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Top 8 (Because I Couldn’t Think of 10) Interventions in TV History

James McAdams | May 9 2020

Since my novel is set in a recovery facility I’ve been learning more about intervention theory (there is such a thing!) and watching, like an anthropologist in a jungle, every episode of Intervention. When that bums me out too much I move instead to the majestic, bizarre, and ridiculous world of fictive televisual interventions. Honorable Mentions: Weeds, The Wire, Shameless, The Andy Dick Show, Rescue Me. Here are the top 8 Interventions in TV history, beginning with Seinfeld and ending with The Sopranos’ funniest scene ever

Goodbye How I Met Your Mother

The cast of How I Met Your Mother, during their intervention satire episode. Jason Segal in St. Cloud, Alysson Hannigan in red/purple, Idk the others. 

8. Seinfeld. “The Pez Dispenser” (1992). 

Before it became the best-written show ever, Seinfeld wobbled and crawled for a few seasons. This is inspiring for writers, and, I imagine, for people in recovery. Here’s an example of Larry David learning his craft from Season 3.

Line I Wish I Would Have Wrote:

JERRY: Talked to the doctor yesterday. [Richie’s] doing great on the rehab, but he’s hooked on Pez! (laugh track)

7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “Intervention” (2001).

I always have a soft spot for beautiful depressed girls, especially former cheerleaders, and Buffy brings it hard in Seasons 5 and 6 after her undesired “rescue” from Heaven. There’s also a seriously good intervention scene later in Season 5 or 6 when Willow starts abusing magic. Magic=substance abuse. Can you keep up? 

Line I Wish I Wrote: 

BUFFY: Blame? There’s blame now?
WILLOW: No! There’s only love… and… some… fear.
ANYA: We’re just kind of thrown by the you having sex with Spike.
BUFFY: The who whating how with huh?
ANYA: Okay, that’s denial. That usually comes before anger.
BUFFY (angrily): I am not having sex with Spike!
ANYA: Anger.

6. Family Ties. “Say Uncle” (1984). 

The oldest on the list, featuring the most popular actor of his generation as alcoholic Uncle Ned. It’s actually pretty good. 

Line I Wish I Wrote:

ALEX: I don’t believe this, you just drank a whole bottle of vanilla extract.

NED: I’m sorry, did you want some? (laugh track.) 

5. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. “The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention” (2009). 

I’m from Philly so you got to love this. Devito’s on fire as usual, thinking he’s being “roasted.” 

Line I Wish I Wrote:

EVERYONE SURROUNDING FRANK AND POINTING: Intervention! Intervention! Intervention! You are surrounded. Intervention!

4. LOST. “The Moth” (2004).

I once watched the first 5 seasons of LOST in 2 weeks for a girl. I never really cared about it because everything went over my head, but John Locke was my favorite character. 

Line I Wish I Wrote:

LOCKE: See this tiny hole? This moth’s almost ready to emerge. It’s in there right now, struggling, digging its way through the thick hide of the cocoon. Now I could help it, take my knife, gently
widen the opening… And the moth would be free. But it’d be too weak to survive. (Looks at Charlie) The struggle is nature’s way of strengthening it…This is the second time you’ve asked me for your drugs back. Ask me again and its yours.

3. Full House. “Shape Up” (1990). 

I can’t explain this ridiculous background music…It’s a shame though I think this actress had this problem in real life so Peace and Love to her. 

Line I Wish I Wrote: 

JOEY: DJ, taste my Chicken Parm sauce. 

DJ: I can’t. I brushed by teeth. 

[BOB SAGET]: You brushed your teeth before dinner? 

[…]

DJ: Thanks Dad, I love you!!! 

3. Saved by the Bell. “Jessie’s Song” (1990).

Like Helen of Troy, Jessie’s two-day-long addiction to caffeine pills launched a million memes and at least 10 references a day for my high school friends. 

Line I Wish I Wrote (and this time there can only be one!): 

Jessie: I’m so excited, I’m so excited… I’m so scared. (I want this on my tombstone, this is Jedi-level writing.) 

 

2. Melrose Place. “Just Say No” (1994). 

I always watched this show on mute while listening to Fugazi just to see Heather Locklear so never even processed this happening… 

Line I Wish I Wrote: 

BILLY: Allison, you were driving under the influence when you hit that little boy. (Later recycled in Anne Hathaway’s killer movie Rachel Getting Married, in which she runs over her little brother under the influence. It’s really great, and sort of shocking if you’re used to seeing her playing princesses all the time. She destroys her scenes as a depressed, self-hating, narcissistic alcoholic.)

 

1. The Sopranos, “The Strong, Silent Type.” 

This is the King Cobra, the Michael Jordan, the Joe Exotic of all fictive televisual intervention. The Sopranos rarely gets credit for being one of the funniest shows ever. Here’s some proof. 

Line(s) I Wish I Wrote (the best dialogue passage of all time): 

ADRIANA: But when you killed Cosette, that was the last straw.

TONY: Killed the dog? What’d you do that for?

CHRISTOPHER: It was an accident!

PAULIE: What, was it barking?

ADRIANA: He sat on her. 

TONY: You sat on poor Cosette! 

CHRISTOPHER: I thought she crawled under there for warmth.