Five top gambling-related sitcom moments
Gambling’s long been a staple of the situation comedy landscape – come the final few seasons of Cheers, barely an episode passed without Sam betting the bar on one ridiculous wager or another. Here, then, is a five-card trick – a quintet of mirth-making gaming-related moments from programmes that are guaranteed a place in the sitcom pantheon.
I – The League Of Gentlemen (Season Two, Episode Three – A Plague On Royston Vasey)
Originally a part of the troupe’s stage show, Go Johnny Go-Go Go-Go is one of the League’s greatest inventions; a card game so complex, it makes Winston Churchill’s preferred patience variant look like Snap. Just remember, Jacks are worth 10 and Kings are worth three, apart from one-eyed Jacks which are wild cards. Oh, and never open with a three – this isn’t Bamalama-Fizz-Vaj.
II – The Simpsons (Season Five, Episode 10 – $pringfield (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Legalized Gambling))
A superb send-up of Vegas living and the eccentricities of Howard Hughes, $pringfield casts Homer as a croupier and Marge as a problem gambler. Of the many great moments in the episode – boxer Jerry Cooney’s cameo is a particular joy – the initial town meeting is a highpoint if only because of Diamond Joe Quimby’s Kennedy-esque slipperiness and Lisa’s unabashed optimism.
III – Only Fools And Horses (Season Two, Episode Three – A Losing Streak)
He would become a part of the Nag’s Head massive but the first time we met modern-day spiv Boycie, he was something of a menacing figure. In A Losing Streak, the Trotters are in dire need of a change of fortune, one which Del Boy is convinced will come about over the card table. And just how confident is he of triumph? Why, he’s only gone and stuck Trigger’s car on it!
IV – Friends (Season Six, Episode Six – The One On The Last Night)
We could have gone for Season One’s poker night or the quiz that decided the fate of Joey & Chandler and Rachel & Monica’s apartments but how could we possibly not tip our cap to Cups? You’ll find the full rules here, but for now the big things to bear in mind are that i) the saucer card means an instant win, and ii) beginner’s luck is very important in Cups.
V – The Office (Season One, Episode Three – The Quiz)
It’s not the quiz we’re interested in. No, it’s the ‘real quiz’, the one that involves Chris Finch demonstrating that he can throw an object – in this case, one of Tim’s shoes – over Wernham Hogg’s Slough branch. As for what happens once Tim and Ricky are strong-armed into accepting the bet, the sight of Gareth Keenan joyfully punting an inflatable penis is nigh-on impossible to forget.