The Top Scenes of 2010
December 17th, 2010
So, the Top 10 Episodes of 2010 series will be taking a hiatus as I head into paper mode over the weekend (which means it will finish on Christmas Eve, in case you hadn’t done the math), but in ruminating on the subject I wanted something to spur some discussion over the weekend.
And, I think scenes are the way to go. While every episode is technically composed of various scenes, there are often scenes which make an impact distinct from their larger context and linger in ways we wouldn’t normally expect. Sometimes they are conversations which seem to resonate beyond the episode into the series’ larger context, whereas other times they are simply scenes which make us laugh or feel some sort of emotion whenever we think about them. Others, meanwhile, are simply incredibly inventive or exciting – there are just an infinite number of criteria, and so I figured this is a job for all of us rather than just myself.
So, I’m going to start with five, and then I very much encourage you to nominate your own selections in the comments. There are, however, two rules:
1) Avoid Detailed Spoilers
There are some shows people haven’t seen, and so I would appreciate (and I’m sure everyone would appreciate) that you don’t go into explicit detail with spoiler-heavy analysis. If you think something (whether it be a death on Dexter or a major event on Lost) could be construed as a spoiler by someone who hasn’t seen it, see if you can’t use other signifiers (episode title, omitting character names) which could at the very least limit the damage.
2) This is Not a Contest
I don’t think we’re going to have this problem, as you’re all pretty civil, but this is not some sort of elimination contest to decide the best scene of the year – rather, it’s a chance to collect an assortment of scenes that people really enjoyed. Like I said, don’t think it will be an issue, but I wrote that I was going to have two rules, and then discovered that I really only had one rule, but decided that the impact of there being two rules may be in some way helpful. Also, whether or not anyone comments on the inanity of this particular paragraph will test and see whether people bothered to read the rules in their entirety, which is always fun.
One final note: I participated in a feature going up at The A.V. Club next week which recognizes scenes of this nature – I wrote about a couple of scenes there, and so I’ll be sure to link to that when it goes up next week. It also means that I likely didn’t include certain scenes here because I’ve covered them elsewhere in other capacities (whether in A.V. Club Features or in my Top 10 Episodes list). My list also tends to lean towards comedy, but “scenes” can mean pretty much anything you want it to be, so don’t feel limited by that.
Five of the Top Scenes from 2010
Fairy Janette performs “Iko Iko” – Treme
[Sorry for the awful quality – better than nothing?]
Treme had numerous high points, but for me the scene which most reflected the infectious spirit which it both embodied and disembodied over the course of its first season was Kim Dickens’ Janette drunkenly dancing in the streets of New Orleans trying to turn cars into carriages with her wand and absent-mindedly belting out “Iko Iko” at the same time. The scene doesn’t become anything sinister, nor does it seem at all self-destructive: it is just a woman, freed of her responsibilities, letting loose and bringing passerby into the revelry – when Janette responds to the teenager that she’s “Me,” it’s sad and beautiful at the same time, which seems to be Treme‘s modus operandi.
Fluffy Town Chase Sequence – Community
I get that Community had numerous amazing scenes, many of them subtle and clever and everything else. However, I was never more impressed than when what seemed like a silly Troy/Abed storyline (the blanket fort) was utterly transformed by the growing sense of scale in the competing conspiracy storyline, converging with a chase sequence that is exciting but also incredibly clever. The chase itself is simple, but the way the scene outlines the various rules (no farting), attractions (the civil rights museum), and even culture (the Turkish District) of Fluffy Town is just brilliant. And yet the piece d’resistance is that the episode actually aired on Latvian Independence Day, making the chase-ending parade a truly wonderful detail amidst what could have been just another fun action sequence.
Peggy on the Scooter – Mad Men
This isn’t even a scene. It’s really just a shot. But in a season with numerous dramatic highs, it was one of a number of scenes which continue to prove that a great drama series is willing and able to be as funny as any comedy on television. While there are a number of other options, including a background body removal and Joan and Peggy’s tremendous conversation in the finale, there is something so simple and so genius about Peggy’s circular diversion that I just can’t get it out of my head. (Thanks to Misanthropy Central for the GIF)
Pizza Throw – Breaking Bad
That this was completed in a single shot is the single greatest cinematic achievement in Bryan Cranston’s career. It was the purest representation of Walter’s anger and frustration, the sort of moment which makes the character seem precisely as pathetic as he needs to be for the series to truly work. It is not perhaps a scene loaded with great significance, and the series has more thrilling moments later in its tremendous third season, but this singular feat of aerodynamics said more than any pizza-related scene in the post-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles era.
Ron Swanson vs. A Puppy – Parks and Recreation
This is a tough call. On the one hand, there are a good dozen Ron Swanson scenes that should be here, and I’m hopeful they will emerge in the comments. And many of those moments happened within “Telethon,” a season highlight. However, there was just something about that cold open which combined my unabashed love for Ron Swanson with my unabashed love for puppies. Throw in Aziz Ansari doing his best puppy voice, and I just melt every single time. (Thanks to F**kYeahRonSwanson for the GIF).
Now it’s your turn – what were your favorite scenes of 2010? Mine tended to lean towards the comic or the musical, but I want to make note that more dramatic scenes are absolutely desirable. Try to limit yourself to a few selections, but the more the merrier!