100. “Divided We Stand,” Steptoe and Son (1972)
The inspiration for America’s Sanford and Son, this British show about junk dealers started in the early 1960s and set the template for the “odd couple” sitcom in which two men are trapped in a relationship that perpetually swings between love and hate. I say “two men” because female roommates on sitcoms, like Laverne and Shirley, almost never seem to resent living with each other. But no matter how luxurious the surroundings, male roommates in sitcom usually act as if they’re sharing a prison cell.
Case in point: In “Divided We Stand,” ambitious Harold is going crazy from sharing quarters with his lazy, cheap father, Albert, whose idea of redecorating the house includes stitching together fabric samples to make a free carpet. "I don't mind the place looking rotten when it doesn't cost nothing," he reasons. (Wilfred Brambell, who plays Albert, was best known in America for playing Paul McCartney's grandfather in A Hard Day's Night.)
Anyone who's shared a bedroom with a sibling has eventually hit upon the idea of dividing the room down the middle with some "uncrossable" tape. It never works for very long, and Harold's scheme inevitably hits a snag. Until then, we get some fine two-character comedy with an undercurrent of bitterness that would take many more years to become commonplace on American TV.
The image above is from a Steptoe and Son fan site that provides commentary and a synopsis for each episode. The series is on DVD, but this complete episode is also on YouTube: