Last night, during a conversation with a friend that TOTALLY exists, Dexter came up. This used to be a cause for excitement; now, it’s a cruel and unusual form of punishment. After the Trinity Killer season, Dexter jumped off the deep end, into an swimming pool otherwise empty but for broken treadmill parts and sawdust. The friend mentioned that she saw a comment on Facebook, of course, that said the Dexter finale was one of the best finales…EVER. This is why Facebook should be banned. Anyway, it’s hard to believe people who love “Remember the Monsters?” exist, but fortunately, they’re in the minority: the IMDb user rating for “Monsters” is a stunningly low 4.9, a far cry from the consistent eights and nines Dexter used to regularly bring in.
This got me thinking: what are the highest and lowest rated episodes of 15 of our most-discussed shows, via IMDb? Some make perfect sense (The Simpsons), some make no sense (Breaking Bad), and all are better than Dexter.
Archer — “Coyote Lovely” (7.4)
Also as many people who got shot living made no human sense to me. (Via)
Notes: There’s no such thing as a BAD episode of Archer, but objectively speaking, I can see how “Coyote Lovely” can be considered weak by the show’s high standards. It’s got a ton of great jokes — the old woman, the voicemails, the hologram excuse — but the plot is messy. Then again, “Coyote Lovely” also has Art Mullen, so…
Highest-rated episode: “Skytanic” (8.3)
Arrested Development — “Indian Takers” (7.6)
Representative review: N/A
Notes: In his episode-by-episode recap of Arrested Development season four, Maske had the following to say about “Indian Takers”: “When I completed my first watch of Arrested Development season four, I was certain ‘Borderline Personalities’ and ‘Indian Takers’ scored 1A and 1B in the weakest episode rankings. Not only do they both come early in the season and are burdened with laying a lot of expository groundwork, but they also feature members of the Bluth family I find the least compelling and prefer in complimentary roles.” Apparently the world-at-large agrees. “Indian Takers” was highly convoluted, and the episode’s best setup wouldn’t get a satisfying punchline until much later, a criticism that’s true of much of season four, actually.
Highest-rated episode: “Development Arrested”/”Pier Pressure”/”A New Attitude” (9.1)
Breaking Bad — “Fly” (8.0)
This episode proves that even a great show can misfire, but it doesn’t take anything away from the series. I can’t say the same for Rian Johnson, who continues to expose what an uninteresting person he is. (Via)
Notes: The split between those who think “Fly” is garbage, versus those who think it’s brilliant, is nearly an even 50/50. It’s pretentious, boring nonsense to some, and a stunning visual achievement, the best bottle episode of all-time, to others. It certainly stands out, I think for the best; “Fly” works as both a season three outlier and one tremendous part of a greater whole. That’s a testament to the outstanding work done by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul and the direction of Rian Johnson, who most assuredly is not “uninteresting.”
Highest-rated episode: “Ozymandias” (10.0)
Game of Thrones — “The Night Lands” (8.4)
I know it is based on a book, but couldn’t they have done something to make it just a little bit interesting? Nothing is really happening.
First season was awesome but now it is just a lot of blablabla. The only good and positive thing with some excitement is Tyron Lannister. He is an awesome character that keeps it all from falling down. (Via)
Notes: “The Night Lands” has Theon fingering his sister, so, yeah, makes sense.
Highest-rated episode: “The Rains of Castamere” (9.8)
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia — “Frank’s Brother” (7.3)
Representative review: N/A
Notes: “Frank’s Brother” gave us Shadynasty, and terrific performances from Danny DeVito and Jon Polito, but not much else. Some of my favorite It’s Always Sunny episodes are the weirder, more experimental ones, but “Frank’s Brother,” like “The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell” before it, was too dragged down by specific references to the time it took place in to give us the weird.
Highest-rated episode: “The Nightman Cometh” (9.4)
Lost — “Stranger in a Strange Land” (7.0)
I’ve been guilty of resorting to cheap insults when describing “Stranger in a Strange Land”, in addition to doing things like pretending it doesn’t exist, skipping it on re-watches of the season (but not this one), and acting like it is the worst thing known to man. The reality is that “Stranger in a Strange Land” is merely a hilariously poor episode. (Via)
Notes: Remember when Bai Ling was A Thing? The mid-2000s were weird.
Highest-rated episode: “Through the Looking Glass”/”The Constant” (9.6)
Mad Men — “The Doorway, Part 1″/”Ladies Room” (7.5)
I have watched every episode from all the previous seasons, and this episode is the worst. (Via)
Notes: Either people really hate Don and Megan wearing bathing suits in Hawaii (unlikely), or they hate doorways and/or confident women. It’s probably the latter.
Highest-rated episode: “The Suitcase” (9.0)
The Office — “The Banker” (6.6)
OK, so this episode deals with a banker from the company that is buying DM, coming to the Scranton branch to review some things. He begins to interview Toby, who answers his questions and-wh-WHAT?! Why are we being shown scenes from other episodes. Yes, my friends, this is a clip show. (Via)
Notes: Of all the episodes on this list, “The Banker” has the second lowest rating, with a dreary 6.6. That’s still too high. Non-Simpsons/Community (fake) clip shows deserve a 4.0 or under.
Highest-rated episode: “Finale” (9.5)
Saturday Night Live — “Queen Latifah/Ms. Dynamite” (2.6)
Representative review: N/A
Notes: I tend to think of SNL in terms of sketches, not episodes, unlike people on IMDb, who have kept track of how much they hated and/or loved hundreds and hundreds of episodes. At the bottom: poor Queen Latifah. I remember almost nothing about her episode, other than “I’m a Celebrity: Who Farted?” is the worst and Horatio Sanz’s touching tribute to the then-recently deceased Mr. Rogers is the best. At the top…
Highest-rated episode: “Jim Carrey/Soundgarden”/”Jeff Daniels/Luscious Jackson” (9.2)
Seinfeld — “The Dog” (7.5)
Part I Didn’t Like: Although the voice of the dog barking was played by an actor, it sounded like a Casio keyboard effect, and barked too monotonously. (Via)
Notes: F*ck that dog. That is all.
Highest-rated episode: “The Contest” (9.5)
The Simpsons — “Lisa Goes Gaga” (5.3)
No, seriously. This was the worst episode ever in the entire series. It would be redundant and obvious to say that The Simpsons went downhill many years ago, but somehow this episode managed to surpass all the bad and despised moments in the entire history of this show.
I can’t believe that I’m saying this, “Lisa Goes Gaga” managed to be even worse than the atrocious “That 90’s Show.” The whole episode feels pretty much as something written by a Lady Gaga fan, with many painfully unfunny jokes and dire cultural references.
All the brilliance, all the intelligent satires and clever humor that The Simpsons used to have are completely absent here. It was almost like being watching a completely different series…A much, much worse one. This episode was worthless. The Simpsons just can’t sink any lower than this. (Via)
Notes: I didn’t think it was possible to hate a Simpsons episode more than “Simple Simpson,” a.k.a. the one with Pie Man. Then I watched “Lisa Goes Gaga,” which treats Lady Gaga like the second-coming of Jesus. There’s no subversion, just 30 minutes of sucking up to the GREAT LADY GAGA. Pure Twitter-baiting, pure garbage.
Highest-rated episode: “Homer the Smithers” (9.0)
The Sopranos — “Calling All Cars” (7.2)
The episode seemed kind of disappointing and slow moving. I found the whole Bobby burying a cake next to his wife thing, very awkward and bizarre. I thought Janice stalking Bobby’s kids online bringing up their mother was f*cking disgusting and heartless! (Via)
Notes: I’m as surprised as you are that it’s not “Christopher.” That finished next-to-last.
Highest-rated episode: “Denial, Anger, Acceptance” (8.7)
South Park — “Funnybot” (6.0)
I wasted 21 minutes of my life. All I could think was how the f*** did they think funnybot would be funny? Killing a lot of people and then joking about it? How’s that funny guys?
I actually think they were trying to do a parody of a really lame south park episode or something… which did not work at all. It was so incredibly low. (Via)
Notes: There’s some perverse irony in “Funnybot” being the “least” funny episode of South Park. I’d go with one of the early episodes, personally, before Randy and Butters became Randy and Butters, but “Funnybot” was a missed opportunity to destroy the Comedy Awards. The episode’s best jokes come from its worst jokes. “I wouldn’t let Adam Sandler suck my saggy tits for $1 million worth of Oprah’s tampons” deserves all the accolades.
Highest-rated episode: “Scott Tenorman Must Die” (8.7)
The Wire — “Ebb Tide” (7.6)
It takes a canny few more episodes than usual for them to get a wire up on the baddies. (Via)
Notes: “Ebb Tide” is the first episode of season two, my least favorite season of The Wire. HERE ARE 20,000 WORDS WHY SEASON FIVE IS BETTER THAN SEASON ONE. Anyway, there’s so much set-up that every Wire season premiere has to accomplish, oftentimes it seems like very little plot actually happens. That’s especially true of “Ebb Tide,” which puts old characters into new jobs, and introduces the great Frank Sobotka.
Highest-rated episode: “-30-”
The X-Files — “Teso dos Bichos” (6.2)
We’re treated to a legion of housecats with sticks up their arses. Perhaps the writers were treated to some of Dr. Bilac’s yaje in pre-production. Either way the result is an episode that should never have made it onto the screen, especially at such a peak era of quality in the series. Even episodes from the much-derided final seasons don’t quite sink to this level of garbage. (Via)
Notes: The best thing about “Teso dos Bichos,” in which Mulder and Scully something something haunted artifacts, is that two episodes later came “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” the best episode of The X-Files.
Highest-rated episode: “Bad Blood” (9.3)