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Chewing The Scenery / Live-Action TV

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People Chewing the Scenery in live-action TV.

  • 30 Rock: Tracy Jordan. And Tracy Morgan in real life. Seriously, just watch any of his interviews on The Daily Show.
  • Babylon 5: While most people understandably get quite boisterous in a good mood, one hat of the Centauri, particularly Londo Mollari, is to really ham it up when they're happy, or drunk or (most commonly) both at the same time. They're otherwise quite normal, if a bit eccentric in an Eastern Bloc sort of way.
    • Not to mention the half a dozen times Delenn gives a REALLY intense speech to some foe (or the leaders of her government). The first time it's pretty awesome, but the lack of variation each time she gives that speech makes it a little redundant.
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    • Bruce Boxleitner gets several of these as Captain Sheridan as well, most notably with his over-the-top "No more Nightwatch" speech during "Ceremonies of Light and Dark". JMS specifically cites him for "Chewing the Scenery" in the director's commentary when Holo-Sheridan gives a "programmed" propaganda speech in "Deconstruction of Falling Stars."
    • The most egregious example was Ivanova's challenge to the commander of the Shadow-enhanced destroyer force in "Between the Darkness and the Light": "I am Death incarnate...God sent me..." Completely over the top, and only fueled the fires of the enemy propaganda machine. Although it's not like she hasn't done that before. Like the time she reprimanded a pilot that almost got himself fried by the planet B5 orbits. That time, she said that she was God.
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  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Any scene where Edward James Olmos ends up having a emotional breakdown in his cabin and starts punching the wall, his ship or Colonel Tigh. Double points if he gets drunk and starts drooling or vomiting on himself. The producers have admitted they put a few too many of these in during the final episodes. The first was heartbreakingly effective for many, but by the end it was like, suck it up man! Smashing the wooden ship, that wasn't a prop, nor was Olmos scripted to do that (he was a little too in character). It was a very expensive museum piece on loan to the production. Ooops. Luckily, it was insured.
  • Boy Meets World: Eric did this more and more as he got crazier, such as yelling at a waitress for the check when trying to get out of a restaurant and a Big "WHAT?!" reaction after learning that Mr. Feeny is retiring. In season 7 when he became a full-on Cloudcuckoolander he did this almost every episode.
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  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: James Marsters as the newly-souled vampire Spike during the final season — especially during the first couple of episodes, with Spike being constantly tortured by his guilty conscience and acting totally bonkers. Especially during the scene where Spike, after a lengthy tragic monologue, drapes himself over a church cross and his skin starts to sizzle.
  • In the Lifetime Original Movie A Deadly Adoption, Jessica Lowndes starts out calm and serene. But by the climax, now outed as aiming to get Will Ferrell's daughter even if she has to kill him (having already shot her accomplice and tried to kill Ferrell and Kristen Wiig), she's leaving teeth marks all over the place.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Every incarnation of the Master. Especially the John Simm version; he's so hungry and no amount of scenery will satisfy him. Or food, in "The End of Time". However, special mention regarding John Simm's portrayal must go out to when he chases down two homeless men before bellowing out at the top of his lungs;
      • Derek Jacobi's performance as Professor Yana in Simm's introductory episode deserves a mention. Yana is a kindly, understated old man. When he remembers he's the Master in disguise, Jacobi starts chewing with relish.
      • Peter Pratt's version of the Master from "The Deadly Assassin" deserves mention too.
        The Master: You craaaaaaven-'earted... SPINELESS... Poltroon!
    • And a few of the Doctors as well, such as Tom Baker and Colin Baker. "Gurning" David Tennant must surely count too ("ALLONS-Y!").
    • Davros defines this trope. "THE DESTRUCTION! OF REALITY! ITSELF!!!"
    • And while we mention Davros, there are also the dreaded Daleks.
      • "Those words are BLLLASPHEMYYYYYYY!"
      • "I... AM... A human DALEK! I am... YOUR FUTURE!" was said by a Dalek-Ham hybrid in the new series.
    • While it's not extreme overacting in the context of Doctor Who overacting, Steven's behaviour during Katarina's death scene in "The Daleks' Master Plan" deserves an honourable mention as it saved the clip from being consigned to the same Missing Episode oblivion as the rest of the serial. Peter Purves played Steven and became a Blue Peter presenter later. To celebrate a Doctor Who anniversary, a clip of this scene was played, so the other Blue Peter presenters could tease him about his Scenery Chewing. This clip is one of the only bits of the whole story that still exists.
    • Zaroff from "The Underwater Menace" was a fandom in-joke for how much he milks the line "NOTHINK IN ZE VORLD CAN SHTOP ME NOW!!", which is used as The Stinger at the end of the official DVD trailer. And, of course, "BANG! BANG BANG!"
    • By the curled fangs of the Great Sky Demon! The Captain from "The Pirate Planet" fairly lived on a diet of scenery! The whole episode was a World of Ham, but the Captain was the hammiest.
      • Although as Romana discovers, this is a front so that no one will suspect he's up to something.
    • Mark Strickson, who played the Fifth Doctor's companion Turlough, chowed down on the scenery on more than one occasion. "AN INFECTIOOOOON." However, it was made awesome by his willingness to not only slobber on himself, but to take the complete and utter piss out of it by re-enacting it with ever-increasing amounts of bacon at conventions for the next 20 years.
    • All of the secondary characters from "Terminus" chewed the scenery a fair bit.
      "This is a lazar ship, where all the lepers come to die! We're all going to DIE!"
    • The Ninth Doctor's rants to the Dalek in "Dalek". He's literally frothing at the mouth.
      9th Doctor: I watched it happen! I MADE IT HAPPEN!!!
      9th Doctor: The Daleks have failed! Why don't you finish the job and make the Daleks extinct? Rid the universe, of your FILTH! WHY DON'T YOU JUST DIE?!!
      • Another Ninth Doctor example — at the end of "The Doctor Dances", when he cries "JUST THIS ONCE... EVERYBODY LIVES!" he milks the line so hard that a little skoonspruit shoots out from under his tongue.
    • John Barrowman's Capt. Jack Harkness is known for many things. The majority of the time, subtlety ain't one of them.
    • "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel" has John Lumic, who keeps up his hamming despite having a terminal disease that keeps him in a wheelchair with a breathing mask, and even after becoming the Cyber-Leader.
      "And how will you do that FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE?!"
    • The Wire, a one-episode villain from "The Idiot's Lantern", was very much this trope. In fact, her catch-phrase was in fact "FEEEEEED MEEEEEEE!" Perhaps a Shout-Out to a certain plant...?
    • "Fear Her": The drawing of Chloe's father yells "IT'S YOUR FATHER, AND I'M COMING TO HURT YOU" in a very deep, gravelly voice, with a large amount of ham.
    • The Empress of the Racnoss from "The Runaway Bride". There was not enough scenery in the entire SERIES to account for that amount of chewing.
    • Worth mentioning again: John Simm as the Master. "HERE! COME! THE DRUMS!"
    • Timothy Dalton as the Time Lord narrator, Lord President Rassilon in "The End of Time" was literally spraying at the end of the first part.
      "I will NOT! DIE! DO! YOU! HEAR! ME!"
    • The Eleventh Doctor is looking right at home putting teeth marks on the scenery.
      • From "Victory of the Daleks", whilst beating on a Dalek with a giant wrench: "I AM THE DOCTOR!!! AND YOU ARE THE DALEKS!!!"
      • "Do not whiz around in your silly little spaceship while HE. IS. TAAAAAAAALKING!!!"
      • "Those words. 'Run away.' I want you to be famous for those exact words. I want people to call you Colonel Runaway. I want children laughing outside your door, 'cause they've found the house of Colonel Runaway. And when people come to you and ask if trying to get to me through the people I LOVE in any way a good idea, I want you to tell them your name. Look, I'm angry, that's new. I'm not really sure what's going to happen now."
    • Arthur Darvill gets his chance to snack on some scenery in "The Girl Who Waited".
    • Dame Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling are mother and daughter, both respected theatre actresses, who had never appeared on stage together. They were cast as mother and daughter in "The Crimson Horror", and used the opportunity for all it was worth.
  • Farscape: John Crichton tends to do this whenever he goes undercover. Or starts to lose his mind. Or is enduring horrendous torture. Or when he tries to get under the skin of the villain. Which is to say, almost all the time. Although Scorpius is usually quite calm, cool and collected, when his temper gets the better of him and his Scarran side takes over he can get pretty hammy. Even then, scenes between Scorpy and Crichton tend to turn into serious Ham-to-Ham Combat. Scenery chewing of a literal sort occurred in the episode "Eat Me", when part of the crew is stranded on a dying Leviathan slowly being eaten alive by its crew of mutated Peacekeepers.
  • Frasier: Kelsey Grammer was absolutely brilliant at this — totally a Justified Trope in that a defining trait of his character is being an overdramatic, pompous, Hot-Blooded, arrogant, flamboyant Large Ham.
    Frasier: What you are feeling is that this woman has reached into your chest, plucked out your heart, and thrown it to her hell-hounds for a chew toy! And it's not the last time either! Because that's what this woman is! She is the Devil! There's no use running away from her, because no matter how far you go, no matter how many years you let pass, you will never be completely out of reach of those bony fingers! So drink hearty, Franklin, and laugh! Because you have made a pact with Beelzebub! And her name is MARY ANNNNNNNNNE!!
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Khal Drogo is usually powerfully stoic but when he makes a speech, then by the Mother of Mountains, a speech will be made!
    • Lampshaded when Renly jokes about the table rising six inches every time Robert speaks of killing Daenerys.
    • Holy shit, is the Greatjon's presence always felt when he's speaking.
    • Due to the fact that most of her dialogue in High Valyrian consists of pompous speeches, Daenerys' tone of voice when speaking the language is bizarrely loud, emphasized and stilted even in casual conversation.
  • Spoofed in Garth Marenghis Darkplace - Todd Rivers clearly thinks he's doing this but it comes across as Comical Overreacting for several reasons - first, he's not very good at it; second, he is clearly doing it due to being an Attention Whore (such as striking poses whenever he enters a room); and third, he does it all the time, never switching it off even for casual lines of dialogue, which he milks out with drawn-out vowwwwwels and lots of eyebrowwwwwws.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Barney Stinson in all his glory. From overreacting to mundane situations to faking every possible scenario while trying to conquer a bimbo. Also, he seems to be the only character able to alter the opening credits to fit his antics.
  • iCarly: Nevel gets some very campy (both types) scenery chewing moments for a 14 year old.
  • Jane Eyre: In this BBC adaptation, it got rid of its scenery by letting Ciarán Hinds eat it all up. Just jump to 3:00 and watch. Also it has a zoom in a bit in that crosses over into Narm.
  • Kamen Rider Double: XTREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEME!!!!!!!!!!
  • Kamen Rider Ghost: Then there's Onari, of all people.
  • Kath and Kim: Kim has a tendency to do this. The effect is doubled when she and Sharon get into an argument.
    Sharon: Since I've met Marriat, his love and support has given me the strength to stand up to you, Kim.
    Kim: Marriat? MARRIAT?! You haven't even met Marriat, Sharon!
    Sharon: TAKE THAT BACK! I am warning you Kim. If you say one more thing about Marriat, I swear I will kill you! Do you hear me? I WILL KILL YOU!
  • Kenan & Kel:
    "I... dropped the SCREW... in the TUNAAAAA! IT WAS ME!! OHH, THE HUMANITY...!"
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: There is an Urban Legend that Vincent D'Onofrio had a clause in his contract for this show that simply read: "Feed me!", for when he goes into full Perp Sweating mode. Justified in that he's supposed to be a Bunny-Ears Lawyer to a certain extent. Though to be fair D'Onofrio isn't the only one, usually during the last few minutes of each episode, somebody cracks into a hammy performance, either the culprit or like one of the culprits friends or family.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Sharon Stone does some painful scenery-chewing in the episode "Shattered". She'd been snacking on the scenery in earlier episodes, but "Shattered" is by far the worst, especially when she picks up the corpse of a boy who was killed during a kidnapping gone wrong and shouts "YOUR SON NEEDS YOOOOOOOOOUUUU" at his mentally unstable mother. Again, many of the other guest stars/characters chew the scenery on the show including the show's stars. The most memorable though to me was in "Rage" with an unexpected hammy performance from Matthew Modine who starts doing hammy gestures like choking himself to Stabler to coax him into trying to hurt him while screaming "I'M A PSYCHO KILLER, I'M A PSYCHO KILLER!". Either that or the neo-nazi father and son gun shop owners in "Raw" and also the fat skinhead who are just so hammy with their racism. And also the over the top over protective manipulative mother played by Diane Vernora in "Home" who goes on a over the top tirade when she is being dragged away by the cops, her kids are equally hammy in their being completely screwed up except that one that got away.
  • Lost: Sometimes Matthew Fox not only overacts, but also pulls the weirdest facial expressions possible, the so-called "Jackfaces" (fine gallery of examples).
  • Lost Girl: Reynard (the escaped mental patient) in general, but especially when he was in Lauren's body. Zoie Palmer looked like she was having a lot of fun. Also, the Norn can go from calm to scenery chewing like flipping a switch.
  • Murdoc in MacGyver (1985). In his second episode, he smashes through a window with a flamethrower manically yelling "Time to die, MacGyver!"
  • Merlin: Merlin is a subtle, quiet Deadpan Snarker that usually conveys emotions purely by his eyes and slight changes in his tone. His alter ego, Dragoon, is not. Apparently, Merlin decided to have fun with Dragoon, so Colin Morgan got to take a break from all the subtle acting and mercilessly devour the scenery whenever he plays Dragoon. It's a joy to watch.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Rita Repulsa, especially after a defeat. "I'VE GOT SUCH A HEADAAACHE! GET ME AN ASPIRIN!" However, in one memorable occasion, Kimberly out-hammed her: because Lord Zedd has chosen her as her new queen and Goldar has kidnapped her and taken away her morpher while attempting a brainwashing, she tries to buy time by imitating Rita... A little too well. See it here.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Previously on the Satellite of Love....
  • The Nanny: Apparently Niles, as he shows his acting talent by giving his best Romeo and Juliet performance. Or as Fran puts it:
    Fran: Alright, back off Baroness. And by the way, you're supposed to dust the scenery, not chew it.
  • Once Upon a Time: The Evil Queen devours the scenery every single chance she gets. Evil Is Hammy is in full effect. Interestingly, Regina the mayor is far more reserved (except when she's the mayor playing the role of the Queen), suggesting she may be hamming it up for kicks.
    • Also her sister Zelena. If not more so. Just look at her crazy eyes.
  • Revolution: Sebastian "Bass" Monroe starts out as so calm that he's practically robotic. However, episode 3 has one of his men, Jeremy Baker, implying that this is a facade, because Bass has not been particularly stable since Miles Matheson left him. Monroe's facade starts crumbling when in episode 9, he yells for the first time at Rachel upon discovering that she is making a bomb to blow them all up and not the power amplifier he wanted her to make. From then on, Bass begins showing his Ax-Crazy tendencies in an obvious manner. In fact, episode 18 has this real gem in which Bass finds out that Randall Flynn was holding out on him about the Tower and he confronts him on the subject of the Tower. When Flynn tries to placate him, Bass loses his patience and screams out:
    I DON'T LIKE YOUUUU!!!! And I don't trust you either.
  • Robin Hood: The Sheriff of Nottingham played by Keith Allen takes a leaf out of Rickman's book from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, and dines on the castle walls using stolen silverware and big knives at any available opportunity.
  • Samurai Sentai Shinkenger: Shinken Blue is noteworthy for his supreme fealty to his Lord. "TONOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Shinken Gold is even hammier than Shinken Blue, and that's saying something. Played up even further in the crossover episodes with Kamen Rider Decade. His facial expressions must be seen to be believed — you can see his entire capillary system popping out of his neck.
    Genta: Eh? ''Kamen Rider"?...NANJA SURIE!?
  • SCTV: Rick Moranis' performance in the "Revenge" sketch. Helped by how energetic Moranis tends to be on the show.
  • Smallville: Michael Shanks guest-stars in the two-hour episode "Absolute Justice". Michael Shanks, who can play subtle, obviously realizes that he is playing the role of a guy with wings and a silly mask who carries a really big mace on a superhero show. Michael Shanks is not going to play subtle. Carter Hall/Hawkman is so over the top you will believe a man can digest scenery. Also, Callum Blue's Major Zod was always a Large Ham, but it's during his Villainous Breakdown in "Salvation" that he really cuts loose. He raves, twitches, screams about how everyone will Kneel Before Zod, and then finally throws himself at Clark with a knife.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand: John Hannah plays Magnificent Bastard Batiatus. As just about the only recognizable actor in the series alongside Lucy Lawless, he hams it up to a ridiculous extent, particularly during his many Villainous Breakdowns or when he's boasting of his ludus' glory.
    Batiatus: "Continue on this path, and we will have the WOOOORLD! BLAAAAARGH!"
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Counselor Troi had some moments in the premiere when she sensed the pain of an imprisoned alien. It doesn't quite come off, as Wil Wheaton notes in his recap:
    Troi opens up her mind to find... pain. Lots and lots of pain. Boy, there sure is a lot of pain.'
    • John de Lancie as Q is actually doing a subtle, measured performance... cunningly disguised underneath (or perhaps within) a theatrically flamboyant one. Those scenes where Q is *not* camping up a storm (like when he first introduces the Enterprise to the Borg) are downright chilling.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • You might want to sit down for this one: Lowly Ensign David Bailey manages to pull off an epic Heroic BSoD in the episode "The Corbomite Maneuver". After staring death in the face for the majority of the episode (complete with countdown of doom), he has a memorable Freak Out scene:
    Bailey: What, are you all out of your minds?! End of watch? It's the end of everything! WHAT ARE YOU, ROBOTS?! Wound up, toy soldiers?! Don't you know when you're dying?! Watch and regulations and orders? What do they mean?!?
    • Okay, so here's the "are you sitting down" part — William freaking Shatner was on set at the same time. And he looked like the subtle one.
    • In "The Doomsday Machine", William Windom as Commodore Decker chews so much scenery and so thoroughly that he makes William Shatner look downright subdued. That's right, he plays opposite the North American archetype of the Large Ham and out-hams him! His performance is so convincing and so disturbing that even the ominous music AND the reaction shots of William Shatner seem shallow and flimsy in comparison (And this is Star Trek TOS where even the music was a Large Ham).
    • Shatner plays it both ways in the first season episode "The Enemy Within". A transporter accident splits Kirk into good and evil halves. The good Kirk is quiet, thoughtful and restrained. The evil Kirk is chewing the scenery magnificently.
  • That '70s Show: Kelso easily qualifies. Any time he appears on the scene (regardless of where it is or what else is happening), the focus tends to immediately go to him. It helps that he typically bursts onto the scene Kramer-style, right before saying something COMPLETELY off the wall.
  • The Thick of It: Playing the resident Magnificent Bastard, Malcolm Tucker, requires Peter Capaldi to act so damn hard his temple veins start throbbing. He says he finds the role "exhausting" and it shows.
    "Sam! Prepare my horse! I ride... to DoSAC!"
  • Tomica Hero Rescue Force: Several of the actors start to do this later in the series.
  • Jimmy Fallon's run in The Tonight Show had the Wheel of Musical Impressions, where the guest singer and Jimmy himself have to do a song In the Style of... another artist. And given the impersonation is usually of a Large Ham singer (some common ones are Cher and Christina Aguilera - the latter even took part in the thing), added with really, really passionate]] guests, it gets hammy pretty often.
  • Twin Peaks: When shooting a scene during the first season where Benjamin Horne and his creepy brother interrupt the family dinner to devour brie and butter sandwiches, the actor Richard Beymer, who played Benjamin, was repeatedly told by David Lynch to "really eat it." Each take they took Lynch would yell "cut" and tell him, "No, really ... eat it. Dig into it." After something like 20 takes or so with this sort of encouragement, Beymer finally realized just how insane his character was intended to be. The result is that Benjamin buries his whole face in the thing while moaning like a madman.
  • The Unit: Dennis Haysbert has a few memorable moments. Combined with "Punctuated! For! Emphasis!" in Season 1 Episode 1: "Get off this plane! GET OFF THIS PLANE!! GET OFF!! THIS PLANE!!!"
  • Victorious: "DON'T BE A WEENIE!"
  • Weeds: Andy, after Nancy drops his banana bread in the season premiere of season 5: "My beautiful loaf. YOU RUIN EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH!"


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