Over at Vulture, Matt Zoller Seitz gave a list of his TV "wow moments" - "TV moments that dazzled you artistically, emotionally, technically — you name it — and made you want to stand up and applaud". He limited his list to five, and it's proven a durable number for those on Twitter who want to participate. I tried to participate in that format, but you know what? Fuck brevity. TV is an embarrassment of riches, so I threw together a much longer list of all the moments that have shocked, surprised, and otherwise astounded me. There's no real order here (expect for maybe the first two or three picks) and I'll only comment on my picks where I think explanation is needed.
(I'll avoid any direct spoilers in the text, though I will link to clips where applicable for those who want to reminisce.)
1. The reveal of Laura Palmer's killer. (Twin Peaks)
I remember shouting something like "I fucking quit!", an expression of my need to take a break from the show for a little bit. I ended up pacing around my apartment for the next half-hour.
2. Walter White, through inaction, commits his second murder. (Breaking Bad)
3. The closing montage of the pilot episode of The Shield
Not just for the final shocker, but because I've never seen anything other show use a Kid Rock song in a manner that didn't annoy me.
4. "How's Annie? How's Annie? How's Annie?" (Twin Peaks)
The mac-daddy of all never-resolved-due-to-cancellation cliffhangers
5. Angel becomes Angelus. (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
"Fucking the vampire" isn't an accepted TV Trope phrase, but it should be.
6. "Well, personally, I kind of want to slay the dragon. Let's go to work." (Angel)
Now that's how you end a finale.
7. "So is it still a room when it's empty? Does the room, the thing, have purpose?" (Firefly)
8. Echo explores The Attic. (Dollhouse)
That tree is one of the most beautiful fucking things I've ever seen.
9. Dan Dorrity beats a man so bad his eye popped out of its socket. (Deadwood)
10. "You wanna know how I lost my virginity? Well, so do I." (Veronica Mars)
11. The ending of "The Non-Fat Yogurt" (Seinfeld)
As with so many other things on this list, it may not be the best example from the show's run, but dammit, this was my first exposure to Seinfeld's brillant story construction, and the moment I realize this show's brillance
12. "I never thought I'd miss a hand so much." (Arrested Development)
Admittedly, this one only wows on re-watch.
13. That time Seymour waited. And waited. And waited. (Futurama)
Excuse me while I go cry quiet tears into my pillow for the next hour.
14. Moonlighting apes Dr. Seuss.
15. "Just so you know, Jeff, you are now creating six different timelines." (Community)
16. We're gonna just throw a random dance sequence at you to close out the episode, and you're going to fucking like it! (Bunheads)
17. "The ghost is seen." (Enlightened)
I had a much harder time connecting to Enlightened than most fans, but this fucking slayed me.
18. Nathan and Co. deliver a baby. (Misfits)
19. "The company's position is that it's actually the opposite of racist, because it's not targeting black people; it's just ignoring them. They insist that the worst people can call it is 'indifferent'." (Better Off Ted)
20. "Where do you think we are?" (Scrubs)
21. Adventure Time uses the theme from Cheers to make you cry.
It takes skill to take somethign so warm and inviting and use it to break your heart.
22. "She said no, by the way." (The Office [UK])
23. Raylan Givens disarms Robert Quarles. (Justified)
For being the sickest, darkest visual gag I have ever seen.
24. Conan wastes NBC's money.
It was a gag that quickly got old over the week (especially as they grew more and more fake), but the first iteration, where Conan makes NBC pay out of its ass for the royalties to a Rolling Stones song, is a beautiful act of revenge from a man being pushed out of his job.
25. "WE HAVE TO GO BACK!" (Lost)
What about you? What are your favorite TV wow moments? Feel free to yell at me about how dumb my choices are in the comments.