As a means of celebrating its 60th Anniversary (really, are we just going to have a garish celebration for any year ending in 0 or 5 now?) Emmy has decided to name the most memorable moments from both Drama and Comedy on TV.
The best thing about this countdown is that the fans get to decide. On the Emmy website are a list of 20 funny moments and 20 serious scenes just begging for your vote. You only get to choose one in each category, so you're going to need some help. You'll find it below as each category is narrowed down to the five best. Also listed are some moments that shouldn't have made it and a few that were inexplicably left out.
Most Memorable Moment In Comedy Category
- Sammy Davis, Jr
. on "All in the Family
- Colonel Harry dies on "MASH
- The First Season Finale of "American Idol
- Family Reunion with Jonathan Winters
on "Mork & Mindy
- "Went with the Wind" on "The Carol Burnett Show
- "Murphy Brown
" breaks the third wall by responding to Dan Quayle
- The Cosby Family lip-synchs for the grandparents' anniversary on "The Cosby Show
- Bob Newhart wakes up on the set of his old show on the series finale of "Newhart
- The Beatles
on "Ed Sullivan
- Richard Nixon on "Laugh-In"
- Ellen comes out on "Ellen
- Gilda Radner
unveils Roseanne Rosannadanna on "Saturday Night Live
- Ross and Rachel kiss in Central Perk on "Friends
- "The Contest" on "Seinfeld
- Ed and Ralph learn golf on "The Honeymooners
- Carrie goes to Paris on "Sex and the City
- Lucy and Ethel can't keep up with the assembly line on "I Love Lucy
- South Park
parodies R. Kelly
with "Trapped in the Closet"
- Chuckles the Clown dies on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show
- The Frontier Bris on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson
(Vote for your most memorable comedy moment for the Emmy's 60th Anniversary)
We'll start with this category because it's way tougher than the Drama moments. Here they are in no particular order:
Sammy Davis, Jr. on "All in the Family"
Davis was the only guest star in the history of this groundbreaking series that dominated the top of the ratings for almost all of the 70s. He served as a perfect foil for the bigoted Archie Bunker: A half-white/half-black all-Jewish entertainer. In this episode, Archie got a bit of come-uppance and one memorable kiss from the Rat Packer.
Colonel Harry Dies on "MASH"
At the height of its popularity and quality, "MASH" wrote off the base's senior officer in a very big way. He's been transferred out of the camp, but rather than simply wave goodbye to their commander, the 4077th heard the news from Radar that the Colonel's plane had been shot down over the Sea of Japan. It was one of the first times a sitcom brought a moment of heavy drama into the fold, and the show handled the news perfectly: with a minute of silent surgery until the credits rolled.
The Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show"
Other than the Kennedy Assassination and The Moon Landing this is the biggest moment in the history of television. The four moptops stormed ashore when our country needed a jolt of happiness following the death of JFK. They brought it in droves with several nights performing hits like "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and causing many young girls' vocal chords to rupture.
Richard Nixon on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In"
In the most tumultuous year in American History since the Civil War the show that gave hilarious voice to the counterculture brought on public enemy number one of its base: the sinister future President. Nixon totally blew his line, saying "Sock it to me?" rather than making the sentence imperative. It gets bonus points for being the answer to the question that crowned the first million-dollar winner on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"
Chuckles the Clown Dies on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"
The most memorable episode of television's finest-ever conventional sitcom. In this gem from 1975 the news station is shaken by the death of beloved children's performer Chuckles the Clown. Everybody starts laughing at Chuckles shenanigans except for Mary, who finds the whole thing something to cry for, until the funeral where she explodes into bouts of uncontrollable laughter during the eulogy. This is often considered the best script ever for a sitcom episode, and looking back it's easy to see why.
Shouldn't be Included
How anything from "Mork and Mindy" got in is a total mystery. The first "American Idol" finale isn't a memorable moment at all, and "Sex and the City" had run its ground-breaking course by the time Carrie crossed the pond. Also, Gilda was great but this wasn't the most memorable "SNL" moment. Ditto for "South Park" and "The Honeymooners".
Should Have Made the List
How nothing from "The Simpsons
" got on is mind-boggling. The most memorable being Homer's failed attempt to jump over the Springfield Gorge on Bart's skateboard. "SNL" should be represented by Sinead O'Connor's
tearing up the picture of Pope John Paul II
or Andy Kaufman's
"Mighty Mouse" lip-synch. "The Honeymooners" should be on the list with "The $99,000 Answer" instead. Other snubs include Felix and Oscar on "Password" on "The Odd Couple
", Nick Yemana's death on "Barney Miller
", the Turkey Drop on "WKRP in Cincinnati
", Marcia gets hit in the nose on "The Brady Bunch
" the dancing baby on "Ally McBeal
", the theme song to "Gilligan's Island
" and Fonzie jumps over a shark on "Happy Days
Most Memorable Moment In Drama Category:
- Jane Pittman drinks from an integrated water fountain in "The Autobiagraphy of Miss Jane Pittman"
- Mary goes blind on "Little House on the Prairie
- Brian Piccolo dies in "Brian's Song
- The hatch blows up on "Lost
- Buffy throws herself into the portal on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- J.R. is shot on "Dallas
- The "Miami Vice
- David and Maddie hook up on "Moonlighting
- Steven Spielberg's
TV movie "Duel
- The first episode of "Roots
- Krystle and Alexis fight in the fountain on "Dynasty
- "The Pine Barrens" episode of "The Sopranos
- George Clooney
- The "Star Trek
" crew stops the Nazis from winning World War II
- Dr. Richard Kimble fights the one-armed man atop a water tower in the series finale of "The Fugitive
- They find out the aliens wrote a cookbook on "The Twilight Zone
- The post-Super Bowl "Grey's Anatomy
- Everyone says goodnight on "The Waltons
- The virtues of the Venus Butterfly are discussed on "L.A. Law
- Mulder and Scully share a New Year's kiss on "The X-Files
(Vote for your most memorable drama moment for the Emmy's 60th Anniversary)
This list is very easy due to its extremely poor list of finalists. Here are the best five.
The ultimate guy-cry movie wasn't even released in theaters. This football film featuring big-screen stars James Caan and Billy Dee Williams as Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo set the standard for TV movies for years to come and gave every tough guy one thing to tell a girl they cried at in order to appear sensitive.
J.R. Gets Shot
Less than a minute of screen time had an entire country transfixed for the whole summer when the dastardly J.R. Ewing caught some lead on the insanely popular primetime soap "Dallas". Who shot J.R? was the question of an entire summer and led to one of the most-watched television episodes of all time. It also set the stage for many parodies and the whole idea of leaving viewers hanging at the end of every season.
Dave and Maddie Do It on "Moonlighting"
Most people don't remember how big a hit this series was. It featured the brilliant chemistry of Cybill Sheppard and Bruce Willis as the tiptoed around the show's sexual tension. The reason most people have forgotten this episode is because it immediately went into the ratings toilet after this iconic roll in the hay. Nobody cared about its final two seasons. This set the precedent that you can never have two flirtatious leads ever get together and expect good results.
This landmark miniseries set a standard for quality and popularity on the small screen. It also helped advance the cause of Civil Rights in America with its story of the slave Kunta Kinte's journey through the American plantations and the eventual freedom of his family. The pilot earns its place as the most memorable specifically for the Kinte's birth in Africa where he raised towards the sky.
"The Fugitive" Series Finale
In its day, this was the most popular episode of all time, and remained that way for the better part of two decades. For years, audience's were treated to Dr. Kimble's cross-country evasion of U.S. Marshals. In this episode, they finally discovered his fate and the real killer of his wife. This was one of the first television episodes that was a true event, setting a precedent followed by thousands.
Shouldn't Be Included
There's so many it's hard to narrow it down to anything that will fit in this space. The worst is "The Venus Butterfly" from "L.A. Law". How could an instantly tame moment be memorable?
Should Have Made The List
Wow did they miss a lot here: The pilots for "Hill Street Blues
" and "Twin Peaks
", the flash forward from "Lost", bare butts on "NYPD Blue", "Shit Happens" on "Chicago Hope
", the finale of "St. Elsewhere
", Kim Bauer gets trapped in a bear trap on "24", "Felicity
" cuts her hair, Big Pussy gets whacked on "The Sopranos", Adriana gets whacked on "The Sopranos", the blank screen on "The Sopranos", the pilot of "The Sopranos". In other words, they picked the wrong moment from "The Sopranos".
Story by Andrew Payne
Starpulse contributing writer