Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Oh, Homer, that's just an urban legend. People don't do that kind of thing with fish!"

At first, I was going to go with "Top 10 Movie Wedding Moments," but then I realized that:

a. most movies with weddings are chick flicks;
b. having the original Manchurian Candidate at number one is just too dark; and
c. I didn't really want to do it.

So...without further ado, here are the Top 10 TV Wedding Moments. (No soap operas--sorry, Luke and Laura.) Enjoy (or, at the very least, nod along):

Honourable mention: the one where Turk and Carla get married on Scrubs (good, not great); Steve and Miranda's wedding on Sex and the City (the only couple I've ever truly liked on the show...I just can't remember a single thing about the wedding episode--there was a wedding episode, right?); the SATC episode where Carrie read her poem and Big wasn't paying attention (not terribly memorable aside from that one scene); Monica and Chandler's wedding on Friends (meh...I was looking for more); Abby and Luka's wedding on ER (surprisingly entertaining); Maeby and George Michael accidentally getting married in the hospital on Arrested Development (good times); Jack's wedding on Lost (because you're positive it's not going to happen right up until the point they both say "I do"--a rare example of "the best fake out is no fake out at all"); Phyllis's wedding on The Office (I know a lot of people loved this one, but I thought it was merely average); any episode of Rich Bride, Poor Bride where it seems that not only should the couple clearly not get married but that they actively despise each other (i.e. every episode); the Dallas episode ("Post-Nuptials") where J.R. and Sue Ellen get married and then Cliff Barnes, somewhat improbably, fights J.R. in the Ewing pool (good times).

The Top 10...

10. "Bachelor Party" (Episode 2.19), "Showdown" (2.20), "Something Borrowed" (2.21), and "Something Blue" (2.22, aired May 14, 2007), How I Met Your Mother (aka "The Ones Where Marshall and Lily Get Married"): The final four episodes of season two fit together quite nicely. There's a lot going on here--not all of it, in fairness, wedding-related: Ted's sanitized wedding toast ("I'm going to hold hands with you all night long," etc.), Barney winning his wedding gifts on The Price is Right, Lily trying to gain weight so she could fit in her wedding dress, Marshall's shaved head, the reveal w/r/t to Robin and Ted, and the fantastic scene in "Bachelor Party" involving Robin and a dirty gift--partial clip below. All told, the show acquitted itself quite well with the wedding stuff--which is often the kiss of death for lesser sitcoms.

9. "Hank's Wedding," The Larry Sanders Show (Episode 2.15, aired September 8, 1993): Hank gets married on the show, but freezes/is too emotional to go through with it, so Larry reads his vows for him. Very sweet. Admittedly, this was made somewhat less sweet in the long run when it was revealed that Hank's wife was a philandering golddigger, but, hey, it's TLSS, would they really have it any other way?

8. "Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Part Two," Frasier (aka "The One Where Daphne runs out on Donnie to be with Niles," Episode 7.24, aired May 18, 2000): You never want to, you know, celebrate someone running out on their wedding, but, here, everyone was rooting for Daphne to end up with Niles, so I suppose it's okay. There's always been a rumor that the creators filmed two final scenes for this episode--one with Daphne marrying Donnie and the one where Daphne fled with Niles--and let a screening audience decide. I find this highly dubious (unless they totally stacked the deck against Donnie's ending being chosen by, say, having him slap Daphne just before completing his vows).

7. "The One with Ross's Wedding, Part Two," Friends (aka "The One Where Ross says the Wrong Name," Episode 4.24, aired May 7, 1998): memorable because: the show unceremoniously dumped Emily (who was kind of a wet blanket; also, it's not called "Friends plus-one," people!); it was, admittedly, fairly shocking; Chandler and Monica hooked up for the first time; it triggered the events of season five, where the show was absolutely on fire (it wouldn't last).

T5. "Lisa's Wedding," The Simpsons (aka "The First Future Episode," Episode 6.19, aired March 19, 1995): terrific episode. In researching this entry, I stumbled upon the shocking fact that Mandy Patinkin was the voice of the very British Hugh. As Shuk pointed out, picking Patinkin over a pool of potentially hundreds of qualified British actors is...curious.

T5. "A Fish Called Selma," The Simpsons (aka "The One Where Selma Marries Troy McClure," Episode 7.19, aired March 24, 1996): Also a great episode, if only for all the innuendo about Troy McClure's fish fetish (a gag that, frankly, will never get old). You could make a good case for the episode where Sideshow Bob marries Selma ("The Black Widower") and Apu's arranged marriage ("The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons"), too.

4. "Swan Song," Dallas (aka "The One Where Bobby Dies...but it's cool, because, almost exactly one year later, we find out that this was only a dream," Episode 7.30, aired May 17, 1985): Ah, Dallas. How I've missed you. Frankly, it's inexcusable that this isn't in syndication anymore in Canada (I blame the directors of TNN turning into huge perverts and becoming SpikeTV). Anyway, as you'd might expect, picking just one wedding from Dallas was considerably difficult, as, by my count, there have been upwards of a dozen weddings on the show (Pam and Bobby, Ray and Donna, Lucy and Mitch, J.R. and Sue Ellen, J.R. and Sue Ellen again, Cliff and Jamie, Bobby and April, Ellie and Clayton, Sue Ellen and Don Lockwood, J.R. and Cally, Naldo and Jenna, Ray and Jenna, John Ross and Christopher*) and that doesn't even include weddings that were scheduled to go ahead but, for whatever reason, did not (Bobby and Jenna, Liz and Cliff, Mark Graison and Pam). That said, "Swan Song" is the clear choice, as it is both riveting television (at the time: because it was really compelling; upon rewatching: because of how hilariously wooden the performances are) and because it signalled the beginning of the end of this once fine program.

* - OK, this one I made up. The rest are true.

Of note in the below clip is that Bobby was just at Lucy and Mitch's wedding at Southfork ranch with his fiancee, Jenna. There, he decides that he doesn't want to marry Jenna but instead wants to re-marry Pam (whoa...isn't it customary to ask her out to dinner first?). So, of course, there's no avoiding the fact that Bobby Ewing, who, along with J.R., carried the show on his back for a dozen seasons, is, ultimately, kind of a dick. (To the point where, had he survived, you just know he totally would've invited Jenna to his wedding.)

You can see the follow-up scene here.

For me, the best part of the clip is when they're outside, just before the slo-mo crash, when Pam and Bobby have the following exchange (more or less):

Pam: "I dunno, Bobby, I'm so happy, but, let's be honest, you've screwed Jenna over pretty badly here. I'm just not sure if this is the right thing to do."
Bobby: "You know this is the right thing."
Pam: "I think we're doing the right thing!"

3. "One Wedding and a Funeral," 90210 (aka, "The one where Dylan and Toni get married and then Toni gets killed on a hit that Toni's dad put out on Dylan"--yes, that one, Episode 6.10, aired November 8, 1995): Having seen this relatively recently, I can say with confidence that the wedding itself was a bit of a snooze (except for the inexplicably prominent role played by Nat. Really?? Does the guy that slices your pie have to be in the wedding party?), but what comes after--Toni's father, thinking he's going to take care of Dylan, inadvertently OKing a hit on his own daughter--is probably the most memorable thing ever to happen on the show (except for the "Kelly in a cult" thing, which is unintentionally hilarious on several levels).

This sequence of events is surprisingly affecting (including the showrunners having the presence of mind to use a song with staying power--Lyle Lovett's "Nobody Knows Me"--as Dylan's theme, instead of, say, the latest from Shanice or the Goo Goo Dolls). It's also satisfying to say aloud, upon Dylan driving away and the credits rolling that, "well, the show is never going to be better than that. It's all downhill from here." Check out the whole sequence here.

Now seems as good a time as any to point how truly awful the episode's title is. Way to be super-sensitive, 90210! All that's missing is a scene with David saying, "man I just wore this suit two days ago for the wedding..."

2. "The Betrayal," Seinfeld (aka "The Backwards Episode," Episode 9.08, aired November 20, 1997):
While some maintain that the show went downhill (the most frequent lament being that it was too over the top) post-Larry David (i.e. seasons 8 and 9), I couldn't disagree more, as the final two seasons--series finale aside--were absolute gold. Gold, Jerry. And, next to "The Dealership" (my all-time favorite), "The Betrayal" might be #2. For Kramer's lollipop sight gag alone (it gets bigger as the episode progresses), this deserves a slot in the Top 10--and I don't think the writers get enough credit for pulling this off. I was going to include a rant here about the degree of difficulty (the jokes had to be funny played in reverse, but also, if you thought about it, going forward), but, alas, the only YouTube clip I can find is--confoundingly--of the episode in chronological order...which kind of defeats the whole purpose. Nevertheless, scroll to the 4:56 mark for my favorite scene ("I mean, the plague! Please!!").

1. "A Good Old-Fashioned Wedding," Cheers (Woody and Kelly's Wedding, Episode 10.25, aired May 1992):
the highest of high comedy. This hour-long episode had so many things going on--Rebecca torments the chef until he quits, the minister dies, the drunk uncle, Sam gets challenged to a sword-fight, etc.--that it verged on chaotic. But they absolutely nailed it. Bonus points because it took place almost entirely outside of the bar. More than any other show sitcom in the past 20 years, Cheers has fared the worst in syndication. Sure, you can find it in places (I believe it airs on Comedy weekday afternoons), but doesn't get pimped like some of the other shows (Seinfeld and Friends), doesn't have the street cred of other programs (South Park), and, in fairness, isn't quite as timeless as some of the other classics (specifically: The Simpsons). Case in point: YouTube doesn't have a single clip from this gem of an episode. Well, then, you'll have to take my word for it. It was awesome.

In its stead, I'll go with this, one of the five greatest moments in Cheers history.

1 comment:

Jesse said...

Fair enough, I suppose. I haven't seen most of those.

I'd like to note that the Cheers episode where Cliff is on Jeopardy was FINALLY on again a little while ago. If you have a digital box, with like KTLA, WSBK and the time shifting, and so forth, you can get a few episodes.

I can only think of one nominee: Time Keeps on Slippin' from s3 of Futurama, where Fry and Leela get married during one of the time slips, but Fry can't remember why. The ended is one of a couple of Futurama episodes that really hit you where you live. Plus, you get to hear Bubblegum say "I thought you knew that algebra was all razzamatazz. A Globetrotter always saves the good algebra for the final minutes," as well as the Professor's classic line "Hmm. Will said skills pay the bills?" Priceless.