When discussing television, the question always comes up as to what a person’s most memorable moments happen to be. Sometimes it happens to be something that no one else even saw, and these moments can become something of an urban legend. Other moments are more universal though, and they’re often tied to moments in history, technological advances, or simple astonishing shows.
Quite possibly the most memorable moment ever to be televised was the showing of the Zapruder film which showed the assassination of President Kennedy. Other shows were interrupted, and much like the later showing of the September 11th terrorist attacks, people tend to remember exactly what they were watching before it was interrupted for the news of the president’s death.
Other memorable TV moments include the debut of shows that seemed to last forever. The Cosby Show, Star Trek, and other popular shows were just as remarkable when they first showed up as when they finally stopped running.
Related to the previous moments is when new genres are created, or at least when they’re done as a television show in a new way. Mystery anthologies were old hat by the end of the radio age, but shows like “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Twilight Zone” came to show that the new media could be used in much more impressive ways. Out of the latter show, several memorable moments have lodged themselves in pop culture, including; the gremlin on the plane’s wing, the society of hideous conformists where beauty was seen as ugly, and perhaps most odd is the little boy whose thoughts controlled the world and whose family tried desperately to keep him pleased like some bizarre, diminutive god.
Other great TV moments happen not in shows or on the news, but in what comes between them. Great commercials always stick with people who will remember them and then ask other people whether or not they saw that advertisement as well. One that stuck out for a very select group (as the ad wasn’t widely seen) was a Jeep commercial. The vehicle was driving over what looked like Arctic tundra, and it stopped near a blank wall of ice. A man in a suit got out, took out a dry cleaning bag, and walked towards the ice wall. Inside the bag was the Superman suit. Comic book fans everywhere who have seen this commercial still recount it as an amazingly memorable moment.
The last example really puts the title into perspective. What one person remembers another will shrug off and forget. What makes a certain TV moment special is that it has to appeal to the audience. Not just their gender and their likes, but who they are, and what they’ll remember. That mass appeal, combined with the easy access that so many people have to TV, is what’s necessary to bring people together over something as tragic as a death, as silly as a reality TV episode, or as quirky as an advertisement that reflects the truths of pop culture in a new way.