath!''
Worst Episode: ''Liberty'' (season 5, episode 12, shown)
Jeff Jensen: ''As you read this recap, you will encounter a Fringe fan who was alternately pleased and pissed, elated and exasperated by what he saw on screen. The fact that I had such dissonance at all leaves me disappointed with the [first half of the] finale — I wanted to be lost in the story; I wanted a clean, unqualified win.''
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Game of Thrones
Best Episode: ''The Rains of Castamere'' (season 3, episode 9, shown)
James Hibberd: ''You can accuse the showrunners of successfully striving to make a horrible scene even more horrible. Throwing Talisa into the mix — pregnant, no less — and Catelyn taking a young woman hostage (it was one of Frey's sons in the book). Both moves seemed designed to make The Red Wedding more tragic. And is more tragic better? It's certainly more emotionally powerful. Usually in film and TV that means better.''
Worst Episode: ''Mhysa'' (season 3, episode 10)
James Hibberd: ''Usually when Thrones beats us up, the next week it comes back around with flowers and hugs and tries to act like everything is going to be okay (Hey, look, see the dragons? You like dragons!). But you never know. Our hearts are getting harder, just like Arya's.'' finale
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Best Episode: ''One Man's Trash'' (season 2, episode 5, shown)
Lindsey Bahr: ''Now, bear with me...this is a little crazy, but another reading of the episode could be that this was a dream. ? Little about Hannah and Joshua's interaction rings true. They're awkward with each other, but still manage to find themselves in relaxed, distinct situations: Hannah just lounging on his porch with a glass of wine while he grills some steak and corn; Joshua reading the newspaper while Hannah sits; THAT WHOLE TOPLESS PING PONG GAME.''
Worst Episode: ''Video Games'' (season 2, episode 7)
Lindsey Bahr: ''For all of Hannah's talk of being adventurous, she's actually pretty straight here?. She sees the awful relationship between Jessa and her dad and, in comparing it to her own stable, middle class upbringing, realizes that she had the better deal and even calls her parents to let them know that. They're cleaning out the junk in her childhood room, though, and aren't exactly in the mood for the compliment — which her mother assumes is a joke anyway. Hannah: the girl who cried love.''
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Best Episode: ''The Quarterback'' (season 5, episode 3, shown)
Erin Strecker: ''The episode did two very smart things right off the bat: First of all, Glee picked up three weeks after Finn's funeral, so viewers were spared the uncomfortable, too-close-to-home realness of watching the cast act out a funeral of a friend. Secondly, the show didn't say how exactly Finn died; instead, Kurt stated that it isn't important how someone dies, but instead how they lived their life. And so the focus of the episode was on how exactly football-star-turned-national-singing-champ Finn Hudson lived his all-too-short life: Kindly, sweetly and compassionately.''
Worst Episode: ''The Puppet Master'' (season 5, episode 7)
Samantha Highfill: ''I love Blaine's voice as much as the next person, but this was just too much. The cheesy puppets and the bubbly feel-good song? If I could have fast-forwarded, I probably would have. I love Queen and a fun, happy-go-lucky performance, but I already wasn't feeling Blaine's narcissism, and I just couldn't handle this [performance of 'You're My Best Friend.']''
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The Good Wife
Best Episode: ''Hitting the Fan'' (season 5, episode 5, shown)
Breia Brissey: ''Basically, 'Hitting the Fan' can be summed up by a series of gasps and exclamation points. I'm not trying to oversell anything here, but this episode of The Good Wife may have been one of the best hours of TV. Ever. And it's certainly the best episode of the series. (Give it all the Emmys!) And who would have thought it would have come in the show's fifth season?!''
Worst Episode: ''Boom De Ya Dah'' (season 4, episode 11)
Breia Brissey: ''[This episode saw] guest star T.R. Knight as Jordan Karahalios, a young political advisor ready to step in as Eli's No. 2. Unsurprisingly, Eli wasn't too pleased with his new helper.'' [Ed. note: Neither were fans, which is why ''Boom De Ya Dah,'' one of many astoundingly strong episodes on the series' fifth season, gets a de facto — if not entirely accurate — ''Worst'' designation for setting up a fairly weak plot line.]
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Best Episode: ''All of a Sudden'' (season 9, episode 23, shown)
Samantha Highfill: ''There were so many season 2 throwbacks in tonight's episode, I couldn't even handle it?but the first half of season 9's finale swapped a prom for an impending storm that was sure to turn everything upside down — hopefully not literally, though nothing would surprise me at this point.''
Worst Episode: ''I Bet It Stung'' (season 10, episode 5)
Annie Barrett: ''Meredith is indignant?. She's every bit as talented and competent as surgeon as Yang, she insists. 'NO, YOU'RE NOT,' bellows Yang. 'I'm sorry, but you're not.' Ouch! That was cold. Well, it is Seattle.''
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Best Episode: ''One Last Time'' (season 3, episode 9, shown)
Shirley Li: ''I'll admit I wasn't the most confident in the show's ability to bring Brody back in play, given how the writers struggled with logically keeping him around past the first season vest plot. But [''One Last Time''] made good use of the character, dedicating the most screen time to Brody and his torturous post-Caracas rehabilitation without any of it feeling over-the-top or unnecessary. By shaping the episode and every character around Brody's plight, his story felt organic again.''
Worst Episode: ''The Yoga Play'' (season 3, episode 5)
Shirley Li: ''Anyway, it's safe to say using Dana as an emotional center for the Brodys has sadly backfired. As I've said before, It was a fascinating choice, but by now, it's too poorly executed to constitute any more screen time.''
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House of Cards
Best Episode: ''Chapter 6'' (season 1, episode 6)
Hillary Busis: ''As the episode concludes, Frank and Claire smoke and scheme. She's just come back from seeing her husband's old bodyguard, who's dying of cancer. After the poor guy confessed that he's in love with her but hates her husband, Claire responded with a monologue that reveals why she married Frank: In short, he both understands and mirrors the darkness inside her.''
Worst Episode: ''Chapter 11'' (season 1, episode 11, shown)
Hillary Busis: ''Poor Russo just falls further and further off the wagon. He drinks himself into a stupor, then manages to drive all the way to his ex-wife's house. He calls his daughter, who says that he should leave; his son won't even talk to him. Man, those kids are really going to regret this conversation in the morning.''
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How I Met Your Mother
Best Episode:''The Locket'' (season 9, episode 1, shown)
Sandra Gonzalez: ''[Lily's first meeting with Mother] was by far the night's biggest treat because it was our first glimpse of one of Our Gang with The Mother — and it lived up to expectations in a way that was fun to watch and, honestly, a total relief. I mean, we've built up this woman so much, can you imagine the disappointment had the characters not had chemistry?''
Worst Episode: ''Bad Crazy'' (season 8, episode 16)
Sandra Gonzalez: ''Mixed signals, [Robin] explained, can drive a person crazy. Via flashback, we learned that Ted was very much guilty of this offense — he'd kissed her after they 'broke up' and he hooked up with her while trying to break up with her a second time. Jeanette might be a resident of planet Cray, but Ted was an overlord.''
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Best Episode: ''Six Minutes'' (season 3, episode 10)
Lanford Beard: ''Seward's execution preparations complete, he began the long (but also incredibly short) walk to his own death. Paralyzed by fear, bereft of words, he could only let out sporadic grunt-moans as his legs collapsed under him. ? Shivering, Seward turned to look at the larch trees as Linden had suggested. Through his tears, he saw her standing there with Adrian. The boy waved, and Seward found the strength to pull it together.''
Worst Episode: ''Eminent Domain'' (season 3, episode 5, shown)
Lanford Beard: ''Seward muttered to himself that this reunion [with his father] had been a mistake, prompting his father to sputter out that he was proud of his son. Speaking for all of us, Seward asked, 'For what?' Seward Sr. commended his son for dying like a man. Seward responded bluntly, 'Dying in a jumpsuit doesn't make you a man.'''
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Best Episode: ''The Better Half'' (season 6, episode 9, shown)
Keith Staskiewicz: ''In 'The Better Half,' some relationships fall apart while others reassemble briefly. Usually a breakup only feels like you've been stabbed in the stomach. Don, rejected by Sylvia and bored with Megan, returns to the bottle-blond embrace of Betty before coming back to the homestead and unconvincingly declaring his devotion. Meanwhile, Roger realizes that his charm and panache can't cover the fact that he's very much alone. Peggy also learns that if you try to sit on the fence for too long, you're just going to end up with ass-splinters.''
Worst Episode: ''To Have and To Hold'' (season 6, episode 4)
Keith Staskiewicz: ''It was a surprisingly plot-thick episode, especially after the last few mood pieces. Still, nothing of major consequence happened and beyond setting up a potential Peggy/Don rivalry (which would be the advertising equivalent of Anakin fighting Obi-Wan) there's still not much clue as to how the rest of the season will pan out.''
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Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Best Episode: ''FZZT'' (season 1, episode 6)
Samantha Highfill: ''Tonight was all about the art of almost dying and how that affects even the most highly skilled agents. We started with a little trip to Wrigley, Pa., where a group of boy scouts were telling ghost stories around a campfire. Things quickly got a lot less funny when the troop leader went into the woods and appeared to be zapped by lightning. His body was left suspended in mid-air, which meant one thing: This was a S.H.I.E.L.D. case.''
Worst Episode: ''0-8-4'' (season 1, episode 2, shown)
Maricela Gonzalez: ''Being a part of the MCU is S.H.I.E.L.D.'s greatest asset and challenge. The possibility of encountering movie characters on the small screen is exciting for fans, but it also handicaps the show from developing its own engaging characters.''
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Best Episode: ''I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive'' (season 1, episode 21)
Mandi Bierly: ''Will Hayden Panettiere get an Emmy nomination for this episode? Predictability (at the start of the season): 0! We were rooting for Panettiere to get a nod before this finale — now the campaign is official.'' [Ed. note: Panettiere didn't strike gold at the Emmys, but she did get a Globes nom.]
Worst Episode: ''It Must Be You'' (season 2, episode 6, shown)
Annie Barrett: ''Remember when Nashville was about the music? Tonight's episode offered just one new performance and a whole lotta romantic buildup to?maybe nothing. This season the show's less focused on satirizing the actual country music industry — something it did so intriguingly in season 1 — and more focused on pairing up random characters so that they'll have another human to converse with in a scene.''
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Best Episode: ''Shiva'' (season 10, episode 12)
Lanford Beard: ''[Patty Griffin's] 'Not Alone' was simultaneously somber and consoling as the crew attended the funeral of Ziva's father. The title of Griffin's song was also what Tony told Ziva near the episode's end as she finally moved past anger into acceptance and healthy mourning.''
Worst Episode: ''Under the Radar'' (season 11, episode 3, shown)
Sandra Gonzalez: ''In all, I thought this was a very solid episode that simultaneously moved forward and paid tribute to the loss [of Ziva] I know fans are still feeling. It also had more than few great lines.''
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Best Episode: ''Cooler'' (season 2, episode 15)
Lanford Beard: '''I liked [Trench Coat Nick],'' said Nick. ''He had guts.'' The statement, tinged with the slightest bit of regret, hung in the air for a moment before Jess gave Nick a friendly tap on the arm and turned to go back to bed. She got maybe a step before Nick grabbed her by the elbow and pulled her into him. They kissed, mutually and with a surprising amount of passion. It was HOT, is what I?m saying. They pulled away slightly, but Nick went back for more. ''I meant something like that,'' he said softly and walked off.''
Worst Episode: ''The Box'' (season 3, episode 5, shown)
Lanford Beard: ''Nick is who he is. Getting an $8,000 inheritance from his dearly departed Pop-Pop didn't change him any more than an inadvertent turn as a Good Samaritan fundamentally shifted Schmidt's moral fiber. Their actions, catharses, and struggles this week were just a blip — just like this episode.''
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Once Upon A Time
Best Episode: ''The Miller's Daughter'' (season 2, episode 16)
Hillary Busis: ''Rather than offing an extraneous cast member, writer Jane Espenson elected to do away with season 2's primary antagonist: Cora, a fairly fascinating creature (and surprise princess!) whose death will have serious consequences throughout the rest of this season. On one hand, I'm sad to see her go?on the other, I applaud this twist because it's shaken up Once's status quo, thus restoring some of the energy and forward momentum that's been sorely lacking since Emma and Snow returned from their trip to Fairy Land.''
Worst Episode: ''Lost Girl'' (season 3, episode 2, shown)
Hillary Busis: ''Actual snippet from my notes tonight: 'Snow and her weave are failing to hit a bullseye.' Seriously, though — that fairyback hair was ratty. She should ask Red to refer her to a better stylist.''
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Orange Is the New Black
Best Episode: ''WAC Pack'' (season 1, episode 6)
Hillary Busis: ''The show just gets more gripping the further you get, mostly because of how later episodes manage to move beyond the narrow premise of its pilot.''
Worst Episode: ''I Wasn't Ready'' (season 1, episode 1, shown)
Denise Warner: ''[Taylor] Schilling gives a great-performance as the privileged, aimless whiner who refuses to take responsibility for the fact that she knowingly ran drug money 10 years ago. Unlike other flawed anti-heroes (or heroines), however, I see no reason to root for her.''
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Best Episode: ''Bloodletting'' (season 1, episode 7, shown)
Samantha Highfill: ''Tyler came face-to-face with his one-time sire. First things first, Klaus brought up Caroline, and the two began their all-out brawl — 'twas fight night all over again (so why were they wearing shirts?!). Before shoving his hand in Tyler's chest, Klaus threw every insult he could think of: He brought up Tyler's mother, and the fact that he was a disappointment. Tyler retaliated by hitting Klaus where it hurt with talk about being a failure himself. But enough with the insults, it was time for Klaus to end Tyler's 'tedious little life.'''
Worst Episode: ''House of the Rising Son'' (season 1, episode 2)
Lanford Beard: ''Putting the 'jam' in The Originals' musical jambalaya, Tuesday's episode featured contemporary tracks from TV on the Radio and Yeah Yeah Yeahs alongside appropriately rootsy N'awlins-style chooglers including Ryan Montbleau's 'Yeah Man' and the Riggs' spicy cowbell clanker 'Street Signs & Brake Lights.'''
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The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Best Episode: ''Girl Code Breakers'' (season 6, episode 2)
Jodi Walker: ''Ever the innocent, Kenya just can't understand how people might have misconstrued her words to think that she meant Apollo was sending her 'inappropriate' messages. I might say that it was because she was waving around a phone at last season's reunion saying that very thing while Andy Cohen counted his money, but I'm just a TV recapper, what do I know?''
Worst Episode: ''The Old Lady and the Shoe'' (season 6, episode 6, shown)
Jodi Walker: ''Take a moment and imagine how you might respond upon finding your mother trying to beat up your best friend [with a shoe] in a bridal shop. Kandi does not react that way. She seems perturbed but not particularly surprised or concerned. I don't want to call a woman I don't know much about a ''deranged liar,'' but when Kandi's aunt told her that Carmon jumped up ''like she was fixing to do something to Joyce,'' those are the words I screamed at the television.''
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Best Episode: ''Left Behind'' (season 1, episode 7)
When Italians invaded the castle, we finally got a glimpse at just how resourceful Catherine could be. Add in the supposed ending of Olivia, and Francis and Mary's first trip to bed, and this episode had all the necessary ingredients. —Samantha Highfill
Worst Episode: ''Snakes in the Garden'' (season 1, episode 2, shown)
Between Francis's hesitancy to marry Mary, the arrival of the rather boring Englishman Simon, and the King asking Kenna to his bed, this episode was slow-moving and easily forgotten. —Samantha Highfill
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Saturday Night Live
Best Sketch: Stefon's Farewell (''Ben Affleck/Kanye West,'' shown)
Hillary Busis: ''After being told yet again that he hadn't given [Seth] Meyers the sort of recommendation he was looking for, Stefon had had enough. He told the Update anchor that he was sick of the way Seth treats him — and that he was getting married to someone who truly respects him. Then Stefon ran off, leaving a shell-shocked Seth to try to continue Update as usual. After trying and failing to deliver another one-liner, Meyers had his own When Harry Met Sally moment: he's been in love with Stefon all along!''
Worst Sketch: ''Regine'' (''Christoph Waltz'')
Sarah Caldwell: ''[Fred] Armisen in drag can only take you so far.''
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Best Episode: ''White Hat's Back On'' (season 2, episode 22, shown)
Lindsey Bahr: ''Scandal season 2 has chronicled everyone's fall from grace. Well, every character who presumably could have a fall from grace (sorry, Charlie). The finale's title calls back to this season's premiere, 'White Hat's Off,' when Olivia had to betray the law and her moral code to help protect Quinn. And throughout the season we've gone deeper and deeper into the original sin of Scandal — Defiance. Tonight's episode was all about who could still be saved, and who is lost forever.''
Worst Episode: ''Say Hello to My Little Friend'' (season 3, episode 4)
Katie Atkinson: ''Olivia and her huge wine glass are back (this thing is seriously a fish bowl on a stem), and as she downs 60 ounces of cabernet, Jake (yes, he's back in her house) asks: 'Are you all right?' Does he even know this woman? Wine signifies nothing. It signifies...Tuesday.''
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Best Episode: ''Pilot'' (season 1, episode 1, shown)
Darren Franich: ''Ichabod immediately runs into the middle of a road and almost gets hit by not one, but two terribly animated digital cars. The second one actually clips him. Actor Tom Mison kind of sells it. So, to recap, in the first five minutes, the protagonist of Sleepy Hollow has decapitated a Redcoat, flash-forwarded 250 years in history, woken up in a cave, and been hit by a car.''
Worst Episode: ''For the Triumph of Evil'' (season 1, episode 3)
Jeff Jensen: ''So far, Sleepy Hollow favors a more relatable kind of heroism. Ichabod and Abbie uphold the genre trope by being 'special'; they are 'Witnesses.' ? In Sleepy Hollow, the hero is simply anyone who recognizes that things aren't what they should be and chooses to try to do something about it. This is true for those who bear witness to wickedness as it happens, and for those centuries later, who behold and are beholden to the complicated, unresolved consequences. As Ichabod's stuck-in-purgatory true love Katrina has said to him, quoting Edmund Burke: 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.' Then again, she's a witch, so what does she know?''
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Best Episode: ''The Dress Rehearsal'' (season 2, episode 11, shown)
Hillary Busis: ''Bombshell's script has the president kiss Marilyn, then dismiss her as 'not exactly first lady material.' Ivy throws in an additional wrench when her Marilyn asks JFK to come back to bed — then drops the sheet she's wrapped around herself, giving the audience the Full Monty after all. Thematically, it's much more meaningful for Marilyn to get naked at this point in the show (something something vulnerability something something)...especially since JFK still ends up leaving her in the end.''
Worst Episode: ''The Phenomenon'' (season 2, episode 14)
Hillary Busis: ''If a Jonathan Larson-inspired storyline falls in the woods (a.k.a. Saturday night around 8 p.m.), and it features two performers who were actually incredibly close to Larson when he died, but never sees fit to actually mention Larson's name, does it make a sound?''
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So You Think You Can Dance
Best Episode: ''Final Four Revealed'' (season 10, episode 16, shown)
Annie Barrett: '''Good golly, Miss Bollywood! CRINGE.' —Jesse Tyler Ferguson, dinging himself''
Worst Episode: ''Top 16 Perform: 2 Eliminated'' (season 10, episode 11)
Annie Barrett: ''Oh wait, you guys, you guys! Carly Rae Jepsen was on the edge of her seat! I'm sorry, I should have been including her critiques more often so you could re-absorb the full flavor of the dances.''
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Sons of Anarchy
Best Episode: ''A Mother's Work'' (season 6, episode 13, shown)
Mandi Bierly: ''Jax got home and called out, 'Babe?' He smiled at being able to call her that and mean it again.... He went to Tara, sobbing and red-faced, and held her. He touched her face and kissed her. Patterson and two men came in and saw the scene. She heard Jax say, 'I'm sorry, I'm so sorry,' as he held Tara. She saw the gun. In a place the real killer never would have left it. Jax cried out. I wanted to hurt someone.''
Worst Episode: ''One One Six'' (season 6, episode 2)
Mandi Bierly: ''If you're invested in these characters, you feel the weight of the rubble. That promo of Jax and the boys riding by exploding, crumbling wall portraits of Tara, Clay, and Gemma is beginning to make sense. Though I suppose I'm still not sure if they are bombs going off to hurt Jax, or if he is detonating them.''
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Best Episode: ''Sacrifice'' (season 8, episode 23, shown)
Sandra Gonzalez: ''This season of Supernatural was frequently referred to as season 'GR8,' so Wednesday's finale had a lot to live up to. So how'd it do? Two words: Holy crap.''
Worst Episode: ''Remember the Titans'' (season 8, episode 16)
Sandra Gonzalez: ''Supernatural has always been great with developing strong, revealing parallels between the boys' own lives and the weird things they encounter every week, whether the victim or the monster.''
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Best Episode: ''Zipping Over the Cuckoo's Nest'' (season 26, episode 10, shown)
Jessica Shaw: ''This season began by spending every single second on a sleeping giant and a possibly unstable person with anger issues, but has more than made up for it with a string of awesome-awesomer-awesomest gamer episodes these past three weeks. Season 26 is in it to win it, as Randy Jackson might say.''
Worst Episode: ''Persona Non Grata'' (season 26, episode 5)
Dalton Ross: '' Anyone who watched Survivor: South Pacific would have come away with the impression that Brandon Hantz was a very troubled young man. ? Brandon came across as a guy in serious need of therapy to deal with his myriad of issues. And this was before all those issues had then been broadcast on national TV for all to see, which can just create more issues. Just imagine what that can do to one's psyche?''
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The Tomorrow People
Best Episode: ''Thanatos'' (season 1, episode 8)
Star Robbie Amell: ''Episode 8 you get to find out a lot about Jedekiah and John and my dad. It's my favorite episode I?ve seen so far. The very end of 7, you meet my dad for the first time not in a flashback, and it really becomes the catalyst for episodes 8 and 9, and really the rest of the season. So you get a ton of flashbacks in 8 and 9 about Jedekiah and my dad.''
Worst Episode: ''Pilot'' (season 1, episode 1, shown)
Darren Franich: ''There's nothing wrong with laying a large groundwork of mythology — and Tomorrow People took some interesting zigzags [in the pilot].... Actually, the show seemed to toss half its concept out the window. See, after capturing Steven and then losing him, Jacob from Lost paid a visit to his house. It turns out that he's actually his uncle, named Jedikiah, which was originally the name of a shape-changing alien robot in the old-school Tomorrow People. I bring that up partially because it's nice of the show to service fans who probably won't watch this reboot and partially to hopefully imply that this show might get crazy enough to feature shape-changing alien robots.''
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Best Episode: ''In the Evening'' (season 6, episode 7, shown)
Mandi Bierly: ''Back in present day, Eric's eyes were bloody when Nora observed that they were ending as they began — but Eric could only comfort her this time. But who would comfort him when she's gone, he asked. She told him to let Pam and Willa walk beside him, because they want to, just as she did. Ah, Nora. I never expected to like you as much as I did.''
Worst Episode: ''The Sun'' (season 6, episode 2)
Mandi Bierly: ''Oh, True Blood. You need to pick up the pace. Do not let Bilith became the Ifrit of season 6. Watching him suck the blood out of a woman without even touching her was good TV, but No Place is no place I want to visit again.''
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Under the Dome
Best Episode: ''Pilot'' (season 1, episode 1, shown)
Darren Franich: ''All in all, it was an exciting kick-off episode. I was a big fan of Stephen King's book, and it's clear that the TV version is already striking off on its own distinctive path while retaining much of its inspiration's DNA.''
Worst Episode: ''Let the Games Begin'' (season 1, episode 10)
Darren Franich: ''The four hands touched the Mini-Dome. And pink stars surrounded them. 'But what does it mean?' asked Junior. Truer words, never spoken.''
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The Vampire Diaries
Best Episode: ''Death and the Maiden'' (season 5, episode 7)
Samantha Highfill: ''[Elena] needed to know that [Stefan] was going to be okay, because while he was suffering for the past three months, she was finally getting her summer of happiness. She needed to know that killing Silas would take away his pain. All he could say was that he had wanted it to be her...when that safe finally opened and somebody found him. 'I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be both of you,' he said as Damon appeared. I honestly don't think sadder words have ever been spoken on the show. I don't have a heart anymore, because Stefan just ripped it from my chest.''
Worst Episode: ''Into the Wild'' (season 4, episode 13, shown)
Mandi Bierly: ''It's a little awkward when the big reveal leading into a commercial break doesn't feel as big as the writers meant it to be. We got some answers this hour, but we saw them coming early enough that they didn't feel like the show's usual twists.''
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Best Performance: Matthew Schuler sings ''Hallelujah'' (season 5, top 12 live round, shown)
Jennifer Arellano: ''This is a song where that opening verse sets the tone and Matthew nailed it. His voice was warm, inviting, powerful, fierce, I can't praise this kid enough. I wish he could've performed the entire song because while he was singing it was like he transformed that flashy boxing ring stage into a cozy indie rock chapel. Praise be to his buttoned-up plaid shirts!''
Worst Elimation: Sarah Simmons and Judith Hill Out (season 4, episode 21)
Adam Carlson: ''Tonight was The Voice's first truly surprising elimination, ousting frontrunners Sarah Simmons and Judith Hill. That's always a juicy milestone in a reality show's season...except when it means that Sarah Simmons gets eliminated. There aren't that many greats-in-waiting still waiting around. Was it something we did? Did we over-love Sarah? Trick question: That's impossible.''
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The Walking Dead
Best Episode: ''Clear'' (season 3, episode 12)
Darren Franich: ''For my money, 'Clear' was another shining moment for the series: A nicely paced short-story which simultaneously explored one of the most-discussed bits of ambient mythology on the show (Whatever happened to Morgan?) and also gave the characters an exceedingly rare opportunity to talk about something besides The Governor and Ghost Lori.''
Worst Episode: ''Live Bait'' (season 4, episode 6, shown)
Maricela Gonzalez: ''One night in the truck, Governor Brian and Lilly make out even though Tara and Megan are asleep next to them. ? The awkward situation of fondling and kissing with your family several inches away is bad enough. I also can't get over how much Lilly looks like Maggie, which in turn reminds me of how terribly he treated her. So, no, I didn't find that scene particularly steamy, yet I'm not sure we were supposed to — he's the Governor after all.''