Wednesday, 9 June 2010

TV Meme, Day 9: Best Scene Ever

Confession: I hate this question. Really, I don’t know how to approach it. I have no idea how to narrow down my favourite scene on TV to 10 let alone 1. I decided, instead of choosing the “best” scene ever I’d pick a show that doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves…and find a favourite scene from it - Desperate Housewives. It is common knowledge that Desperate Housewives has seen better days, and I’ll admit I haven’t been following the recent season much. Still, there were moments when it was really on point in terms of dry humour, and moving drama. The thing is, most people attribute it to the first season only, which is a bit erroneous. I always single out Marcia Cross as the best actress on the show and when I think of her talent for the absurd I remember a particular moment in the shows Season 2 premiere that never fails to leave my mind.
Bree’s husband, Rex, has recently died. Bree doesn’t know it, but her pharmacist has been poisoning him. Her mother-in-law shows up intent on controlling the funeral, which doesn’t sit too well with the somewhat anal Bree. They have an argument, of sorts, over what tie he should wear. His mother feels he should wear his school tie, but Bree’s affronted since it would clash horribly with the suit he’s wearing. This leads into the scene in question. 
Betty plays the organ as the Reverend leads the Van De Kamps in. Phyllis looks down at Rex in the open coffin and smiles. Danielle approaches and sees the teddy bear in the coffin with Rex. Andrew looks into the coffin, then walks to his seat. Bree approaches. She looks and sees that Rex is wearing the orange tie. She looks at Phyllis. Bree walks over to the pew and sits down. Betty stops playing the organ.

Reverend: Today we've come together to celebrate the life of Dr. Rex Van de Kamp.

Bree stares at Rex lying in the coffin.

Bree (to Phyllis): What is he wearing?
Phyllis: What?
Reverend: A life filled with love and laughter and most importantly…..
Bree: I left him an hour ago, and he was wearing Ralph Lauren.
Phyllis: But it's what Rex would have wanted. He loved that prep school.
Reverend: But whichever coat he was wearing, Rex always brought an irresistible enthusiasm and a single-minded determination to...

Later in the service, the Reverend is still talking.

Reverend: So as we mourn the passing of Rex Van de Kamp, we give thanks to God, for we do not grieve as those who have no hope but as those who place their trust in God.

Bree stares at the coffin. Betty begins playing a hymn. Everyone stands. Two men begin covering Rex in the coffin and lowering the lid. Bree jumps up.

Bree: Wait!

The organ stops abruptly.

Bree: Do not close that coffin.

Bree walks slowly down the aisle of the church, glancing down each pew. She stops at Lynette and Tom.

Bree: Give me your tie.
Tom: What?
Bree: Give me your tie!
Lynette: Give it to her! Give it to her!

Tom removes his tie quickly and hands it to Bree. Bree walks back to the coffin with it. Everyone stares. Bree uncovers Rex, removes the orange tie, lifts Rex up, and puts Tom’s tie on Rex. She lays Rex back down, and ties the tie.

Bree: You look magnificent.

The Reverend signals at Betty. Betty begins playing and Bree walks out of the church into the sunlight.
It’s the sort of incongruous blend between hilarity and drama that Desperate Housewives manages to do excellently (should I be speaking past tense?)
What makes this scene such a significant one is that it’s the perfect example that a good scene doesn’t always depend on the excellence of the writing. This scene plays out so excellently because Marcia Cross is so willing to add nuances to her character that always succeed. Cross’s line reading of “You look magnificent” is not just random, she puts so much emotion into that single line…

This entry is part of my ongoing meme on TV Moments


Alex in Movieland said...

desperate housewives used to be the best thing ever (kind of), but it somehow stopped at the middle of season 2...

2 bad

Walter L. Hollmann said...

i LOVE Bree.

Jude said...

That scene is such a piece of genius. I'm so glad you singled it out. That is one of the absolute greatest scenes ever. Bree season 1 is insane (in a great, bitchtastic way).