You know 'em when you see 'em. That amazing little scene that stays with you, regardless of how crap the rest of the episode, or even the season gets. Spoilerish, but most of this stuff is a few years old, so where the hell have you been? in no particular order...
*ER. (Eh...The one after Carter and Lucy are stabbed.) The Teaser.
We know the psycho is after stabbing the two, but unfortunately, nobody else does. For five agonising minutes, we follow the camera as it flies past the room we know they're dying in and follows the various people who pass by unaware. They grumble about the X Ray light, chat about the Valentines Day party and mutter about work. Eventually, casually, Weaver opens the door, and we only see her face as she screams. Cue opening credits.
* Buffy, The Body. The first fifteen minutes or so.
I was initially torn between this, the arrival of the Gentlemen or Buffy leaving Sunnydale at the end of s2. But this wins hands down. The whole scene is in near-real time. No music, no credits, no SFX. Buffy comes home and finds her mother dead, and reacts not like a superpowered killer of vampires, but like a 19 year old girl. She panics, she vomits, she's irrational. SMG is not my favourite person in the world, but by christ, she can act.
* Angel, Five By Five. The fight with Faith.
Faith kidnaps Wesley to bait Angel. While she waits, she gleefully tortures him with fire and bits of glass. Angel shows up, and together they demolish the apartment in a savage brawl (She uses the ceiling as a weapon?!?) that eventually spills out into the street. Angel matches her blow for blow, but doesn't attack her. He tells her he's not going to kill her like she wants, and she breaks down. Cracking scene. Simple, effective, memorable, and for most people its the first time they realise that there's more to Faith than meets the eye. The episode that follows is also a great one, that highlights just how different Angel is to its parent show.
*Dark Angel. Pilot. Max's robbery.
If there was CGI involved, I was fooled. I only saw the scene once, but it made an impact. Max has to rob a very high, very heavily guarded building. Its the coolest damn stunt I've ever seen on TV, if thats what it was. She clicks a rope to the back of her belt, and swings, superman style over the street. The rest of the series was a bit shonky at times, but its hard to argue with a sequence like that.
*The Invisible Man, Pilot. Darien goes invisible for the first time.
Good lord this was cool. Darien sweats silver stuff. It crawls out from his pores in little puddles, out from under his hair, in between his fingers and eventually over his eyes. The last we see of his face he looks terrified. It just looked really cool, and I don't recall them ever doing it with such detail and care again after that.
*Friends. The one where Ross and Rachel break up.
Say what you will about Friends (And you'll probably be right) there was some intense acting in this. After all the pizza and leg wax jokes stop, and it gets right down to the dirty business of a savage break up, its like a play, only interesting. Two people in a room, having a messy row and breaking up, while their friends can only listen from the next room. And thats it.
*24, S1, 23.00-24.00 Nina makes her getaway. Or not.
Jacks' saved the day. The badguys are dead, his daughter is alive, the president is safe and for now nobodys noticed the gigantic glaring plot holes because it was all so much fun. Its all rosy for our steel-bladdered hero. But, like the scouring of the Shire, Hurricane Nina (El Nina?) of the malteser like hair skews it all, and secures her place as the Janice of 24's rogues gallery.
*The Sopranos. (The psychiatrist is raped.)
Whoa. Just whoa. Even for the Soprano's this was brutal. Whoa.
*Roswell, Pilot. Teaser.
We meet Liz. Think of Katie Holmes without the deranged smile, or the massive sentences. She's a nice gal, a waitress in a cafe that caters to tourists. She and her friend Maria as they work. A fight breaks out among two customers, and Liz catches a bullet. Step forward tall, dark and desperately attractive Max. (We're supposed to believe that he is a social outcast?) Ignoring his friends protests, he pulls off a miracle, smashes a bottle of ketchup to hide the blood, and then runs. Sarah McLachlan wails herself unconscious, and Liz is left wondering what the hell just happened. Sadly the rest of the series never really topped or even equalled it. Good scene though.
*Ultraviolet. (Lady with a broken back visits the main character...)
I never got into Ultraviolet, much as I wanted to, but this was...memorable. A woman walks through the apartment doorway. Wearing bits of hospital equipment and an open backed gown, we clearly see her spine is all over her back. "They fixed me" she says sweetly, as I wonder if her vertebrae could make up my initials. A similar image is now has a recurring cameo in most of my nightmares.