In honour of the mighty Packers who just scored 2 fangorious touchdowns at the 45th superbowl, I give you a list of the top 5 superbowl lead out programs. The tradition of airing a prime time series post superbowl started with Lassie and over the years has been host to a number of series ranging from the scripted to, news serials to last year’s totally lame premiere of Undercover Brother. Here are the top 5 in chronological order. Will Glee make it on the list? Probably not, Glee sucks. But here’s 5 shows that didn’t.
1. The Wonder Years Pilot Superbowl XXII 1988
The pilot to this nostalgic coming of age dramedy was one of those classic episodes that could have won a short format oscar. We were thrown for a loop when the pilot turned tragic after news of Winnie’s brother’s death in Vietnam, but came around to hook us and as Kevin got his first kiss, we got ours from this gem. The world was introduced to a star in Fred Savage and the best Beatles cover of all time. It’s not available on DVD apparently due to music rights (which is always the frikkin reason) but is available for viewing on Youtube. CERTIFIED TV GOLD!
2. Friends – The One After the Superbowl (1 & 2) Superbowl XXX 1996
This episode is as polarizing as the Seinfeld finale, but I loved it. It was jam packed with guest stars and gave way for some funny character comedy. Friends’ best episodes are one that focus on the characters and their flaws and show us their hilarious histories and we got just that. Chandler reconnected with Susie (Julia Roberts), a vengeful former classmate, Phoebe dated some lame musician who can’t handle her realness (Chris Isaak), Monica and Rachel compete for the affections of Jean Claude Van Damme and Joey dates a crazy woman who believes him to be Drake Remoray, his soap characters. Yeah it felt a little strained at times, but Ross’s reunion with Marcel was real, and so was the single tear that formed. Also features the classic line “If we were in prison you would be my bitches”
3. Simpsons “Sunday Cruddy Sunday” /Family Guy “Death Has A Shadow” Superbowl XXXIII 1999
A generally decent episode of the Simpsons made good of guest star Fred Willard as Wally Kogan, the man unknowingly gets Springfielidians in a lot of Superbowl trouble and Dolly Parton my idol. Megapoints to the subplot about Vincent Price’s Egg Decoration Kit and the meta-post episode ending with John Madden and Pat Summerall. Family Guy’ premiere introduced us to Stewie, and even if your a hater, you’ve got to admit is one of recent TV’s greatest characters.
4. Alias “Phase One” Superbowl XXXVII 2003
It’s rare that a series’ greatest episode (arguably) will air in the Post Superbowl slot, its usually reserved for pilots and spectacles, but Phase One was different. A literal game changer as the focus of the series was Sydney’s quest to take down SD-6, which happens in this episode. From the beginning airplane scene with J. Ga in the really hot lingere (both colours) to the end Francie and the reveal of Alison Doren, the Evil Francie. The scene where Sydney tells Dixon that she’s a double agent is one of the strongest in a series full of strong scenes. I rewatch this episode sometimes, and while the excitement will never be the same as the first time you see it, it holds up.
Grey’s Anatomy “It’s The End of the World” Superbowl XL 2006
A controversial choice for a post sports game slot, Grey’s wasn’t as female identified at the time, but still an odd choice. The episode began with a 4 some fantasy and ended on a cliffhanger had a pre-FNL Kyle Chandler as a sexy bomb squad guy who had an interesting rapport with Meredith and a medical story about a guy with a homemade grenade in his abdomen featuring Christina Ricci as the nervous EMT with her hand on the bomb. OMG and how could I forget both Bailey and her man in dire medical trouble. The next day anyone who knew a doctor asked if CODE BLACK was real, and while the second part was the better episode, it would be nothing without it’s set up. A solid episode that beat out all the other cloying Superbowl themed sitcoms. Check out the awesome clip below.
Honorable mentions go to the Office’s episode from a few years ago which may have made the list had it not been for them wasting guest stars Jessica Alba, Jack Black and Cloris Leachman. The fire drill at the beginning however was pure genius. Check it out!