In order to determine the five best episodes to listen to on Valentine’s Day, I’ll use a few criteria. The first is how well the theme of the episode matches with the holiday of Valentine’s Day. Next, I’ll take into account the quality of the episode in terms of sound design and writing. Lastly, I will consider the humour of the episode, if appropriate to that episode.
#5: Mum’s the Word
True affections and a valentine complicate the relationship between Trent DeWhite and Mandy Straussberg.source: AIO Wiki
Mum’s the Word is an all-around fun episode. It contains humour, a Valentine’s Day theme, and is written well. Though I enjoy the episode, it only ranks #5 because it needs context. To fully understand what’s going on in the episode, you should have listened to The Present Long Ago. You’ll also want to listen to A Class Reenactment and the episodes regarding the separation of Mandy’s parents after.
Though this is a good episode, the next few are better choices to listen to this Valentine’s Day (though you could listen to all of them too!).
#4: Love is in the Air, Part 1
Katrina Shanks and Tasha Forbes arrive back in town, causing all sorts of romantic high jinks with Eugene, Jason, and even Connie.source: AIO Wiki
Though I didn’t listen to Love is in the Air, I remember enjoying Part 2 better than Part 1. This often happens with two-parters, as the first part sets up for the events of the last act of the first part and the second part, making for more of the action landing in the second part. The comedy in this episode is well-written, however the episode loses points on this list simply because of the fact that it isn’t a Valentine’s Day episode to the same extent as the top two are.
#3: Love is in the Air, Part 2
I don’t have much to add here, since I already covered the two-parter as a whole, but I just thought I’d mention that, not including behind the scenes and/or retrospective episodes, this is Will Ryan‘s 100th episode as Eugene.
#2: Prequels of Love
From chicken costumes to phone scams, we hear the stories of how Bart Rathbone, Whit, and Bernard Walton met, or proposed to, their wives.source: AIO Wiki
This episode hits all three of my criteria very well, though it particularly stands out in the humour category. If I were to compose a list of the funniest episodes, Prequels of Love would be somewhere near the top. It often has me laughing out loud, or, if I’m in public and listening through headphones, stifling my laughter! The combination of the characters of Bernard and Bart works really well (comment if you like the comedic pair of Bernard and Bart or Bernard and Wooton better!), not to mention the funny incidents that lead Bart and Doris to marry and the happenings surrounding Bernard and Maude’s first few times seeing each other.
It is also worth mentioning that the episode takes place on, or near, Valentine’s Day.
#1: The Last “I Do”
Kids’ Radio tells the story about a priest who defies a third-century Roman emperor who outlaws marriage.source: AIO Wiki
The Last “I Do” easily wins the competition for the best episode to listen to on Valentine’s Day, as the whole episode is about Valentine, the man Valentine’s Day is named after and the reason for the holiday. The writing is captivating and keeps you listening to find out how the story goes. Until I listened to this episode, I had never heard the story of Valentine. The sound design is immersive enough. You can tell that you are in the approximate time period through many of the sound effects and ambience (in addition to the exposition in the writing). The sound of the cart (I won’t give any spoilers regarding its usage in case you haven’t listened to this episode before) specifically stood out to me as being good at indicating what was going on in the scene that it was in (I’m trying to be vague for spoilers).