Tuesday, May 29, 2007

TV Writers Need a New Gimmick

I just watched the season finale of Lost and I feel the need to rant. If you haven't seen it, bug out now.

So yet another character gains an advantage and doesn't lock it in. How many friggin' times am I going to see someone shoot/hurt/knock down their enemy, then walk away and have a conversation with somebody else, only to turn around and see the enemy at their throat again. Are writers just getting lazy? Take Lost, for example, where the characters have been trapped on the island for months and terrified by "The Others". Charlie and Desmond shoot one of them down, a very bloodthirsty one, but instead of taking an extra two seconds to shoot him again, or push him into the pool where he'd die for sure, or just jump on his head and make sure he's dead, the writers leave him alive, and he takes his revenge at the end of the episode.

I feel insulted if the writers of the show expect me to suspend disbelief this far. I don't think the characters are *that* stupid to not lock in their advantage when they have the chance. If I was trapped and scared and managed to knock down my enemy, I can promise you they would not stand up ever again. I like to watch smart characters, but I can only conclude these characters are not. Or that the writers are lazy. I'll go with that. On the show "Heroes", Hiro did the same thing after stabbing Sylar - ignore the body and fail to finish him off. BTW Do you buy that Sylar let Hiro charge him from twenty feet away and didn't stop him? Me neither.

The finale had a few too many of the "You must do I tell you, but I won't tell you why" moments, mainly from Ben and Locke. Ben has, of course, done this many times before and seems genuinely perplexed that the Losties won't take his advice, after he's kept them in terrified isolation and killed some of them. Can't anyone on this show communicate properly? If it's so important that things be done your way, just explain it. Or explain why you *can't* explain it. Anything *but* repeat the order while commiting random acts of kidnap and violence.

Are the writers trying to drag this whole thing out by having people not ask obvious questions. Like the new character, Naomi, who parachutes onto the island and says her boat is waiting offshore. Did anyone ask her who sent her, or is it going to be a big surprising reveal that her intentions are not good? I hope more of the Losties get taken out of the gene pool, because such incuriosity and bovine acceptance is frankly infuriating to watch.

And the way they shot it, he could *totally* have got out of that chamber before the end.

If you're a fan of the show and haven't seen Lostpedia yet, you're missing out!


Dave (SciFi-Guy.com) said...

Hey Brian, nice blog post. Found you through Technorati. I think you're sorta-right when it comes to what the writers are conjuring up... I agree, an extra shot in the head to Mikhail might have done the trick. However, as it stood, it seemed like they were pretty damned certain that he was dead. How many people do you know that can take a spear gun to the chest and swim away 15 minutes later?

I think the flipside of the coin is that our characters, by and large (with the exception of Sayid and Locke) are not necessarily violent people. Their objective hasn't been to kill the Others, it's been to not get themselves killed.

Perhaps that will change.

Check out the SciFi-Guy Lost Season 3 Finale Wrap Up

Brian said...

Hey Dave, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I thought someone might say "they thought he was already dead", and you walked right into my trap :)

Mikhail already "came back from the dead" after being pushed through the sonic fence...I can't remember if Desmond or Charlie knew that, but didn't I see Charlie say that in a previous episode? Desmond had some time in the army and, if I'm to believe that, should've at least checked if Mikhail was, in fact dead. Plus if either Charlie or Desmond had any knowledge of the island's mysterious healing powers, they'd know to really, *really*, make sure he was dead, or at least tied up so he'd be no threat. Tighter knots this time too, please!

You're right about the generally peaceful nature of most of the characters but shouldn't some of them at least have expressed some bloodlust and "the best defense is a good attack", instead of running away from downed enemies time after time? Or not pressing for full, detailed answers and explanations whenever they had the chance.

Other movies do this too, I'm just picking on Lost because it could've been so much better if they'd avoided these cliches and the awful, awful lack of communication between characters.

But then again, my favourite show of all time is Babylon 5, which many other people don't like. So different strokes for different folks, I guess. There are flaws I am blind too, and others that make me yell at the TV :)

Daniel Bowen said...

Re: not explaining things, a recent episode of Doctor Who had the reverse of this (to comic effect)...

(trying to open a password-sealed door)

Riley: Find the next number in the sequence: 313, 331, 367... what?

Martha: You said the crew knew all the answers!

Riley: The crew's changed since we set the questions.

Martha: You're joking.

The Doctor: 379.

Martha: What?

The Doctor: It's a sequence of happy primes. 379.

Martha: Happy what?

The Doctor: Just enter it!

Riley: Are you sure? We only get one chance.

The Doctor: Any number that reduces to 1 when you take the sum of the square of its digits and continually reiterate until it yields 1 is a happy number, any number that doesn't isn't, a happy prime is a number that's both happy and prime, now type it in!
I don't know, talk about dumbing down. Don't they teach recreational mathematics anymore?

Brian said...

You're right Daniel, that was a funny counter-example. I've liked the new Dr Who series a lot. Can you believe that Sci-Fi passed on it when the first new series came out? They said it wasn't up to their standards...riiiight....the network that brought you "Mansquito" rejected Doctor Who.

Last word about Lost - the whole program seems to be centered around the tragedies that develop when groups of people fail to communicate, both within the group and outside it. The Losties keep information from each other about what they discover on the island and their pasts. The Others won't tell the Losties why its so important to sit quietly on the beach and not ask any questions...and on, and on. I'll keep watching, as I said, but it can be very, very frustrating to watch.