5. Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin The X-Files S6:E6 “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas,” December 13, 1998
I feel like this episode went way under the radar, possibly because it is holiday themed, and in prime time science fiction fare, that is not always celebrated. However, as both a fan of The X-Files and of television history, I feel like this episode is worth a second look. First of all, TXF easily could have done a trite retelling of A Christmas Carol. The paranormal factor is already built in to the classic yuletide tale that dozens of shows and networks have retold a thousand times over. Instead, (imho) writers sort of rewarded viewers with an episode that really pushed the “will they or won’t they?” theme to the edge. Mulder drags Scully to a haunted house on Christmas Eve where two lovers killed each other years before. The plot implies that Mulder and Scully are in love and thus will also die together on Christmas Eve in the house. We soon learn that the two lovers haunt visitors, and convince them to kill themselves. The greatest element here? The two dead lovers are Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin, and they are incredible. Their dual comedic genius might be subtle, but the two certainly understand how to play horror with humor, especially in parts that received no recognition, ever, until now when I insist that this episode is actually pretty great.
4. Amy Sedaris Broad City S1:E9 “Apartment Hunters” March 19, 2014
This list could easily be populated with Amy Sedaris guest spots, but this one is a personal favorite. Sedaris plays a scatter brained real estate agent with a criminal element when Abbi is searching for a new apartment. There are no words to describe the perfection that is any scene on any show that Sedaris occupies. When she pulls her dinky little car up on the sidewalk, climbs out amid a trash explosion with a neck brace on, its obvious that she just stole the show. Fortunately, we get to tour several hovels with the girls, whose descriptions are made absolutely hilarious by the incomparable Amy Sedaris.
3. Charles Nelson Reilly The X-Files S3:E20 “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” April, 12, 1996
It should come as no surprise to anyone that I consider myself a Charles Nelson Reilly fan. The man was a television standard and deserves our respect. In a Darin Morgan episode of The X-Files Reilly plays a novelist who is interviewing Scully to learn the details of an alien abduction case he is writing about. The episode is creative and original in its story telling and Reilly’s zany sense of humor is utilized in just the right way.
2. Peter Boyle The X-Files S3:E4 “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” October 13, 1995
Alright, so maybe no one wanted a list of my favorite X-Files episodes, but here it is. Let me explain. As I was trying to think of my favorite guest stars, all three (technically four) from The X-Files came to mind immediately. Because I couldn’t really decide which to eliminate, and because I didn’t want to have to include the Ray Liotta episode of ER (though I’ll be happy if someone else did) I just decided to include them all. LEAVE ME ALONE. I’ve written about this episode before, so I’ll spare you all the details, but Boyle is brilliant as a psychic whose visions help solve a serial killer mystery. Oof. His final scene with Scully, that he predicted. That’s just great television.
1. Parker Posey Louie S3:E5 “Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 2” July 19, 2012
The easiest way to know that a decent show is actually an amazing show, is to check if and when Parker Posey has ever guest starred. This is easily my favorite episode of a show that I wish I watched more often and Posey is easily my favorite 90’s indie star. In this dark episode, Louie meets Posey in a bookstore and makes a connection. Posey’s character, a self described “manic pixie dream girl” (barf) turns out to be a wonderfully complicated woman whose story arc ends in a particularly unsettling fashion. It’s the perfect role for Posey. I’m going to go watch it now.