It was a truly glorious year for TV, packed with series and scenes that showed off the small screen at its creative peak. And then there were these moments, which remind us all that we might be living in the Golden Age of Television — but you can't spell "Golden Age" without "gag." So here's a salute to the most embarrassing, most inept, just plain worst TV moments of 2014.
A bizarre brain whiff in the middle of an otherwise masterful season; not since Monty Python have so many people asked "What's all this then?" during a rape scene. When Jaime attacked Cersei right next to the corpse of their son, fans pointed out that this twist isn't in the novels — George R.R. Martin originally wrote their copulation as a consensual sex scene. So why did it get turned into an assault? And more importantly, why wasn't it incorporated into the story? It never got mentioned again — Jaime and Cersei acted like it never happened, and it remained a continuity glitch all season. Guess we're supposed to just write it off as human error, like the striking clock in Julius Caesar or the fifty-star flag in The Godfather.
Speaking of brain whiffs, John Travolta won this year's Oscar for special achievement in the You Had One Job category. His task was introducing Idina Menzel, yet he bungled five out of a possible five syllables, turning her into "Adele Dazeem." It was the daffiest moment of the night, narrowly beating out Tyson Beckford for calling Julia Roberts "Jessica" on the red carpet — and whoever decided to let Pink sing "Over the Rainbow" while Liza Minnelli sat in the audience and suffered.
Sure, Franklin Delano Roosevelt burns with vitality and humor in the archival film footage. But alas, Ken Burns decided to make FDR a bit player in this documentary so he could devote more screen time to de facto narrator George Will, once the Reagan White House's smarmiest media fluffer. Will gushes like a lovesick Willard Scott ("the best New Deal program was Franklin Roosevelt's smile" — aaaaw!) and twinkles about the 32nd President's "Christian faith." It raises a question or two about Burns' decision-making acumen — and about reducing the documentary format to a stroke session for old cronies.
The most painful sketch on what, so far, has been a rather painful season. It's a bickering old couple — Chris Rock, the world's funniest man, alongside rookie cast member Leslie Jones — blowing their lines and missing their cues. There's one funny moment, as Rock defends his CD collection: "When the government shuts down the cloud, I'm-a have Luther!" But then Jones wanders into the next room, wanders back, looks around for a cue card; what follows is ten seconds of dead silence. By the time she finds the card (and flubs the line anyway), you've had plenty of time to wonder: Why is comedy booming on cable, on the web, everywhere except SNL?
Like Aaliyah — whose Lifetime bio-flick easily could have made the list — reality TV is sadly never coming back. This Fox scam was a sign of how far this once-mighty trash genre has fallen since the glory days of Tila Tequila and Flavor Flav. (Wherefore art thou, Pumkin?) The weirdest part was how they kept saying "Harry," as if they just assumed when you talk about a guy named Harry, you mean some inbred tool from the British royal family. Ah, no. There's only one English dude named "Harry" America wants to marry, and he's got four nipples and a job.