Sitcom’s are not loved by everyone, and I am sure one of the reasons for that is because they follow a strict formula. We know the drill: people in sitcoms never get sick, they don’t have real problems; every problem is solved in 23 minutes (that one pisses me off, just because the episode runs 23 minutes doesn’t mean the events of the episode did!! People accept that with movies why do sitcoms get the hate?).


The point is that sitcoms can be predictable in the things they do. But once in a while a sitcom episode will throw us for a loop, and do something different. Sometimes it will be an entire episode which is a bit odd,like a dream sequence show where all kinds of odd things happen. And other times, it will be one scene at the end of a show which is just weird. It can be dead serious or hilarious but is always out of left field and leaves you saying WTF was that??


Here are five examples of what I am talking about.


#5. The Cosby Show “Vanessa’s Bad Grade”


This one has baffled me for ages. This is a typical Cosby episode, the main plot has Vanessa doing bad in school and stealing a sweater from her sister because she is so obsessed with her boyfriend. So in the end after a fight between Denise and Vanessa and the typical parent talk, the stories get resolved. Cliff and Clair tell Vanessa and her boyfriend Robert tonot see so much of each other and all seems well. Then something very odd happens, Clair walks into the living room to find Rudy watching Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech on TV. Now let’s ignore how and why Rudy got there, what happens next is the family ends up converging to watch this speech,and that’s the end of the episode. Now don’t misunderstand me, it’s a beautiful scene but it comes out of absolutely nowhere! The episode aired around Martin Luther King Day so that may be a reason for it, and the speech does get worked into the plot a bit as we see Vanessa and Denise make up. Nice, touching moment but where did that come from??

#4. Friends, “The One with the Truth About London”


I apologize for  repeating myself because I am sure this willbe brought up in my episode guide. The story here is that Chandler finds out Monica actually wanted to hook up with Joey the night in London when she hooked up with Chandler. Well, of course Chandler is upset and finally Joey talks to him and all is well. Monica loves Chandler and etc etc. Then Phoebe says that while she is happy that the problem is solved, she can’t help but wonder what might have happened if Monica had hooked up with Joey as she intended. That’s when we cut to a fantasy sequence, I guess, where Monica is preparing food for her adoring boyfriend Joey. The gag is that when Joey emerges, he is all heavyand big. I guess someone decided they wanted to see Joey in the fat suit, and it does make for a big laugh. But it just seems weird, and comes out of nowhere.
#3. Who’s The Boss?, “Older Than Springtime”


This is a small one but worth mentioning I think. This is actually one of my favorite episodes of Who’s The Boss? It was actually directed by Tony Danza himself. The plot has Angela trying to win an account with a fashion designer who has an eye for younger women. This puts Angela intoa sort of mid-life crisis where she tries to prove that she is, in fact, not old. Unfortunately she tries too hard and loses the account. At the end of the episode Tony and Angela are talking as usual, Tony asks to take her out to make her feel better. They start practicing to dance a bit in the living room, and suddenly the living room becomes a ball room and Tony and Angela are dressed in their finest. Oh it’s a fantastic, even romantic, moment but for a two minute scene I have lots of questions. Was this a fantasy? If so was it both of their fantasy? If not did this really happen? But just like all of these, the scene fades to black and is never mentioned again.
#2. Seinfeld, “The Keys”


I loved this one; it’s one of my all-time favorites. This is the episode where Jerry gets tired of Kramer using his spare keys to come into the apartment anytime he wants. So in a moment of anger Jerry takes the keys away. Kramer is so hurt he runs away and decides to move to LA. Most of the episode is Kramer trying to get to LA while Jerry has to deal with being locked out of his apartment and needing to get his spare keys from Elaine who know has them. So  what is this leading up to? At the end of the episode Jerry and Elaine are watching TV when they spot Kramer on an episode of Murphy Brown! Then we see the actual scene filmed on the actual set with Candice Bergen. This is remarkable because Murphy Brown was a show owned by a different studio and aired on a different network! I don’t think that would happen today never mind 20 years ago. Now to be fair this wasn’t totally out of the blue since Murphy Brown does come up in the episode. But still that ending was a classic, having Kramer be in on the secretary of the week gag on Murphy Brown was just brilliant and is one of my favorite moments ever.
#1. Growing Pains, “Thank God It’s Friday”


This is the episode where Mike is at a party and is offered cocaine.He then debates whether or not he wants to take it to fit in and be popular. Ok, that’s nothing special. “Very Special Episodes” are about as common on sitcoms as a laugh track. So what was weird about the ending here? Well first we see Mike refuse to take the drug, and find out his friends also refused. The episode ends with the father shaking his head in disbelief as he locks the door. Nice end to a strong episode, where’s the weird part? We go to the tag, and we get a shot at the party which seems normal until the scene freezes and Kirk Cameron steps onto the stage, as himself, to talk to the audience about how bad drugs are. While it’s in context and a strong message, the scene is also a bit heavy handed to have the actor preaching at us like that. Usually when a show does this the actor just says “talk about it if you have questions”, but here we get a real speech!  We got the message; you don’t need to hammer it in. This scene set a standard which was seen in other shows including Mr. Belvedere and the show Dinosaurs did a hilarious parody on these kinds of sitcom endings which has to be seen. We don’t need it drilled in, and if you don’t want to end the show on a laugh that’s fine but why preach at us?
So there are five examples of odd endings to sitcomepisodes. I am sure there are more out there, and please feel free to share anyyou remember that I may have missed.

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