I'm a little surprised this thread didn't carry over from the new old board (you can find it here), but the other night I ran across one of my favorites: the episode of Hill Street Blues in which Officer Joe Coffey is killed.

I was a devoted fan of Hill Street Blues; from Day One, I never failed to watch it, even once, during its first six seasons on the air -- and that was without benefit of a VCR. I wasn't so lucky during the seventh and final season; I've seen most of those, but to this day, there's one I haven't seen, the one in which Henry Goldblume gets carjacked while on his way to a camping trip and begs for his life.

In any event, the one in which Joe Coffey is killed is, like all the other, full of day-in-the-life stuff; his partner, Sgt. Lucy Bates, has become the guardian of a teen named Fabian, but still has to contend with his junkie mother, who keeps demanding cash. Joe overhears Lucy borrowing money from desk Sgt. Stan Jablonski the day after she borrowed money from him, figures out what's going on, and insists they put an end to it. So they confront the mother and tell her this is truly the last time she's getting any more money out of Lucy. Later, Joe presses Lucy to go to City Hall, file the papers and finalize the guardianship. 

After the end of shift, all the guys plan to attend a poker night. While Lucy is shopping for potato chips and such at a neighborhood grocer, Joe tells her the store is out of Garcia y Vega cigars, so he's going to stop in at Al's Smoke Shop up the street. He opens the door, says, "Hey, how you doin'?" to the man behind the counter, and asks if they have any Garcia y Vegas. The man curtly says "No." Joe says, "I think you do -- I see them, in the back." And as he looks toward the back of the store, he sees a pair of feet on the ground, protruding behind the counter. He looks up at the nman behind the counter, looks down again, and before he can reach for his sidearm, the man behind the counter lifts his right arm and fires one shot into his stomach from a large-caliber revolver.

Joe stumbles backward, spins around, and presses his face into the window set in the door, and the man fires a second shot into his back. This shot forces him through the glass and onto the front stoop.

Lucy hears the shots and heads up the street, calling for Joe with her walkie-talkie. Some pedestrian tells her he heard something at the smoke shop. She calls in shots fired, officer down and catches a glimpse of the shooter just before he gets into a van and drives off.

Cut to: a while later, as the sun begins to go down and there's a touch of snow in the air. Detectives Neal Washington and J.D. LaRue are investigating, and Joe's still on the ground, and Lucy complains that he hasn't been covered. Captain Furillo -- who has been on disability because he got shot fairly recently -- comes by, and he and Lucy share a wordless embrace.

One thing about this episode was, at the time, there was a lot of hype and hoopla about Ed Marinaro leaving the show, so I never got to watch it with any surprise at what was going to happen; instead, I could only watch it waiting for it to go down. Which, I suppose, is a legitimate experience, but I might have liked to have been genuinely shocked.

Any how ... anybody have any favorite TV bits of their own to share?


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Whenever I hear people talk about how good the show M*A*S*H was it makes me cringe. I grew up with it and liked it okay, but after seeing the film -- which I consider to be a masterpiece -- the TV show just comes across as a combination of out-of-place sitcom humor; forced, unearned sentiment; and heavy-handed moralizing. Occasionally effective (the death of Blake, aspects of the finale), but overall utterly disposable.

On the flip side, I can never hear too much good about Barney Miller, an amazing show I wish I knew more about. I just saw the series finale on TV Land, and even with the heavy schmaltz of a "last episode" it was effective.
I'll add a couple of newer ones (by newer, I mean within the last decade).

The first is from the Sopranos. Tony's bitchy, manipulative sister Janice decides to turn over a new leaf, and through therapy and reflection seems to genuinely be transitioning towards becoming a more stable person. She and her new family (she married one of Tony's underlings after his wife dies) have Tony over for dinner, and Tony begins to needle her incessantly until her old personality comes roaring to the fore, utterly disrupting the get together for everyone except Tony, who sits back with an utterly self-satisfied look on his face.

I really appreciated that scene because part of the genius of the Sopranos was that you would go for weeks feeling more and more sympathetic to Tony, then BAM...the writers would remind you what an utter bastard Tony really was and make you feel like a fool for ever relating to the guy.

The second one is even younger. It comes from the first season finale of Breaking Bad. Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher has begun to cook meth to supplement his income to take care of his family after learning he has terminal cancer. Throughout the season, we see Walt wrestling with trying to keep his self-image as a decent man while he gets pulled further and further into the vile world of hard core drug dealers (Weeds this ain't). In the finale of the season, he and his partner Jesse have made a deal to cook for a mid-level supplier named Tucco, and they meet him to give him a batch of their meth. Walt lays down a number of rules to Jesse about how they will conduct their business that make it sound like Walt has it all under control. Then during the transaction one of Tucco's underlings speaks out of turn, and Tucco beats him to death with his bare hands right in front of a horrified Walt and Jesse. Then the episode ends, and we are left realizing that no matter what Walt may have thought, he has entered a world where the rules of decency and humanity are completely at odds with the reality. We know Walt will have to change to suit them or he, and quite possibly his family, won't survive the experience.

There's another Breaking Bad moment, the one about Tortuga, but I won't ruin it for you by describing it here.
Mr. Satanism said:
Whenever I hear people talk about how good the show M*A*S*H was it makes me cringe. I grew up with it and liked it okay, but after seeing the film -- which I consider to be a masterpiece -- the TV show just comes across as a combination of out-of-place sitcom humor; forced, unearned sentiment; and heavy-handed moralizing. Occasionally effective (the death of Blake, aspects of the finale), but overall utterly disposable.

I agree with you about M*A*S*H. I grew up with it, too (although I didn't watch it from Day One like I did Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Glee and, um, Cop Rock), and I think the out-of-place sitcom humor, forced, unearned sentiment and heavy-handed moralizing rose in direct proportion to Alan Alda's growing influence behind the scenes. Wayne Rogers quit because he understood, according to his contract, that he was to be the star of the show, but he got fed up with Alda's scene-stealing. Well before the end of the series run, Alda was executive producer, story editor, "creative consultant" and was writing and directing many episodes.
Mr. Satanism said:
On the flip side, I can never hear too much good about Barney Miller, an amazing show I wish I knew more about. I just saw the series finale on TV Land, and even with the heavy schmaltz of a "last episode" it was effective.

As for Barney Miller, here's an analysis of one of its classic episodes: "A Very Special Episode: Barney Miller, "Quarantine, Parts 1 and 2". Our story begins with Wojo bringing in a burglar, who collapses during processing. The doctors who come to examine him (this was the '70s, before we had paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians) conclude the burglar has one of two things -- chicken pox, or smallpox. They can't know for certain until various tests are done, so they post a "QUARANTINE" sign on the squadroom door and order anyone who had come into contact with Wojo and the burglar to be isolated from everyone else for 24 hours.

Nobody likes this, but hey, what can you do? Fortunately, Wojo came into the squadroom by the back stairs and didn't expose everybody in the building. So Barney calls downstairs to Desk Sergeant Kogan and tells him to scrounge up some cots because a bunch of people are going to be spending the night, and also to send someone to Cotterman's delicatessen for some sandwiches.

How many?, Kogan asks. Hmm, let's see (as Barney counts around the room) ... there's the neighborhood purse-snatcher Marty and his boyfriend Darryl, who came by because they want Barney to put in a good word with Marty's parole officer so they can move to San Francisco ... there's one of the neighborhood hookers ... and, of course, there's the 12 Precinct crew, Levitt (in his first appearance!) Harris, Dietrich, Yemana, Fish, Wojo and Barney himself ...

"Ten," Barney says into the phone.

At that moment, the door opens, and Inspector Luger walks in, holding the "QUARANTINE" sign, saying, "Hey, Barney, I come by to pay youse all a visit, and there's this sign onna door, what's zat all about, hey, Barney?"

"Eleven."
Mr. Satanism said:
Whenever I hear people talk about how good the show M*A*S*H was it makes me cringe. I grew up with it and liked it okay, but after seeing the film -- which I consider to be a masterpiece -- the TV show just comes across as a combination of out-of-place sitcom humor; forced, unearned sentiment; and heavy-handed moralizing. Occasionally effective (the death of Blake, aspects of the finale), but overall utterly disposable.


That is pretty much what I've been saying for years now as well. Once I saw the movie, the TV show became unwatchable to me.
To offer another example from this century: Nip/Tuck was centered around a pair of plastic surgeons in Miami, Sean and Christian (although they moved to Hollywood after a few seasons). Whenever they met a new client, they'd sit across the desk and ask, "Tell us what you don't like about yourself."

One day, they got a celebrity client: Joan Rivers! Now, Joan Rivers -- like Kenny Rogers, Bruce Jenner, Donatella Versace and Jocelyn Wildenstein -- is a poster child for awful plastic surgery. Which was why she was there; she wanted them to undo all the work she'd had and restore her to her natural state.

Now, these guys work wonders, but they don't work miracles. I've never even heard of such a thing. Can plastic surgery be undone?

Anyway, they accepted the challenge. As is their custom, they presented Joan Rivers with a computer projection of what her altered-to-look-like-it-had-never-been-altered face would look like, and she went ballistic! She couldn't believe she would be that ugly and chewed them out unmercifully!
Most grueling moment on TV I can think of: Al Swearengen passing a kidney stone on Deadwood.
Wellll - I think the treatment he received for Haemaeorroids beats that...

Rich Lane said:
Most grueling moment on TV I can think of: Al Swearengen passing a kidney stone on Deadwood.
Sounds like this Al Swearengen needs to check into ER ...
Speaking of ER ...

One episode began depicting a lazy, wintry afternoon at the hospital. A time for the doctors, nurses, orderlies and others to just wander around, shoot the breeze, crack some jokes, play some harmless pranks, maybe make some romantic plans for later (or right now, if nobody's watching) ...

Then there's a report on the TV that there's a major, multi-vehicle pileup on the interstate highway, with several fatalities and dozens of casualties -- and, thanks to the roads being blocked off because of the crash and the snow, most of them were coming right to County General.

Playtime was over.

So, they got ready. They brought out all the stores of plasma and O-negative blood, antibiotics and painkillers; prepped all the treatment rooms; got fresh linens; put on clean scrubs and rubber gloves and booties; and lined up side-by-side at the door and waited for the onslaught to begin.

It was awesome.
Well, if we're talkin' "Cheers", I can't do better than the first season episode "The Coach's Daughter."

Coach's daughter Lisa (played by the adorable but not-conventionally-beautiful Allyce Beasely) has come to the bar to introduce her fiance Roy to her father. Roy is far from a prize catch. In fact, he's an obnoxious jerk and everybody comes to hate him. Finally, Coach takes Lisa into the office to try, gently, to convince her that Roy might not be the best choice for her. To Coach's surprise, Lisa isn't blind to Roy's shortcomings.*

Lisa: Look, Daddy. I'm not dumb. I know Roy's abrasive. I know he's insensitive, and I know he's probably only marrying me so he can get the Pennsylvania territory.

Coach: Why would you want to marry a man like this?

Lisa: Isn't it obvious to you?

Coach: Nothing's ever obvious to me.

Lisa: Daddy, don't make me say this.

Coach: What, what?

Lisa: I want to be married and I want to have children. Roy is the first man that ever asked me to marry him, and I'm afraid he's going to be the last.

Coach: Oh, come on honey. There must have been dozens of young fellas that proposed to you.

Lisa: No, Daddy. Wake up. Roy is the first one, ever.

Coach: But you're so beautiful, so...

Lisa: Beautiful? Daddy, you have been saying that I'm beautiful ever since I was a very little girl. But look at me, not as my father, but like you were looking at me for the first time and please, try to see me as I really am.

Coach: [after looking deep into Lisa's eyes] Oh my God, I, I didn't realize how much you look like your mother.

Lisa: I know. I look exactly like her, and mom was not b... [pause] ...comfortable about her beauty.

Coach: But that's what made her more beautiful. Your mother grew more beautiful every day of her life.

Lisa: She was really beautiful.

Coach: Yes, and so are you. You're the most beautiful kid in the whole world.

Lisa: Thanks, Daddy.

In that (beautifully played by both actors) moment, Lisa reaizes three things. One, that her father's love for her, and for her mother, is so deep and pure that he truly can't see her as anything but the most beautiful girl in the world. Two, that she can't hurt her father by questioning her mother's beauty. And three, that she is beautiful in her own way and she does deserve someone who loves her with that same kind of love -- someone much, much better than Roy and the Roys of the world -- and that she's willing to wait for that.

Lovely.


* No, I don't have that scene memorized (although I nearly do). The writing was too darn good for me to wing it or paraphrase. I pulled the text from here.
OK, maybe not so "gently." (Thanks, YouTube!)

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