16. "Better Living Through TV," The Honeymooners (1955)
Welcome to the “100 Best Sitcom Episodes of All Time,” a countdown for 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 on Pinterest), and an introduction to the project is here.
Ed: Can it core a apple?
Most people who were alive during the golden age of late-night reruns on UHF channels have seen Ralph Kramden's disastrous attempt to sell the Handy Housewife Helper on a live TV commercial. Much like The Office's David Brent (see our last episode), Ralph refuses to accept that he's not in complete control of his destiny. But where David tries to bully his way into the spotlight, Ralph often goes for the comparately modern strategy of finding one brilliant idea (a "killer app," in computer lingo) to catapult him into success.
His idea in "Better Living Through TV" isn't completely crazy. Ralph is ahead of the curve in realizing that an infomercial is a much more efficient way to sell a gadget than going door-to-door with a suitcase. But he's doomed by his short cut, trying to peddle a piece of junk ("the key to my future, Alice!") instead of taking the time to come up with a good product.
Ralph: We spend 200 dollars, we make 2,000, and the profit is 1,800. We can't lose!
Ed: Can't lose, huh? That's what you said when you bought the parking lot next to where they were building up the movie house there. You said, "People going to the movies gotta have a place to park their car!"
Ralph: How did I know they were building a drive-in theater?