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My Favorite TV Moments Part 2
All in the Family “Sammy’s Visit” Okay, I’m cheating. First, I’m bumping one up here even though it sort of breaks my alphabetical listing (at least as a continuation of the last list) and I’m including a full episode. Though to be fair, it is (mostly) a one-act story, and this is one of the most iconic moments in TV history. What happens when racist Archie meets one of the most famous black entertainers of the time… who’s also Jewish? Archie makes his typical insensitive comments – some intentional, some unintentional. But Sammy Davis Jr. does not take things lying down. While maintaining his coolness, The Candyman gets his fair share of jabs against Archie. And I’m sure no one who saw this episode will forget the kiss.
Part 1 of this countdown
- My Favorite TV Moments Part 1
The first half of my countdown of favorite TV moments
King of the Hill “A Firefighting We Will Go” Boomhauer’s Story: After it appears the gang has burned down the firehouse, everybody has a different vision of what happened. And of course in all their versions, Dale, Bill and Boomhauer show how they think of themselves. Dale imagines himself having a lion’s mane of hair, Bill is actually fatter and balder in his version. And according to Boomhauer, he talks coherently while everyone else speaks gibberish. It’s practically surreal hearing Boomhauer speak normally and hearing everyone else talk in Boomhauer-speak had me laughing so hard I had to catch my breath. It’s hard to articulate and this is my favorite episode so I say just watch it.
Louie “Pregnant” The pregnancy scare: Some might consider this a spoiler, but I can’t resist talking about this one. Louis’s pregnant sister visits and it seems she’s going into labor. The normally comedic show takes a turn for the serious with fast-paced editing and tense music. Real drama starts to build as they rush Louis’s sister to the hospital and… she breaks wind. I need to admit something: I am not normally a fan of fart jokes. Generally, that feels about as low as one can go to garner a cheap laugh. Let me put it this way: Someone just randomly passing gas for a cheap laugh: Not funny. Having the audacity to build up a dead serious pregnancy scare only as the setup to a fart joke: now, that’s funny.
Monk “Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike” Alice Cooper Did It: The long lasting garbage strike has a serious effect on Adrian Monk. He accuses the mayor of murder, fibs about the case and starts mailing his trash to dispose of it. However, his madness piques after he’s proven wrong about how the murder was done… something that almost never happened. Monk loses his mind and decides to take care of the garbage himself and has a new theory on how the murder happened. Alice Cooper did it because he wanted the victim’s antique chair. The idea of Monk making a proposition this ludicrous is funny enough, but it goes further. Alice Cooper actually appears as himself! He has no dialogue but watching him fume with anger and fawn over a chair are absolutely hilarious.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus “The Parrot Sketch” How does one pick just a single sketch from Monty Python? They did the Spanish Inquisition. They did the Lumberjack song. So why not just go for the most obvious answer. Yeah, there’s a reason this is so many people’s favorite Python skit. It’s such a simple setup: John Cleese has purchased a parrot from a pet store that is dead. But what makes this a classic is great writing. According to the fellow Python members, the idea of this skit came when Graham Chapman wrote it around an improv game where they had to keep going without repeating themselves. And that’s how it goes: Every time Cleese has an proof for how the parrot is dead, Palin just has another excuse (“I took the liberty of examining the parrot and I noticed the only reason it was sitting on the perch is because it had been nailed there.” “Of course, it had been nailed there! Otherwise it would nuzzle up to those bars and VOOM!”) Eventually, Cleese tires of Palin’s excuses and lays on a whole slew of hilarious euphemisms for death. (“He’s battened down the hatches and joined the bloody choir invisible!”)
Newhart “The Last Newhart” The Big Reveal: I don’t know if this counts as a spoiler since most people know the twist of this one. In fact, I can honestly say this twist got me into the show in the first place. The Loudens end up being the last people standing in their town as the entire neighborhood accept deals from Japanese developers to move out. However, none of their plans turn out and despite the neighborhood being a golf course and hotel, they decide to move back in. Bob takes umbrage to this announcement but gets conked on the head. He wakes up in bed on The Bob Newhart Show next to his wife from that show. Although I’ve watched a lot more Newhart, I am quite fond of The Bob Newhart Show. This was a clever twist and a great callback to a great show.
Pinky & the Brain “Brain Drained” Brain hires writers: When he finds himself repeating failed ideas, the Brain decides to hire writers to come up with schemes for world domination. It goes without saying that the writers aren’t what the Brain’s looking for. There’s a marketing guru who wants to turn Pinky and the Brain into Ninja Turtle-style action characters. There’s a nut job who argues with himself using hand puppets. But the absolute funniest is two women who want to turn Pinky and the Brain into a cutesy Care Bears-style show. This is funny enough, but Pinky and the Brain’s reactions are absolutely priceless. Pinky’s off in his own little world while the Brain sits there with his mouth agape as if his mind has been broken. Overall, this is just a really hilarious moment that also works as a fourth wall spoof of shows running out of steam.
Quantum Leap “The Boogieman” Sam Beckett battles SATAN! Yes, you read that right, in one episode Sam Beckett battles Satan. Need I say more? Okay, maybe I should. Sam leaps into a horror novelist on Halloween, and strange things are going on. Eventually, Sam learns that Old Scratch himself has been disguising himself as Al in an attempt to get revenge on Sam for fixing all the trouble he caused. Without giving too much, Sam actually holds his own against the prince of darkness. There weren't a ton of supernatural moments on Quantum Leap, so that makes this stick out.
Seinfeld “The Fire” George’s fire speech: Where do I begin with this one? George is at a child’s birthday party when a fire breaks lose. Being the hero that he is, George pushes the children and a little old lady out of the way in an attempt to escape the fire. If that weren’t bad enough, George is questioned about the incident by the firemen after the incident. Does George eat crow and admit he made a mistake? If you answered yes, you don’t know Costanza. George adamantly comes up with excuse after excuse for how he was actually the hero in this scenario. He wasn’t shoving people out of the way. He was guiding them to the ground, the safest place to be. Obviously, nobody buys the story. So George is asked a very blunt question: How do you live with yourself? George’s answer: It’s not easy. Of course, this episode featured another home run monologue as Kramer relates the story of how rescued his friend’s pinky toe while fighting off a mugger on the bus.
The Simpsons “Simpson Tide” The Soviet Union is back! When Homer accidentally steers his submarine in the wrong direction, people think he’s a defector. At a UN meeting, the Soviet Union offer to take Homer in… Wait a minute, didn’t the Soviet Union disband? That’s what they wanted us to think! We are then treated to a montage of the Soviet Union’s dark return over ominous music… including the return of Lenin who “must crush capitalism.” Does this add anything to the plot? No, but the fact that it’s such a non-sequitor only makes it more hilarious.
Star Trek: The Next Generation “Ménage-a-Troi” Picard’s Poetry: Deana Troi’s hedonistic mother Lwaxana gets herself, Riker and Deanna captured by the Ferangi. Lwaxana is able to save Riker and her daughter by trading herself in for servitude. However, Deana wants her mother back so she needs Picard to act fast. So he cooks up a story that he is Lwaxana’s jealous lover. While he stammers at first (he is, after all, making this up as he goes), Picard soon absorbs himself into this role – quoting poetry, breaking out the Shakespearean acting – all while maintaining that trademark Picard swagger. You have to love any time Patrick Stewart speaks Shakespeare. And people wonder why I like Picard more than Kirk. The reactions of his fellow shipmates are classic – especially Riker who grins devilishly before Picard even does anything. And let's not forget, it gave us the Annoyed Picard meme.
Taxi “Reverend Jim: A Space Odyssey” Jim’s Driving Test: I can guarantee anybody who’s watched Taxi remembers this one. It’s such a simple setup but pays off in dividends. Jim Ignatowski is just trying to take a test to be a cab driver, but his mind is so fried from years of drugs that the simplest questions are hard for him to answer. This scene is filled wall to wall with laugh out loud hilarious dialogue (“Have you ever experienced loss of consciousness, hallucinations, dizzy spells, convulsive disorders, fainting or periods of loss of memory?” “Hasn’t everyone?” ), but the thing that everybody remembers is Jim asking the eternal question “What does a yellow light mean?” Without giving too much away, Jim doesn’t exactly get his answer. James Burrows claims this is the funniest episode he’s ever done, and he’ll get little argument from me.
And that's my list. If you agree, disagree with my choices or just want to share some of your own, feel free.
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