Greg Burgas, the scoundrel, asked: What’s your favorite single episode of a sitcom?
I find this exercise difficult. There may be bits of a story that I remember. Think of the turkey episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. It may be that Les Nessman’s reportage is enough. But I don’t specifically recall the rest of the show. Ditto the last episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the mass movement to the tissues. Or Jim taking a driving test on Taxi. Or the last few minutes of the Newhart finale.
Lots of shows may have a great A story, but the B story, not so much. I’ll admit there are certain elements I’m always a sucker for. One is the inclusion of game shows that I like. JEOPARDY on Cheers. Password on The Odd Couple.
But I don’t rewatch enough sitcoms to be sure, with two exceptions. That said, I picked these.
Sammy’s visit episode of All In The Family, with Sammy Davis, Jr. Sammy sits in Archie’s chair, and Arch says nothing.
The Tuttle episode of MASH (1973). “Throughout his childhood, Hawkeye had an imaginary friend, Tuttle, who knocked over garbage, broke windows, and wet the bed. When Hawkeye resurrects ‘Captain Tuttle’ to requisition food and supplies for Sister Theresa and the orphanage, he stirs up a mare’s nest.”
The Car episode of Barney Miller (1981). “A car thief’s conscience haunts him twenty-five years after the fact.” Two things stand out forty years later. When the original owner saw the vehicle, she complained, “It’s so PINK.” And the thief said that he wiped the car clean regularly with a shammy.
Three Valentines episode of Frasier (1999). “Three different stories following Frasier, Daphne, Niles, and Martin on Valentine’s Day.” Specifically Niles ironing. Valentine’s Day can suck.
I watched I Love Lucy. A lot. I’ve picked the Harpo Marx episode of I Love Lucy (1955). I could have selected Vitameatavegamin or the one with the stomping grapes. Now we have a boxed set, though my daughter had commandeered it after we bought it at the Lucy-Desi Museum.
The other is The Dick Van Dyke Show. Even before getting the DVDS DVD, there were lots of bits (walnuts, a Christmas show, and anything involving Laura in capri pants) I recall. But I’ll pick three episodes that have stuck in my mind since I was a kid.
One was probably BECAUSE I was a child when I saw it. What’s In A Middle Name? (1962) “Ritchie finds his birth certificate and wants an explanation for his middle name being Rosebud.” And I remembered all of the components. There’s something fundamental about the kid’s identity crisis.
Coast To Coast Big Mouth (1965) “Laura accidentally spills the beans on a nationally televised talk show that Alan Brady is bald.” Carl Reiner talking to toupees was classic.
But the #1 episode has to be That’s My Boy?? (1963) “During a flashback about his early days as a parent, Rob recounts why he believed Laura and he brought home a baby belonging to someone else.” When the punchline came, I laughed hysterically, as did the audience.