30 Rock vs. Community and Roseanne vs. Mary Tyler Moore


The Best Sitcom Episode Ever Tournament is pitting 32 of the greatest episodes of funny TV shows ever produced against each other in a single-elimination winner-takes-all (well, takes-nothing) competition. Every day, we’re putting up episodes for you, our loyal readers, to vote on. Today: 30 Rock vs. Community and Roseanne vs. Mary Tyler Moore.

Community — “Modern Warfare,” May 6, 2010

In what would come to define Community’s style, the original “paintball episode” is jam-packed with references to action movies, from Rambo to Predator to The Terminator (“Come with me if you don’t want paint on your clothes”). But the original story itself — and the development of Britta and Jeff’s relationship — is enhanced, not bogged down, by these cinematic allusions. It’s topped off with appearances from the reviled Glee Club as well as secondary character favorites Leonard, the Dean and Chang. The episode is funny, but it’s also nostalgic and suspenseful and just plain fun, all the while exploding the boundaries of what a sitcom can do. — Hallie Cantor

30 Rock — “Tracy Does Conan,” December 6, 2006

“Tracy Does Conan” is an early 30 Rock episode that has the show really hitting its stride for the first time. We’ve got every character in their optimal situations: Liz gives blood and is low on blood sugar yet is racing around harriedly all day; Tracy is on an absurd combo of meds (thanks to Dr. Spaceman, whose first appearance is in this episode) and is even crazier than usual; Jack is prepping a speech introducing Jack Welch and trying to come up with business-friendly zingers (and also delivers what I think is the quintessential Jack joke: “Why are you wearing a tux?” “It’s after 6. What am I, a farmer?”); Pete is wearing a Stone Phillips wig at Jack’s request to boost his confidence; Jenna is feeling unloved despite her role in the unpronounceable Rural Juror; and poor Kenneth is sent out into the wilds of NYC to try to fill a prescription for Jack. Not to mention Dennis Duffy, the little blue dude, plenty of NBC-era Conan, a cameo by a pre-Parks Aubrey Plaza, and Frank shrugging and taking another bite of what he’s just been told is a “blood cookie.” It’s a fast-paced and incredibly tight episode that’s propelled forward by a boatload of jokes, which is exactly what makes this show so good. — Adam Frucci

Poll closed.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show — “Chuckles Bites the Dust,” October 25, 1975

Before list-making became en vogue (and before they copped out and re-did their selections), TV Guide published their rankings of the 100 Greatest Episodes of All-Time. Topping it was “Chuckles Bites the Dust,” the classic sixth season episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The titular clown is chosen as the grand marshal of a parade, and while Mary and her WJM-TV co-workers are watching a newscast of the event, news director Lou Grant bursts into the office to deliver some bad news: Chuckles was killed by elephant…because he was dressed as a peanut. Everyone cracks jokes about the irony of Chuckles’ demise, except for Mary, who’s offended and disappointed by the actions of her friends. During the eulogy at Chuckles’ funeral, Mary finally begins to understand why everyone can’t help but laugh: it’s a clown’s job to make you, well, chuckle, even in death. All Chuckles ever asked for was: “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.” “Chuckles Bites the Dust” found a way to even make death funny, and that’s what makes it one of the most human — not to mention hilarious — episodes ever. — Josh Kurp

Roseanne — “A Stash from the Past,” October 5, 1993

Ranked #21 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time in 1997, “A Stash from the Past” remains one of television’s most honestly and hilariously handled pot-based family sitcom episodes. The plot follows Dan and Roseanne as they discover a bag of weed they hid twenty years ago (“We quit? I just thought we were out”) and spend an evening of stoned bliss, nostalgia, and eventually, paranoia and recollection of just why they stopped smoking in the first place. Aunt Jackie’s bathtub freakouts make for some great moments, like when D.J. knocks on the door and she yells “THE JIG IS UP!” — Megh Wright

Poll closed.