Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Best of the Bests

Taking a page from Byzantium's Shores, I thought I'd name a "favorite episode" for each of the picks in my sitcom top ten of earlier this week.

10. Cheers - "Bar Wars VII - The Naked Prey" - The episode in which the gang finally gets one over on Gary's Old Towne Tavern. I can still hear the whisper-to-a-scream show-ending chant in my head.

9. Will & Grace - The episode in which Grace discovers that Will once tried sex with a woman - and not her. A lovely example of how well the show could do real, cutting drama when it wanted, and how while they might have idealized some aspects of the Will and Grace friendship, they never stinted on showing how ugly friends can get with each other either.

8. Frasier - Call me a sap, but the episode where Niles and Daphne finally unite holds a special place in my heart.

7. Friends - More sappiness - "The One with the Prom Video," or as it might alternatively be titled, "The One with the Best Main Character Flashbacks Ever." The whole Ross and Rachel saga might have been protracted a season or three too far, but for a while there it was compelling, sweet stuff.

6. Scrubs - "My Screw Up" - with Brendan Gleason returning as Jordan's brother Ben. A great melding of the emotional gut punch and laugh-out loud comedy, with a twist ending I wouldn't dream of spoiling.

5. Everybody Loves Raymond - Probably the "Debra has PMS" episode, if only because it was such a great showcase for what a great natural actress Patricia Heaton is. The ep is also a great example of what Raymond did so well - take small, real conflicts and stresses that affect married people everywhere and build great comedy out of them without blowing them up or exaggerating them too much.

4. Roseanne - The episode that stands out the most in my memory is the "domestic abuse" episode, the episode where Jackie is hit by her boyfriend Fisher and Dan comes to her rescue. Roseanne was able to combine real drama like this better than almost any sitcom I can think of . . .

3. All in the Family - . . . except this one. The episode I love the most is the one where Meathead and Gloria leave for California. As I said in the post that led to this one, that episode makes me weep like a baby at the end, when Meathead says to Archie: "I know you always thought I hated you Arch, but I didn't. I love you." Meathead hugs Archie and runs off to the cab, leaving
a devastated Archie on the porch.

2. Seinfeld - It's hardly original to say so, but "The Contest." Has any other episode of any other primetime network sitcom revolved around masturbation?

1. The Simpsons - "Bart Sells His Soul." The church organist playing "In A Gada Da Vida." Uncy Moe. Milhouse's grandma. Some great stuff in this episode, with Bart selling his soul to Milhouse to prove that souls don't exist and finding out that maybe they do. This episode is hilarious, but has some real affecting emotional content, like the best Simpsons episodes. Add a perfectly executed dream sequence and it adds up to my favorite Simpsons episode.

Until Whenever

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