What’s Your Favorite Clip Show Episode?

I think my first clip show experience was an episode of Friends. If you’re not familiar with the term, a clip show is when a television shows short highlights from past episodes instead of new content.

As a viewer, I wasn’t a fan of clip shows. If I’m sitting down for my weekly dose of Phoebe/Ross drama, I want a fresh new episode, not a rehash of clips I’ve already seen. Sometimes I’d watch them; other times I’d just turn it off.

However, a few shows in more recent years have put their own twist on this format. I’m aware of two that have done brilliant things with clip shows; perhaps you’re aware of others:

  • Community: There’s an episode of Community (season 2, episode 21) that starts off like any other clip show…at least, it seems that way. The study group refers to some crazy adventure they went on a while ago, and the camera cuts to a clip. Except you probably can’t remember the episode on which the clip was originally featured, because the clip is actually new footage. I genuinely thought I had missed an episode or two until the clips continued and I realized they were all new. The episode was a complete riff on the clip show format. It’s one of the most brilliant half hours of TV shows I’ve ever seen.
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: This episode, which just aired last week, actually does feature a number of clips from real episodes. Then it gets weird. The gang starts remembering things differently than they actually happened. They’re subtle differences at first, and then they veer into completely alternate realities. The episode ends up being a lot more like a short version of Inception than a clip show–it was great.

I’m sure other shows have done something special with clip episodes. Would you recommend any in particular?

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