6 Claustrophobic TV Bottle Episodes
Bottle episodes are used by producers, writers and directors to primarily save money. The art of creating a single episode of a show is a ridiculously expensive process. So to save money the crew use the bottle episode technique to create a narrative that contains no guest stars and has the action take place almost entirely on an existing set. These are the 6 most claustrophobic bottle episodes in television.
Seinfeld - "The Chinese Restaurant."
Probably the most famous example of a bottle episode, George, Elaine and Jerry visit a Chinese restaurant with a short window available for them to eat their food as Jerry want's to see Plan 9 from Outer Space. George needs to use the telephone, Jerry dares Elaine to steal some food and Jerry meets his uncles secretary, who he blew off to go to the movie. Seinfeld made a habit of creating bottle episodes with "The Parking Garage" and "The Subway" being other prime examples of their solo set stories.
The West Wing - "17 People"
Aaron Sorkin's political masterpiece was famed for it's dialogue ridden scenes that perfectly compliment the bottle episode template. "17 People" is debatably the most important episode in The West Wing's back catalogue as Toby Ziegler works out that President Bartlett doesn't plan on running for a second term and the Presidents multiple sclerosis is revealed to him. The B Story to this episode is the rest of the gang Sam, Josh, Donna and Ainsley improoving a speech by adding jokes to it. Each plot runs in tandem together and the morose meeting in the oval office is lightened by silly puns and republican jokes.
Friends - "The One Where No One's Ready"
If one episode of a show could be chosen to sum up an entire series, Friends would use this one. Ross is being presented with an award at his museum and each of the gang is getting ready to leave. Suddenly Rachel can't decide what to wear, Phoebe's dress is ruined, Chandler and Joey want to sit in the same chair and Monica decides to have a mental breakdown all while Ross grows increasingly frustrated at his friends lack of urgency. However all ends well when the gang head out of the door just in time to catch a cab as Rachel reveals that she isn't wearing any underwear. Classy.
Black Books - "Party"
British show's are mostly filmed entirely on one set. However the final episode of Black Books see's Bernard, Manny and Fran simply attempt to figure out what they are doing that night. Of course they end up getting drunk but this episode allows the group to open up to each other and we see that their friendship has truly evolved into genuine love and affection for one another.
Firefly - "Out Of Gas"
Firefly only lasted for a dozen episodes yet it's sci-fi premise always endangered it to budgetary restraints. In "Out Of Gas" the ship is stranded and Nathan Fillion's Mal attempts to rebuild the engine as the episode uses flashbacks to show how everyone came to be aboard Serenity and how they ended up injured, with most of these vignettes taking place on the ship. Of course the show ended up being canceled only a couple of episodes further down the line, much to the chagrin of sci-fi nerds the world over.
Community - "Cooperative Calligraphy"
Trust Community to make a meta bottle episode, with Abed narrating the mindset of the audience throughout. Annie's pen goes missing and the group search for the thief who took it means that each of them turn on each other and they reveal some home truths to each other that didn't need to be aired yet ultimately brings them closer together. The episode concludes with the group deciding that a ghost took the pen, with the real culprit being Troy's runaway monkey.