Monday, June 05, 2006

So-So Shows With One Great Episode

Here's a question for all you TV-viewin' types out there: what are some shows that weren't particularly good overall, but had one episode that you thought was truly great?

The example that I always use is the show "Day By Day." This show never amounted to much; it was created by Gary David Goldberg and Andy Borowitz; it concerned a couple of high-powered yuppies who decide they want to spend more time with their kids, so they move to the suburbs and open a day-care centre out of their home. It was Goldberg's follow-up to "Family Ties"; instead of a show about '60s hippies adjusting to the '80s world, it was about '80s yuppies trying to find something more in life than career and money. But the writing wasn't anything special, the parents weren't very interesting, and there was no Michael J. Fox or Michael Gross around to elevate the material.

But the reason a lot of people still sort of remember the show was one episode they did called "A Very Brady Episode", where the son (Christopher Daniel Barnes) dreams he's part of the Brady Bunch (he's the long-lost son, Chuck Brady). Most of the "Brady Bunch" cast was recruited for this episode, and it was basically an extended spoof of every "Brady Bunch" cliché, where "Chuck" learned just how appallingly annoying it would be to live in that world. It did everything those Brady Bunch spoof movies did (the movies also featured Christopher Daniel Barnes, by the way) in one-fourth of the time, and did it better. I haven't seen that episode since it first aired and I still remember it as being hilarious; perhaps it wouldn't hold up if I saw it again, but at that time -- when most mainstream shows still didn't do parodies of other TV shows -- it was fresh and surprising and funny and totally unlike the rest of "Day By Day."

That's my pick for a not-so-great show with a great episode; what are yours?


Chris Riesbeck said...

For me, it's Just the Ten of Us. Could never get into this specific show, or the big family genre in general.

BUT there was one episode, the Voice of God, where a tree falls on the family house. It would've kill the mom and dad, but no one is hurt because the mother heard a voice telling her to get everyone out. She then begins a vigil every morning, waiting for more. The episode follows that vigil over many days.

There are many ways this could've played out. The episode did none of the things I expected. It follows many strands of responses: the media hanging around for something to happen again, the embarrassed kids, the supportive but seriously concerned husband, and the local priest (Frank Bonner from WKRP) whose strand turns out to be the most interesting of all.

Rob Bates said...

I remember an episode of "Amen" (with Sherman Hemsley) being hilarious. It involved a court case involving, if I'm not mistaken, bad egg salad. Never saw another episode as good, despite it having some not-bad people behind it.