This is the first time a single episode of a TV show has been featured on this list, but this one is a logical choice. The Andy Griffith Show (Great American Things, April 20, 2009) was in its first season, and this was just its eleventh episode. But all the attributes that would make it one of America’s all-time favorite shows were on display from the start.
The plot – and I certainly hope this isn’t spoiling it for anyone, surely you’ve seen this episode – involved department store owner Ben Weaver insisting that family man Sam Muggins be put in jail for selling moonshine. Andy has no choice but to agree, knowing that it means Sam won’t spend Christmas with his family. Then he and Barney have the idea to move their Christmas celebration, complete with Barney dressing as Santa, to the jail and inviting the Muggins family.
Ben appears to be furious, but Andy soon realizes the miser has no one to celebrate Christmas with, and wants to join the celebration. Eventually, Ben has himself arrested so he can participate, but not before bringing gifts for everyone. Two interesting facts about this episode, titled “The Christmas Story”: It was the only one the show ever produced with a Christmas theme, and its cast included Margaret Kerry, the model for Tinkerbell in the animated classic Peter Pan.
As of now, the whole episode is available on YouTube: