2007's TV highlights -- EW critics pick their favorite episodes from ''Lost,'' ''House,'' ''Friday Night Lights,'' and more

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2007’s TV highlights


”Through the Looking Glass” May 23 (ABC)

After strange, mystical forces (read: critics and fans) aligned against Lost early in season 3, how did ABC’s trippiest drama fight back? With a gasp-inducing finale that packed a wallop of love, death, and war, including the heartbreakingly redemptive drowning of Charlie (Dominic Monaghan), and the castaways marching closer to rescue (or doom?). And the final revelation that Jack’s (Matthew Fox) down-and-out flashback scenes were actually a flash-forward — he and Kate (Evangeline Lilly) have gotten off the island, but he desperately wants to return — tickled, tangled, and tantalized our minds all at once. — Dan Snierson

The Sopranos

”The Second Coming” May 20 (HBO)

Darkness closed in around Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) during the final season. In fact, the end turned out to be pitch-black and arrived so suddenly that for weeks afterward we stumbled to make sense of what we had seen. (Or hadn’t.) But the climactic wail about the bonds and agonies between fathers and sons — one of this great series’ greatest themes — was sounded two weeks before the abrupt conclusion: When AJ (Robert Iler) tried to commit suicide, Tony understood, maybe for the first time, his place in his own literally damned universe. — Lisa Schwarzbaum


”Airborne” April 10 (Fox)

Maybe House got a bit repetitious this year (hey, remember the episode when Hugh Laurie made the lifesaving diagnosis at the last minute?), but it still dispensed some of the most subversive humor on the air. And it got even better when the show broke out of form, with the cranky doc making a House call on a flight from Singapore, prepping for surgery with just three plastic spoons and alcohol wipes. House came up with a lifesaving diagnosis at the last minute…and yet it all felt brand-new. — Benjamin Svetkey

The Amazing Race

”I’ve Become the Archie Bunker of the Home” Nov. 11 (CBS)

With its manically micromanaging dad and randy grandpa, this fall’s TAR made all of my crackpot-reality-TV-casting fantasies come true. And by only the second episode, both men were — delightfully — in full crazy. Dad Ronald browbeat his superhumanly patient daughter with such nuggets as ”I’m optimistic with the real truth flavor!” And it all ended with Gramps Donald, stripped to his briefs, unsuccessfully and filthily trying to pole-vault over a mud pit. It’s just the way I want to see the world: through the eyes of a dirty old man. — Josh Wolk

30 Rock

”Rosemary’s Baby” Oct. 25 (NBC)

The first stroke of brilliance was having Carrie Fisher show up as Liz’s (Tina Fey) heroine, a deeply political, slightly mad comedy writer. The second was putting Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) into daddy-issued Tracy Jordan’s (Tracy Morgan) counseling session, where Jack role-played Tracy’s entire African-American family. Jack simpered and mugged with such Good Times-inspired, white-man-cliché zeal that the whole comedic freight train threatened to go off the rails, but instead just left me delightfully rattled. — Gillian Flynn

Big Love

”Kingdom Come” July 30 (HBO)

To appreciate Big Love, you have to look past its odd conceit — polygamists in suburbia — and marvel at the well-plotted domestic drama at its center. ”Kingdom Come” was the apex of a richer, more compelling season 2: Just as Bill (Bill Paxton) requested a seventh day of rest from his three incredulous wives, and sternly mentored his sexually active son Benny (Douglas Smith), he turned right around and amped up his dangerous feud with the creepy Green clan. Their payback — gunning down his father-in-law, Roman Grant (Harry Dean Stanton) — was, like the series itself, both shocking and satisfying. — Nicholas Fonseca

Desperate Housewives

”If There’s Anything I Can’t Stand” Oct. 21 (ABC)

In this standout episode, everyone on Wisteria Lane was downright crabby: Bree (Marcia Cross) got an unwelcome shower for her faux baby. The new couple on the block, Bob (Tuc Watkins) and Lee (Kevin Rahm), met Susan (Teri Hatcher), who was not exactly a one-woman gay pride parade. And Edie (Nicollette Sheridan) contracted the STD named for a crustacean. The action culminated with one of the most brilliant sight gags of the year: As a waiter passed crab cakes, Edie slowly realized that her boyfriend, Carlos (Ricardo Antonio Chavira), had been sleeping with his ex-wife, Gaby (Eva Longoria Parker). And the only thing that wasn’t itching was our remote control trigger finger. — Henry Goldblatt

Burn Notice

”Old Friends” July 19 (USA)

I knew I was in love with this insolent cable drama when ex-spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) saw a guy preparing to attack him in a restaurant, slipped a cheap knife off the bar, bent it around his fist to form impromptu brass knuckles, then let the guy have it right in the kisser. Later in the episode, he showed me how to rig my front door so a shotgun will go off if someone opens it. This installment reminded me what the phrase ”pushing daisies” really means. — Ken Tucker

Friday Night Lights

”Black Eyes and Broken Hearts” Feb. 14 (NBC)

In dealing with the aftermath of a coach’s racist remarks about the differences between black and white football players, FNL could have patronized us with lessons. Instead, we got Coach Taylor’s (Kyle Chandler) bullheaded struggle to decide what’s right; newly empowered running back Smash (Gaius Charles) coldly breaking his boycott to lead the black players onto the team bus; the barbed-wire tension of the team’s on-field confrontation with true racism; that night’s frightening standoff and its unexpected hero. Subtle yet powerfully real, this ep anchored a transcendent first season. — Whitney Pastorek

How I Met Your Mother

”Slapsgiving” Nov 19. (CBS)

First, there’s the trademark inside-joke lingo of the episode title, a reference to a ”slap bet” that awarded Marshall the chance to beat on Barney at the gang’s first Thanksgiving dinner together. Then there’s the deadpan casting of the 79-year-old Orson Bean as Robin’s 41-year-old boyfriend. Add in Ted and Robin’s post-breakup hookup (and subsequent heartbreaking conversation), as well as a closing sing-along, and you’ve got a made-up holiday celebration that rivals any Chrismukkah or Festivus. — Jennifer Armstrong

Burn Notice

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