Huddling inside and surrounded by snow, I typically look to movies or tv shows to provide warmth and comfort. A heavy dose of Jack Daniels doesn’t hurt either. But, what about the actual characters in those shows who are taking shelter from the elements? There are quite a few memorable episodes like that, and some are among my favorites.
In winters past, I had a nighttime playlist which included many snowbound or “shelter from the storm” themed episodes. There’s nothing better to watch when you are warm and comfortable under the covers waiting for sleep to arrive. Anything that let’s me forget for awhile that I have to get up and go to work in the morning works for me, though.
In my previous post about The Polar Express, I didn’t really cover the movie’s appeal from that standpoint. The warm, brightly lit train speeding through the cold and snow is perfect for viewing during these long winter nights. However, the time has come to put this movie aside for another year. And when it comes to a playlist used for going to sleep, the short subject sitcoms work best.
With the brutal start to this winter’s campaign, it’s clear I will have to come up with a stellar mix of comfort shows. (Incidentally, I was very surprised to see that the complete series for all of the these shows (except 227) are available on Amazon. I couldn’t find too many of them on iTunes. Just click on each name below if you want to link to their respective DVD set). Here is my playlist so far:
Barney Miller – Blizzard
This episode opens with Barney staring out at the heavy snow. Hard for us to see any of it, though. He’s looking through the grimy 12th Precinct windows which rival those which look upon the old Sac-O-Suds. Shortly after, Wojo brings in a suspect that he chased through the storm and tackled into a snow drift. This poor unfortunate soul ultimately passes away in the middle of being booked. We find out that the coroner is unable to come pick up the body because of the storm. That might make for an uncomfortable situation if the squad were actually trapped here. They seem to be able to come and go as they please, though.
A couple interesting moments illustrate the evolution in scientific thinking from 1977 to today. Another perpetrator is picked up and begins spouting off about the coming ice age. He comes off as just some wacko, but Dietrich confirms that scientists do indeed believe that changes in weather point to a possible cooling of the Earth. The other thought provoker comes when the coroner’s office finally sends men to pick up the body. One of them warns that the reason this man died was a result of too much fat in his diet. This is still believed by many, but the tide seems to be turning on that issue.
I wouldn’t call this the best Barney Miller episode by any stretch. However, I enjoy watching them try to keep doing routine police work though a blizzard…even if it does turn to rain in the end.
Mary Tyler Moore – The Snow Must Go On
Ah, here is a good one! There are many snow and cold related episodes of Mary Tyler Moore…cause, you know, Minnesota. This one is the best for sure, though. Mary is put in charge of the election night coverage against her wishes. Sure enough, a huge blizzard hits the area effecting almost every aspect of her job.
The first big problem is that many staff members are unable to get into the studio. Mary is forced to put whoever she can find into service, including Rhoda. Having all that somewhat resolved, the phone lines then go down. This effectively cuts off all election result information. Ted is stuck reporting the same “update” of Turner 85, Mitchell 23 for hours and hours.
Mary forces Ted to remain talking and on the air until they can find out who won the election. They have to keep the show going based on the advertising spots that have been sold. As Lou puts it, “unless we can find a movie titled ‘election night coverage’ we have to stay on the air”. Ted eventually gets worn down and loses it. Luckily for Mary, the snow stops and Chuckles the Clown comes in to give the surprise result…it’s Mitchell, not Turner who wins!
I Love Lucy – Lucy in the Swiss Alps
Can you imagine Ricky and Lucy mountain climbing in the Swiss Alps? Ok, how about Fred and Ethel? Yeah, that happens. You have to suspend belief a little bit when watching I Love Lucy. Anyway, they just finish eating a wonderful lunch at the top of the mountain when the snow starts to fly. The gang is forced to take shelter in a small cabin, which unfortunately sits underneath a huge drift of snow. Of course Lucy is the one that slams the door and brings the avalanche down upon the cabin. They aren’t stuck for too long, though. To the rescue comes an oom-pah band playing their special version of La Cucaracha.
The Odd Couple – Felix is Missing
Felix gets stranded in a ski lodge with a pair of models and Albert Brooks. Now that is cozy. Brooks is a self proclaimed “happening guy”. While he is gone, Oscar is left to wonder where he might be. The note that Felix left is lost thanks to the ever present sloppiness of Oscar. For some reason, Oscar’s poker buddies begin to think that he finally had enough with Felix and killed him. Thankfully, the real truth is discovered before Murray the Cop is forced to arrest Oscar.
Perfect Strangers – A Christmas Story
I will make an exception here by including a Christmas episode. This needs to be here because it’s a classic story of being stuck due to weather. Poor Larry…all he wants to do is get home to Madison and enjoy the perfect Christmas with his family. The airport gets closed due to the snow and of course his flight is also cancelled. He and Balki try to drive there and are unable to get the car going at all.
They are forced to try and put together some type of Christmas experience for themselves. They desperately try to find a Christmas tree and end up with a rival to Charlie Brown’s pathetic little sapling. Balki puts up a bunch of cheap decorations to try to rejuvenate Larry’s spirit. None of this works until Larry opens his gift from Balki. It’s a tapestry that he made himself. He explains to Larry that he worked on it for one hour every day in secret since the day he arrived in America. Larry is so touched that he finally regains his Christmas feeling.
Taxi – The Call of the Mild
Inspired by Bobby’s new commercial, the guys decide to head to the mountains for a week in the wilderness. Their “cityness” is clearly exposed when they decide to bring only perishable food. It was only upon searching for the refrigerator that they finally realized there was no electricity in the cabin. Even worse, is their decision to move all the food outside to keep fresh. Naturally, some wild animal makes off with it during the first night. Left with nothing, Alex tries fishing and Tony hunts until the snow starts flying. Both come back with nothing to speak of.
Just when they are ready to give up, a wild turkey waltzes right into the cabin. A debate ensues regarding who will be the one to kill it. Alex is the big winner there…hunger prevailing over his humanitarian tendencies. The best part comes when the turkey is magically dressed, basted and cooked as if they had bought it at the corner supermarket. What are you gonna do, it’s a sitcom.
227 – Snowbound
I’ve always loved 227, but I haven’t seen this one in many years. I’m looking for a way to watch it again, since it’s from season 3 and I can only find season 1.
From what I can recall, Mary and Lester have their flight to Hawaii cancelled due to a blizzard. Sound familiar? When they get back to the apartment, everyone from the building is there. Theirs is one of the few that actually has a working heater. Tensions run high, but ultimately the group decides to try recreating the Hawaii experience for Mary and Lester.
M*A*S*H – Crisis
This could very well be my favorite tv episode of all time. The supply line has been cut. It’s bitterly cold in Korea. Casualties continue to come in. No basic supplies will be available for some time including shuttlecocks. It’s a crisis, man! To address this problem, our very own Henry Blake decides to assign each M*A*S*H regular a specific area of concern. My favorite is Radar as housing officer. He is in charge of which people will have to bunk with who in order to conserve heat.
I love the slumber party type atmosphere through this crisis. After one night in the Swamp, they end up in Henry’s much smaller tent. The scene is complete with Frank Burns hanging in a hammock over top of all the regular cots. The men have to deal with Henry’s snoring, Father Mulcahy’s praying, and Frank’s whiny pompousness. The nurses have to deal with Klinger sneaking into their tent. At least he dressed for the occasion.
Eventually, the crisis is averted and all returns to “normal”. Unfortunately, Henry’s desk does not survive the ordeal. It has gradually been dismantled throughout the episode and used for firewood.
Stay warm says Chico