The Valentine's Dayepisode, a perennial favorite of television producers with calendar-paced shows,can sometimes feel like a candied cloud of fluff awkwardly tossed into an otherwiseunromantic season. However, some shows manage to lampoon the saccharine clichés.Here's a Whitman's Sampler of our favorites:
1. Modern Family : " MyFunky Valentine " (2010)
In an effort to spice up their annualdate, Phil and Claire Dunphy decide to get a hotel room and do a little role-playing. After "meeting" Phil at a hotelbar, the two make their way upstairs for a night of passion, only to have hertrench coatunder which she is nude get stuck in the escalator. Eventually, herfather happens to pass by and, naturally, wants to help. Modern Family proves that working too hard to strike a romanticspark often produces only a fizzle and, if your father sees you naked,mortification.
2. 30 Rock : " AnnaHoward Shaw Day " (2010)
Perpetually grumpy Liz Lemon decides to stickone to Cupid by making a February 14 date with her dentist. She alsoadvocates replacing Valentine's Day with Anna Howard Shaw Day, a real holiday that celebratesthe birthday of a women's rights activist-a suggestion that her coworkersignore. The night ends well though: After her surgery, Liz enjoysanesthesia-sponsored visions of all her ex-boyfriends in the dentist's waitingroom, and Jack is called to take her home (reminding us all that the platonic Jack-Liz friendship is theshow's greatest romance). For curmudgeons in the audience, Liz's defiance inthe face of overwhelming social pressure is as encouraging as it is funny.
3. Arrested Development : " MartaComplex " (2004)
In keeping with the show's trademark sardonicism, Arrested Development's take on theholiday is equal parts charming and sour. Michael contrives to throw aValentine's party for his entire family, after which his toast inspiresunexpected change among the gathered couples-including a separation. Michaelalso realizes he loves his brother's girlfriend, Marta, but tragicallymisinterprets an overheard phone call in which she speaks of loving "el hermano"meaning,in fact, Michael as evidence of her infidelity with a stranger named Hermano.After spying on Marta for a time, Michael hilariously confronts her during whatshe meant to be their first date, making the episode comforting for those whoseV-Day plans might be equally unsuccessful.
4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer : " Bewitched,Bothered and Bewildered " (1998)
Magic is said (atleast by the genie in Aladdin ) to haveno power over human love, but in this Buffy classic, dopey sidekick Xander tempts the fates. When fashionable, bratty Cordeliabreaks up with him under peer pressure, he has a witch cast a spell to put her"through the same hell" he has just experienced. The curse backfires, however,causing every woman in Sunnydale except Cordelia to become madly obsessed withXander. Also, Buffy is temporarily turned into a rat. The lesson? Be carefulwhat you wish for, especially in lovebeing alone is far better than fightingoff a hoard of knife-wielding zombie suitors.
5. 7th Heaven : " Happy'sValentine " (1997)
If you're not intofamily-friendly, vaguely religious TV, you might have missed this little sweettart from 7 th Heaven . Whenthe wholesome Camden parents go camping for V-Day, the kids get distracted bytheir various love interests and lose track of the dog, which goes out lookingfor its lost puppies. In a dark (and probably unintentionally amusing) twist,the dog gets hit by a truck, causing the family to reunite during an all-nightvisit to the vet. For the viewer with a lurid sense of humor, this episodeprovides as much dark delight as a heart-shaped box of worms.