For those who know me, I have grown very fond of television in recent years which shouldn’t be a surprise given the amount of shows I’ve watched!
With that in mind, I have decided to compile another list which counts down my Top 20 all-time great television episodes. Admittedly, most of the choices come from some of my favourites including Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and Only Fools and Horses but that only proves how fantastic those programmes are!
Shall we begin?
20# – ‘Drama’ (6.1) – Still Game
The list ‘kickstarts’ with an entry from the exquisite Still Game, a series that only came into my life eighteen months ago and is now one of my favourite sitcoms. The Series 6 opener sees Winston Ingram seeking revenge on his nemesis Stevie the Bookie for robbing him of a deserved fortune while his friends Jack and Victor get pished at a local brewery. While we all know that Winston is a wily pensioner, you can’t help but applaud him when he finally gets one over Stevie though his joy is soon cut short right at the end.
BEST MOMENT: The best post-credits scene in the whole sitcom comes from the above clip as Winston makes an ill-advised decision to put his winnings in his prostectic leg….
19# – ‘Love and Marriage’ (2.4) –
The Vicar of Dibley
The first of three wedding-themed episodes on the list, this comedy cracker from The Vicar of Dibley saw dim-witted but lovable duo Alice Tinker and Hugo Horton finally tie the knot in front of their friends and family. The episode has plenty of twists and turns to savour as well as hilarious moments involving Jim Trott belting out “2 Become One”, Geraldine’s blonde wig and bridesmaids dressed up as Teletubbies! It just wouldn’t be great television without a bonkers wedding!
BEST MOMENT: Tension arises when a mysterious woman gatecrashes the ceremony claiming to be Hugo’s wife. Thankfully it’s just a terrible misunderstanding!
18# – ‘Tram Crash Week’ (e1) – Coronation Street
Coronation Street has produced thousands of episodes over the past 57 years but none will be as memorable as that of the first installment from ‘Tram Crash Week’. Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the soap’s birth, this highly-charged outing had already given us enough drama through some of the key storylines that were going on at the time. However the actual crash itself brought plenty of carnage and devastation that left the lives of some of our favourite characters in the balance over the course of that exhilarating week.
BEST MOMENT: As cheesey as the effects are, you can’t help but be left staggered by the way the tail-end of the tram comes crashing down on the Kabin!
17# – ‘Road to the Multiverse’ (8.1) – Family Guy
For many viewers, some of the best Family Guy episodes tend to revolve around the characters of Stewie and Brian. The unlikely pair have been on some terrific adventures during the show’s history though their best outing came in the classic ‘Road to the Multiverse’ installment. Through the use of Stewie’s remote control, the baby/dog duo find themselves going to a variety of alternative universes ranging from Robot Chicken and live-action to a world where dogs and humans have swapped roles.
BEST MOMENT: The Disney segment is pure gold as we see all our favourite Family Guy characters get given the cute musical treatment. Sadly it’s not the best place to be if you’re Jewish!
16# – ‘Yuppy Love’ (6.1) – Only Fools and Horses
The first of a group of entries from the beloved sitcom, Yuppy Love is an episode that initiates Phase 2 of the Only Fools and Horses story as we see Del Boy settle into his new yuppy image (with hilarious results!) while Rodney meets his future wife Cassandra for the first time albeit in embarassing circumstances. It’s an excellent outing that does a great job of setting up the rest of this lauded series and it’s hard to believe that S6 itself is almost thirty years old! Cos-bloody-mic!
BEST MOMENT: I think it’s obvious by now which bit is loved by millions! Mind that bar Del!
15# – ‘Felina’ (5.16) – Breaking Bad
As far as series finales go, Felina defintely earns its place amongst the very best as anti-hero Walter White decided to do the right thing in the epic conclusion to Breaking Bad. Given all the trauma and bloodshed that had occurred over the past five series, it was very satisfying to see Walt go to extreme lengths to rescue his accomplace Jesse Pinkman from the neo-Nazi’s as well as make peace with his long-suffering wife Skyler. Though many would have (controversially) mourned Walt’s death, the finale was still an exceptional way to end a landmark television series!
BEST MOMENT: The tense stand-off between Walt and the Nazi’s is brought to a head when we discover that Heisenberg has a secret weapon outside.
14# – ‘Funeral’ (3.4) – The Royle Family
Before they started to churn out those woeful Christmas specials between 2006 and 2012, The Royle Family was a treasured sitcom that benefited from making quality episodes like ‘Funeral’ from Series 3. Throughout this hysterical outing, we have poor Nana mourning the loss of her best friend / neighbour Elsie much to the annoyance of her son-in-law Jim. The verbal combat between the two characters elevates the episode with Ricky Tomlinson and the late Liz Smith on top form though the rest of the cast also get to shine through their shocked reactions to Jim’s harsh insults.
BEST MOMENT: “I wasn’t speaking ill of the dead, I was speaking about you, the living bloody dead!”
13# – ‘The Germans’ (1.6) – Fawlty Towers
Despite only having two series, Fawlty Towers still managed to produce some exceptional episodes with the all-time classic being ‘The Germans’. John Cleese is on top form throughout as Basil struggles to cope in the absence of Sybil and manages to cause havoc with help from Manuel, two alarms and a burning kitchen. However it’s the second half that elevates the episode with a concussed Basil proceeding to insult his German guests about the ‘war’ in cringe-inducing ways. A terrific outing for all involved with great physical comedy and memorable quotes that have the right amount of offensiveness.
BEST MOMENT: Basil’s disregard for the Germans comes into full flow with his reference to them invading Poland and then delivering THAT funny walk.
12# – ‘The Simpsons Guy’ (13.1) – Family Guy
As two of the best animated sitcoms ever to be created, it only felt right that The Simpsons and Family Guy should have a crossover episode after years of competition. Some feared that it could have been a huge mistep for both shows but thankfully the fans were treated to a hilarious and nostalgia-filled romp that brought the characters of Quahog and Springfield together and enabled them to poke fun at each other. From Stewie’s dark prank call to Moe’s Tavern to the trial of Simpson vs Griffin (complete with most of our favourite characters), it’s safe to say that this episode certainly delivered on all fronts.
BEST MOMENT: The epic showdown between Peter and Homer gave us plenty to savour in a lengthy but immense sequence.
11# – ‘Heroes and Villains’ (8.1) –
Only Fools and Horses
Just shy of the top 10, this classic episode was the first part of the definitive final trilogy of Only Fools and Horses. After we get treated to the brilliant ‘future’ sequence, the plot sees Del and Rodney taking advantage of their partners’ absences by going to a fancy dress party as comic-book duo Batman and Robin. Unsurprisingly, things don’t go to plan but the two dipsticks are still able to become unlikely heroes by the time the episode ends. The idea of having them dressed up as two iconic characters may have seemed daft at the time but the end result proved to be a genius one for us viewers.
BEST MOMENT: As Councellor Murray is getting mugged by an intimidating group of thugs, they all get an unexpected shock when the Caped Crusader and his sidekick make an entrance!
10# – ‘An Old Fashioned Wedding’ (10.25) – Cheers
The Top 10 begins with our second wedding-themed entry on the list as the Cheers gang got themselves into a right farce in the bumper Series 10 finale ‘An Old Fashioned Wedding’. Mostly set in the Gaines kitchen, the episode focused on the build-up to the wedding between dim-witted barman Woody Boyd and his equally dim fiancee Kelly with the rest of the Cheers regulars doing their part to ensure the big day went without a hitch. But as to be expected with most sitcoms, things did go wrong in a fast-paced and frenetic act in which the likes of Sam, Rebecca and Frasier would find themselves dealing with one disaster after another. A riotous episode that succeeded thanks to the effortless cast and fun-filled plot.
BEST MOMENT: After being forced down the kitchen chute on three occasions, a vengeful Carla shows that even guard dogs should be terrified of her.
9# – ‘Chain Gang’ (6.3) – Only Fools and Horses
It’s interesting to note that this selection is probably the most-watched episode I’ve seen on television and it’s easy to see why. Another corker from Only Fools and Horses’s brilliant sixth series, the fun plot sees Del and Rodney getting themselves into another dodgy scam which involves a retired jewellery salesman and 250 gold chains worth a shed load of cash. What makes this episode work in particular is the inclusion of the Nag’s Head regulars (inc. Trigger and Boycie) as part of the consortium who put money into the chains only to initially lose everything. But the clever twist concerning Arnie’s health gives the group the chance to get payback in one of the sitcom’s more satisfying endings.
BEST MOMENT: Believing that he has pulled off another masterful con, a gleeful Arnie utters the word “wonderful” only to get a nasty surprise.
8# – And the Unlucky Winner Is (6.4) –
Only Fools and Horses
From one OFAH Series 6 cracker to another, the Trotter brothers found themselves jetting off to Spain with Cassandra for another fun-filled 45 minutes of pure hilarity. The holiday comes as a result of Rodney winning a painting competition (the old marble arch at dawn!) but upon arrival, the younger Trotter is left in an embarassing predicament after learning that it was in an under 15 year old category. From then on, the trio are forced to spend the holiday deceiving the staff which leads to cringe-inducing outcomes such as Del and Cassandra pretending to be married and Rodney becoming a member of the Groovy Gang (groovy!). On paper it sounds like a daft plot but the comic-timing and riotous dialogue is Only Fools at its very best!
BEST MOMENT: The sex conversation between the Trotter brothers is comedy gold but I always get a big laugh out of the false goodbye between Rodders and Cass.
7# – ‘The Rains of Castamere’ (3.9) –
Game of Thrones
The third and final ‘wedding’ themed episode on the list is a far cry from the other two entries in this brutal and horrifying installment from the world of Westeros. While one particular storyline dominates the installment, the other segments are still worth raving about as we see Jon Snow deciding to betray the Wildlings, Brann saying goodbye to his brother Rickon and Daenerys finally seizing control of Yunkai. But it’s the drama at the Twins that grabs our attention most as Robb, Catelyn, Talisa and the Stark army attend the wedding between Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey. Once the happy couple are led away to consumate their marriage, things take a devastating turn as the Starks are massacred under the orders of the deceitful Walder Frey and his men. Even the book readers were left appalled by the viciousness of that climax which will remain in our sensitive minds for a very long time!
BEST MOMENT: From that whole sequence, it has to be Cat’s anguished scream after watching Robb get stabbed while Walder drinks his wine without a care. Thankfully the old git would get his comeuppance three years later!
6# – ‘Ozymandias’ (5.14) – Breaking Bad
This bleak entry from the final series of Breaking Bad marked the beginning of the end for Walter ‘Heisenberg’ White and it’s no surprise to see that it is currently ranked as IMDB’s number one television episode. As to be expected, a lot of bad shit happens for Walt throughout as he witnesses the killing of his brother-in-law Hank, the kidnapping of Jesse and ultimately loses the support of his family. The show could have easily ended with this particular outing but thankfully there was still two more hours of intense drama to come. It’s a dark 48 minutes for us fans to deal with though a lot of credit must go to future Star Wars director Rian Johnson for his handling of the episode while leading man Bryan Cranston produced arguably his most devastating performance in the entire series. It’s no wonder the show ended up winning so many awards!
BEST MOMENT: Walt’s brutal admittance to Jesse about watching Jane die is cruel but superbly acted by Cranston as is his fight scene with Skyler.
5# – ‘Time on Our Hands’ (8.3) –
Only Fools and Horses
Heading into the top 5 and once again Only Fools reaches the heavy heights with an emotional episode that I will always regard as the beloved sitcom’s definitive ending. As far as I’m concerned, the Millenium trilogy does not exist (apart from the Gary character)! This delightful finale combined humour with poignancy as the Trotter brothers finally achieved their goal of becoming millionaires courtesy of an old watch that they had kept in their garage for almost fifteen years. There are plenty of highlights to savour throughout this episode from Del and Rodney’s emotional conversation in the lift to their wonderful reaction to becoming millionaires to the applause they get from the Nag’s Head regulars. A wholly satisfying experience for us viewers and easily one of the best series finales of all time!
BEST MOMENT: Tough call but Del’s line about the sandwiches and rolls gets a great reaction from the actual cast who didn’t expect David Jason’s clever ab-libbed joke.
4# – ‘Face Off’ (4.12) – Breaking Bad
Just short of the top three is the pulsating series finale from Breaking Bad’s acclaimed fourth season as Walter White finally got the better of his rival Gus Fring in a highly-charged conclusion. Prior to this episode, Gus had always managed to be two steps ahead of his employee though Walt would get the upper hand with the help of an unlikely acomplice. This all came to a head in one of THE great television scenes ever produced as the ‘chicken man’ got his comeuppance in explosive fashion. However the rest of the installment also depicts key moments such as the mystery surrounding Brock’s poisoning which is solved in the last shot of the episode and in some ways leaves you appalled at how low Walt could really go as a person. Ultimately all his plots and decieving would finally come back to haunt him by the time the series had ended two years later!
BEST MOMENT: THAT confrontation scene at the care home and its aftermath is just brilliant. Even the sound of a brass bell is enough to make you nervous these days!
3# – ‘The Jolly Boys Outing’ (6.7) –
Only Fools and Horses
An all-time classic inclusion, this delightful episode from Only Fools is always a joy to watch as Del, Rodney, Uncle Albert and the Nag’s Head regulars go on a Jolly Boy’s outing to Margate which as expected, leads to chaotic results throughout. The bumper-Christmas special gives some of our favourite characters the chance to have some fun (especially Trigger) and you can just tell that the cast had a ball doing it particularly in the heartwarming ‘Everybody’s Talkin” sequence. It’s a majestic 90 minutes that is filled with a lot of other memorable highlights including the game of Trivial Pursuit (“It’s a Bic!”), the football incident, the awkward night-in at the Villa Bella and of course, the exploding bus! The episode also brings back Raquel Turner following her promising debut in ‘Dates’ and thus allows Del to finally settle down with a woman after all his disastrous dates over the years! They don’t make them like they used to!
BEST MOMENT: A lot of great choices including the ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ segment but I just love Del’s incorrect answer to the female swan question and the stunned reactions that follow.
2# – ‘Battle of the Bastards’ (6.9) –
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones had always excelled at delivering action-themed episodes like ‘Blackwater’, ‘Watchers on the Wall’ and ‘Hardhome’ but ‘Bastards’ completely wiped the floor with them all. The early scenes of Daenerys and her dragons regaining control of Meereen from the Masters are enjoyable to watch as is her flirtacious exchange with Yara Greyjoy. However it’s a little skirmish in the North that gets the most plaudits as Jon Snow, Sansa and friends found themselves going toe-to-toe with the despicable Ramsay Bolton and his army in a ferocious and epic battle sequence that will easily be remembered for years to come. The sheer chaos is captured effectively on screen with the whole production being handled impeccably by director Miguel Sapochnik (who would also helm the following episode ‘The Winds of Winter’). As sad as it was to lose Rickon and Wun Wun, you can’t help but feel satisfied by everything that happens in this glorious hour from Lyanna Mormont’s stare to the arrival of the Knights of the Vale and of course, Ramsay’s comeuppance which was unsurprisingly celebrated by millions of viewers.
BEST MOMENT: The mesmerising shot of Jon awaiting the attack from the Bolton horses is a spectacular scene worthy of the big-screen.
1# – ‘The Winds of Winter’ (6.10) –
Game of Thrones
In the end though, it’s another ‘Thrones installment that takes the crown as my all-time favourite TV episode comes in the form of its most recent outing ‘The Winds of Winter’. While some will say this is a premature choice given that Series 7 has yet to arrive, the episode is just a pure spectacle to behold from start to finish as various storylines come to a head in ‘explosive’ fashion. The opening fifteen minutes are as tense and riveting to watch as Cersei Lannister gains revenge over the High Sparrow and the Tyrells in one fell swoop with composer Ramin Djawadi’s haunting “Light of the Seven” track playing in the background. Other excellent plotlines also take place throughout the episode from Davos confronting Melisandre to Olenna Tyrell’s takedown of the (harshly-ridiculed!) Sand Snakes and of course, old git Walder Frey getting his just desserts at the hands of a fan favourite. There’s also the joyful confirmation of R + J which is then followed up by the goosebumped-filled ‘King of the North’ scene that makes you want to chant those words repeatedly. The satisfying hour is then completed by the immaculate final shot of Daenerys and her fleet finally sailing to Westeros which perfectly sets everything up for what should be a mouth-watering last two series of the HBO hit.
BEST MOMENT: Though the entire trial / destruction sequence is breathtaking, I have to go for Walder Frey’s comeuppance simply for the joy it gave us viewers after his involvement in the Red Wedding.