67. "The Canister," Everybody Loves Raymond (2001)
Welcome to the “100 Best Sitcom Episodes of All Time,” a countdown for winter 2012. Each episode will get a separate blog post, counting backward toward No. 1. A list of the programs revealed so far is here and an introduction to the project is here.
"The Canister" is in the running for Best Performance by an Inanimate Object in a Sitcom Episode. I understand it even did its own stunts. (Nipping at its heels is the formerly animated object in Fawlty Towers' "The Kipper and the Corpse.")
This is sort of a MacGuffin episode, except the object at the center is not "the stuff that dreams are made of" (as Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade described The Maltese Falcon) but is more a repository for grudges and resentments.
At the beginning of this Easter episode, mother-in-law Marie insists that Debra never returned the title item, which has much sentimental value (i.e., if Debra's lost it, Marie can whine about it forever). Debra stands her ground and, amazingly, Marie gives up and apologizes for accusing Debra.
Robert: Wow, the Marie Barone Apology. Until today, I'd only heard about it!
Ray: And to Debra! Boy. There's your Easter miracle!
Unfortunately, after Marie leaves, Debra's daughter Ally walks in the kitchen carrying ... the canister. And Debra has a completely understandable reaction to the suggestion that she return it to Marie: "Do you know what she will put me through if I have to bring this thing back over to her?" Imagine, she warns the others, if "she thinks she's always right and she has more power than ever!"
I've already championed Everybody Loves Raymond on this list, so I won't get all Community here and demand that people watch it (but neither can I promise it won't be back). I will note that "The Canister" ends with what might be Frank's sweetest moment in the entire series. And I understand if you don't like this episode because this kind of power struggle never happens with your spouses/partners, relatives, neighbors, or co-workers. But I'm not going drinking with you, because your stories must be boring as hell.