It was a new year of comedy on Wednesday night, as "Modern Family" counted down the New Year in an episode appropriately titled, well, "New Year's Eve."
And the episode had a little bit of everything: A disastrous blind date; mock-tails (said blind date was of the tween variety); a celeb poker game (Billy Dee Williams was in the house); a Palm Springs hotel that hasn't been renovated (or cleaned, apparently) since the 1970s; quests for a hot spring and the perfect gay bar; adventures in babysitting (poor, neglected Lily); and a big ol' bunch of grapes. As per Colombian tradition, Gloria insisted on eating and making wishes on 12 grapes at midnight, but the hotel was fresh out, so the staff suggested she fish some out of a can of fruit cocktail. Billy Dee's stocked fridge to the rescue!
Speaking of Williams, while the "Star Wars" jokes were kept to a minimum (the actor's awesome "Mahogany" days were glorified more than his Cloud City stint as Lando Calrissian), this out-of-this-world New Year's Eve-themed episode ranks right up there with some of the best year-ending TV episodes of all time.
"Nude Year's Eve" hijinks aside (just ask Phil and Claire, whose hot spring adventure turned into a naked frat party), check out how five past TV series' rang in the new year.
"Friends" (1999)In the "Friends" episode "The One With all the Resolutions," the gang parties like it's 1999 as they announce their New Year's resolutions: Ross resolves to do something daily that he hasn't done before (hello, leather pants!); Joey wants to learn how to play guitar; Monica's goal is to take more group photos; Rachel pledges to stop gossiping (good luck with that); and Chandler vows that he won't make fun of his friends for a whole year (ditto!). So how did they fare? Well, this was the episode that Monica and Chandler's steamy fling was uncovered, which may have been more than Rachel (and her mouth!) could handle.
"My So-Called Life" (1995)Welcome to Angela Chase's angst-filled New Year's Eve party. On the short-lived but not-forgotten series "My So-Called Life," the 15-year-old (played by Claire Danes) shares popcorn and resolutions with BFFs Rickie and Rayanne. (Troubled Rayanne resolves to stop drinking but "this time, like, really stop," and homeless Rickie vows to find a place where he really belongs.) But it's the voice-over resolutions of the show's other characters that give us even more insight into the complexities of their so-called lives. Angela's dad, Graham, resolves to tell his cooking classmate Hallie Lowenthal that he's "not going into the restaurant business with her... and to stop all those long talks with her after class." And the main character of the show, Angela, resolves to be less introspective -- until she over thinks it.
"Mad Men" (2010)
One thing fans love about the AMC drama "Mad Men" is that it follows its own calendar, hence the Christmas and New Year's episodes that first aired in August 2010. In the pivotal Season 4 episode "The Good News," Don Draper (Jon Hamm) gets some bad news during a New Year's trip to California, when he finds that his confidante, Anna Draper, is dying of cancer. Back in New York, Don rings in the New Year with a wild night on the town with a down-and-out Lane (Jared Harris), and yes, call girls are involved. Back at the office, it's time for the first staff meeting of the new year, with Joan (Christina Hendricks) starting things off: "Gentlemen, shall we begin 1965?"
"M*A*S*H" (1980)It was a "War for All Seasons" when "M*A*S*H" rang in the year 1952. In this New Year's Eve episode, the 4077th reminisced about 1951, and that included the dish on Father Mulcahy's garden (great corn, we hear). Other highlights included the invention of Hawkeye and B.J.'s kidney machine, Margaret's newfound knitting hobby, and a bet on that year's baseball pennant. ($20 says the Giants take it.)
"That '70s Show" (2006)This New Year's Eve episode didn't just ring in a new year, it rang out an entire sitcom. In 2006, the series finale of "That '70s Show" was set on New Year's Eve 1979, and in turn, the decade (and the show) went out with a bang. The finale episode even marked the return of Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher, who had left the series. In the end, we had one last glimpse of the water tower, another round of The Circle, and a Donna and Eric reunion that left us crying from joy. Happy New Year, indeed!
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