There are certain scenes that crack me up every time I think of them.
Here’s one such clip – from That 70’s Show, featuring the usual gang + Tommy Chong + SCTV alums Joe Flaherty and Dave Thomas.
And now, just to ruin the fun, I do some rambling. I’ve found that with most creative things there is some measure of success between whether or not your audience remembers jack squat about them later. I’m not talking about things done for sheer shock value, I’m talking about scenes that you remember years later about the movie or the show or the book.
When I was a kid, The Wizard of Oz used to come on once a year and my mom and I would sit glued to the TV watching. When Dorothy first steps out into Oz and the movie turns into color…that was magical to me. As a teenager I re-watched the movie after years of being away from it and I honestly didn’t remember anything about what happened before Dorothy got to Oz (other than the tornado and singing about being over the rainbow).
The scene I wanted to use had embedding disabled, so I use this one because the Wicked Witch’s threat used to terrify me:
One of my favorite TV shows of all time is the short-lived Freaks and Geeks. There are so many scenes that stand out because they’re the painful, embarrassing and awkward moments of adolescence made touching and hilarious. I had a tough time picking just one, but I finally settled on this scene because if you managed to get through school without being picked on (or without having to play dodgeball), then you’re either lucky or you’re a big, giant bully.
I had a hard time with books because I didn’t want to pick a scene that would give away a major spoiler and I didn’t want to pick anything I’d read recently, because of course it’s still fresh in my mind. So I picked out a piece that most people are familiar with – Macbeth. It was always my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays because it was so psychological. The “out, damned spot!” monologue where it’s so obvious Lady Macbeth is descending into madness…that’s classic.
And, wouldn’t you know, I’ve got a movie clip to go along with my book scene. Scotland, PA is a modern-day twist on the play.
*warning, lots of cursing*
The above scenes work because they stick to the overall theme of each piece. Oz transports us to another place, Freaks and Geeks lets us relive the good (and bad) times of being a teenager, and Macbeth pulls us into a twisted web.
They’re also successful because of the emotions they evoke. They make us excited, they make us cringe, they make us apprehensive…and that is the key. It’s that whole show, don’t tell thing. The audience wants to be able to connect and strong scenes help get the job done.