November 17 is the 40th anniversary of my favorite episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, in which Mary throws a dinner party and almost "kills" Sue Ann's Veal Prince Orloff by making her leave it in the oven a few minutes too long. I ranked "The Dinner Party" No. 6 in my Top 100 Sitcom Episodes of All Time. Part of my reasoning:
The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a "nice" 1970s sitcom in which differences are usually resolved by the end of an episode. In contrast, social situations on the 1990s Frasier, which otherwise shares MTM's sophisticated style, almost always end with characters fleeing in confusion or anger — as is also the case with Seinfeld. Other sitcoms, like Friends and Parks and Recreation, tend to have it both ways, putting its characters through humiliating situations but ending episodes on optimistic notes. "The Dinner Party" probably would be considered too tame for TV today (the Veal Prince Orloff would surely end up on the floor somehow), but it conveys the psychological torture of trying to get people to have a good time better than any of today's meaner sitcoms.
See the entire post here.