From untimely deaths to marriage proposals, these scenes stuck with us
Watching a year’s worth of TV can make all those stories and characters feel like a giant blur, especially if you’re a voracious viewer. With so much storyline to disseminate, taking in dozens of series can fall into the category of becoming a chore. Yet, what makes those endless hours watching TV worth it are the moments that take your breath away. In most every series, there is that scene or two that just sticks with you — a conversation between characters, a pause, an action — that you can’t forget. A majority of those scenes, at least for me, come from dramas in the cable universe. For the most part, I disdain reality programming, so you won’t see anything from “The Real Housewives” series or the elimination of a contestant on a musical competition series on this list of TV’s best moments of 2012. Comedies have those moments as well, though they may be harder to define. If you’re laughing throughout a 30-minute episode of “Modern Family” or “New Girl,” which was the biggest laugh can be difficult to assess. And, in all honesty, there are more quality dramas on the air than top-notch comedies. Here are a handful of standout smallscreen memories from 2012: Goodbye, Lane: Jared Harris’ Lane Pryce was the quiet one among the drinkers, smokers and philanderers on “Mad Men,” and he might have been the most proud. That extreme adversity to shame cost him his life. He hung himself rather than admit he was fired from the company for embezzling funds to pay his own taxes. It was a shocking way to see his character written off. crew that’s always in each other’s business. When she and husband Peter Krause deliver the tragic news, it’s crushing — not only to the characters but those of us at home washing away in tears. The confession: It wasn’t when, with bulging eyes and a quivering chin, that Claire Danes finally breaks Damian Lewis in the interrogation scene in “Homeland” that reset the plot for most of season two. Rather it was Carrie’s affection for Brody that swayed him to fess up, and she used that emotion effectively, convincing him that their relationship took priority over his terrorist agenda. And away they go: You don’t have to be a horse-racing junkie to understand the drama of a big race, and no race were bigger than Nick Nolte’s Gettin’ Up Morning competing against Dustin Hoffman’s Pint of Plain in a classic duel at Santa Anita in HBO’s unfortunate “Luck.” Sadly, that episode turned out to be the series finale and we’ll never know what would have become of David Milch’s equine saga. A quiet sitdown: Sometimes a great scene has no dramatic conclusion hanging in the balance, just a pairing of superb actors at the top of their craft. That’s what struck me when I watched Khandi Alexander and Clarke Peters’ characters chat up one another in HBO’s New Orleans-set “Treme.” I’d watch these two talk about anything, at any time, all day long. Presidential guffaws: “Veep” set just the right comedic tone in its debut season, and while many moments made me laugh, near the top of the list was when Julia Louis-Dreyfus found out the president was feeling ill and she might, at any moment, become the most powerful person in the world. It was as if one of us — a schlub who befuddled her way up the political ladder — was thrust into such a situation that brought out the comedic aspect of it all.
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