Starting tomorrow, and alternating every Thursday with Scott Tobias' "New Cult Canon," I'll be launching a new column: "A Very Special Episode," devoted to single television episodes that capture both the spirit of their times and those unique properties that make TV a medium unlike movies, radio, or anything else.
Please note what this column is not: It's not an attempt to create a TV canon. I'm not arguing that these are the greatest TV episodes of all time, or even that these are the best episodes of their respective series. These are merely episodes that stand out, either because they are exceptionally good, or because they feature some element—a directorial touch, an unusual script, a great performance, a controversial topic, or something similar—that would make someone flipping through channels stop and want to watch. Also, to some extent my choices will be driven by the personal connections I have with the material. Mainly though, these episodes offer a chance to discuss the larger topic of TV itself, and why we love it so (or should, anyway).
Each installment will feature ample clips from the episodes, but for those who want to watch ahead play along at home, here are the first 10 columns I have planned:
March 11th: The Honeymooners, "Better Living Through TV"
March 25th: The Simpsons, "22 Short Films About Springfield"
April 8th: Heat Vision & Jack, "Pilot"
April 22nd: Combat!, "Survival"
May 6th: Twin Peaks, "Zen, or The Skill To Catch A Killer"
May 20th: Mystery Science Theater 3000, "City Limits"
June 3rd: The Andy Griffith Show, "The Sermon For Today"
June 17th: Eerie Indiana, "Reality Takes A Holiday"
July 1st: Barney Miller, "Quarantine, Pts. 1 & 2"
July 15th: The Sopranos, "Bust Out"
Tune in tomorrow!