As a break from talking about A) how hot it is, B) how much we’re perspiring, and C) how it’s currently possible to cook tuna on the streets of NYC, I’m going to talk about D) television. Yay!
(This isn’t meant to detract from today’s recipe – a stunningly easy, very tasty no-cook red pepper and white bean wrap. I’m just feeling punchy.)
I tend not to watch a lot of TV, but it’s a good time when the mood strikes. Since we don’t get cable, we rent Netflix DVDs and take in a few episodes of one show in a single evening. It’s kind of like watching a really long, really good movie over a few nights. It’s how we discovered both Friday Night Lights and Mad Men, which we now quote constantly, to the detriment of actual original language.
Anyway, for kicks, I thought I’d compile my top ten single TV episodes, ever. In history. Of America. Readers, do you agree with any of them? What are your favorites? The comment section is wide open. I think this’ll be a good one.
(Needless to say, there are spoilers ahead. Read with caution. Oh, and try the wraps. They’re good.)
1) The Sopranos – “Long Term Parking”
I am of the opinion that this is the greatest hour of television ever made, and it’s 99% due to Drea de Matteo’s performance as Adriana La Cerva, the FBI-informant girlfriend of gangster Christopher Moltisanti. (She won an Emmy for her troubles.) There’s one scene in which she appears to be escaping from certain death, only it turns out to be a dream, and I think I stopped breathing for about 20 minutes. Sopranos fans, you know what I’m talking about.
2) Six Feet Under – “Finale”
You know how super solid shows seem to mess up their series finales? (See: Seinfeld, The Sopranos, etc.) Totally not the case with SFU. They wrapped it with a pitch-perfect montage that echoed a major plot device within the show, and made me openly weep for about four days straight.
3) Roseanne – “War and Peace”
Sullen, smart, and just trying to navigate adolescence, Darlene Conner was my hero growing up. This episode, she bails her father out of jail after he decks her aunt’s abusive boyfriend. Sara Gilbert kills it. (Other Roseanne contenders: “A Stash From the Past” and the one where Jackie and Roseanne’s dad dies, if only for this scene. Man, Laurie Metcalf is the best.)
4) The Office – “Casino Night”
Yeah, there’s the whole PB&J scene at the end, which catapults this season finale into the canon. But it’s what comes before that makes this Season 2 episode truly outstanding. Every character, from Creed to Bob Vance, have wonderful scenes. Steve Carell/Michael Scott anchors the whole shebang with the funniest imagined love triangle, evah.
5) Friday Night Lights – “The Son”
Why isn’t anyone watching this show? EVERYONE should be watching this show, if only to see Zach Gilford’s portrayal of Matt Saracen, the put-upon second-string quarterback who deals with indignity after indignity with the patience of Job. Here, Matt confronts the death of his dad with heartbreaking confusion and characteristic sacrifice.
6 & 7) The Simpsons – “HOMR”/”Treehouse of Horror IV”
Man, it’s so hard to pick just one. So here are two. The first is largely about the relationship between Lisa and Homer, which always guarantees a good plot. The second is, IMHO, the best of the show’s Halloween episodes, not least because of the hilarious Dracula parody. (“Oh, Lisa! You and your stories! ‘Dad, Bart is a vampire.’ ‘Beer kills brain cells.’ Now, let's get back to that... building thingy... where our beds and T.V... is.”
8) Friends – “The One With the Embryos”
While the first three seasons produced some classic television, Friends really started firing on all cylinders in Season 4. Phoebe was still a sweetheart, Ross had not yet become a shrill drip, and even Monica had moments of hilarity. This episode, in which the girls engage the boys in an all-out trivia war, is the best of the whole series. Miss Chanandler Bong agrees.
9) The Wire – “Misgivings”
A shockingly violent act committed by Chris and Snoop (the scariest henchman and henchwoman in all of television) binds Michael forever to Marlo’s organization. Really, all of Season 4 is exemplary TV, but few include such an obvious turning point for one of the major characters. Horrifying and riveting.
10) Mad Men – “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency”
Aesthetically, it’s easy to like Mad Men. The people, clothing, and sets are all meticulously gorgeous. Emotionally, it takes a little longer to engage. I wasn’t fully in until this episode of Season 3, in which a dippy secretary runs over a bigwig’s foot with a lawnmower at the office. High stakes, personal connections, and hilarious dialogue make it the best in the series.
Community – Paintball episode
Undeclared – the one with the dolphin noises
Planet Earth – the one where the shark eats the seal in one bite
Readers, what about you?
If you would like this recipe in your stomach, you might also quite enjoy ingesting:
White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Vegetable Wraps with Spinach
Adapted from Supermarket Vegan.
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (7-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained thoroughly
1 or 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium-large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 8-to-10 inch flour tortillas
A few handfuls baby spinach
1) Combine beans, peppers, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Puree.
2) Divide the mixture amongst the tortillas (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup each). Spread, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges of each one. Add a few spinach leaves to each.
3) Roll ‘em up.
4) Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Serve cold.
Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
218 calories, 5.5 g fat, 4.8 g fiber, 8.7 g protein, $0.76
Note: My (Tropical brand) tortillas come in at only 100 calories each. Your calculations may vary, depending on your wraps.
1 (15-ounce) can white beans: 536 calories, 1.4 g fat, 22 g fiber, 33.3 g protein $0.89
1 (7-ounce) jar roasted red peppers: 35 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $1.39
1 or 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice: 6 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, 0.1 g protein, $0.50
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil: 119 calories, 13.5 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.12
1 medium-large clove garlic: 4 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, 0.2 g protein, $0.05
1/2 teaspoon salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $0.01
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $0.01
6 8-to-10 inch flour tortillas: 600 calories, 18 g fat, 6 g fiber, 18 g protein, $1.07
A few handfuls baby spinach: 6 calories, 0 g fat, 0.7 g fiber, 0.3 g protein, $0.50
TOTAL: 1306 calories, 32.9 g fat, 28.9 g fiber, 51.9 g protein, $4.54
PER SERVING: 218 calories, 5.5 g fat, 4.8 g fiber, 8.7 g protein, $0.76