Five TV episodes to melt your heart this Valentine's day

By Jessica Zischke | 2/14/13 5:00am

Downton Abbey— Season 2, Episode 4 (2011)

Matthew (Dan Stevens) and William (Thomas Howes) are right in the thick of the Battle of Amiens toward the end of World War I when both are struck by a blast from the enemy’s side. Fortunately, both are able to return to Downton to convalesce, but bad news awaits both. While Mary (Michelle Dockery) launches aggressive course of treatment to help Matthew, Dr. Clarkson (David Robb) reveals that he will never be able to walk again nor father any children due to his transected spinal cord.

The conflicted Daisy (Sophie McShera) stays with William after their wedding until his dying breath, showing a devotion to him that the staff had never seen. Meanwhile, Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) returns to Downton per Robert’s (Hugh Bonneville) request and is reunited with Anna (Joanne Froggatt).

Characterized with the usual ups and downs of the Downton Abbey household, this episode manages to evoke happiness more often than sadness, and all of our favorite couples finally reunite.

Boy Meets World— Season 5, Episode 15 “First Girlfriends Club” (1998)

As Valentine’s Day infects the halls of John Adams High School, it seems like this romantic day won’t go smoothly for any members of the gang. Topanga (Danielle Fishel) finds a Valentine from Lauren (Linda Cardellini) — a girl Cory (Ben Savage) met on the class ski trip who took care of him and his sprained ankle — in Cory’s locker. However, it turns out she took care of Cory a little too well, and Topanga discovers that the two kissed. As the news spreads through the school faster than a lovebug, the future for this fairytale couple is uncertain.

Shawn (Rider Strong) makes a date with Angela (Trina McGee-Davis), planning to sweep her off her feet. Unfortunately, three of his ex-girlfriends have other plans in mind. They kidnap him to hold him on trial for “crimes against womanhood,” while Angela runs from house to house looking for her date. When she, Cory, Eric (Will Friedle) and Jack (Matthew Lawrence) show up on the scene, Shawn realizes his past mistakes and decides to take it slower with Angela in order to avoid making promises he won’t keep.

Containing more drama (and the usual melodrama) than the audience may expect, this episode may not sway any of the Valentine’s cynics in your life, but the only thing in store for both couples is a happy ending.

Lizzie McGuire— Season 2, Episode 1 “First Kiss” (2002)

In case you forgot how fantastic this show was, consider this episode your formal reintroduction. With Valentine’s Day just a week away, Lizzie (Hilary Duff), Miranda (Lalaine) and Gordo (Adam Lamberg) realize that everyone at their school has been struck by Cupid’s arrow. Well, everyone except them. When Ronny (Joe Rokicki) — the neighborhood paperboy — comes to Lizzie’s house, he brings out his inner smooth operator, and ta-da! Lizzie has her first boyfriend. Amidst their adorable couples-rollerblading excursion (helmet and knee pads included, of course), snapping silly Polaroid pictures of each other and arguing over who should hang up first, Lizzie quickly becomes obsessed with her new beau.

Days after this romance blossomed, Ronny utters what Jo (Hallie Todd), Lizzie’s mom, wisely deems “the four most horrible words in the English language”: we need to talk. In a time when long distance is defined as going to different schools but living in the same town, Ronny can’t commit, leaving Lizzie heartbroken. When Gordo gives her the only true cure for heartbreak (a big chocolate chip cookie), he almost confesses his real feelings for Lizzie, but holds back. But not to worry! The three musketeers are back together again.

Complete with crimped hair, bad tie dye and platform combat boots, this episode will bring you way back and remind you that there’s always “Galentine’s Day,” as Parks and Recreation would put it.

Friends— Season 1, Episode 14 “The One with the Candy Hearts” (1995)

As usual, nothing seems to go right for the crew this Valentine’s Day. Joey (Matt LeBlanc) brings Chandler (Matthew Perry) on a double date, only to find that — “Oh. My. God.” — the other woman is Janice (Maggie Wheeler), his obnoxious and crazy ex-girlfriend. After ordering two bottles of expensive champagne, Chandler wakes up to find that Janice is in his bed. Meanwhile, Ross (David Schwimmer) finally gets the courage to ask a woman from his building out to dinner. The two are trying to get through the awkward first date small talk when they discover that Carol (Jane Sibbett) and Susan (Jessica Hecht), Ross’ pregnant ex-wife and her partner, are seated just across from them.

Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Monica (Courteney Cox) and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) decide to commemorate their bad luck with men by having an “ex-boyfriend bonfire” in Monica’s apartment. Three firemen have to come when it gets out of control, and end up staying to chat with the women. Before the firemen leave, Rachel asks if they’d like to come back for drinks. Finally, the streak of bad men is over! Well, at least they think it is. At the Central Perk Café, Chandler decides he finally needs to dump Janice. However, she believes that deep down Chandler loves her and she declares that it’s not the end.

Packed to the gills with the usual mishaps and antics of the Friends posse, this throwback to the first season will leave your sides aching from laughter.

Modern Family— Season 1, Episode 15 “My Funky Valentine” (2010)

Nothing turns out exactly as expected for the family in this romantic episode, but then again, that’s what the audience has come to love about the show. Claire (Julie Bowen) and Phil (Ty Burrell) decide to ditch their 17-year tradition of an Italian dinner in favor of a risqué night of roleplay at a hotel. The awkward meeting of their alter egos in the hotel bar brings the laughs early on, but when Claire decides to only wear her coat, things go from awkward to humiliating. Of course, the coat gets caught in the escalator in the hotel, and soon Phil’s business partner and Luke’s math teacher come around to try to help. It takes the always-experienced Gloria (Sofia Vergara) to solve the situation.

Manny (Rico Rodriguez) is staying with Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) while Jay (Ed O’Neill) and Gloria go to a comedian. He walks in proclaiming that “the universe is cold and loveless,” and Cam decides to help Manny get his stolen love back. In dramatic fashion, they embark on a mission to Great Shakes, a local restaurant, only to find that the girl wants to stay with the boy who claimed Manny’s poem to her was his own. Manny realizes that she’s not worth the time, and the group leaves with a harrumph.

In the wise words of Cam, “It’s Valentine’s Day: it’s not the day you run away from love, it’s the day you track it down, tie it up and take it home.” So grab your arrow, arm yourself with some Phil-worthy pick-up lines and go track love down!

Jessica Zischke