While we’re all happy that we live in the golden era of binge-watching (thank you, Netflix… thank you), sometimes you just don’t have time to sit down and burn through sitcom episodes to get a laugh. Whether you just need to unwind for twenty minutes or you’re looking for something to watch while you scarf down some dinner, it’s nice to have a guide that tells you which episodes of which TV shows you should be watching when you’re strapped for time or in dire need of a laugh. Because we here at Goliath care so much about you all, we’ve gone and put together one of those guides, researching and detailing ten classic sitcom episodes that’ll save you some time when it comes to finding your laughs.
10. “Scott Tenorman Must Die” (South Park)
Handpicked by creators Matt Parker and Trey Stone as one of their personal favorites, “Scott Tenorman Must Die” is the fourth episode of the fifth season of Comedy Central’s South Park. Consistently cited as one of the best the show has ever had to offer (and that’s saying something, as South Park just finished up its nineteenth season — that’s a lot of episodes), it’s also cited as a turning point in the show’s history. The show began a dark transition for the character of Cartman, which would ultimately see him turned into one of TV’s most hilarious villains. Guest-starring Radiohead as themselves and featuring a plot that sees Cartman getting violently even with Scott Tenorman after being tricked into buying some unsavory merchandise. Wildly dark and truly funny, “Scott Tenorman Must Die” is a South Park classic that’ll have you on the floor, laughing your guts out.
9. “The Fight” (Parks and Recreation)
So, uhhh…Before we go ahead and tell you why we love this particular episode of Parks and Recreation so much, we just want you to click on this link right here…www.drunkronswanson.com. Yeah, that about sums it up. The thirteenth episode of the show’s third season, “The Fight” sees the parks department attending a function at the Snakehole Lounge at the behest of Tom, so as to promote his new high-end liqueur, Snake Juice. Featuring one of the earliest appearances of Bert Macklin and Janet Snakehole, Andy and April’s alternate egos, and a hilarious drunken montage that rates as one of the show’s best scenes (which gave us that gem of a website, seriously we’ve gotta click on it again…), this episode revolves around a drunken fight between Leslie and Ann. It’s the kind of hilarious and heartwarming television we’ve come to expect from Parks and Recreation, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive when you’re in need of some solid laughs.
8. “In God We Trust” (Arrested Development)
Oh, Arrested Development. You’re the sitcom that keeps on giving, as each and every time we watch an episode, we catch something new and hilarious. This is true for every episode in the show’s history but doubly so for “In God We Trust,” the seventh episode of the show’s first season, and one of the most fondly remember in the show’s short history. The episode’s plot, which sees George Bluth Sr. released on bail in order to take part in the Living Classics Pageant, also sees Lucille manipulating Michael and Lindsey so as to cause a fight, and sees Tobias struggling with an inability to be fully naked (this is one of the earliest appearances of the infamous cutoffs that would define the character for the duration of the show). While Arrested Development is one of those shows best viewed in a marathon (the episodes are so interrelated, that’s how it plays best), this is a premium episode that can be enjoyed all by its lonesome.
7. “Modern Warfare” (Community)
#sixseasonsandamovie. We were always big believers in Community, and we’re proud to say we still are. While the show has had a rough go of it the last few seasons, there’s no denying that the early episodes of the show are some of the finest that has ever been entered into the annals of sitcom history, and none stand out more so than “Modern Warfare,” the paintball-themed episode that ran as the twenty-third episode of the show’s first season. The episode sees the Greendale campus falling into anarchy after the Dean announces “priority registration” (first pick of all your classes) as the prize for winning the paintball game. An incredibly unique and creative episode of television that is chock full of pop culture humor and nifty little homages, “Modern Warfare,” illustrates what a delightful show Community was at its peak. While other paintball-themed episodes would follow, none would touch the heights of this first venture into pseudo-action movie territory.
6. “Skytanic” (Archer)
The seventh episode of the first season of FX’s Archer, “Skytanic,” represents a turning point for this beloved animated series. Prior to this, the show had made a somewhat suitable, if not spectacular, impression; however, beginning with “Skytanic,” the show would start to hit its stride on its way to being the comedy juggernaut that it has become. Following Archer and his team as they attempt to investigate a bomb threat on the maiden voyage of a luxury zeppelin, “Skytanic” is the episode that represents a point of no return in Archer history; after this, it’s nothing but laughs, in-jokes, awkward and dysfunctional humor and glorious, glorious puns and pop culture references. One of the genuinely underrated gems on television, this is Archer at its finest.
5. “My Screw Up” (Scrubs)
Scrubs is one of those shows that can surprise you with how much heart it’s got, and for a sitcom, it deals with some pretty heavy subject matter that’s always handled with tact and talent. For evidence of this, we can take a look at the fourteenth episode of the show’s third season, “My Screw Up.” Guest-starring Brendon Fraser as Dr. Cox’s strange but beloved brother-in-law, Ben Sullivan, “My Screw Up,” was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. A loose homage to The Sixth Sense, “My Screw Up” is one of the strongest episodes in the show’s history and it mixes laughter and drama in equal measure; while the reveal at the end of the episode remains one of the show’s more potent dramatic moments, the episode does have its trademark hilarious moments.
4. “The One With Ross’s Sandwich” (Friends)
It’s difficult to pick a definitive episode of Friends; there are so many episodes that have informed massive sects of popular culture, narrowing it down and choosing one was extremely difficult to do. We chose one from later in the series (it’s the ninth episode of season five), and it sees Ross extremely angry over a turkey sandwich that has gone missing from the break room at the museum where he works (we should mention it’s not just any sandwich, it’s Monica’s special turkey sandwich with a gravy-soaked piece of bread in the middle, dubbed “The Moist Maker”), while Rachel and Phoebe take a literature class in order to expand their horizons. Meanwhile, Joey continues to take the brunt of the embarrassment while Monica and Chandler continue their secret relationship. It’s a classic episode that has tons of laughs and takes place at a crucial point in the show’s tenure on the air, as it directly precedes the Monica/Chandler reveal.
3. “SeinfeldVision” (30 Rock)
There’s no shortage of excellent 30 Rock episodes; while most shows take some time for the actors to settle into their characters, 30 Rock is pretty stellar from start to finish. One of the show’s finest episodes, “SeinfeldVision” kicks off the second season and sees Liz on the rebound after her breakup with Floyd (Jason Sudeikis), while Jack tries to cash in on Jerry Seinfeld’s marketability by digitally inserting him into various shows on NBC (much to the chagrin of the comedian, who makes a hilarious guest appearance). Well received by critics, this isn’t the definitive episode of 30 Rock, but it’s one of our favorites, and it’s early enough in the show’s tenure that some of the tertiary characters haven’t yet made the woeful transition to caricature. There’s plenty of awesome here, so check it out, readers!
2. “Marge vs. The Monorail” (The Simpsons)
The twelfth episode of the fourth season of Fox’s The Simpsons, “Marge vs. The Monorail” is one of the most acclaimed episodes in the show’s historic run. Written by Conan O’Brien, it features some of the finest jokes the show has ever had to offer, and they aren’t in short supply. Laugh a minute hilarious, “Marge vs. The Monorail” sees the town of Springfield buying a monorail system from a fast-talking sleazeball named Lyle Lanley, despite overt protests from Marge. Featuring a guest performance from Leonard Nimoy (he’s the guest of honor at the monorail opening) and an incredible song and dance montage, “Marge vs. the Monorail” is a classic half-hour of television that every real fan of the old boob tube will watch more than once in their lifetime.
1. “The Contest” (Seinfeld)
Undoubtedly one of television’s finest half hours (and quite possibly one of the funniest half-hours ever put to film), “The Contest” is the eleventh episode of the fourth season of the acclaimed NBC sitcom Seinfeld (like we needed to tell you all that, everyone has seen Seinfeld). “The Contest” sees Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine making a bet to see who can go the longest without masturbating, a sitcom plotline so legendary it actually incited a little controversy (while the word “masturbation” is never said, the innuendo is genius in communicating to the audience what is going on). The episode that gave us one of the all-time great Seinfeld quotes (“Are you still…master of your domain?”), it was so good that writer Larry David was given an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Comedy Series for his effort.