Welcome to a new Sitcom Tuesday! Our coverage of Mad About You has been preempted for a five-week series of reruns. Designed to give yours truly some time to finish this semester (where I’m working on wrapping up a feature-length screenplay and an original pilot) and then load more “best of” lists into the queue, these upcoming entries are a FIRST in our nearly five-year Sitcom Tuesday run. Regular programming will resume on May 22nd, but in the meantime, I’m excited to dive into the archives and re-share five posts initially published from 2014-2016.
My intention is to provide a link to each original piece and then offer a tiny bit of updated commentary, either on episode picks I’d call differently now (like in my famous “Regrets” post) or on something broader, like evolving thoughts on the year/series as a whole. I’ve picked a few goodies, so I hope you’re as excited as I am about revisiting our favorites… But please be gentle! Many of the posts you’ll see were written a while ago. The standards here have changed as I’ve changed. (There are plenty of typos, juvenile “hot takes,” and places where more information would now be appreciated.) Also, the Wildcard Wednesdays accompanying this series will be gift-offering entries — scripts and videos — related to the Tuesday subject!
This week, I’m rerunning… The Ten Best MAUDE Episodes of Season Two, which you can find here: http://jacksonupperco.com/2015/03/24/the-ten-best-maude-episodes-of-season-two/
If you’ll recall in my “Regrets” post, I walked away from Maude with more unease than usual over my selections. (This was because the turnaround — of receiving the box set and publishing these posts — was so fast.) I avoided talking at the time about Season Two because I had no idea then what I’d do differently. Frankly, I’m still not positive that I’ll ever be happy, but one thing I do know is that I regret breaking my rules and lazily highlighting 11 favorites. If I made this post today, I would bump “The Wallet,” which boasts a fine premise, but an execution that doesn’t warrant distinction, down to the Honorable Mentions. This would allow the landmark “Vivian’s Problem” to officially make my top ten. (I’d also single out “The Wallet” as being the closest to the list, next to “The Double Standard,” a solid thesis-affirming entry.) As for my MVE, I still don’t think that anything here shines brightest, and “Music Hath Charms” certainly isn’t a great candidate. This is typically a sign of a year without major fluctuations in quality, but it can be lamentable if greatness is either in short supply, or as is the case here, hard to distinguish. So, I still have no perfect Season Two episode (maybe “Walter’s Problem (I)”), and this MVE dilemma clouds my perception of the year as a whole, which is a shame because Season Two actually is the most ambitious, creative time of the entire series, successfully pivoting Maude away from a novelty show that derived the bulk of its value from topicality, to a character piece that derived the bulk of its value from established personas. (And, yes, pairing Arthur/Vivian to form a convenient “two couple” structure was the key to this positive rebranding.) Also, Two makes regular use of both thematic identities, and may thus represent the show’s happiest medium; ah, if only the years thereafter weren’t so much funnier and gem-filled!
Come back next week for the next in our rerun series! And tune in tomorrow for a related Wildcard Wednesday!