December 9, 2005

"100 Most Unexpected TV Moments."

Have you been watching the "100 Most Unexpected TV Moments" on TV Land? Here's the list of all 100 moments.

If you're not up-to-date on episodes of "The Sopranos," do not look at #56. And avoid #18 if you're not up-to-date on "Six Feet Under."

#45 made me cry! I am such a sap for certain 60s retro things. Actually, two things made me cry. One was Sonny and Cher getting back together to sing "I Got You Babe" on Letterman. The other was the interview part with modern-day Cher. Why did she ruin her face? (Won't the day come when puffed-out collagen-lips will seem as incomprehensible as giant shoulder pads?)

#42, James Stockdale: It's hard to believe it's not Phil Hartman playing James Stockdale, but that's really him, saying "Who am I? Why am I here?"

They keep showing teasers for #17: "Yolanda Bowersley, come on down!" We laughed hysterically for minutes when we saw that "Price Is Right" moment. Yolanda scampers down the steps, all excited, and the scampering makes her tube top fall down. You have to see it, maybe, to know how funny it is, but I'm laughing out loud just typing this. Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" comes in at #4, but I'm sorry, Yolanda Bowersley has it all over Ms. Jackson.

There's not much news or politics on the list -- by design -- but the Dean scream makes it to #7. To get to the next "most unexpected" political things, you've got to go all the way down to #21 (Walter Cronkite's "It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate") and #22 ( Lloyd Bentsen's "you are no Jack Kennedy").

Anyway, cool show. I love this kind of TV.


Mark the Pundit said...

How 'bout the William F. Buckley/Gore Vidal clash at the '68 convention?

One fav of mine is the SNL crackup sketch (number 98 I think). I went back and watched the "Debbie Downer" skit in its entirety and it is hilarious to watch every actor crack up on live television!

SWBarns said...

Re: #42, I remmember Dennis Miller's comments on Stockdale

"The reason he had to turn his hearing aid on at that debate is because those f***ing animals knocked his eardrums out when he wouldn't spill his guts. He teaches philosophy at Stanford University, he's a brilliant, sensitive, courageous man. And yet he committed the one unpardonable sin in our culture: he was bad on television.

"Somewhere out there Paddy Chayefsky must be laughing his ass off. ..."

Ann Althouse said...

SW: The TV Land show does cover the facts about Stockdale and is not unkind to him. They handled it well. I must say that I saw the original debate and liked Stockdale's approach, at least at first. He was genuinely stating the questions people had about him. But the style of presentation was just too shaky for TV, and it was vastly lampoonable.

wildaboutharrie said...

I remember in that debate when the question of abortion came up, Gore and Quayle blathered on, and Stockdale said something along the lines of "It's a woman's decision. Period." There was this surprised silence.

Even though I was (am) more conflicted about the question, I really appreciated that he just stated his position without all the marshmallow and left it at that.

Tom said...

I do like their number 1 choice, the Newhart finale. That last season was very odd for Newhart and they did some really weird things, very experimental and unconventional for what had been up to that point a fairly traditional sitcom. Some of it worked and some of it didn't. The finale worked perfectly. I liked how the laughter rolled through the audience--there was never one big laugh, it just gradually built up as the people realized what as happening.

As to the Debbie Downer sketch, what I remember is Dratch's desperate attempts to stay in character--biting her lip, blowing up her cheeks--until she just can't remember anymore. Then each cast member lost it, one by one, like dominoes. Lindsay Lohan lost it so badly she just has to walk off the stage. Classic crack-up.

Some other moments that come to mind:
--Kaufman throwing coffee on pro wrestler Jerry Lawler on Letterman, and Lawler responding by slapping Kaufman.
--Crispin Glover almost kicking Letterman in the face, followed by a quick cut to a commercial. Glover is gone when they return.
--the nudist colony sketch on SNL in which the word "penis" was used 56 times.
--more SNL, when Elvis Costello and the Attractions sing Radio, Radio despite NBC's orders not to.
--the episode of SNL in New Orleans, in which everything that could go wrong did, and then some more things went wrong. From what I've read, Lorne Michaels has had every tape of this show destroyed.

PatCA said...

Sounds fun. Is there a link?

athenius said...

They're all pretty tame. Makes you realize how dull TV is, if these are noteworthy (though I DO like #42!).

Jacob said...

Mark, yeah the William F. Buckley/Gore Vidal clash was hilarious. I was acting it out at a bar to my friends (because that's how cool I am!):
"The debate was going well until Vidal called Buckley a 'crypto-nazi' to which Buckley relied, 'Shut up you goddamn queer or I'll punch you in the mouth'". Of course one of those moments of silence where everyone coincedentially quiets had occured so there's my voice booming out a hate crime all over the bar. A girl actually spun around and glared at me.

Their #98 makes me think they don't actually watch BSG.
"98 NEW BATTLESTAR GALACTICA SEASON SHOCKER: In the season one finale of Battlestar Galactica, Lt. Sharon "Boomer" Valerii, is revealed to be a Cylon (the enemy robots), and shoots Commander William Adama."
It was a really shocking episode but we're known that Boomer was a Cylon for a while now. There were many other shockers in that episode like Adama arresting the President, his son being thrown in jail, Starbuck stealing the Cylon fighter and finding the other Boomer, Baltar being shot down over Kobol and finding out he's going to have kids with a Cylon etc etc. Of course, I haven't seen season 2, so I really don't know how this is resolved.

SWBarns said...

Ann: I didn't see the TV Land show and don't disagree that it was unexpected to see a candidate speak candidly. I think it is good to remind people who Admiral Stockdale was and why Perrot chose him as a running mate.

I thought Dennis Miller's comments were more unexpected. In a time when it was very fasionable to mock Stockdale I was astounded to see Miller come to his defense so forcefully. This was back before Dennis Miller was anything more than a cynical Jon Stewart type.

Susan said...

Unless I missed it somewhere on the list, I think they should have included the moment on LA Law where Rosalind Shays steps into the elevator and plunges to her death.

Truly said...

The list is pretty uninspiring--probably because I haven't seen most of the moments listed. It seems a little 1970s-heavy.

My addition: the episode of ER where Carter and Lucy are stabbed. TOTALLY didn't see that one coming. Carter falling to the floor and seeing Lucy across from him, bleeding to death... Wow. I was speechless.

Shows how much ER has declined, come to think of it.

Ann Althouse said...

SW: I like that Dennis Miller rant too.

wildaboutharrie said...

Susan - yes! I didn't even watch the show, but the reaction was huge, I remember.

One of my favorite disruptions of pretentious TV bilge: Soy Bomb breaking into dance behind Bob Dylan during his grammy performance.

Troy said...

Truly... The '70s were a wild wooly on TV. Even though there is more "smut" or violence on TV it's scripted and controlled and sanctioned.

Politicians, et al are more scripted and polished too.

Was the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald listed? Perhaps a bit dark for TV Land.

Dave said...

Number 1 being the finale of the Bob Newhart show?

Uh, no.

I'd even put the M*A*S*H finale above Newhart and I am no M*A*S*H fan.

Brendan said...

Jesus, what a lame, insulting list. Oswald's murder--on LIVE TELEVISION--should have been first or second on the list. Instead, it's nowhere to be found. Unbelievable. Debbie Downer? Like she's the first improv actor to start lauging in the middle of a skit? Did they not see Korman and Conway do this countless times on Carol Burnett? And what about Jaime Sommers' tearful death on The Six Million Dolllar Man? It caused such an uproar that ABC was forced to resurrect her character from the dead. Instead, TVLand gives us tripe like Hogan's Heroes. Exactly what was the memorable or shocking moment from that show?

Truly said...

Or the second plane flying into the WTC. That was more than just shocking.

Jacques Cuze said...

Yep, terrible stupid list.

After seeing what happened to Big Pussy, what about #56 was unexpected in any manner?

And the Dean Scream as #7? A complete victory of overly hyped shallow manipulation over substance. Ann, above you said you didn't like being manipulated.

Simon said...

Were it not for a few weird exceptions - the Buckley/Vidal confrontation, the Dean scream - you'd have to write it off as being the 100 most unexpected moments in light entertainment TV. Within that premise, this list would be arguable, but okay. But if you're going to include actual serious stuff - and they do - then the list is absurd. Lee Harvey Oswald, the moon landing, the world trade center, to name but three. In the end, the can't decide what they want the list to be, serious or lighthearted, and it ends up being impossible to take as either.

Townleybomb said...

Hmm, I think maybe some of us are taking this a bit too seriously-- after all, this is just another show from the "100 most awesomely bad reality show bloopers" genre....

Did anyone else notice that 3 of the top 10 were '80s prime time series using the "It was all a dream!" gimmick? I am not sure what deeper meaning that may have.

XWL said...

Regarding Townleybomb's comment:
"Did anyone else notice that 3 of the top 10 were '80s prime time series using the "It was all a dream!" gimmick? I am not sure what deeper meaning that may have."

It means we are all about to wake up and realize the past 20 years have been a dream. If you take back anything remember, "buy microsoft now, sell in 99, buy microsoft now, sell in 99, buy microsoft now, sell in 99. . . ."

Timothy said...

"Stop calling my a crypto-nazi, you goddamn queer, or I'll punch you in the mouth so hard you'll stay plastered."

My dad was 13 in 1968, but seeing that clip makes me laugh all the time. Nice to know that political discourse has been so elevated since before I was born.

Joe Baby said...

Vice presidential debates have never really been worth a damn, but I was always surprised at how unnecessarily nasty Bentsen's comment was. It was a righteous slapdown, but kind of put Bentsen out in Bob Dole-land. Wonder if he ever regretted it.

Ann Althouse said...

On not including Oswald, etc., they do take a lot of trouble to define the category, and it's pretty clear that news things are excluded except the funny kind of surprising stuff. Uh... and Walter Cronkite... or ... whatever.

Verification word: aichytv

Achy Breaky TV

Paul said...

We're worlds away in intelligence and education - you having the much higher; but we are in near lock-step on loving TV moments.
I must say I'm still saddened by Sonny & Cher breaking up and little Chastity in the middle. I always wanted them to get back together.
Cher has done a number on herself, facially. I wish she hadn't. And the tube top speaks for itself. Now that was spontaneous!

miklos rosza said...

I was a Bill Clinton partisan at the time so I remember very well that Dennis Miller came out for Perot. That's why he stuck up for Stockdale. Strictly as a partisan response.

Joe Baby said...

I don't think Miller's reaction was a purely partisan response. And, if anything, it was an anti-Quayle missile.

Townleybomb said...

Regarding Townleybomb's comment:
"Did anyone else notice that 3 of the top 10 were '80s prime time series using the "It was all a dream!" gimmick? I am not sure what deeper meaning that may have."

It means we are all about to wake up and realize the past 20 years have been a dream. If you take back anything remember, "buy microsoft now, sell in 99, buy microsoft now, sell in 99, buy microsoft now, sell in 99. . . ."

Hey, well what do you know-- you were right! I woke up this morning and Meredith Baxter-Birney was lying right there beside me! It was kind of confusing, to be honest, since I've never met the woman before in my life, but she seems nice enough.

Also, I'm typing this on an Atari 800 XL, so things are a bit garbled-- you said to sell Microsoft now and buy Enron in '99 right? DONE AND DONE!

Amandita said...

I would defend number #31, the Cincinatti WKRP turkey catastrophe, to the death. I wasn't even born during the original airing of that episode, but catching it on re-runs I still laugh until I'm crying.

XWL said...

Fancy, Fancy, I only have a plain old Atari 800. (still a great keyboard).

Let me try again, When you awake try and remember one thing "In the Superbowl Bet against Buffalo..., Bet against Buffalo..., Bet against Buffalo...)

(I bet for them (no spread) four times in my dreams, maybe I'll get it right after I wake up)

(This sleepstate suggestion is tricky business)

Oh and I'm against all list (except the ones I make)

Anthem For One said...

Three glaring oversights come to mind:

First, if they were trying to keep it on a lighter note, they still blatantly missed the streaker running out behind presenter David Niven at the Academy Awards.

If they were willing to open it up to less light-hearted moments, two are clearly beyond any on the list. First, one would have to consider the Challenger disaster. Much of the world was watching, including untold classrooms across America, given the Christa McCauliff story. Second would be when the second aircraft hit the second tower of the World Trade Center on national TV with a great many millions already watching their sets following the shock of the first impact. These two events (and likely even the slightly later collapse of the World Trade towers) clearly torch any other moments on TV Land's list for sheer unexpected shock impact. In fact, those two moments would likely be #'s 1 and 2 on my list.