Sometimes less is more and sometimes that rule applies to TV shows. In TV, when an episode takes the characters in a show and places them in a restricted setting that uses as few non-regular characters as possible, it’s called a “bottle episode”. Stripping characters down (metaphorically, of course) to a single location and having an episode rely heavily on the dialogue instead of action or location changes has produced some great episodes of our favorite shows over the years and we’ve grouped them all together for you in this week’s featured collection.
Still confused about what a bottle episode is? You might want to start with “Cooperative Calligraphy” from season two of Community. Not only is it a great example of a bottle episode, but in true “Community” fashion, Abed spends much of the show explaining the concept of a bottle episode. It’s all very meta.
Another classic example is “The Chinese Restaurant” episode of Seinfeld. The four main characters spend the entire episode waiting to get a table at a Chinese restaurant. That’s it. That’s the whole episode. Four people waiting for their table to be ready. Most of the action takes place off screen as Elaine gets hungry enough to steal food and George struggles with the pay phone. It’s a ridiculous concept that makes for a great episode.
But our favorite bottle episode goes to the folks at Friends for the classic “The One Where No One’s Ready” episode. The premise is simple: Ross is trying to get everyone ready to go to a dinner at the museum. The entire 22 minutes takes place in Rachel and Monica’s apartment but wanders through some classic “Friends” moments like Joey stealing Chandler’s essence, Monica accidentally leaving an outgoing message she shouldn’t and Ross desperately trying to find out what gets out hummus. It’s funny enough to make us almost want to drink the fat.
Check out the full list of our favorite bottle episodes by going to TiVo Central, select “Find TV, Movies & Videos”, then choose “Browse TV & Movies” to find “The Bottle Episode” under Collections. There you’ll also find our “Doctor Who Returns” collection celebrating this weekend’s return of everyone’s favorite time traveler.
What’s your favorite bottle episode? Let us know on Twitter using #TiVoBottle.