Sunday, April 4, 2010

Next 5

I'm trying to be fair and include some comedies

35. Murphy Brown --- Uh Oh, Part 2 and 3
Yes, I know that this shows topicality caused it to date very quickly, but that doesn't change the fact that for the first five years of it's run , it was one of the funniest comedies I've ever seen. And never did Candice Bergen and her cast demonstrate their rapid fire wit better than when Murphy first realized that she was pregnant and had to tell everybody. Grant Shaud's reaction while in a drugstore was so brilliantly sustained that he should have won an Emmy for that episode alone. And Eldin's joyous reaction was so wonderful, it reminded me why I loved that character. His premature death was a loss I feel deeply. So what did Dan Quayle know?

34. Friends --- The One With the Prom Video
Even though they would beat the Ross and Rachel thing to death on this show, it doesn't change the fact that the episode where they finally hooked up was a pure gem. Phoeber's description of them as lobsters, Chandler's dismay at getting a cheesy bracelet from Joey -- small gems. But that video where we first see just how fat Monica was before she became--- well, Courtney Cox--- and Chandler asks just how many cameras are on her--- that one just makes me ROTFL every time I see it

33. House, MD --- Broken
Because I believe that this is a better show when it puts the focus more on Hugh Laurie then on the team, this two-parter--- which cuts House away from everything that he has held familiar as he desperately tries to get off his Vicodin addiction--- may have been the show's high point. Watching this strong personality finally come to the realization that he was faliable--- that was stronger than almost every other diagnosis --- even the one he makes in the second part. Plus any series that gives us a chance to see two of the greatest actors today--- Laurie and Andre Braugher--- in the same room, that's a faceoff for the ages.

32. South Park --- The Passion of the Jew
Hysterically funny but very erratic, now that The Simpsons is in decline, it's been the strongest cartoon on the air this past decade. And this episode--- where the children all react to Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ in hysterically different ways--- I find even funnier then their more infamous episodes involving Scientology and Family Guy. Whether it's Cartman leading the inspired fans of the show in goosesteps down main street or an insane Mel Gibson's chasing Kyle and Kenny down Road Warrior style demanding his $18 back, this is an episode that is simply, well, holy.

31. Law & Order --- Indifference
It's easy to forget--- drowning in spinoffs and networks that seem to air it 24/7--- how truly brilliant this show could be, particularly in its first few seasons. And this very early episode in the shows inagural season showed how brilliant it could be. A reconstruction of the David Steinberg-Hedda Nussbaum case so accurate that it needed a long disclaimer, this episode about the death of a child still haunts nearly two decades later. Every regular seems so angry at the senselessness of Deedee Lowenstein's death, and that helps us feel the pain more than the dozens of similar cases that have followed. And the final act, where the normally stoic ADA Ben Stone (Michael Moriarty) practically spits out accusations, while circling him like a bird of prey, is one of the most wrenching courtroom sequences in television history. This one will haunt you, even as the final line of dialogue echoes.

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