My favourite TV storyline has to be the “character takes illegal substance” episode. Every show from The Simpsons to 7th Heaven (remember that?) has featured an episode in which a main or peripheral character has entered an altered state of consciousness, almost always with hilarious results, not to mention painfully bad puns for titles.
So to celebrate this time honoured tradition of television, here are some of the best drug episodes of popular TV shows.
Frasier: Season 11, Episode 11. ‘High Holidays’
This episode is so good because it contains a plot, a subplot, and a talking dog. Wanting to rebel against convention, Frasier’s brother Niles buys a pot brownie. Unbeknownst to him however, his father Martin eats it instead, thinking it an innocent dessert, and then replaces it with a regular brownie.
What ensues is a sober Niles who believes he’s stoned, a high-as-a-kite Martin who has no idea he’s ingested anything harder than chocolate, and a series of very funny misunderstandings and forays into the world of the munchies. Outstanding.
Freaks and Geeks: Season 1, Episode 13. ‘Chokin’ and tokin’’
Although Freaks and Geeks featured substance abuse in some form or another in almost every episode, this one stands out because it is innocent do-gooder Lindsay Weir who has decided to partake. There’s just one problem: soon after she finishes off a massive joint her father bursts into the room and announces she has to go baby-sitting.
Needless to say she freaks out big time. She gets trapped in an existential game of hide-and-seek with a five-year-old (who ironically will go on to play the son of the main character on the hit Showtime series Weeds) and thinks that a sleeping dog has dreamed her entire world into existence.
For added coolness points, this episode also features the effortlessly cool song ‘Little Green Bag’, made famous by Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.
King of the Hill: Season 4, Episode 14. ‘High anxiety’
This episode made the list because Hank Hill is about the last character I can imagine getting high, ever, and although he takes just one drag of a joint, which he hilariously believes to be a clove cigarette, this is exactly what happens.
Not only does Hank use the terms “going on a trip” and “doped out of my gourd” throughout the course of this episode, he also becomes the suspect in a murder investigation. This bizarre episode is equal parts cautionary tale, absolute stoner fodder and just plain ridiculous.
Fresh Prince of Bel Air: Season 3, Episode 19. ‘Just say yo’
This episode has its funny moments; however overall is a more serious take on the drugs issue than the others. Will is stressed out and exhausted, prompting his basketball team-mate to offer him some speed to perk him up a bit. Will takes it-reluctantly and stows it in his locker “just in case”. Later on, Carlton comes along in search of vitamins and instead takes the amphetamine pills.
After displaying some of the finest dance moves I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in a long time, he eventually collapses and Will, realising what has happened, rushes him to the hospital. Carlton is all right in the end. Will, however is racked with guilt and ultimately issues a tearful apology to his family, in what is one of the most touching moments in the entire series.