Travel the world without ever leaving your home or turning off your TV. This itinerary embarks from California, the home of television, and heads east.
- •VEGAS--Perfect Strangers, "Babes in Babylon" (S2, E5). Sin City offers a perfect backdrop for Bronson Pinchot's childlike wonder (listen to his voice change at the mention of Wayne Newton) and Mark-Linn Baker's manic precision as Larry channels Jack Torrance while stalking Balki for gambling money.
- •CAMPING TRIP--Parks and Recreation, "Pawnee Rangers" (S4, E4). The only thirty minutes of my life that I ever considered camping (when not watching Troop Beverly Hills). As if the Pawnee Goddesses weren't enough, this episode also introduces "Treat Yo' Self," which is what tourism is all about.
- •NEW YORK--The Office, "Valentine's Day" (S2, E16). Countless TV shows visit the Big Apple, but only Michael Scott will give you the real inside track.
- •QUINTESSENTIAL AMERICANA--30 Rock, "Stone Mountain" (S4, E3). Any comprehensive tour will convey a sense of life outside big cities with a stop in a small town. Jack and Liz visit Stone Mountain, Georgia and learn a lesson without borders: "All G-d's children are terrible."
- •LONDON--Friends, "The One With Ross’s Wedding, Parts 1 & 2" (S4, E23 and E24). Friends’s trip to London is for children of the 80s and 90s what the Brady’s Hawaiian vacation was for children of the 60s and 70s. It's a who's who of London celebs while still moving the plot forward.
- •AUSTRIA--Scarecrow and Mrs. King, "The Legend of Das Geisterschloss" (S2, E4). This unjustly forgotten family adventure series went to Austria...with Jean Stapleton...AS AN INTERNATIONAL SUPERSPY. Only in Austria, guys, only in Austria.
- •PARIS--Sex and the City, “An American Girl in Paris: Part Une et Deux” (S6, E19 & E20). Not even the City of Lights can make the wrong guy right or Sarah Jessica Parker fat. (PS: This was like Sophie’s Choice because the Blossom episode in Paris has Melissa Manchester...AS MAYIM BIALIK’S MOTHER.)
- •ITALY--Cheers, "Rescue Me" (S3, E25). An episode that forever altered the future of and is frequently referenced in Cheers/Frasier-verse, it also perfectly conveys the experience of dining in an authentic Italian restaurant...and freakishly prophesies the effect of voicemail on relationships.
- •INDIA--The Mindy Project, “Best Man” (S3, E21). Though India may not get much screen time, it's significance here creates an exciting and tear-jerking cliffhanger that may mean (i) more time in Southeast Asia next year and (ii) Mindy Kaling is no longer the brightest-dressed person on the show.
- •JAPAN--Designing Women, "Julia and Suzanne's Big Adventure" (S4, E9). Like the women on this show, I have a lot to say. So this one is going to stretch across a few list items.
- •As the Sugarbakers travel to visit their mother, smart sister Julia expresses excitement that they’ll see “the ‘real’ Japan.” Ditzy sister Suzanne astutely notes that whenever people talk about seeing “the ‘real’ anything, what they’re talking about, basically, is hanging around with poor people.”
- •She continues, “I don’t hang around with poor people at home. Why should I do it on vacation?” When their travel plans go awry, she notes, “The next time we get the urge to leave home, we should just get under our beds and stay there ‘til it passes.”
- •That's basically the sentiment driving this whole list. So maybe it’s Suzanne who’s the smart sister after all.
- •HAWAII--Plot-twist! Screw the Bradys! Visit Hawaii with the Angels: Charlie's Angels, "Angels in Paradise" (S2, E1). When Charlie himself is abducted, the Angels, including new addition Kris, must head to crime and bikini capital of the world, Hawaii.
- •Cheryl Ladd does some strip sleuthing on a nude beach with Mr. Roper; Jaclyn Smith creates a diversion by cooing "Hi there!" to a ship captain while dripping wet in a two-piece; and Kate Jackson, clothed as ever, makes smoothies with Don Ho.
- •LOS ANGELES--I Love Lucy, "Hollywood at Last" (S4, E16). Return home and behold the pioneer of the sitcom road trip. Visit vintage Hollywood haunt the Brown Derby with Lucy and William Holden. And stop wondering why The Facts of Life isn’t on this list. We’re talking about Lucy. Show some respect.