I'm going to go a bit obscure and say the third season ep of Picket Fences "Heroes and Villains." It's Marlee Matlin's second appearance as Laurie Bey, the Dancing Bandit, and her trial is the epitome of quality television. We get Picket Fences' comic relief at its best as Judge Bone (Ray Walston) and Wambaugh (Fyvush Finkel) slug it out (with Don Cheadle up to the task for once, and Guest Prosecutor Jane Kaszmarek!) and the underlying story is awesome: is what Laurie does - rob banks (only accounts funded by the government for stupid programs and only to the FDIC insureable limit) and give money to local charities - really that bad? Or is it worse to shoot a deaf woman in the back?
This one is hard because I think any hour or half-hour show would eventually drive me insane if I had to actually view it back-to-back-to-back.
But, having said that, two immediately came to mind. From Seinfeld, "The Bet". I am truly not the master of my domain. And from Friends, the episode where Ross was trying to explain Hanukkah to Ben. When he entered the room wearing an Armadillo suit, I really lost it.
When I happen to run into either of these two episodes, I stay with it to the end.
MASH - the episode where Hawkeye thinks BJ is playing practical jokes on the rest of the people, but in fact, they are all playing practical jokes on him.
Also MASH - 5 O'Clock Charlie
Beverly Hillbillies - The one where the Family goes back to Tennessee and Mr Drysdale acts like he's from the hills. It's freaking hoot.
I Love Lucy - the one that "superman" is one where Lucy ends up out on the ledge. Although the one where Little Ricky is born is also a hoot. OK, so is the one where the Ricardos want to get out of their lease, so they make a ton of noise. Ok, how about any episode? Can I admit something? Fred Mertz makes me die laughing.
Damn - this question is too hard....
We'll be back right after order has been restored here in the Omni Center.
"Shoe Money Tonight," an episode of SportsNight that is the perfectly written 30-minute installment of a sitcom.
It's snowing in Pittsburgh so, the anchors of the 2 AM West Coast update are stuck, and the 11 p.m. staff have to stay to do the show. Instead of going to Atlantic City, anchors Dan and Casey and the staff have a poker tournament. Assistant producer Natalie is angry with writer Jeremy because he skipped an outing with her to go play tennis with an old girlfriend who is now an actress. Casey approves a rundown from the 2AM producer, Sally, without consulting Dana, making her feel very angry and unappreciated. Station president Isaac appears to be shrinking.
Some magnificent quotes abound:
"You're no longer in the zone, are you?" "I'm down here with the rest of you."
"You dated a girl named Judy Rootie Tootie?"
And this astounding monologue from Jeremy to Natalie. The poker game has become a war of wills between the squabbling lovers:
[A full house. Dan already folded the six you needed and I have the other one. You don't have a house of any sort. You don't have a pup tent. You've got trip sevens and I have a straight. (stands up) I want you to trust me right now. I want you to say to yourself, "Yeah, I've dated a string of jerks in my life. They were stupid, they were mean to me, but maybe this one's different. Maybe I should take a chance and not adopt the 'break up with him before he breaks my heart' strategy." I want you to remember that when I started liking you, I didn't stop liking tennis. And I want you to know that I don't think there's a woman in the world that you need to be threatened by, no matter how glamorous you think she is. But mostly, I want you to trust me, just once, when I tell you that you have three sevens... and I have a straight.]
She plays the hand, he's proven right, and she realizes he knows exactly what he's talking about. She tries to apologize, but he insists they spend time apart. And then she plays HER ace card: offering to wear his white dress shirt and nothing else. He folds, and they leave together. He turns to Dan: "I was never in it."
The perfect sitcom episode.
"To be the man, you gotta beat demands." -- The Lovely Mrs. Tracker
Cheers, "A House Is Not A Home" The Simpsons, "Itchy And Scratchy Land" Scrubs, "My Life In Four Cameras" Sledge Hammer!, "The Spa Who Loved Me" Taxi, "On The Job" (pts 1 and 2) The West Wing, "Game On"
"He's too much of gentleman to assume that the lady he is with would have a disease and he's man enough to raise any offspring that should arise. HE IS AL WILSON."[-DEAN~, 7/22/05]
Season 1, Episode 4 of the UK version of "The Office". A simple training seminar goes to shit because of David Brent's incessant need to be the center of attention and the world's foremost authority on everything. Everything is classic, from David's completely clueless roleplaying ("I think there's been a rape up there!") to Tim and Gareth bickering over a brain teaser, to say nothing of the impromptu concert (~!) - but the whole thing has the first real installment of the Tim/Dawn saga going on in the background, with the first of the show's innumberable painful endings. Quite possibly the most perfect half hour of any show I've ever seen.
"That's my problem - I'm too frank. That's why my mother shoved me down the stairs. But then she is fat."
Tough call. I could probably come up with a lot of episodes of The Tick the animated series that I probably wouldn't mind watching over and over again but I think in the end I'd have to go with Episode 5 of Season 1 of Cowboy Bebop, "Ballad of Fallen Angels"
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The Suitcase is pretty perfect. It was amazingly well written and acted. Definitely the best Mad Men episode and one of my very favorites. Some others I thought of: S2x5 "Charity" from The Office (UK) S3x2 "Are We Not Men?