Have COVID-19 concerns sent you inside? Has self-isolating got you feeling a little isolated? Are you feeling a little anti-social, but want some company anyway? Have no fear, we’ve got you.
Pretty much every sitcom (and more broadly, most tv shows) have at least one “bottle episode” per season. Here, the entire ensemble pretty much act out an entire episode in the one space; kind of like a one-act play. So, if you’re looking for some company from some people who also aren’t leaving the one room they’re in, then check out our top 7 favourite episodes here.
Community – Cooperative Calligraphy (Season 2, Episode 8)
Kicking things off on a meta note, Community were fully upfront about what they were doing. In this season two episode, Jeff and Abed both openly refer to the situation they’re in as a “bottle episode” making for one hell of a meta ride. The whole episode is set inside the study room, with only the main cast involved. Love that!
Friends – The One Where No One’s Ready (Season 3, Episode 2)
When people think about iconic Friends episodes, it’s hard to look past ‘The One Where No One’s Ready.’ The episode is as chaotic as it is hilarious. You’ve got Joey & Chandler fighting over a chair, Monica calling her ex-boyfriend, Pheobe wearing a Christmas bow, Rachel struggling to decide what to wear, and poor Ross, who just wants to get to a dinner where he is being honoured. They sure as hell went out with a bang for their 50th episode ever!
Seinfeld – Chinese Restaurant (Season 2, Episode 11)
It’s pretty given that the self-proclaimed “show about nothing” has an episode where nothing happens. Here, Jerry, Elaine and George are waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant. That’s it, that’s the plot. Initially, NBC executives objected to the idea of this episode, thinking that audiences would be uninterested, due to its lack of a complex storyline. However, it wasn’t until head-writer Larry David threatened to quit his job that NBC allowed the episode to go ahead. The episode became an instant classic, loved by critics and fans alike.
How I Met Your Mother – The Limo (Season 1, Episode 11)
A “bottle episode” is most likely to appear in the first season of a sitcom because of its ability to save money on casting and external sets, and this episode absolutely fulfils this criterion. This episode of How I Met Your Mother follows the core cast as they make their way to a number of parties on New Year’s Eve. The episode is so good that the Director of Photography, Chris La Fountaine, actually won an Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series for this episode. Come through Emmy Award-winning talent!
Rick & Morty – Rixty Minutes (Season 1, Episode 8)
‘Rixty Minutes’ technically fits the criteria for a “bottle episode”, but honestly, that’s not why we remember it. In this hilarious episode, the Smith family are divided, with some watching their own lives in alternate realities using special goggles and others watching ridiculous commercials on TV. So yes, none of them actually leave the house, but as most of the humour came out of those tv commercials, props must be given to the show’s co-creator Justin Roiland who completely improvised them all. Seriously.
Breaking Bad – Fly (Season 3, Episode 10)
Budget-aside, there are many pros to having a bottle episode. For Breaking Bad series creator, Vince Gilligan, a bottle episode was essential in exploring characters in new ways. He said, “I feel, as a showrunner, that there should be a certain shape and pace to each season… the big dramatic moments of action and violence, the big operatic moments you’re striving for—I don’t think would land as hard if you didn’t have the moments of quiet that came before them. The quiet episodes make the tenser, more dramatic episodes pop even more than they usually would just by their contrast.” This episode, “Fly”, takes place almost exclusively in the secret lab with pretty much just the only two members of the main cast.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – The Box (Season 5, Episode 14)
Sometimes “bottle episodes” are done because they just allow for better episodes. With no distractions, characters can really come into their own and make for one entertaining ride. Just look at this Brooklyn Nine-Nine season five episode. “The Box” is the highest-rated episode for the series on IMDB. Also, Sterling K. Brown was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his performance in this episode. Yay!
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