7 Best Bottle Episodes in TV History

Our all-time favourite bottle episodes in tv history. Tell us about yours too? Write to us on theblahcksheep@gmail.com and we’ll feature you in our list.

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The art of storytelling on television often involves expansive and elaborate plots, but sometimes, the most powerful moments come from simplicity. Bottle episodes are episodes that are produced cheaply and confined to the use of regular cast members, effects and sets. It is a Hollywood hack used when a script is written at short notice, because of budgetary constraints or the network scrapping an episode at the last minute.

However, the concept of a “bottle episode” has evolved and become a staple in TV, allowing shows to focus on specific characters and explore deeper themes, all while saving time and resources. It’s now a creative tool for writers and directors to spend more time on character development and thus produce some of the most memorable and impactful episodes in the history of television.

Here are 7 examples of the best bottle episodes in tv history we’ve come across:

#1 “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” or “Cooperative Calligraphy” from Community

Okay let’s be real. Community really masters the art of bottle episode format. Dan Harmon uses this trick to focus on character development and relationships, which is a key aspect of the show. Its pop culture references and genre-bending allows all the episodes to be fresh and inventive. In one such episode, chaos and mistrust tear the study group apart as they try to figure out who stole Annie’s pen – causing them to miss the Greendale Puppy Parade.

#2 “Free Churro” from BoJack Horseman

This episode is a perfect example of how bottle episodes can be used to tell a powerful and emotional story. Set entirely in a single location of a funeral home, BoJack is shown delivering the eulogy for his mother. The episode is a monologue and is done entirely in voiceover, with no other characters or visual distractions. It delves deep into BoJack’s past, his relationship with his mother and the source of his deep-seated emotional issues, showcasing the show’s ability to blend comedy and drama. The episode also manages to convey a message about the importance of self-awareness and the need for self-improvement.

#3 “One Man’s Trash” or “Video Games” from Girls

If you haven’t seen Lena Dunham’s Girls, you’re in for a treat. Dunham is unhinged with her sharp, witty and sometimes controversial writing. One Man’s Trash is set entirely in Joshua’s house, a man who Hannah visits and has a one-night stand with. This episode provides a unique perspective on Hannah’s character as it allows the audience to see her in a different setting and ultimately leads to a powerful monologue where she confesses her desire for happiness and the resentment she feels towards her own sadness and self-doubt.

#4 “Leslie and Ron” from Parks and Recreation

This episode is set in a single room, where Leslie and Ron are locked in overnight in order to resolve their long standing rivalry. The episode is known for its comedic timing and clever use of the bottle episode format to explore the characters’ relationship and their differing ideologies. It also showcases the great chemistry between the two characters, and how they are able to find common ground.

#5 “The One Where No One’s Ready” from Friends

The episode takes place almost entirely in Monica’s apartment, as the friends are getting ready for Ross’ big museum fundraiser. The episode is known for its comedic timing and clever writing, as the characters’ interactions and mishaps while getting dressed provide plenty of laughs. Additionally, it also explores the theme of friendship and how the group supports each other in times of stress. The episode was well-received by both critics and viewers and is often considered one of the best episodes of the series.

#6 The Fly” from Breaking Bad

This episode is set almost entirely in a laboratory, where Walt and Jesse become obsessed with getting rid of a fly that has entered the lab. We’re treated to some of Bryan Cranston’s best work of the series here. The episode is known for its intense atmosphere, and explores Walt’s character as he approaches breaking point. Despite being the lowest-rated episode of the entire series, it received widespread critical acclaim.

#7 “Connection Lost” from Modern Family

This one makes it to the list because of the freshness it brought to the entire series. Original, spunky and modern, the episode was shot entirely through FaceTime chats as Claire Dunphy, is at the airport, and spends the time trying to get back home, amidst the possibility of Hailey being missing.

What do you think are some unmissable bottle episodes that we’ve missed out on? Share it with us at theblahcksheep@gmail.com and we’ll feature it on this list with your name! Happy Grazin’

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