In one of the episodes of the original Hawaii Five-O comes the most badass line in all of live action television. The scenario; A package, upon delivery to an influential government office exploded violently, killing one person and maiming his secretary. McGarett needs to know if the package was tampered with at any point during the journey. So he asks the courier if he fell asleep at any point, or went to the bathroom, or let the package out of his sight. After a while, the courier holds up his hand and McGarett stops asking questions. He then delivers his line; "Sir. With respect. I take my duties as a courier Very. Seriously." You can hear the capital letters in his words. Bad. Ass.Courier.
Anything Les did was like that. Parodied yet further in one episode when Nessman, going for pretentiousness turned Up to Eleven, breaks in on Venus' set to introduce an obituary "breaking news" item with "Ask not for whom the bell tolls..." Venus, sitting behind him, whacks his gong, making Les jump. Even better, Nessman comes in with "And now, Les Nessman's ... Death Watch," and he turns around and gestures for Venus to hit the gong again.
Standard operating procedure for any sports retrospective film:
The NFL archive: a spoonful of slow-motion, a cup of the orchestral styling of Sam Spence, and season liberally with stark-voiced narration by John Facenda, and you've transformed a simple blocked pass into guarding the pass at Thermopylae.
iCarly: During the Gibby-Nora fight scene, Gibby gets smacked into a wall. He stands up, brings his hand to his mouth, look at the blood, and... takes his shirt off. All while epic music plays in the background.
Parodied in Scrubs where an episode began with a melodramatic portrayal of Dr. Cox's four-year-old son Jack receiving minor stitches on his forehead complete with epic music with Dr. Cox threatening Turk (who is doing the stitches) coldly that he better succeed. Once Turk finishes and everything is okay, Dr. Cox declared "The Surgeon lives!"
Another parody in Scrubs, also involving Dr. Cox, is J.D.'s imagined flashback of Dr. Cox in his intern days as a head-swaying, rebellious punk-rocker intern who responds to a colleague's greeting with, "Shut-up jackass. I rock!!".
In "My Friend the Doctor", Dr. Cox (who has a hurt back) bends down and picks up his badge off the floor, in slow motion and set to "Hero" by Enrique Iglesias. Carla was impressed because he did the whole thing with a casual cocky grin on his face, even though he was in excruciating pain and she knew it.
Hilariously parodied in the "nWoSaturdayNight" segments of WCW Saturday Night, which would see an nWo member take on a Jobber in a five-minute match; each and every move done by the nWo member would be augmented by over-the-top special effects, replayed from at least 5 different angles, and get thunderous, deafening applause and cheers from the (nonexistent) crowd.
The Title Sequence of Dexter shows his normal morning sequence, but filmed in a way to seem like horrific and brutal parts of a murder sequence: a blood orange is viciously sliced then viscerally disemboweled, dental floss pulled like a garotte, a small cut while shaving has us watch the slowly spreading blood... watch here.
The reality show Who Wants to Be a Superhero? likes to toss in special effects during editing — objects appear in a blast of lightning instead of being brought out normally, etc. Granted, the show is about people coming up with concepts for superheroes, so it's thematic, but when the object is a boring old laptop, it just decreases the "reality" portion of the program.
In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Journey to Babel", in which Sarek is introduced, Sarek's shuttlecraft slowly arriving in the hangar gets louder, more dramatic music than even most battles.
For that matter, many TOS episodes featured people walking along corridors to rising orchestra music. Dum da DUM DUM...
The Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint", tried to make the separation of the saucer section from the primary hull be a thing of awesome majesty, what with the swelling theme music and the multiple camera angles. The fact that the separation happened so slowly made it even more awesome.
Star Trek: Voyager has the Doctor's dream transformation into the Emergency Command Hologram, complete with a closeup on his lapel as the four pips appear dramatically one by one to heroic music. Janeway even comments "Nice touch" upon seeing it.
Japanese example: Iron Chef. Dramatic orchestral music is used for almost all the musical cues, and the lead cameraman is apparently in love with crane shots that pan over the entire kitchen.
You will never look at the movie Backdraft the same way again after watching that show. (Not that Backdraft wasn't kind of Narmful to begin with, but the show borrows its music.)
The thing that really makes the show go over the top, at least in the English translation, is the way the announcers treat every competition as though it were the Super Bowl. The announcers are sportscasters, determined to pump the drama up to eleven as they call the play-by-play. Taken Up to Eleven in commercials for Iron Chef America, which sometimes resemble — deliberately — promos for big-time Professional Wrestling events.
The orchestra playing dramatic music ascending into Kitchen Stadium with Masahiko Kobe in every battle he's in.
When boxing commentator and self-admitted non-cook Kenji Fukui was first asked to commentate, he couldn't understand why they'd need him for a cooking show, or what he'd say. "The knife goes up! The knife goes down!" However, once on set he quickly realized that the frenetic action together with his frequent need to ask Yukio Hattori what the chefs were doing gave him the material he needed to keep the show going.
Pick an NBC reality show. The word "is" is... (20 seconds later) ...contractually obligated to have a pause that is... (we'll be right back)... (after commercials) ...longer than the show itself. Most could, in fact, be comfortably edited to run in a half-hour Time Slot instead of an hour... if the network were willing to give up the extra commercials (yeah, right) and the whole idea wasn't to fill up as much Prime Time as possible as cheaply as possible.
The Biggest Loser is usually TWO hours long, and probably 45 minutes is devoted to...each contestant stepping on the scale. "Your final weight is..." Random numbers flash on the screen...shocked face from contestant/trainer...cut to commercial. Frequent viewers can usually predict exactly when commercial breaks are going to happen.
Most reality TV in general. It's actually about people cooking, or living an even more empty and meaningless life than most in a house, or whose aspiration is to get to wear clothes for a living. Just putting many of those concepts on television in the first place constitutes this trope, and they don't shy away from more traditional forms of it either.
The same goes for their "Film Noir" game, which is always placed in a mundane setting and usually ends up in a detective-versus-detective Gambit Roulette to accomplish an everyday or pointless task.
MythBusters played inspirational/awe-inspiring music when Adam and Jamie successfully created a lead balloon.
In a 2010 commercial for the show, they play Ave Maria to things blowing up in slow motion.
The entire CSI Verse does this with lab work, which is shot in fast-paced montages and pounding beats while lab techs take samples and look at slides. CSI: Miami is also infamous for Horatio Caine's....*Glasses Pull*...witticisms.
An epic gunfight of everyone pointing their fingers at each other, with slo-mo, gun jams, anguished "deaths", and Big Nos, leading to a classical music soundtrack to highlight the senseless waste of it all.
Spoofed in Seinfeld. Elaine starts dating an aspiring author whose manuscript she's editing, until he neglects to put an exclamation point in a message that her friend had a baby. This causes Elaine to go a little overboard in adding exclamation points to the book, which her boss chews her out for while reading some samples in a mock-dramatic narration.
And then there's George's 2 MPH scooter chase, which ends when he figures out it's faster to just run.
The foot race between Jerry and Duncan Meyer at the climax of "The Race." A short dash between two high school nemeses is done entirely in slow motion, has the theme from Superman playing throughout, and is treated as such Serious Business in-universe that there's an entire crowd gathered and a lot of celebration once it's completed.
In this youtube video special effects are used to spice up a sumo match. Really, really spice up. At one point a wrestler delivers such a mighty blow that the Earth is split in two.
Barney is made of this trope. "We're building an snowman in Central Park. It's LEGENDARY!". Also, sometimes the others react like this to Barney's revelations that are either not shocking at all and/or not surprising at all.
In one episode, Ted and Marshall have a sword fight to decide who gets to keep the apartment.
Done a lot on the PBS mini series The 1900 House. The new residents of the 1900 house would have a moment of awesome mundanity whenever something that would have been commonplace to an everyday family in 1900 (but unusual in 1999) happened. "The chicken laid an egg!" "I made toast! (without electricity)" or, conversely, when something that would be odd in 1900 happened. "I bought shampoo!" "I'm not wearing underwear!"
While most of Planet Earth is nothing but sheer awesomeness, the ending section of one episode features the aerial camera crew climbing into the helicopter in dramatic slow motion.
In what is possibly the most awesome (and random) channel ident ever, BBC1 brings us dogs doing stunts to a soundtrack that seems to have been borrowed from an action movie.
Supernatural has one of these in the episode "Mystery Spot". Sure it was awesome when Sam drove the Impala, cleaned the weapons, and (especially) stitched his own bullet wound in a Time Passes Montage, but the dramatic music didn't really work with the other scenes of Sam brushing his teeth, eating chicken, and making his bed. That's right, Sammy, you show that bedspread who's a badass!
The block trailer that showcases some of Animal Planet's latest shows (Whale Wars, Its Me Or The Dog, Living with the Wolfman) features stark silver and black text for the Animal Planet logo and the names of the shows and a soundtrack that could have come right out of a trailer for an action movie. And the final scene is a woman whipping out what looks like an extendable baton. Complete with Ass Kicking Pose.
It's never just a shot of a guy standing next to a stationary car, it's a desaturated shot of a guy standing next to a stationary car with forced perspective so he looks like a midget and the shot has been flipped upside down so you aren't quite sure which is the car and which is the reflection of the car in a puddle and also there is stirring orchestral music and a brief jump cut to some sort of atmospheric local wildlife before coming back to the car.
Lampshaded in the show's opening, where Jeremy narrates three brief clips from the coming episode, which are usually three very non-epic things like eating food, pointing at things, or wearing hats.
A recent Discovery Channel show called Time Warp consists entirely of guys running around with high-speed cameras and filming random things, but very slowly. Most things look significantly cooler when shot in 5000 FPS. The great thing about the show is they don't even pretend they're doing it for some higher scientific purpose, like the Mythbusters do. They straight up admit that they're just doing what they do because it's really, really cool.
Stargate Verse pulls out deep, Ominous Latin Chanting, full of terror and drama for...someone looking thru a microscope. To be fair it was her creeping on the genes of a helpless girl but still.
The Stargate SG-1 episode "Brief Candle" features a scene of epic mass waking-up, complete with the heroic action theme!
Season 1 as a whole was pretty over the top with its abuse of their score, and Brief Candle is probably the worst episode in that regard. Comparing the musical score in a later season episode to Brief Candle is an interesting experience.
Similarly, the episode "Touchstone" includes a scene of heroic power-cable coupling. Now, the heroic power-cable-hooking-up is going on in a blizzard, so...
The Stargate Atlantis episode "First Contact" features several completely unnecessary pans across the entire city with stirring theme music playing loudly in the background, which cut to Rodney and Daniel Jackson doing something mundane like looking at security recordings. It's so overblown that it's almost certainly intentional. This is Stargate, after all.
It was actually reused special effects from the season 1 episode "The Storm", where its use was far more appropriate. So it wasn't so much "intentional" as "cheaper".
According to the commentary, it was done specifically because the Powers That Be realized how boring having Rodney and Daniel view security footage and look through storage containers would be, so they decided to spice it up a bit. Definitely on purpose.
Subverted in one episode of 30 Rock: Kenneth the NBC page's blazer is accidentally destroyed and his only way to get a replacement is to beat his rival in an epic contest called a "page-off". Just as all the NBC pages are gathered to watch the hotly anticipated battle begin, Pete the producer arrives. He puts a stop to the silly event, points out that there are plenty of unused jackets available for Kenneth, and angrily orders all the pages back to work.
The first season of Babylon 5 had an unfortunate tendency to end random scenes with dramatic musical stings, including many that did not remotely justify such treatment. Later seasons toned it down (or perhaps the series simply got epic enough to keep up with its soundtrack).
At least one time it was done on purpose: in a season 3 episode, dramatic swelling music was used when Sheridan declared Ivanova...the official Babylon 5 Sneak.
Parodied in The Big Bang Theory with a "montage" to "Eye of the Tiger" consisting of Sheldon and Raj STARING AT A WHITEBOARD with hard cuts between different camera angles in step with the music.
An off-air example: In Dirty Sexy Money, it was decided that they would discover that one of the Darling children was actually the illegitimate child of Letitia and Dutch. Dutch's legitimate son, Nick, had been romantically involved with Karen Darling. The production meeting on this one addressed the gorilla in the room by writing the word "INCEST" on the board in huge letters and then dramatically X-ing it out. Brian turned out to be the illegitimate one, perhaps hinted at by the fact that he himself has an illegitimate son.
When the first self-righting mechanism was accidentally discovered on Robot Wars, it was subject to no fewer than six instant replays, each from a different angle. Observe.
Take a look at the intro to the Cosmos: A Personal Voyage episode "The Lives of The Stars", by Carl Sagan. Ominous music, startling shots, slow motion, sudden violence, all at larger-than-normal scale... Most epic, significant apple pie making ever. And then it turns to perfectly average baking and serving. If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe...
He does it again when he describes a nigh-magical ability to transcend time itself and learn from all the great teachers, explorers, scientists, and and other minds of history, by...reading. And he really does make it come across as that awesome. And he's right.
Kamen Rider Kabuto took a (quite literal) Cooking Duel between the eponymous character and a Masquerade monster, and used dramatic camera angles, speed-lined ingredient chopping, and gratuitous usage of the show's rock theme for actual battles to boost the action of preparing a bowl of soup to epic levels. Considering the normally serious tone of the show, this skirted dangerously close to Narm levels. Though to be fair, cooking mastery was a major part of the lead's character.
The opening credits of the US version of The Office feature energetic rock music playing over mundane things like photocopying, phone calls and the water cooler bubbling.
Humorously done by American Eats, a food documentary, to provide a dramatic introduction to the hamburger.
NBC's game show Minute to Win It. You know it fits this trope when there's epic music playing complete with Ominous Latin Chanting, and yet all the challenges consist of epic tasks like emptying a tissue box! Later episodes have eased up on this, however.
Xander gets in a fight with vampire Harmony in Season 4. After threatening each other with their new and improved skills, they ... get in a slap fight, with hair-pulling and shin-kicking. In slow motion. With dramatic music. It ends in a dual headlock truce. "Okay... on three."
Done to explicitly mock the show's often unrealistic fight scenes.
A season 4 episode of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica has a short but very dramatic scene featuring William Adama brushing his teeth with a mean look on his face.
Victorious: At the very end of "Freak the Freak Out", Sikowitz sings Number One by Ginger Fox. And then proceeds to pay homage to Flashdance by banging on a chair while wet. His portrayer, Eric Lange, said that this has been his favorite scene on the show to shoot yet.
The Late Late Show has no less than 4 (and counting) elaborate jingles, featuring flaming robot skeletons, lasers, a triceratops, etc. This is all for a segment where Craig reads emails and tweets.
A sketch from Jimmy Kimmel Live, based on a news story about Starbucks and the right to bring guns in their stores. Kimmel takes it to its logical conclusion when he orders a coffee at gunpoint. Refuge in Audacity occurs at the end when he shoots a man at the door as he walks out.
Community runs on this. In the show's basic reality, 7 students attend a backwater community college and sporadically study together. This doesn't stop the series from pulling off mafia movies, high-concept sci-fi adventures and more all in the context of everyday college life.
When the gang has to bring home a space-simulator after it gets towed, the entire episode is played out like a deadly serious space mission, complete with Mission Control and using The Power of Friendship.
An epic campus-wide pillow fight becomes a Ken Burns-like war documentary.
A ruined biology project (a knocked over yam) turns the study group into a crime-solving team, Law & Order-style.
Parodied on Chappelle's Show, where Dave shows us that everything is better in... slow motion. Except for dropping a deuce.
Parodied on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, in which Crow T. Robot practices EXTREEEEEME YOGA! and Tom Servo is into EXTREEEEEEME PHILATELY!. Mike Nelson tried to get in on the action by eating EXTREEEEEEME RICE!, but the bots blithely informed him that there was nothing extreme about it.
House gets a new cane. Cue Music of Awesome, dramatic camera angle and slo-mo (and his trainers synchronize with Wilson's).
The Fringe episode "The Same Old Story" features a scene, complete with tension-building "thriller music", of a scary, sheet-filled cabinet opening!
In the Corner Gas episode "Face Off," Oscar and Emma get ready to drive to the hockey game, but they can't be sure the car will start because it's been making funny noises lately. As Oscar starts the car, we see dramatic close-ups of his hands and hear epic music.
An episode of Black Books parodies this, by featuring Manny's walk to a nearby ice-cream stand to get two ice creams on a hot day filmed and acted as if it were the preamble to a major shoot-out in a Tarantino movie.
Modern Marvels takes the stuff you probably don't think about even once in a single day (copper, paint, concrete, etc) and somehow makes it absolutely captivating.
The Cat from Red Dwarf has a very high opinion of his own awesomeness, and will utilise his yowling, theatrical Catch Phrase to emphasise such occasions as walking down a corridor.
The UK version of The Apprentice uses a dramatic piece of music called The Fury of Schmidt as a sort of surrogate theme tune. Very powerful, and it's used significantly more often than Dance of the Knights in some series - series 3 uses The Fury of Schmidt more or less exclusively. Usually sets the tone pretty well, but in the 1st episode of the Junior Apprentice, it - like Rhys Rosser's suit - somehow doesn't quite fit. Particularly jarring when it properly kicks in at the 1:00 mark.
Incidentally, the US version of the show is absolutely drowning in this trope.
On the Science Channel, Monster Bug Wars shows footage of various Real Life creepy-crawlies preying on one another. It backs up these miniature confrontations with ominous narration, an action-flick score (suspense chords, dramatic fight music, even somber oh-the-humanity dirges for the aftermath!) and sound effects of snarling big cats, squealing pigs, and Jurassic Park-dino roars.
This was a frequent criticism of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, in which the characters would frequently charge around making dramatic speeches about how what they were doing was The Most Important Thing Ever and acting as if The World Will Literally End If We Don't Get This Right. They did the same thing in Aaron Sorkin's previous show, The West Wing, but the key difference between the two was that The West Wing was set behind the scenes at the White House, where the characters frequently were dealing with issues of major importance, while these characters were working behind the scenes at... a TV comedy show. And so, could probably take themselves and what they were doing a lot less seriously.
TLC's Extreme Couponing takes people who obsessively collect and use coupons to rack up hundreds of dollars worth of food and groceries and puts them on television. Some of these people appear to be stockpiling for the apocalypse, and others are feeding half the town for pocket change. Top it off with dramatic stings, exhaustion from walking the store for hours, and stress-induced tears, and you've got a show!
The American version of Kitchen Nightmares tends to suffer from this a lot. The narrator makes everything from reading a menu to the ethnic heritage of the owner like some Earth-shattering revelation of God and the over-the-top music only adds to this. Downright abrupt changes into dramatic music can occur at anything from verbal fights to Ramsay quickly turning his head. And if something really crazy is implied to happen, the camera may cut, go in and out of focus and jump as many as three times within two seconds. This is quite different from the British version, which is way more laid back.
Red or Black - a 'game' (in the loosest sense of the word) show that has just (Sept 11) started on ITV in Britain. Take 256 audience members, and have them guess red or black in a series of contests that are 50/50 between the 'red' option and the 'black' (although the need to lose exactly half every time means those at the back of the queue get no choice). The last contestent then guesses Red or Black on a giant proto roulette wheel to win "ONE MILLION POUNDS"! There is no skill - each challenge is as close to 50/50 as the producers can get (One show included jousting on top of cars, tightrope walker race, top golfers Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood trying to hit a gong in a lake, and picking a place at a table set for 32. Each had a hidden jelly/jello, and on the word they all lifted the cloches to reveal if it was red or black). Yet each round is turned into an Olympian contest – the winning colour jelly was revealed by the colour of the table top. The cloth was removed by ATTACHING IT TO A MOTORBIKE AND PULLING! AWESOME! Cue interviews with tearful members of the losing half, people upset at being knocked out in round two, and then asking the survivors what their strategy is in the next round. And do these epic contests take place in a normal studio? NO, THIS IS AWESOME, so it starts in Wembley arena (U Sians – think Madison Square Gardens) before the remaining 128 are bussed to a Stately Home for games in the grounds. The final 8 re-enter the studio to an X-Factor style set up, complete with mini-bio films of each, where a more famous people are used to determine red or black, until the high drama finale with the “Red or Black wheel”, all to the sort of effects usually reserved for the winner of “..got talent”, where at least they had to be good at something!
The entire premise of Misfits is essentially a subversion of this trope, and so on the occasions they deliberately invoke it they usually take Refuge in Audacity.
In one episode, the Monster of the Week is beaten when he is defeated by his life threatening allergy to peanuts, which had been hurled across the room, in slow motion, in an against all odds, life or death situation, with stirring music ...
In the series 2 finale, it is revealed that a side character has inherited the utterly awesome power of ... lactokinesis. Which is the ability to control milk with ones mind, in case you're not familiar with latin. Curtis is later saved by being lactose intolerant, which get even more ridiculous when that information is revealed in a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner.
In one episode Nathan, in an attempt to save the local youth from a life of cardigan wearing religious types, delivers a heartfelt and Rousing Speech, complete with orchestral swells and tearful pride about ... the virtues of being a drunken idiot.
If you could see yourselves... We had it all. We have fucked up bigger and better than any generation that came before us. We were so beautiful... We're screw-ups. I plan on staying a screw-up until my late twenties, or maybe even my early thirties. And I will shag my own mum before I let her.... or anyone else take that away from me!
An episode of The Muppet Show was merciless with both playing this straight and inverting it in a Swine Trek sketch: Because of the presence of a mysterious musical robot outside the ship, everything gets appropriate music. Doctor Strangepork gets a celebratory fanfare on his entrance. First Mate Piggy gets stripperiffic music when she tries to leave. And Captain Link Hogthrob repeatedly gets Losing Horns.
Richard Dawkins did this with being alive at all in the "Waking Up In The Universe" episode of Growing Up In The Universe.
Some of the characters in Just Shoot Me! played paintball in one episode. Dennis had a temporary falling out with Jack (who was on his team) after accidentally shooting him, only to redeem himself later by saving Jack from the blast of shaken up soda can as if it were a grenade, ruining his shirt and making him unable to attend a party. The scene played out as if Dennis were a soldier dying in Jack's arms.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Will passing his "Chicktionary" (A list of girl's phone numbers) to Carlton is done like a sacred ritual, with Carlton having to kneel and cross his arms while making promises to never reveal the secrets within. Once the ritual is complete, the Chicktionary starts glowing orange, and the glow spreads to Carlton's body while he screams about the immense power contained within.
So Random! has a segment called Anime Brothers; two of the male cast members dress up in clothes not unlike Goku's gi, wear massive plastic wigs, and are enthusiastic about things like Opening! A Juice Box! or Brushing our Teeth!
Happens frequently on Chuck, especially when Morgan is involved. Most notably in the deceptive Cold Open of the pilot episode. A series of dramatic closeups of what looks like an assault team gearing up for a dangerous mission...which turns into Chuck trying to sneak out the window of his bedroom to escape the unwanted birthday party his sister is giving him. Played with even further with Morgan hanging from the windowsill and almost falling during the entire conversation when they're caught. And then he stands up because the room is on the ground floor.
Later on, after Ellie and Awesome have Clara, they put her in her crib in her room and then get ready to do something they haven't done in the three months since she was born, complete with specially chosen outfits...sleeping through the night.
When the CIA rebuilds the Buy More they staff it with agents who run the place super efficiently, mopping up spills that barely hit the ground, catching things that fall with dramatic cartwheels and backflips, and generally making the place seem like it's fallen into the Twilight Zone. Morgan eventually rings the original crew back to make it seem more normal.
One episode of My Name Is Earl has Earl take part in a Bagging Tournament. It is treated as very serious sport (Except by the main characters) as well as taking lots of of digs at the concept.
Referee: If I let you go out there with a broken finger, I'll lose my Bagging Referee's License... And I can't remember the name of the website I downloaded it from.