I haven’t done this one yet? Wow. I have done funniest moments and sad moments based on real events. But never did my favorite speeches. It didn’t occur to me until my friend Les posted a blog on greatest movie speeches the other day, and it got me thinking. Sitcoms are most remembered when the laughter stops and something important is said. True sometimes these moments are corny, like on Full House. Sometimes they are soÂ overblown you get sick of them like on The Facts of Life or Diff’rent Strokes, and sometimes they are almost every episode to the point they become just a regular part of the show like Mike’s regular speeches on The Brady Bunch, or Wilson’s standard lectures on Home Improvement.
But when done just right they can leave a mark that will stay with you forever. Whether they be short and sweet or a bit more drawn out. Now of course, sitcoms are not movies. Where a movie can spend five minutes hammering in a powerful speech, sitcoms have to do the same thing in less time. As a result the speech is more to the point and there is often more going on in the scene then just an audience staring at the speaker silently. But they are still speeches (and scenes) which we never forget.
Here now are twelve moments involving a speech which I saw and never forgot. The only rule with this list is these have to be moments I have seen at least once. Oh, and only one speech per show.
12.The Golden GirlsÂ (Rose helps Sophia come to terms with sons death)
This scene is amazing. Sophia had a son who was never seen, but it was established he was a cross dresser. And that Sophia hated the wife. Well, in this episode the son is dead and Sophia must come to terms with that fact plus the fact that he was a cross dresser is why she hates the wife much. The best part is that it’s Rose who helps Sophia here, I love it when she got to be smart once in awhile, and for once her story has a point! It’s a nice little speech and one of my favorite Rose moments (and Sophia’s scene isn’t bad either).
11.Mad About You (Jamie tells Paul how she feels)
I debated this one. Not because it isn’t a great speech, it is. Not because it wasn’t well done. It is, by Helen Hunt. I debated this one because it is so forced. It was so obvious they wanted this big speech here. But….it works and is a very nice speech. Paul is getting ready for surgery and Jamie tells him how she feels. For a late seasone episode, this works. Besides, aren’t many of these a chance for the actor to shine a bit?
10.Frasier (Frasier talks to Niles about Daphne)
I love this episode, it is just so well written. When Daphne realizes that she was overeating due to her fear of not being able to live up to Niles expections of her, Niles refuses to accept that could be true. Until Frasier talks with him and, in a very strong scene, points out what Niles is refusing to see. Absolute favorite moment on this show.
9.Archie Bunker’s Place (Archie cries over Edith)
I talked before how All in the Family morphed into Archie Bunker’s Place, and the character Edith was killed off. This scene with Carol O’Connor is so moving, I don’t even need to say anything else about it. I will be honest, this is my one cheat as I didn’t see it until I came across it on Youtube. That’s why it gets such a high spot but it’s still powerful as hell.
8.Friends (Phoebe on Ross and Susan)
As I said sometimes they can be short and right to the point.Here is a small one but a favorite. Sometimes a small moment has as much power as a big one. In this scene Ross, Susan, and Phoebe are locked in a closet. Ross and Susan are fighting over the new baby when Phoebe points out how lucky the baby coming is. A great Phoebe moment.
7.The Cosby ShowÂ (Clair dresses down Elvin)
Yes this is played for laughs but so what? It still works. This is where Claire proved she was her own person, and really stood out as a different kind of TV mom. When Elvin comes in with his caveman attitude on women, Claire give him a piece of her mind!
6.Scrubs (Dr.Cox admits he is JD’s friend)
I think the thing that first drew me to this show was Dr.Cox. His rants were hysterical, but at the same time there was a lot of meaning in the words he said. As J.D would discover, Cox came off as mean but when you really listened to what he said you realized he did care. Every once in awhile his normal crazy speehifying would turn into something very powerful, like this scene where he admits he is JD’s friend.
5.Murphy Brown (Murphy responds to dan quayle)
I just can’t find anything for this. No clip, no quote! So basically, when Dan Quayle used the character of Murphy Brown as an example in a speech regarding single mothers the media went nuts. Murphy Brown the show responded, and the speech Murphy gives is really good. She takes the high road and points out how, whether by choice or circumstance, there are many single families out there who consider themselves as real as your typical two parent families. If you can find it check it out. And I would share it if I ever find a damn clip!!!!!!
4.8 Simple Rules (Paul’s Final column)
The episode dealing with John Ritter (or Paul Hennesey) and his sudden passing was one of the moost enotional hours of TV I have ever watched. All topped off by this scene as the family reads his final column. Get your kleenex ready.
3.Designing Women (Julia defends Suzanne)
Yes, I did not like Designing Women. And yes, Julia drove me nuts. But….you gotta be fair and this speech is one of the most kick ass moments I have ever seen. Anywhere. I think it helps this was an early episode befor Julia became insufferable. In the episode, Julia hears a beauty queen trashing Suzanne and defends her. Hard!
2.Happy Days (Fonzie Prays after Richie Almost Dies)
This was a tough call. The episode where Fonzie is blind has a powerful as hell moment when Richie gets Fonzie to stop being a wimp about his blindness. But i decided this was better. Why? It’s Fonzie letting his gaurd down and showing he is a real person. This episode is a bit heavy handed, but this scene works. Richie has an accident with a motorcycle and is in a coma. I guess I loved this show when it wasn’t being cornball goofy.
1.Fresh Prince of Bel AirÂ (Will’s Father Leaves)
Anyone surprised? This one is hard to put into a category, but man is it a powerful scene. It does two things. One, it shows what an amazing actor Will Smith is. Two, it finally takes Uncle Phil from the clice’d angry caregiver who hates his nephew to being a true father figure. And of course it’s a great moment for James Avery who sadly passed away recently. So I am also posting this as a little tribute to him. This scene could not have been acted or written better. While it’s true the series would lamely try to top this again and again, this scene still stands alone and speaks for itself.
There are many more examples I could have mentioned. One obvious omission is a certain Family Ties episode. Well, I will be getting into that at a later date. But as an appetizer, I leave you with this scene. not a speech but it is a moment from another Family Ties episode which I have always LOVED! Mallory gets an inappropriate hug from a family friend, and when she tells her mother, Elyse is all fired up. That leads to this fantastic moment:
Please feel free to comment on those TV moments you never forgot. And what about great Star Trek speeches? Ah, that’s another list my friends.
Special thanks to Les for letting me “borrow” his idea.