Welcome to another Wildcard Wednesday and our first post of 2014! Like for past holidays, I want to dedicate an entry specifically to sitcom episodes involving New Year’s. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many sitcom episodes revolving around this holiday as there are for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Furthermore, of the New Year’s episodes produced, I’ve found few that I actually like. So, instead of featuring a good majority of appropriate installments, I only want to highlight three of the better selections.
THE LUCY SHOW (1962-1968, CBS)
Episode 14: “Chris’s New Years Eve Party” (Aired: 12/31/62)
Chris’s plans for New Year’s Eve don’t include her mother, until her party turns out to be a dud.
This episode didn’t make my list for the top ten episodes of Season One, mostly because of stiff competition that made the first season The Lucy Show the series’ strongest. But I did include this episode as an honorable mention, largely because of an extended routine that Lucy does as Charlie Chaplin to help liven up Chris’s dull party. Ball is a master of physical comedy, and this installment shows her expertise sublimely. (So sublimely that she and Mickey Rooney would repeat it three years later!) But as the only New Year’s installment of a Lucy TV series, this is one you don’t want to miss — especially today!
MAUDE (1972-1978, CBS)
Episode 60: “Nostalgia Party” (Aired: 12/30/74)
To pep up a New Year’s Eve party, Maude has her guests dress as they did during the best year of their lives.
By and large, this series is an inferior example of the socially relevant programming that Lear pioneered after his brilliant success with All In The Family. With unique storylines but mediocre scripts, the series’ only saving grace was the sheer comedic force of Bea Arthur — one of the funniest sitcom ladies of all time. This episode, however, with a wonderfully imaginative premise, is actually pretty hilarious with many laugh-out-loud moments. Look for a future Phyllis regular in a hilarious cameo as Aunt Polly. This episode isn’t on DVD, but you can watch a syndicated copy on YouTube. What a perfect way to get your Bea Arthur fix!
FRIENDS (1994-2004, NBC)
Episode 108: “The One With All The Resolutions” (Aired: 01/07/99)
The friends each make resolutions that they desperately try to stick with.
Though Friends did a hilarious episode involving Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in Season Six, this Season Five episode is more appropriate and much stronger. With an overarching theme that connects each individual story, the cohesion and focus allows for organic comedy. Furthermore, the writers did a good job of using the premise as a tool for furthering one of the season-long story arcs — Rachel finding out about Monica and Chandler’s relationship. Comedic highlights include Ross’s tight pants and Joey’s attempts to learn how to play guitar from Phoebe. Sometimes I’m critical of Friends for its sloppy script construction, but this tight episode is one of the best.
Though these past two weeks have been holiday themed, come back next Wednesday as we return to our regularly scheduled (and truly WILDCARD) programming! And tune in tomorrow for more Xena!