Best: 'Six Feet Under'
Alan Ball's drama about a family of morticians had death embedded into its very fabric: every episode started with the demise of someone who'd end up on the Fishers' slabs, and it wasn't afraid to kill off a very major character late in its run. So you knew that shuffling off this mortal coil would play a part in the HBO series' finale; what was unexpected was how they used it. As Claire, the youngest member of this dysfunctional clan, leaves L.A. for New York, we get future glimpses of everyone's passing (her mother, her older brother and his ex-cop husband, one of the funeral home's key employees) as Sia's "Breathe" plays over the montage. It ends with Claire herself, now an elderly woman and surrounded by mementos of a creatively satisfying existence, as she goes into the light — a surprisingly moving, tender farewell that celebrates the joy of a well-lived life. Bravo.