1 - Buffy the Vampire Slayer vs. 2 - The X-Files
- Graduation Day Part 2 (season 3)
- Hush (season 4)
- Once More, With Feeling (season 6)
- Becoming Part 2 (season 2)
- Something Blue (season 4)
- Graduation Day Part 1 (season 3)
- Lovers Walk (season 3)
- Halloween (season 2)
- Doppelgangland (season 3)
- Pangs (season 4)
- What's My Line Part 2 (season 2)
- The Prom (season 3)
- Prophecy Girl (season 1)
- The Wish (season 3)
- The Gift (season 5)
- The Zeppo (season 3)
- Homecoming (season 3)
- This Year's Girl (season 4)
- The Body (season 5)
- Tabula Rasa (season 6)
So first off, I got through the first 9 on this list without going to Wikipedia, up until I couldn't remember the name of the Thanksgiving episode in season 4 where Buffy does her best to make turkey dinner with all the trimmings while being attacked by angry ancient Native American ghost-demons ("Pangs"). And OK yes, it takes a certain fortitude to write "ghost-demons" with a straight face while describing my favorite drama in history but seriously, that was a great episode, full of humor and plotting and action. And this was a near-perfect series, at least for the first 5 1/3 seasons (it went dramatically downhill after "Tabula Rasa", episode 8 in season 6, as you can see). But lest you think this was just some vampire or demon horror show a la True Blood. There were definitely strong vestiges of horror in many episodes, particularly "Hush," the near-silent and absolutely brilliant piece of filmmaking that was the peak of the show as a "one-off" episode. But the show was something more than just a vampire story, or a vampire slayer story. It was also a dark satire about the trials of high school playing out as a horror story filled with real-life monsters substituting for imagined ones (as best evidenced in the Graduation Day season 3 finale as well as The Prom and Homecoming). And it was also a deeply funny comedy (Something Blue, Pangs, Lovers Walk, The Zeppo), a love story (Becoming), a brilliant subversion of genres (The Wish and Doppelgangland, Prophecy Girl) and of course for one episode, a musical (Once More with Feeling). I could go on and on but this was about as perfectly realized a series ever conceived and the only reason that it's not running away with this competition is that season 4 derailed a bit after Hush when the whole "Adam" storyline took over, and season 5 was a bit hit or miss (although in the end I liked the introduction of Buffy's little sister). Then, unfortunately, the whole show fell apart early in season 6. If it had ended in season 5, when Buffy takes her own life to save her sister in The Gift, I think this would have been a perfect series. Unfortunately they instead went to UPN from the WB, Joss Whedon left the show to make Firefly or Angel or something (after writing and directing Once More with Feeling) and we ended up with the Marti Noxon-run dreck that was the rest of season 6 and season 7. Of course, without season 6 we wouldn't have had the best musical ever made ever, at least according to someone who had never previously liked a musical before ever.
As for The X-Files, ah, I could do the whole episode thing but a quick search of Wikipedia makes me realize I don't quite remember the episodes from the titles alone so I'd have to do a lot of research and it would all be a waste of time because we all know who is winning this round.
Winner: 1 - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
1 - Late Night with David Letterman vs. 2- The Daily Show
OK we can't do episode guide stuff here because these shows each ran a decade or more with episode every night (or 4 nights a week) in late night, mixing the funny with more funny and politics in the case of Jon Stewart's show (and music in Dave's case). Dave never had a great monologue but behind the desk he was brilliant and all the taped bits he and his writers devised through the years were hilarious (anyone remember when he flirted with the girl who worked in the office across the street from their studios -- Meg?), plus there was the Top Ten and the musical guests and Chris Elliott and Biff Henderson and Dave's Mom and Stupid Human Tricks and everything else. And oh yeah, he wasn't a bad interviewer either. Actually I came into this thinking The Daily Show would probably win, because Dave is still on the air (on a different network) and I don't watch him unless there's a great guest on and I watch The Daily Show every night regardless of who's on and I have for 10+ years. But I also watched Dave every night for 10+ years. Well probably not 10+. Just from like 9th or 10th grade through college. Still... I don't know. This is a tough one to evaluate. Neither show is a show I watch in re-runs (because they are too topical, and are on in originals most of the time anyway). Neither show deserves to lose. I really don't know. Can we all just agree that Jay Leno sucks? Ok. Good. Sorry, Dave.
Winner: 2 - The Daily Show
And the final four matchups are set. Vote below.