1. Family Ties — “The Real Thing”
Michael J. Fox’s Alex P. Keaton falls in love with his future wife’s character, Ellen Reed, while Billy Vera and the Beaters’ “At This Moment” plays. An enduring love scene. It’s so sad that, because of copyright issues, this isn’t available online. Instead, I’ll leave you with the Family Ties curtain call, where Fox’s eyes are welling up with tears. I remember mine were, too.
2. Freaks and Geeks — “Girlfriends and Boyfriends”
This is painful to watch. Nick invites Lindsay over, takes her to his candle-filled basement, presses play on the jukebox and “performs” Styx’s “Lady.” Lindsay’s facial expressions are priceless — moving from is he kidding, to he’s not, to when will this end, to a desperate plea to just make out.
3. Cosby Show — “Rudy’s Slumber Party”
I always loved when Rudy’s friend Peter from across the street visited and this is the best of them. Mr. Cobsy entertains a pile of kids in what seems like a totally unscripted scene. Watch for Alicia Keys as one of the kids.
4. Six Feet Under – “I’ll Take You”
Nate discovers Brenda’s duplicitous life and the episode gives us one of the most explosive breakups ever. Superb writing and acting. Warning: don’t watch if you have a problem with cursing. There’s a hell of a lot of it.
5. Gilmore Girls — “The Final Episode”
This was going to be Pacey and Joey’s first kiss, but then I realized I have never once Netflixed or felt an inexplicable urge to watch Dawson’s Creek and I get one of those urges for Gilmore Girls weekly. Here, a scene from the final episode (which I still have saved on my DVR), when Rory is about to leave to follow Barack Obama on the campaign trail. There has never been a more nuanced and fulfilling relationship on TV.
1. Twin Peaks – “Cooper’s Dream”
I remember watching this as a kid. I would make my parents tape it for me since it was on past my bedtime. However, sometimes they would fall asleep on the couch and I would just stay out there and watch it. BOB still scares the shit out of me.
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – “Smashed”
I couldn’t find a clip of this online, but the scene is when Buffy and Spike have sex for the first time. It is so rough! I remember watching it with Mariola, and we heard a “zip”. We just turned to each other and gasped! It still shocks me everytime I watch it.
3. Star Trek – The First televised interracial kiss!
Only approved by the censors because it was forced by sadistic aliens!
4. The Office – Christmas Special
I loved Tim & Dawn from the original UK show. I still have an insane crush on Tim. When they finally got together at the end of the Christmas special I was bawling like a baby.
I should say H. Jon Benjamin is one of my favorite voice actors. He is hilarious in everything he does. This scene is just a taste. I was also thinking of showing the Bully incident involving Dr. Katz and his son for this. There was also the line, which I use a lot, “How am I? I just drank pee, how are you?” from another episode of Home Movies. Benjamin is a genius.
1. Diff’rent Strokes — “Green Hair”
When Kimberly Drummond washes her hair with acid rain and it turns green. My first exposure to global weirding!
2. Family Ties — “The Real Thing”
Alex P. Keaton and Ellen Reed dance to “At This Moment.” And maybe I love this episode because it reminds me of Mariela, who probably loves it still more. But Republican Alex falls for the strong, smart girl…sigh…
3. Moonlighting — “Atomic Shakespeare”
I loved watching this show with my mom. Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Wilis had great chemistry.
In this episode the cast re-enacts Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.” At 10, my nerdy self began to love Shakespeare.
4. Beverly Hills 90210 — “Isn’t it Romantic”
Brenda and Dylan fall for each other. I don’t know that this taught me anything, other than girls fall for the brooding, troubled type (see Jordan Catalano and Angel).
5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer — “The Body”
Her mom dies, really a masterpiece. Why do we have to grow up and lose our parents? So sad.
1. Gilmore Girls — “Those Are Strings, Pinocchio”
The relationship between Loreli and Rory is one of TV’s best. Rory’s high school valedictory speech is just a small look at its depth.
2. West Wing — “Six Meetings Before Lunch”
By the end of Season 1,West Wing was at its height. Great writing and kooky characters romanticized politics for me. C.J. singing the Jackal is one I always go back to.
3. Sex and the City “Ex and the City”
I was officially always a champion of Mr. Big. This episode & its The Way We Were references epitomizes the optimism of the show
4. Wonder Years — Pilot
Kevin and Winnie’s kiss makes my heart melt. Fred Savage was admittedly my first crush.
5. 90210 — “Commencement: Part 1”
The 90210 Senior Breakfast made me want to be older so bad!. Oh, High School in the 90s. Remember: Donna Martin Graduates?’
1. The Cosby Show — Pilot Episode, ‘Monopoly Scene’
All it took was the combination of cocky and young Theo Huxtable, ‘Monopoly’ as a learning tool, and the tough love of Dr. Cliff Huxtable in Episode 1 of NBC’s long running ‘The Cosby Show’ and I was hooked. This is arguably my favorite television show ever and I gravitate to it over almost everything else on television these days. I kid you not, I will use this series as a teaching tool for my some-day foray into parenthood.
2. Northern Exposure — Revelations, ‘That’s Not a Man!’
Chris Stevens, my high school infatuation and an unfortunately over-embellished design of a spiritually rugged mountain man that can’t possibly exist in real life, travels to a monastery to search out his inner religious secret. He excels at the quietude, the contemplation and rather enjoys himself until he finds himself inexplicably sexually aroused by another monk who has decided to take a vow of silence. He struggles with his sexuality, his sense of spirit and ultimately confronts the monk to divulge with his honest yearning. It turns out she is a woman. He is relieved, of course, but he never condemns himself for the possibility of his homosexual urges. Love is blind, if you’re totally open to it.
4. Twin Peaks — “Nasty Bob”
Bob crawls through the window. End of story. Or is that ‘Fire Walk With Me?’
5. Amazing Stories, “The Golden Wheels”
I remember watching this show with my parents as a kid. Amazing Stories was a short-lived Steven Spielberg series somewhat reminiscent of the Twilight Zone. Kevin Costner and Kiefer Sutherland star in this episode called ‘The Mission’ which tells the tale of a WW2 bomber plane crew. The plane takes on some heavy hits during combat which causes its landing gear to no longer operate. There is an artistic gunner who occupies the capsule underneath the belly of the plane and they may have to sacrifice him to save the lives of the other crew members in an emergency landing. The crew flies home searching for a miracle. The artist daydreams, grabs his drawing pad and hopefully draws the wheels he so wishes the plane to have. The crew braces for landing, having said goodbye to the gunner, but the plane lands and the artist survives. The crew gets out to see it has miraculously landed on the golden cartoon-like wheels that the gunner had drawn in his sketch book. It was an amazing image that has stuck with me throughout the years.