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Best of 2011: TV's Greatest Shockers, Stunts and Funnies

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Dec 22, 2011 | 4:34am EST

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Michael Proposes to Holly on The OfficeThere’s far more television out there than most of us can consume, but there are those of us who gobble up as much of it as we possibly can. For folks like us, choosing our favorite moments of television from the entire year is a daunting task, but I’ve attempted it. I’m sure we’ll disagree on a few of them, or there will be moments you loved that don’t make my list, but in the spirit of loving television, let’s think of this as a conversation starter as we reminisce over a year of the small screen gone by.

Warning: major spoilers for The Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire, The Vampire Diaries, The Bachelorette and The Office lie ahead. (If you happen to be behind on these series, turn away.)

Troy Barnes Meets LeVar Burton on Community

The series is fantastic and this documentary episode was incredible, but no one should deny the sheer comedic power of Donald Glover crying. Add to that the context of meeting LeVar Burton, the rocking back and forth while tears fall and he sings “Reading Rainbow,” and the final ad-libbed Star Trek reference and this may be my favorite sitcom moment in recent memory.

Nucky Shoots Jimmy on Boardwalk Empire

Jimmy definitely had this coming, but as viewers, we never thought they’d really do it. He was the hook, the reason we stuck by the series as it trucked along, trying to find its footing on that rickety Atlantic City boardwalk. The writers took our anchor and not only dislodged it, but melted it down into a useless lump of iron. Where will we go now? While this moment left many of us wandering around like lost little puppies, you’ve got to admit, it made for some damn good television.

Michael Proposes to Holly on The Office

This still makes my heart so happy it hurts. Many of us grew tired of the Michael Scott schtick after a while, but like his endlessly annoyed employees, when it came down to it, we all had a special place in our hearts for the former Dunder Mifflin Regional Manager. Michael getting his happily ever after in the most Michael Scott way will forever be one of my all-time favorite TV memories.

Elena Kisses Damon on The Vampire Diaries

The thing about being a huge TV fan is that you often get sucked into the reality TV and teen drama realms. My preferred poison is the CW’s The Vampire Diaries. The main romance of the series has always been Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Elena (Nina Dobrev), but the Damon (Ian Somerhalder) possibility has always been an undercurrent and one that, like the Sawyer wrench in Lost’s Jack and Kate dynamic, was never unwelcome. That’s why when Elena thought Damon was going to die and confessed that she cared about him before planting a sweet, innocent kiss on his lips, I think we all got a little twitterpated.

Ashley Hebert Rejects Ben Flajnik on The Bachelorette

This moment is not on here because I take pleasure in poor Ben’s rejection. You can’t help but feel sorry for the poor guy as he put everything on the line before getting the emotional gut-punch. The reason this moment makes the list is because after he got the bad news, he had the guts to tell Ashley to take a hike as she tried to follow him and explain himself. You’ve got to give the guy credit for telling her to shove it.

 

Everyone Gets Drunk on Snake Juice on Parks and Recreation

Trying to choose the best Parks and Rec moment of 2011 is like asking Ashley Duggar to choose her favorite of 19 children if they suddenly multiplied by 11. It’s damn near impossible. This list could include Leslie saying she’s going to make out with Ben’s face, or the time she finally did make out with his face, or Little Sebastian’s memorial, or Ron Swanson’s mustache rubbing off “from friction,” or Tom and Donna’s Treat Yo Self day. There are just too many gems from this little show that could, but I figure the most universally loved moment has to be when the whole department gets drunk on “snork juice” (as Leslie calls it).

 

Ricky Gervais Angers Everyone At The Golden Globes

Dear Hollywood folks, you make millions upon millions of dollars for doing jobs that most of us would kill for. And many of you didn’t have to pay $200k for a college degree to merit earnings of that kind. You can take a few measly jokes. Sure, mean old Ricky Gervais was harsh, but if anyone should be able to handle it, it’s a man who played the same character for eight years on Home Improvement only to resurrect him 12 years later as the “new” lead of another equally stale sitcom – and every other wildly successful director, producer, entertainer, or actor in that glitzy room.

Sophia Comes Out Of The Walkers Barn After The Epic Shootout on The Walking Dead

Now I know fans are pretty polarized when it comes to this topic. To those of you on the anti-Season 2 train, simmer down. I was a huge fan of this season of AMC’s hit series. Whereas many shows would fall into the adrenaline trap and deliver a slew of the gory kills fans crave without sparing time for a little thing called character development, The Walking Dead devoted the first half of its second season to figuring out the emotional journey of these doomed survivors. This final scene, in which the survivors mow down Hershel’s zombiefied family members as he cries crocodile tears only to find that the final target is their own little Sophia, presented the culmination of everything this series does well. It was action, emotion and heart-wrenching decisions, all in one 60-second journey from the barn door to Rick's bullet in the head.

Am I missing a pivotal moment? Let me know! Do you disagree with any of my picks? I want to know about that too! Use the comment section below or get at me directly on Twitter @KelseaStahler

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