8 Times Fireworks Made TV a Spectacle


If there are two things more American than baseball and apple pie, they may well be explosions and television. Most Americans get all the glow they need from their TV screens on a nightly basis as they settle in for our country’s true national pastime, but once a year we celebrate our independence with extravagant fireworks displays that illuminate the night skies and ensure the flag is indeed still there. Before the festivities explode overhead, take a look back at these memorable moments that bring fireworks to TV and combine two of our nation’s great loves.

30 Rock: Jack Donaghy’s Rockefeller Center Salute to Fireworks

fireworks2Jack Donaghy is a prime example of old-school capitalism, so when it came time for him to defend his job against young upstart Devon Banks, he bucked the trend of making television smaller and more mobile-friendly with a pitch for a grand TV event. The three-hour Rockefeller Center Salute to Fireworks would have had everything: spectacle, patriotic music, Al Roker, cowboy-hat-shaped fireworks. Unfortunately for Jack (and for the TV viewing public), his Salute to Fireworks was not on the 4th of July, and he failed to anticipate the panic that would ensue after setting off explosions in Midtown Manhattan and engulfing a landmark in smoke on a regular day. Fireworks extravaganzas are best saved for occasions that call for them.

The Office: Jim and Pam’s ‘First Date’

jimandpamfireworksThere’s no better way to follow up an impromptu table read of Michael Scott’s masterpiece, Threat Level Midnight, than a rooftop dinner with your longtime source of office romantic tension, especially with mood lighting provided by two office man-children playing with sparklers. Pam is quick to point out the next day that what happened wasn’t a date, but this was definitely a turning point for the future couple. Jim has more bad luck with romantic fireworks displays later in the series when Andy hijacks the fireworks Jim bought to propose to Pam to propose to a begrudging Angela.

Game of Thrones: Blackwater Wildfire

Game-Thrones-BlackwaterIt’s not exactly a proper fireworks display, but perhaps the wildfire explosion at the Blackwater hearkens back to the origin of 4th of July fireworks. Independence Day displays remind people of the battles in which Americans defended their fledgling nation against tyrannical rule while bombs burst in air o’er their ramparts. So watching a bright green explosion of inextinguishable fire from the King’s Landing battlements probably counts as fireworks by some standard. Also it’s really pretty … in a morbid, hundreds-of-people-burning-to-death-and-drowning kind of way.

South Park: The World’s Largest Snake

South-ParkSouth Park is a mountain town is built for winter. The only exciting thing for residents in the summer is fireworks, so even a statewide ban isn’t enough to stop the mayor from putting on an elaborate 4th of July spectacle.

Snakes are still legal under a loophole in the ban, so the mayor decides to commission the largest snake ever made. It doesn’t occur to her that a snake that size will burn for months and leave a path of destruction hundreds of miles in its wake. The column of ash from the giant snake wreaks havoc from New York City to Mexico until the boys are finally able to fight fire with fire, stopping the snake with the real fireworks Jimbo and Ned smuggled home from south of the border.

Portlandia: Deep Web ‘Fireworks’

Portlandia Season 5 FireworksWhen the Mayor of Portland can’t find any fireworks for the city’s 4th of July celebration, he decides to turn to the handy shopping tool that is the Deep Web. The Deep Web, however, isn’t exactly the most wholesome place, and the fireworks the mayor finds pack a little more oomph than he had expected. Buying illegal contraband from the back room of that seedy shop on the edge of town is one thing, but searching for illegal pyrotechnics in the back rooms of the internet can lead to arms dealers and some dangerous consequences.

Malcolm in the Middle: Komodo 3000

Malcolm-MiddleMalcolm and Reese are seasoned delinquents who know their way around a fireworks stand. In an effort to bring older brother and mischief mentor Francis, who has somehow become a responsible adult, back into the fold, the two literally bring out the heavy artillery in the form of the Komodo 3000. Francis, unable to resist the temptation of a mysterious fuse, ends up setting off a pile of rockets with an eye-searing finale.

“How do we know which one is the Komodo 3000?” Reese asks just as the missile bathes the entire desert in artificial daylight for seconds on end. Even the newly responsible Francis agrees that the show was totally worth losing his sight for two days. And as an unintended bonus, the fireworks even showed Hal and Otto the way home as they hobbled around drunk and wounded in the desert.

House of Cards: In Line for America Works

houseofcardsIn a display of political showmanship, President Francis Underwood arranges for registration for his controversial jobs program, America Works, to take place at the National Mall on the most patriotic day of the year. As fireworks light up the faces of the people lined up for new jobs, their expressions are mostly those of awe, wonder and the hope of a fresh start. But it wouldn’t be House of Cards if an episode ended on a note of optimism, and the last face the camera pans to is that of Freddy Hayes, a representative of the flipside of the American Dream, a casualty of the maneuvers of the political elite.

Sex and the City: Explosions and the Ex

sexandthecityfireworksCarrie and co. are gallivanting in the Hamptons at a beach-side party when she bumps into Big … and his new, much-younger girlfriend. The encounter with her ex leaves her so unnerved that she dashes toward the ocean and pukes in the sand, all with the contrast of sparkling, grandiose fireworks overhead.