I’ve been an avid TV fan since Frasier had hair and you had to stand up to change the channel. My parents and I would gather around the television with our TV trays and watch everything from the Cosby Show to Knots Landing to the Church Lady. Situation comedies in particular influenced my path to adulthood in many wonderful ways. In fact, I first learned how to speak Valley Girl from an episode of Family Ties (gag me with a spoon!)
Yet there’s a certain something missing from today’s television shows – that element of family togetherness strengthened only by watching your favorite sitcom personas learn valuable lessons whilst undergoing extreme duress sans laugh track. Where have all the “very special episodes” gone?
Once upon a Full House, you’d know it was getting serious when the “very special” leitmotif played in the background of DJ skipping school or Stephanie considering a cigarette or Michelle getting amnesia. A very minor B story line would keep the mood light, but the real drama would unfold at a breathtaking pace while my Swanson mashed potatoes cooled in their little plastic tray.
I’ve never had a larger lump in my throat than when Chandler Bing (aka Mr. Matthew Perry) died on Growing Pains after a drunk driving incident, I’ve never been as glued to the screen as when Jessie spun out of control while singing “I’m So Excited” on Saved by the Bell, and I’ve never had a greater anticipation for a night of television than when I heard the words, “tune in for an unforgettable episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”
Sure Charlie died on Two and Half Men and everybody has a serious (yet awe-inspiring) drinking problem on Cougar Town, but where are the heartstrings to be tugged and lessons to be learned?
Perhaps it’s because spoiler sites lessen the impact, perhaps it’s because families don’t watch TV together anymore, or perhaps it’s just because after six seasons of Sex and the City nothing can be considered “special” anymore. But whatever the reason, I want to cry during sitcoms again!
What is the “very special episode” your remember most?