RERUN: The Ten Best THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW Episodes of Season One

Welcome to a new Sitcom Tuesday and more of our second annual RERUN series, designed to give yours truly a chance to get further ahead in coverage of our last few ’90s comedies. Regular programming will resume soon, but in the meantime, I’m excited to resurrect and re-examine some of my favorite Sitcom posts from this blog’s nearly six year run!

As with last year’s series (begun here), 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.)

This week, I’m rerunning… The Ten Best THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW Episodes of Season One. Check it out here:

There’s no way to pretend that this is a great example of character-driven sitcomery. No, when we watch The Mothers-In-Law, we’re generally watching only for the capable stars, particularly Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard, and our expectations regarding comedy have to be adjusted not only for broader situational fare, but also familiar situational fare (courtesy of former Lucy scribes Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll, Jr., whose sensibilities were frozen at their ’50s peak)… To that end, the best episodes of The Mothers-In-Law are the fresher, more creative ones, and as a result, they tend to come in the first half of Season One, when the show is most able to narratively capitalize on its “in-laws” premise — something more unique than the generic two couple dreck. There’s no denying this, so I think if I were writing today with more developed critical capabilities, I’d be less opaque about the series’ quick downward trajectory and embrace the fact that almost all of One’s best entries come within the fall of ’67. That is, I’d feel less pressure to include outings from the end of the year — when the show nevertheless has a theoretically better understanding of its characters — because the show NEVER has a great understanding of its characters, which makes it pointless to suggest a distinction. (Watching for this would set us up for chronic disappointment.) The physical centerpieces and comic gags simply aren’t as original in 1968 as they are in ’67, and since this is the metric by which I now believe the show most deserves to be judged, I would give precedence to Honorably Mentioned outings like “The Newlyweds Move In” and “You Challenge Me To A What?”, and even the previously ignored “The Kids Move Out,” over more routine fare such as “I Thought He’d Never Leave,” and later-season entries like “Bye Bye Blackmailer” and “I Haven’t Got A Secret.”



Come back next week for another Sitcom Tuesday! And stay tuned tomorrow for a new Wildcard Wednesday!