If most sports is a game of inches, most TV is a game of episodes. That's why, at year's end, I always feel a bit weird compiling a list of the year's best series: Even a great series can have a bad episode, or a string of them, and even inconsistent or mostly mediocre series can produce memorable, even great installments.
Back in 2005, when I was a TV critic for the Newark Star-Ledger, I started publishing a yearly list of the best individual episodes of scripted TV shows. I'm continuing that tradition here at Salon with a citation of my 20 favorite episodes of scripted comedies and dramas.
For suspense's sake, we're breaking my 2011 list into two installments. This week's covers items 20 through 11 on my list; next Friday we'll count down the top 10.