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Let's have an imagination exercise. This is going to be fun.

What if you took a bunch of shows, chose the best episode from each show, and made a package out of this, maybe a dozen hours?


Fun Stuff



What is the best episode of The Simpsons?

What is the best episode of any animated television show?


Movies, animation shorts, Youtube videos are out. Miniseries, with all their quality, are probably out. Variety shows (Muppets, Carol Burnett) and sketch shows (Saturday Night Live) are out. Concatenating nice clips, bits of movies and shows is fascinating, but will have to wait for another day.

So get the best episodes of the shows you like, your genre. Or .. maybe a variety of shows, broaden your horizons, only one episode. A fairly fun viewing party?

Let's start with my viewing habits (not that this revolves around me). I went through a phase where I liked certain animated programs, so that's my area of expertise. There's going to be a focus on spacey science fiction shows, but I'm not a Star Trek watcher. I've run into some kids shows. There have been countless sitcoms and cop shows in my time. I'm the only person in the world who has never cared about sitcoms and cop shows.

I used to consider making a list of all the productions that everyone else was talking about but I never touched (movies are out of scope here). Never a big Seinfeld watcher, and I didn't catch that Sopranos that everyone was talking about (I did watch clips years later). Mad Men, Walking Dead, never saw any Breaking Bad. You name it, I didn't watch it, like X-files and Twin Peaks, Firefly, Buffy the Fluffy. It was many years before someone dragged me into watching some Game of Thrones, then I stopped. Not saying it's bad, but for some reason no.

I can think of good shows I like, but not the best episode. I can think of standout episodes from shows that I do not love.

I avoided Family Guy for years. I wasn't happy about the cultural phenomenon of negativity, shock becoming popular. Since then I definitely became a fan. The best episode of Family Guy is the one where they flash back to the past, including the 1920s (not to be confused with the Great Gatsby episode, which is also worth watching).

The best episode of Ren and Stimpy is Ren's Retirement, where Ren suddenly becomes old. In fact, I think this is the best episode of any animated show. The Monkey See Monkey Do episode where they wind up in a zoo is very good too. The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen provides entertainment.

My most beloved animated show is the semi-scripted Home Movies. The best episode is Renaissance Fair.

So what is the best episode of The Simpsons? People will have different opinions. Humour is subjective. I do have an answer for which is the best episode, in my opinion. After that it gets fuzzier.
I think the best episode of The Simpsons is the bigfoot one in Season One. I like the first season.
The clown college one doesn't exactly have depth and character development, but it's a funny Dan Castellaneta fest. Lisa the Vegetarian doesn't land heavy punches, but there is an accumulation of nice little bits. The one where Homer stays in bed rather than church is appealing. Actually with The Simpsons, and most of these animated shows, it's often a matter of nice little clips rather than a whole episode, like that underappreciated bit where Homer's voice breaks while he is in a boys choir, or when he is suspiciously at the dinner table wearing a burglar cap. I have a soft spot for the Treehouse of Horror bit where they make clones of Homer. Even the bigfoot episode is good in the last two thirds.

There was an episode of Duck Dodgers that I figured was best. They are on vacation and play laser tag in a cave. I believe this is Till Doom Do Us Part.

For Mission Hill I recommend "Andy and Kevin Make a Friend" where the brothers go to a science fiction convention with a girl. The girl is wearing a Geordi La Forge band over her eyes, so you don't know her reaction to the two competing brothers.

I'm not exactly glued to the television watching Spongebob Squarepants (originally Spongebob Squareboy). One episode stood out as funny. That was when Patrick started working for the burger joint, and was prone to eating burgers. There was also a notable episode with the Texas squirrel about stereotyping. There was another episode where Squidward moves to Squidville, which is ideal for him, yet stale. The superhero episode is at least iconic.

Do you remember Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends? Squeakerboxxx, where boo is envious of someone who has a squeaky toy, is a standout episode for me.

For classic Doctor Who, I know exactly which story is best: the aptly named Genesis of the Daleks. On the other hand, no, this is a multi-episode story. Hmm..


One episode of Farscape kind of stood out for me, the one where an event happened and it is portrayed a number of times, each time from a different character's point of view.


What is the best episode of Black Mirror (which I've never seen)?


Do you know the old British comedy Dad's Army? A different scene. A long time ago I caught the episode "Time on My Hands" (1972) on VCR tape where a German parachutes on to a clock tower. This nice episode is my favourite. It's also the only full episode I've seen.

For the old Mary Tyler Moore show I'd certainly go with the one where Chuckles the Clown died.

Betty White is in the mix there.



Space 1999's Top 10 Scariest Moments

Death's other Dominion has nostalgia, a story behind it for me. Dragon's Den ranks high as one of the best episodes (I don't remember seing it).


There were horror shows during the 1980s. I watched very few and I don't know the best, but one episode really struck a chord with me. That is "Hush", from Tales From The Darkside, where a roboty machine that resembles an old vacuum cleaner sucks up anything that makes sound, threatening a boy and his sister/babysitter.

For The Amazing Race I think the best episode was in The Amazing Race Canada, Season 1, taking place in Saskatchewan. I can't remember why it's good, but it is.

For Anthony Bourdain's food show I quite like the one they did in Vancouver. That was a triumph of stitching together a narrative, editing. He has good stuff from Quebec too, but that's complicated by the fact that it's two episodes, actually two different shows.

Do you have a favourite episode of one of those house shows?

I liked an episode of Mysteries at the Museum where the slide guitar was invented in Hawaii. However, that multipart show doesn't really fit here. I just watched the episode where an Egyptian figurine in a museum moved by itself.

"Variety shows (Muppets, Carol Burnett) and sketch shows (Saturday Night Live) are out. Concatenating nice clips, bits of movies and shows is fascinating, but will have to wait for another day."
Let's revisit this. Should people be allowed to stitch together parts to create an "episode", for example Mysteries at the Museum?
On the plus side you could collect the best comedy sketches - like that unplanned Siamese elephants bit on Carol Burnett - animation clips, museum mysteries.
On the other hand, this opens up a can of worms in various ways. It breaks the premise of getting the best episode of shows. It means more work, with people choosing and assembling. Getting the best bits of an animated show like The Simpsons would be fun and funny .. well, subjectively. It's a different thing; instead of experiencing the arc of a story you are getting a disorienting tik tok experience.
One option is to have a minimum amount of time for a section. Maybe the rules vary from show to show. There could be a rule that you can not break up a story - think of how The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror fits there.



Subjective lists. Of course there are more out there.


10 best Seinfeld episodes


The Big Bang Theory's 25 Best Episodes

den of geek


Why Jurassic Bark is the Best Episode of Futurama


best Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Guardian / Sheffield Gothic blog


The 25 Best Episodes of 'The X-Files,' Ranked



Friends: Best 30 Episodes, Ranked



The 10 Greatest Episodes of The Sopranos





Let's look at the practical side of this, if one were to actually do it.


One episode per show. On the other hand, The Simpsons can throw its weight around. Star Trek is a big sprawling franchise. Friends, The Big Bang Theory and certainly Seinfeld have a lot of muscle. Doctor Who has the excuse that there is a number of doctors in that long-running show. Choosing a best episode might require a King Solomon decision, involving dilemmas, sacrifices and differences of opinion. Having more than one episode would solve problems.

So you've got the shows you like. Also the shows that are not for you; variety is good. And Ralph wants to have his anime show. Ehhh .. The list of programs could become a ballooning mess. How do we control that? I'm thinking use numbers to put a ceiling on things.

You will wind up with x number of episodes, say 42, no more. You have y number of people (a variety?) selecting episodes, say 7. These selectors, presumably fans of shows, would start the process of staking claims to shows, particularly the heavyweights. Each selector can select z, say six, episodes, from ~ z shows. Since the selector has freedom to choose shows, especially the less popular ones, Dad's Army is not out of the question. All of these things can be negotiated and decided, so someone should be in charge of this swirling mess.

One person is responsible for choosing the best episode for a specific show. Does that mean that Jamie selects Jamie's favourite episode? Not necessarilly. Jamie could get it from A) Jamie's personal favourite B) opinions from "the group", whatever that means and C) hitting Google to find out what is considered the best episode is allowed. But Jamie is the individual responsible for the final answer.

To start to get an idea of what this would involve, there would be north of thirty television shows.
Ten or more sitcoms, cop and crime shows, and dramas.
Ten or fewer speculative fiction shows. Speculative fiction covers a wide range of science fiction, paranormal, superhero, horror, fantasy and magic.
Six animated shows.
Four miscellaneous (food, The Amazing Race, kids, non fiction).
Probably closer to fifty episodes. It would take a week to chew through.

So you've assembled a list of episodes. You plop it out there somewhere. Realistically you and your people would watch it, or claim they will watch it, by themselves when convenient.

This could be a promoted Internet event. On Youtube - my slice of the Internet - people could make their videos showing their own lists and opinions, reactions. Others could comment. It's ideal for a discussathon. Like this video where multiple people provide their favourite Star Trek episode.

In theory you could have people come over to a house, for a haphazard, long viewing party.

There are firm dates for this event. One date shows the list of episodes, while another date is the recommended date to (start to) watch these. Can you think of a catchy name? Programarama?

If you were to actually watch these, that means legal, access and technical issues :-(

Any thoughts on how this should be presented, what order? Pairs of related episodes? E.g. two sitcoms, two spacy science fiction, two animation etc.

I have a hard time picturing cop and crime shows being part of this, with the exception of The Sopranos. Then again, I don't watch these shows.


Some More



(I just bumped into a six-hour video grading all the Simpsons episodes)
programarama, we could have three or four Simpsons episodes. One chosen by the selector, one chosen by the group, one taken from an Internet list, and one a remixed Treehouse of Horror.
So which three (four?) Treehouse of Horror bits should be used? I like the clones one. There is the Shining parody. The toaster time travel one is highly rated by fans. The Satan/forced doughnuts "The Devil And Homer Simpson"is famous. Clown Without Pity is the cursed purchase/killer clown toy episode. I think I would put in the season 24 one where they have a black hole in their house.


(It turns out this is not Treehouse of Horror.)


And speaking of programarama, maybe it is best to chew on just one genre, and take it from there. It would be more manageable, as well as fun, and would make a watch party more realistic. I remind you that the principle is we get one episode per show, although that's going to be violated.

One could have ten episodes of spacey science fiction, including six Star Treks and Doctor Whos. I would do one Space 1999 and one Farscape. There are other spacey sci fi shows, most of which I have not seen, including Blake's 7, old and new Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, Firefly, the weird Canadian-German Lexx, and the respected show The Expanse. I almost forgot about The Mandalorian! (which I've never seen!) The Dune miniseries is, alas, a miniseries. And The Orville! (which I've not watched!)

As many as ten animated episodes, including a lump of Simpsons.

I like the idea of a small nonfiction "genre".

Episodes that more or less stand by themselves are preferred over slices of bigger stories. Classic Doctor Who was multi-episode serial stories, while modern Doctor Who is more standalone episodes.