2011’s best TV episodes

1. “Critical Film Studies”

"Community" (NBC)
Written by Sona Panos. Directed by Richard Ayoade

When it was announced that Dan Harmon’s sitcom “Community” would do an episode built around a “Pulp Fiction”-themed party, it sounded like a natural, even obvious fit. What better program to satirize the pop-culture-crazy riffing of writer-director Quentin Tarantino? But the episode turned out to bethe year’s most conceptually daring half-hour, a meditation on life, art, acting, self-deception, being and nothingness, referencing not just “Pulp Fiction” but “My Dinner With Andre” and “Six Characters in Search of an Author.” On top of all that, the episode was funny, sweet and disturbing, and in the end, haunting.