Narm Charm: Live-Action TV

  • This is the reason why Sesame Street continues to be so popular today, even among adults. Seeing humans act alongside puppets and treating them as if they're real sounds like it'd be hard to take seriously, but the puppets have so much personality and the humans go along with them so believably that you're inclined to believe it with them too. The skits are also preschool level simple so children can understand them, but it's oddly charming to watch Patrick Stewart wondering "B? Or not a B?" or Liam Neeson emotionally counting to 20.
  • Glee is the same with Brittany. Giving a friend, whose father suffered a heart attack, a report on heart attacks to show sympathy, nosing a meatball around (in heartbreak) like in Lady and the Tramp, being a high school student who still believes in Santa Claus. Only Heather Morris can make this work out.
    • Finn singing "I'll Stand By You" to a sonogram. For anyone else this would be the narmiest moment in television; but because it's Finn, big, stupid and oh-so-sweet Finn, it's a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming
    • Blaine's confession of love to Kurt could count, as the dialogue is like something from a chick flick, but the way he says it is so heartfelt that you can't help but Squee as he says it. Even the people who don't like Blaine admit that they're glad something was finally going right for Kurt.
  • Many, many scenes in Stargate SG-1 containing Goa'uld, especially with O'Neill's constant Lampshade Hanging.
  • Community took this to a level that is safe to call it "Narm Charm, the series". It turned paintball, pillowfight, blanket fort and puppet-therapy into serious business and/or heartwarming moments. One of its best episodes is about a pen some character has lost in a room.
  • Doctor Who is the inverse of Special Effect Failure, as noted on that very page. The cheesy effects are so loved, that the new seasons deliberately keep the effects from being too polished to retain that feel. The new series seems to thrive on Narm Charm in all its forms.
    • The Daleks' entire existence is basically one big example:
      • The Daleks' famous "EXTERMINATE!" line is clearly Chewing the Scenery, except they usually come across as unstoppable, merciless genocidal maniacs (so much that a Cambridge University academic wrote a paper about the Daleks' Narm Charm). So that line gives more chills than snickers. Case in point: The Daleks transmit a single word message of their famous catchphrase across the whole earth during The Stolen Earth and pretty much every one of the Doctor's earthbound former companions just about needs to change their pants upon hearing it and realising who it is. Including Sarah Jane Smith and a man who can't die.
      • Their voices are high-pitched, mechanical, and screechy, such that Daleks tend to scream all their lines at the top of their voices. Usually this would make a villain hard to take seriously, but with the Daleks it instead underscores the sheer, unadulterated hatred they have for everyone else, making them more unnerving.
      • The Daleks' appearance: they look like a bumpy salt shaker with a plunger for a hand and a ray gun shaped like an egg beater. By all rights, this should make them hilarious. Instead, it enforces how utterly inhuman they are, adding to their scare factor. Not to mention that every aspect of their appearance is so iconic that nobody would ever dream of altering it in any major way.
    • In "The End of Time", we have The Master Race. Fun to watch? Yes. Hilarious? Oh hell yes! Terrifying and dramatic? Errr...
    • Then there's Timothy Dalton, showing the scenery no mercy as Rassilon. "I! WILL! NOT DIE!!!"
    • Matt Smith's tenure has kicked off in fine form. Giant eyeball aliens in snowflake spaceships! So cheesy, they're awesome. Cheesesome?
    • The horrible fates of The Family of Blood. Trapped in the edge of every mirror for eternity? That's so stupid it's cool.
    • In his first serial, "Terror of the Autons", The Master causes someone to be smothered to death by a chair. Smothered to death by a chair. And it is awesome.
    • And then, he makes guys in ridiculous bobblehead costumes handing out daffodils terrifying.
    • The pointless chase scene which takes up pretty much the entirety of episode two of "Planet of the Spiders", where Jon Pertwee and John Dearth pretty much drive or fly every combustion-engine-powered vehicle known to man with the exception of locomotives and jet fighters, and which ends with the villain vanishing anyway at the end of it, is still awesome in its own right. Of course it helps that Barry Letts wrote the sequence as a going-away gift for Pertwee, who had a deep interest in motor vehicles of all kinds and relished scenes where he could get behind the wheel.
    • The production staff can be forgiven the hideous monsters from "The Three Doctors", and Omega's scenery-chewing, as the interplay between Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton, William Hartnell and Nicholas Courtney make up superbly for it.
    • The scene where the Master kills his entire government cabinet with poison gas, complete with overacted death throes and the corny You're Insane! line, should not be as entertaining as it is, but we really grasp what kind of villain he is when he responds to the insanity accusation with a cheerful two thumbs up.
    • A large portion of the Classic Who fandom has cheerfully adopted the hammiest villains and most annoying companions as their mascots.
  • Blake's 7 was even worse. They were getting by on Doctor Who's leftover props and set pieces (sometimes after the duct tape peeled off), the acting veered wildly between awesome and awesomely stupid, the fight scenes had all the coordiation and grace of roadside sobriety tests, and Snark-to-Snark Combat was the order of the day. The show's two finest characters (Avon and Servalan) were completely unrepentant LargeHams. Add the fact that it was much Darker and Edgier than any TV sci-fi until 2005, and it was glorious.
  • Power Rangers: Silver Age comic super-weirdness and Doctor Who-style fondness of Special Effect Failure all in one package. Linkara put it best: "It's Power Rangers: it's supposed to be cheesy!"
    • Jason is the master of Narm Charm. For one example, screaming "OH MAN, HE FROZE THE ZORDS. WE'RE HISTORY!" in Lord Zedd's debut is utterly ridiculous, but it still hammers home how dire the situation is.
    • Bulk and Skull calling the people of Angel Grove to help in the final battle of Power Rangers in Space. Corny, yet awesome.
    • When Saban ran out of footage of Bandora from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger to use for Rita Repulsa, they made their own. Despite Rita now being played by an American actress, she was still given a Hong Kong Dub because it had become an iconic part of the character. This also holds true in the higher-budget movie.
    • For that matter, nearly all Tokusatsu (with a couple of exceptions such as GARO and Shin Kamen Rider) is unbelievably silly and weird, with all sorts of unrealistic tropes that are used completely shamelessly, and episodes that follow a strict formula. The People in Rubber Suits especially are a relic from another time, and frequently expose their flaws: the Fangire from Kamen Rider Kiva come to mind as something that should be ridiculous, and would be treated as such in any non-Japanese property, but somehow stuntmen in sophisticated Halloween costumes and voice actors make for compelling, amusing, cool, scary, dangerous, real characters. Stuff like that is why people like tokusatsu in the first place.
    • Tommy's Evil Laugh as the Green Ranger could count as well.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger. The plots are ridiculous and the solutions are generally roundhouse kicks combined with moralizing speeches, but it's still great fun to watch.
  • The Brady Bunch more or less in its entirety with some stand-outs: the "mom always said not to play ball in the house" episode, the Johnny Bravo episode, the "Time to Change" episode, the Hawaii special with Don Ho and Bobby having a nightmare about robbing his own family in the Wild West.
  • On Charmed, the ridiculous costumes that most supernatural beings (and frequently the sisters themselves) end up in were considered a part of the show's charm to many fans, and occasionally lampshaded.
    Phoebe: (having just been turned into a genie with flowing blonde hair) Why do I always end up in the blonde wig?!
  • Star Trek: The Original Series embodies this. A stuntman crouching under a pizza has never been a more sympathetic character. And when there is appropriate contrast, even a wildly overacted scene becomes downright touching. Then there's the ridiculously over-the-top and bombastic music. Only this show could take this piece and make it the most iconic fight music in television history. Ultimately, this is the reason that even the legendarily bad episodes (like, say, "Spock's Brain") are So Bad, It's Good instead of completely unredeemable. TOS episodes that were heavy on the Narm were always entertaining. Compare actual bad episodes that are dull and full of padding, like "The Alternative Factor". People will go for "Brain and brain, what is brain?!" every time.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation occasionally runs on pure cheesiness. It's the series outright honesty and belief in itself, and its writers' (and actors') refusal to shy away from uncomfortable subjects, which means it gets away with a lot of it (when you have characters living in a future when humans are, supposedly, a much more reasonable, understanding bunch, and got there the hard way via a couple of near apocalypses and a lot of personal growth, then an audience can't help but appreciate their passion and dedication to their ideals. Even if they are pointing about dramatically and occasionally doing flying leaps).
    • In particular there's the episode "Chains of Command". Picard's dragged out, thick-tongued "THERE. ARE. FOUR. LIGHTS!" just wouldn't have worked in any other time or place, but given that it came at the end of one of the most horrifying demonstrations of torture and cruelty to ever be aired on daytime television... let's just say if anyone can pull it off, then Patrick Stewart can. It has been remarked that Patrick Stewart's strength as an actor is his ability to deliver bad dialogue with utter conviction.
    • On the cheerier side we have "Captain's Holiday", a bizarre Indiana Jones-type adventure with a Ferengi in a Hawaian shirt, two time-travellers and lots of flirting. Dear gods, the flirting. A ridiculous plot with enough cheese to make a pizza the size of a planet, saved and made golden by the fact that Captain Picard (and probably Patrick Stewart) is clearly having the time of his life.
  • CSI: Miami: It may sound hilarious... but I... [puts on shades] make it cool. YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!
  • Angel:
    • In the fourth season, there's a scene where Cordelia, posessed by Jasmine, is sending telepathic messages to Angelus, using an incredibly cheesy "evil overlord" voice. Somehow, the way the scene plays out makes the voice only add to the creepiness.
    • Then there's the memorable scene from season 3's "Loyalty" where Wesley seeks out information from the Loa, an ancient, godlike spirit of knowledge with glowing red eyes and a booming voice. The Loa berates Wesley, confirms his worst fears, and delivers an incredibly ominous warning of doom to come. Oh, and the form that the Loa takes happens to be a giant, talking, hamburger-shaped drive-in speaker. Somehow, the conversation with the giant, shouting hamburger is hilarious while still being the dramatic peak of the arc.
  • Most speeches in Babylon 5 the series are full of Narm. On the other hand, Mira Furlan and Andreas Katsulas were such great actors, any speech delivered by Delenn or G'Kar still managed to be utterly compelling. Bruce Boxleitner, on the other hand, got away with being a Large Ham by virtue of the fact that John Sheridan was also a Large Ham.
  • Batman is an exaggerated example. The Camp is kicked Up to Eleven, and the special guest stars (the villains) are the hammiest hams that ever hammed, yet Adam West delivers every line with a completely straight face.
  • Somewhere there is a video where the creators of Lost admit to giving the character Ben Linus narmy lines because they feel that Michael Emerson can make them sound awesome. Also, from the season 6 premiere: The line: "I'm very disappointed... in all of you!" shouted by none other than Faux-Locke/The Monster after he beats the crap out of Richard while everyone watches. It's just so bizarre and creepy that the sheer silliness of the line can be ignored.
  • The House episode "5 to 9" focuses on Cuddy's position as Dean of Medicine. She suffers a stressful day of fighting with medical insurers, a sociopathic medical technician, and House's antics (and getting called a "bitch" by every character possible). When the medical insurers cave and agree to her "outrageous" medical costs, she has a Big Yeah complete with the camera pulling back to show everyone in the lobby react. The rest of the episode features a montage of an abundance of good things happening to Cuddy — it comes off like a commercial for Prozac. But the events of the episode were so stressful on Cuddy, you don't mind how corny things get at the end after she fought hard for her victories.
  • Little House on the Prairie features a great deal of people caught in unbridled moments of passion. On one hand, an actress expressing such outright rage at injustice that they cry while yelling for the camera can be cheesy; on the other hand, that does take a good deal of talent, and perhaps just a spark of genuine conviction.
  • MST3K employed this with several scenes that make fun of shmaltz and over-the-top acting. See if you can listen to "Clown In The Sky" (6:10) without getting a tear in your eye.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is a deeply silly show pretending to be a deeply serious show. Somehow, this is still awesome.
  • The A-Team could go back and forth between this trope and straight-up Narm, all within the same episode. And it's entertaining.
  • The characters on Gossip Girl are prone to dream sequences which easily fall under this category, as the actors seem to be in competition over who can ham it up the most. Current trophy holder is probably Ed Westwick after his performance in Chuck's season three nightmare.
  • iCarly generally plays it's hammy moments 'straight'. Occasionally, they do a parody and fall from the usual webshow Narm into Narm Charm. An example is Carly's delivery of a Big "NO!" from iBeat the Heat and, and the teen movie parody Kelly Cooper: Terrible Movie is so over-the-top it's hilarious.
  • Smallville: at least a good 30% of everything entertaining.
    • Lexmas, period.
    • Some of Chloe's more passionate declarations of love towards Clark may be slightly Narmy but still makes everyone go "Awww!"
    • When Clark tells Lois, "I'm the blur!" and she tackles him in a fit of passion.
  • LazyTown is ridiculously cheesy and suffers from a major case of cross-cultural weirdness, but fans can't help but love every minute of it.
  • Fringe. Science, even the most far-out, fringiest science that ever fringed DOES NOT work that way. But it's soooo much fun. Nasty, Squicktacular fun.
  • The Thick of It:
    • On paper, "COME OUT OF THE CUPBOARD HUGH..." looks ridiculous. In Malcolm's low Glaswegian growl it sounds genuinely terrifying.
    • Episode 7 of series 3, the Wham Episode in which Malcolm is sacked. Before leaving 10 Downing Street for what his enemies are sure will be the last time, he vows to them "YOU WILL SEE ME AGAIN! YOU WILL FUCKING SEE ME AGAIN!" before striding out with his long black coat flowing behind him. This should be cliched and Narmy- and in a political satire, Wrong Genre Savvy- but Malcolm, being Malcolm, renders it awesome.
  • Robin Hood
    • In the second season, during the death scene of Marian. On the one hand, the build-up involves a confusing and contrived sequence of events, and the death scene itself is drawn out to an utterly ridiculous extent in which Marian has a sword in her stomach and yet is able to carry on a completely coherent conversation for several minutes; on the other hand, Maid freaking Marian is dying and the Emotional Torque is Over Nine Thousand and no one can believe it's really happening and it's the most horrible, devastating thing that's ever happened on any Robin Hood retelling ever.
    Robin: "We have forever, my love."
    Marian: "I hope we have forever in heaven, because we didn't get enough time on earth."
    • Topped only by their Together in Death scene at the very end of the series, which echoes their parting words:
    Robin: My wife...
    Marian: Now and forever, my love.
  • The creators of The Weird Al Show note in the commentaries that Brian Haley as The Hooded Avenger had the unenviable task of delivering the majority of the show's Anvilicious morals. But his Adam West style utter conviction to the part makes it work.
  • Bea Arthur, in The Star Wars Holiday Special, is able to take her usual Deadpan Snarker persona and apply it to good effect during her song-and-dance sequence in the Cantina on Tatooine, though she's helped in that it's the only scene in the special that makes the least bit of sense.
  • The hilarious, homoerotic, and oddly charming Long Underwear Boxing scene in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.
  • Watch Leonard Nimoy's In Search Of. The narration on the wild theories of all kinds of mysteries, complete with Leonard Nimoy rocking a 70's 'stache, makes this show ridiculously wonderful to watch.
  • 'Allo 'Allo! is just so hammy and cheesy you can't fall in love with it. It really tells you something that the show was popular throughout Europe despite the fact that it made fun of all of them, but it did it in such a way it was impossible to take offense at it.
  • While "Faith of the Heart", the theme song for Star Trek: Enterprise, is often berated for being a pop song in a franchise whose themes have usually been orchestrated- plus the very schmaltzy and somewhat overwrought lyrics-, the song is an excellent articulation of the themes and messages that lie at the heart of the Star Trek franchise.
  • When people talk of Christmas variety specials, there's only one more likely to be brought up than The Star Wars Holiday Special — in fact, it's inevitably brought up. That special is Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas (1977), solely because of the segment in which the "White Christmas" crooner and David Bowie trade contrived banter and sing the duet "Peace on Earth"/"Little Drummer Boy". There were a lot of crazy team-ups in the Variety Show genre as a whole in its prime, but none were quite this crazy...or became so sincerely beloved, because it is a warm, well-performed song. Even in The New Tens, it's a popular radio request when the season rolls around.
  • Sleepy Hollow is wall-to-wall narm charm. The majority of critics like it not despite, but because of the fact that it's stupid, silly and completely insane, cramming a season's worth of nonsensical plot twists and supernatural crap into 40 minutes each week.
  • The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - while more recent parades have the narminess toned down, the parades from The '80s were so overblown, yet designed to light up any child's eyes - and the performers look like they're having so much fun doing it. This is just part of the reason why many people who were children back then look back fondly at the parades as adults, even in The New Tens. To prove it, check out these clips, featuring floats by Marvel Comics - with a surprise appearance by Robocop (!) - and Masters of the Universe, respectively.
  • The climax of the second season of Penny Dreadful involves Vanessa confronting a devil-possessed doll version of herself and it speaks with her voice. Because of the writing, the eeriness of the doll, and especially because of Eva Green's performance, the scene works.
  • Code Name Diamond Head. While the entire Pilot Movie is fairly Narmish, one moment has a random jogger finding the General's body, is just goofy in her Wangst. The S.O.L. crew just giggle at her.
    Servo: (amused) Her whole family gathered around the TV to watch her on his show and that was it!
  • Kamen Rider Drive: Destroying something that's less than a foot tall while angry sounds ridiculous. Killing the biggest asshole in the series who's responsible for everything that went wrong and deserved every bit of punishment he got is not.