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Monday, January 7, 2013

Why Some Of These TV Scenes Will Impress You.


I finally got my wife to give in and watch Homeland. She was quite the skeptic, especially after my previous post on the show, as she really doesn’t like scary or disturbing shows/movies and was turned off by what she believed the show was. However, she quickly became hooked watching the two seasons over the last 2.5 weeks.
There has been much talk about the show --- from the unconventional plot (American war hero turned terrorist), to its delving into mental health issues (electroshock therapy), to it sweeping the Emmy’s (is it really that great a show?).  However, there have been those “Moments” that just get you and leave you in awe --- of damn that was great.
Perhaps the greatest standout moment to both me and my wife, was Season 2 Episode 5 “Q & A”. In the middle of this episode is a solid 15-20 minute, hold your breath scene, of simply incredible filming, writing, and acting. We watch Carrie completely open her soul in an attempt to get Brody to do the same. 98-99% percent of the dialogue belongs to Carrie, but in no way does that mean that Brody is outclassed. His defeated demeanor and expression, coming to terms with just being completely beaten, downtrodden, and abused but yet clinging to the most minute of possibilities of somehow still denying the accusations and thinking he’s going to be able to continue on “normal life” (in his case being a terrorist/reforming US foreign policy). His shrinking into the fetal position following the interrogation hoping, praying that this isn’t real, his life hasn’t come to this and that he can still be a fetus hidden in a womb is truly a piece of art. Carrie realizing that the only possible way for her to truly break Brody and get him to come clean is to go through the cleansing and purification process herself. This scene perfectly depicts so many feelings we all feel --- we wish we could share the utter and complete truth of everything we are thinking and feeling. But we can’t; it is far too scary and dangerous to ever divulge all that information.  But yet, Carrie is able to do what she needs to. Maybe she had reached her bottom with her mental breakdown and that was the only reason she was able to truly be open and come clean.
My point however is to realize and make note of the truly great excellence from all aspects of that scene.  This got me thinking of couple of my favorite acted scenes in TV off the top of my head.

Tami & Julie Taylor --- Friday Night Lights Season 3 Episode 10 “The Giving Tree”
The scene is the sex-talk between Tami and Julie after good-ol’ coach walks in on his little princess in bed with Matty. I’ve never had the real-life experience of this but I imagine this is how I would want it to go down. Julie realizing that the independence she has always wanted from her parents has in some ways arrived, but at the same time she was still stung by the guilt of disappointing them. But the real star is Tami. Here she exemplifies the mother we all wish we had. She perfectly handles the difference in the situation from Season 1 where she tries convincing Julie to keep her hands to herself. Then, Julie was 15 and making a rash decision with a boy she hadn’t known for very long: this time, she’s 17 and far more convincing when she says that she is in love with Matt and that he loves her. Tami reacts perfectly: this isn’t an issue about grounding, or about punishment, but about ensuring that they can discuss this in the future. It strengthened our love in Matt & Julie and provided free acting and parenting lessons in one.

Jerry & George --- Seinfeld Season 1 Episode 2 or 3 “The Stake Out”
Yes, I know how could I take “one moment” from Seinfeld? Of course, there are hundreds of scenes I could have taken, but this one scene early one truly just exudes brilliance in comedic acting and sets the stage for what’s to come from these two characters. The scene is George and Jerry waiting in lobby of an office building, Jerry is hoping to bump into a girl he met at a party, and they are discussing their back story for why they are in the building. This scene sets the tone for all future quirky wacky deviant absurd creations that George is able to manifest out of thin air. It gives rise to his complete inability to remain calm under pressure, immediately cracking and blowing the plan. It also highlights his insecurities and desperate plea for attention and glory and to be a highly respected architect.  The scene really just set the stage for arguably the greatest comedy in history.

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