TV moments that provoke(d) a physical reaction

Paulaabdul_lEver since I wrote a PopWatch post about the Three’s Company episode that I still can’t discuss without getting misty — and 998 comments followed naming the TV moments that made others cry — I’ve respected the power television has over my body. It’s really a beautiful thing, the way good or "good" TV can move us physically.

Take Paulagate. Our Idol expert Michael Slezak said he immediately pressed pause on his remote after Paula Abdul critiqued a song that Jason Castro hadn’t actually sung yet. Time had to literally stop while he processed what he’d just seen. (I, myself, opted to hit mute, as I tend to do when anyone on a reality show says something mortifying and my instinct for self-preservation kicks in. As I’ve mentioned before, I practically wear out my remote during the first episode of any Bachelor season, when the ladies attempt to make "memorable" first impressions by singing or reciting an original poem.)

What visceral responses has TV provoked in you, and in what moments? In addition to the standard talking back to the television when a plot line doesn’t go my way (oh, don’t even pretend like you’ve never yelled a belligerent, "No!"), I’ve also been known to:

burst out in a spontaneous, two-second fit of rapid applause when a scene is so emotionally satisfying that it makes meappreciate the television medium as a whole. (I did that yesterday, in fact, while watching the final moments of this Sunday’s Brothers & Sisters. You won’t want to miss it, that’s all I’m saying.)
forget to breathe when my mind apparently can’t allow anything to distract it from watching how a scene plays out. (That’s rare, but the best Buffy and Angel episodes still have their way with me.)
force myself not to close my eyes or look away when a crucial moment of a sporting event is about to unfold live. Why? Because I’m making a deal with God that IF I experience this excruciating tension head-on, my suffering will help earn the team or individual I’m rooting for the win. (I believe this is in direct response to my mother, who gets so nervous that she has to leave the room.)

Your turn.

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  • Elizabeth

    I didn’t start watching “24” until the second season, but I friend of mine lent me the first season, so my NYE date that year was Jack Bauer as I sat and watched the entire season consecutively, starting at hour 8 since I strolled my way through the first seven hours prior to NYE. I had a hard time catching my breath when it was all said and done. It wasn’t that it was so action packed, but not having a chance to digest what just happened and prepare for the next hour – just go on to the next hour was GREAT!

  • Lauren

    I can think of a few:
    1) Veronica Mars–Logan and Veronica’s first kiss outside the seedy hotel room. I’d only watched a couple of episodes before that aired, but that gave me a pretty good idea of their complex history. Between the total surprise, and the white-hot chemistry, I remember sitting in my room going, “Oh, wooooow.”
    2) For me, Friday Night Lights has provided many of these moments. In August, my roommate purchased Season 1 on DVD, and we were watching the pilot late at night. Total silence, followed by “no no no” right after Street’s collison on the field that would leave him paralyzed. Tears when he wheeled through the banner at the homecoming game. And on and on and on. I’m SO happy it’s getting a third season!
    3) The “That’s My Dog” ep of Six Feet Under. Let’s just say I was curled up in a ball by the end.

  • Kevo

    Everytime Lost pulls the rug out from under its viewers (Locke in a wheelchair! Jack’s flashback is a flashforward!) my mouth drops open, I shout out loud “Holy crap” and for some reason I always stand up (don’t know why I can’t stay seated when Lost surprises me). I did the same for The Sopranos finale and then immediately called my sister to see if her cable went out like mine did.

    • Austin

      I threw up when Juliet fell down the hatch shaft. For reals. It was awful.

  • Steve W

    Easy — The Shield, when Shane kills Lem. Nothing comparable in my life on TV.

  • JMC

    Lost regularly makes me cuss loud and long. Occasionally I have to get up and scream I knew it! I knew it! when they confirm a theory I’ve had for a long time. Survivor’s Cook Island season regularly had me jumping on the couch a la Cruise… and Daniel ascending on SG-1 had me in tears for most of the episode. Damn you, tinkly music.

  • Anonymous

    the episode of Sex And The City when Natasha discovers that Carrie and Big are having an affair – Carrie’s in her kitchen – and then proceeds to run out of the apartment, fall down the stairs and cut open her lip while Carrie is chasing after her. cringe worthy and horrifying. so well done. affairs are messy and this episode illustrated this brilliantly.

  • Rose Tyler

    1. The pilot movie for Battlestar Galactica. When Six broke the neck of that baby, I got so sick to my stomach I was sure I was going to throw-up. It doesn’t get any easier upon further viewings either.
    2. Season three finale of Gilmore Girls when Rory graduates. Her speech made me jump up and start clapping, all the while balling my eyes out. Heck even Luke, that ol’softy, was crying.

  • KB

    Easy–the season finale of Alias when Sydney and Vaughn were t-boned by that car at the very end. I instinctively curled up into the fetal position.

  • annie

    Oh Lost. I yell, cry, laugh, and gawk open-mouthed whenever I watch it. Example: last night I started laughing hysterically, and had to wait til the had to tell my friends it was because his chest was hairless. Since he has a very hair chest (see the Pilot), i found it sooo funny!

  • Catherine

    1. Sex and the City, the episode when Miranda’s motehr died. I was crying so hard, I had to stop the DVD.
    2. I am always yelling at the TV when I watch 24 and don’t even get me started on Tony!!! (who by the way did not died, but went away…) and that beginning of season 5, I did stop breathing!!!
    3. And well Lost, where to start??

  • Karen

    On this season of the Deadliest Catch when a crew member slammed his finger and had to alliviate the pressure with a needle. So gross, not only visually but the sound, YUCKY!

  • Catherine

    It was an episode of “M*A*S*H*” in which Hawkeye Pierce recounted being in a bus filled with Koreans and one of the passengers smothered her child to keep it from crying so that the North Koreans wouldn’t find them. I sat there with my mouth open–have never done that before, or since.

  • Bea

    One of the few times I enjoy hearing noise from the neighbors is when our professional athletes here in Boston pull off an especially great play and you can hear roars of approval up and down the street.
    Also, when Nick did a dramatic interpretation of Styx song “Lady” to demonstrate his feelings for Lindsay on “Freaks and Geeks”, I had to look away in extreme discomfort.

  • tesla

    Lost, episode “The Constant” – At the end when Des and Penny finally talk to each other on the phone, I was caught between cheering and crying! The momentum of that episode was so well done!

  • Charles

    When Dr. Romano walked into the helicopter rotor on “ER” and lost his arm. Both my wife and I gasped out loud and felt a little sick. He was a nasty character, but no one deserves that, at least in real life. It truly was the most stunning and unexpected moment I’ve seen in almost 50 years of watching TV. Amazing stuff that shows just how powerful and surprising good TV can be.

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