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Digital Spy's Best TV Episodes of 2012 (10-6)

By and Morgan Jeffery
Digital Spy's annual countdown of the Best TV Shows of 2012 wasn't enough for us this year. We've gone one step further and picked out our favourite single episodes from the past 12 months.

We've chosen the hours (or half hours) of TV that had us gripped, in tears, or howling with laughter across the year. These are the TV moments that will stick with us from the year, and they're the ones we'll watch over and over again on DVD. Check out the start of our Top 10 countdown below:

10. Modern Family - 'Schooled'
Modern Family S04E02: 'Schooled'

© ABC


Sitcoms like Modern Family have a tricky path to tread - often, they need heartwarming moments but have to avoid becoming cheesy. Well, 'Schooled' was a superb 20 minutes of comedy that managed that just fine.

There were several entertaining storylines - Cam and Mitch rowing with another kindergarten student's parents complete with the best Venn diagram joke ever on a comedy; Gloria and Jay brilliantly mocking their parenting class - but the real heart of the episode came from Haley's first day at college. The show struck all the notes brilliantly, from Alex's emotional-but-snarky goodbye to Luke wearing a mask to hide his tears.

To be fair to him, anyone who has ever been dropped off at college by their parents, or has dropped off their own children, would have had a hard time making it through this without shedding some tears of their own. Everything in the instalment was deftly handled, funny but sweet, and that's without even mentioning the wonder that is 'Phil'sosophy'. Brilliant. [CW]

9. Game of Thrones - 'Blackwater'
Game of Thrones S02E09: 'Blackwater'

© HBO


The most ambitious TV episode possibly ever made, 'Blackwater' brought movie-size scale to the small screen in HBO's stunning fantasy epic.

But beyond the mega budget, incredible battle scenes and endless sword slashing and head chopping, there was an emotional punch and stunning performances from the cast to make this more than an adventure in blowing money on fancy FX.

Lena Headey (Cersei) and Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) shined brightest as the Lannisters attempted to defend King's Landing, and it was their growth and the layered characterisation which made this episode so special, not the blasts, violence and visual tricks. [AF]

8. Vampire Diaries - 'The Departed'
The Vampire Diaries S03E22: 'The Departed'

© The CW


Every so often, The Vampire Diaries serves up an episode so brilliant that it's easy to forget it's a supernatural drama for teenagers, and third season finale 'The Departed' is one such instalment.

Looking back on it, it's hard to comprehend that so much action could be crammed into just one hour - all sorts of storylines came together with violent results, and there were touching developments in the show's central love triangle as Elena chose Stefan, and it emerged that Damon had actually met her first. But of course it was all leading up to a true shocker, as Elena is drowned to the ethereal tones of Sigur Rós only to wake back up as a vampire.

We had to watch this about three times just to get over the massive, risky, oh-my-God-what-now surprise of it all. Everyone brought their A game in this episode, and that final shot of Elena gasping as she reanimates? Sublime. [CW]

7. Doctor Who - 'Asylum of the Daleks'
Jenna-Louise Coleman as Oswin in Doctor Who 'Asylum of the Daleks'

© BBC


The BBC sci-fi drama's latest run opened strong with this action-packed blockbuster - there was Amy and Rory's shock divorce, more Daleks than we could count and a surprise cameo from a certain young lady…

Jenna-Louise Coleman's shock debut five minutes into 'Asylum' was the greatest, most unexpected twist since David Tennant's regeneration fake-out cliffhanger way back in 2008 and the 26-year-old actress blew us away with a fun, confident and sexy performance.

Showrunner Steven Moffat made it clear that he wanted each of the show's five 2012 episodes to resemble an epic feature film, but after this absolute blinder of an episode, it wasn't Who that was chasing the movies - Hollywood was trailing our favourite Time Lord. [MJ]

6. Breaking Bad - 'Buyout'
Breaking Bad S05E06: 'Buyout'

© AMC


Picking our favourite episode from Breaking Bad's terrific fifth season was no mean feat - each of the riveting AMC drama's eight 2012 episodes had much to recommend them. But ultimately, 'Buyout' stood out from the crowd.

The haunting cold open sees Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Mike (Jonathan Banks) prepare to destroy the evidence of their latest crime - the murder of a young, innocent boy - by dismantling his dirt bike and prepare to melt both it, and him, down into acid.

Compare this chillingly effective sequence to the hilarity that follows as Jesse pays a visit to the White House, sharing an oh-so-awkward dinner with Walt and Skyler (Anna Gunn). That's the reason 'Buyout' wins our vote - it spans the entire range of Breaking Bad's epic emotional scope. [MJ]

[Additional reporting from Catriona Wightman and Ben Lee]

What was your favourite single episode of TV in 2012? What would you pick for the Top 5?

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