Sitcoms have always had trouble mixing laughs and pathos (part of the problem is there isn't enough time for the complexities to play out; the other part is such shows generally don't attract the greatest writers in the world), but "The Golden Girls" did it better than most. They blended things so (generally) skillfully that sometimes a single line of dialogue could make you laugh and tear up simultaneously. This episode about Big Daddy's death is a pretty good example.
Another thing: I know it isn't cricket to expect absolute consistency from sitcoms episode by episode, since the writers often change basic facts over the years to fit new story line directions, but one thing stuck out in this one; when Blanche's sister Virginia berates her for "never being there for the family", I couldn't help thinking Blanche should have come back with, "Oh really? How about in Season One when I volunteered to give you one of my kidneys when you were dying?!?"
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