So, there's this little t.v. show that aired on the CW (previously known as the "WB") a few years ago. It lasted 4 years, but they were a good 4 years. If you can't already tell, I loved that show. Adored it. Created by J.J. Abrams ("Lost," "Alias," "Star Trek," "Regarding Henry"), it's about this high school girl, Felicity, who makes a decision in the first episode that changes her life. Right after graduation, she throws all her plans for medical school away and traipses across the country to follow her teenage crush. Along the way, she meets quirky characters, and learns about life and about herself. It's a coming-of-age story, during a time (college) when so many of us faced life-altering decisions. Each episode starts out with a "Dear Sally" segment, where Felicity records a message to her friend (who, by the way, we never see, not in the entire 4 years. We just hear some of her taped replies at the end of episodes).
Okay, all that to say this -- the reason I loved the show so much was because the writing was downright brilliant, at times. Sure, the series had its flaws and one season, in particular, spiraled down into flat-out, eye-rolling soap-opera territory. But the episodes that didn't were pure gold.
Here's a great example - the first 9 minutes of the pilot episode. Listen to the language, the dialogue, the voice-overs, from a writer's perspective. Really deep and creative, I think. Especially for a show that most people dubbed as a "teenage" show. I think it was a lot more than that.
One of the most clever moments in the series was one that contained no words at all. In the 2nd episode (which, sadly, I couldn't find on YouTube), Felicity is sitting at this incredibly awkward dinner with her parents, who are pressuring her into coming back home. They think her trek to New York was crazy and stupid, and they offer her an expensive car as a bribe to return home. In this particular scene, the father passes the keys to Felicity across the table. Felicity slowly looks at the keys, thoughtfully picks them up, and ponders the offer. As she looks down, she notices her finger subconsciously rubbing the "panic" button. Love it. That says SO much. Does she panic? Does she let her parents convince her that the decision was wrong? Does she take the easy way out and move back home? Or does she stay brave, stay in NY, and make her own way? Obviously, she chooses the latter, or else the show would've probably ended there.
Anyway, I love subtle-but-obvious scenes like that one. So much "said" in a small space of time, with no words at all. Now that's powerful writing!