Welcome back to another week! SURVIVOR: PALAU premieres on Thursday, February 17th. My last two columns of EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND will be this week and next week, and then I will jump back into Survivor-related stuff, like the new cast.
So, I thought a fitting way to wrap up my last two columns on this priceless sitcom of our times would be to count down my own personal top ten favorite episodes. This week, I will count down from #10 to #6, and then next week, I will do #5 all the way to #1.
I will give you the title of the episode, what season (1-9) it is from, a general summary(the source of many of the summaries is the special Family Album recently published), and brief commentary as to why I consider it one of my top ten favorites. (Keep in mind that season 9 has not aired in completion yet, so this does not represent the full series, but it covers the vast majority of it.)
Here we go!
EPISODE TITLE: No Fat
SUMMARY: It’s Thanksgiving, and Marie and Frank have high cholesterol, so Marie makes a tofu turkey. Ray, behind Marie’s back, orders a full holiday dinner.
COMMENTARY: This episode never fails to make me laugh no matter how many times I watch it. The family reaction to the tofu turkey at the dinner is priceless and provides many memorable moments and quotes, but in addition to comedy, we also get to see in the end a family sticking up for each other. This episode is a great example of what makes this sitcom great, and is deserving of the #10 spot.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: Marie brings out the tofu turkey.
Robert: How about that, huh? Look how it jiggles.
Ray: That’s the sign of a good bean curd bird.
Frank: May I have my carving knife, please?
Marie: Thank you, Frank.
Frank: I wanna slit my throat.
EPISODE TITLE: Neighbors
SUMMARY: The neighbors come to Ray and Debra’s to complain about Frank and Marie’s obnoxious behavior. Frank and Marie arrive during the meeting and get angry with Ray for betraying the family.
COMMENTARY: This is a very poignant episode that aired during the end of the sitcom’s freshmen year. This episode really illustrates, for the first time, the dynamic of having Marie and Frank living right across the street, because we were never allowed before this episode to see the affect their disruptive behavior has on the OTHER neighbors on the street.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: Raymond goes to a priest and begs forgiveness because he feels guilty at holding the meeting at his house. The priest reassures Ray that it’s normal to have these feelings from time to time, and recounts his own story with someone difficult:
PRIEST: There was a man on the Parish Council a few years ago. A decent enough fellow, but unwilling to consider other people’s thoughts or feelings. I wanted to get him out of my hair. I used to fantasize about him converting to Judaism. Finally, one day, I said, “Frank…”
RAY: Wait, Frank?
PRIEST: That’s not important, the point is….
PRIEST: You know Frank Barone?
RAY: He’s my father!
PRIEST: Your parents are Frank and Marie Barone?
PRIEST: You’re absolved.
EPISODE TITLE: The Game
SUMMARY: When the cable goes out, the family decides to play Scruples. The game quickly degenerates into a brawl.
COMMENTARY: Season 1 served as a ground to establish the framework for the series. Just like “Neighbors,” this episode is also poignant, but this time because we really get to see the dynamics of this dysfunctional family at full force for the first time. And, if you watch the episode, you’ll see the main reason this gets the #8 slot: the irony of the choice of the game Scruples is not to be missed, and is actually quite clever on behalf of the writers.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: Marie(turning to Frank): We haven’t had a conversation in thirty-five years!”
Frank: I didn’t want to interrupt.
EPISODE TITLE: The Cult
SUMMARY: When a giddy Robert tells the family that he has joined a group called Inner Path to deal with the tension of the feud between Marie and Debra, they fear he has joined a cult.
COMMENTARY: This episode marks the beginning of the seventh season of the series and the end of the feud of Marie and Debra, which is a four-episode story arc. This episode just keeps me laughing every time I watch it, and I always look forward to seeing it in syndication.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: Ray: What if they drug me and I wake up chained to a goat?
Frank: You just described my wedding.
EPISODE TITLE: Peter on the Couch
SUMMARY: When Amy’s brother, Peter, outstays his welcome on her and Robert’s couch, Ray is forced to drive Peter back home to Pennsylvania, where he is shocked to find that his parents are turning his room into a Bible study.
COMMENTARY: Any episode that features Amy’s parents and brother (they are frequent guest-stars from season 7 onward) is bound to be hilarious, and this is one of my favorites, so it deserves to be in the countdown. Also, there is very clever irony found in Peter’s predicament because Robert experienced something very similar early in the series, and finally makes the two, who usually butt heads, bond a little more.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: Peter finds out that his parents have been keeping his cat outside.
Peter: What?!?!? Outside?!?!? No!! Miss Puss is an inside cat!
Pat: Not anymore.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: A special thanks EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND: OUR FAMILY ALBUM, which provided summaries and some favorite moments for usage in this and the next column. Find out next week which episodes are #1-5!
“See” you next week!