With the Euros on, slim pickings at the cinema and the American TV Season finished, I’ve had less to talk about lately on this blog, but one thing I need to get back to is my article on Things That Annoy Me in TV and Film.
So let’s dive straight back in!
We’ll start off with quite a big one.
Exposition is the author’s way of providing some background information to the audience about the plot, characters’ histories, setting, and theme.
Good exposition is something that should fly under the radar without you noticing; bad exposition (or Info Dumping) is quite simply
the sign of a bad writer.
Bad exposition is when the writer creates lines for his characters that they would never say in reality. Former Doctor Who producer Russell T. Davies described a show that started off with the line ‘Happy Wedding Day, Sis’. That’s obviously a bad line because it’s so clumsy. The writer has written the line to try to set the scene of it being one character’s wedding day, and that the girl speaking is her sister. Nobody would ever say ‘Happy Wedding Day, Sis’.
There are loads of examples of bad exposition in all sorts of TV shows; you’ll know them when you hear them.
My favourite though is and forever will be the opening scene of the second episode of the 1965 Dr Who story, The Space Museum. It’s absolutely incredible, and is so bad it actually becomes good.
In a scene with the Governor of the planet and two of his guards, there are ten pieces of exposition in one scene. In their dialogue, they manage to exposit that…
- The Space Museum is old and nobody visits it
- How many ‘milliums’ until he can go home
- How many days are in a millium
- That while he volunteered for the job, the guards are not there by choice
- The reason he voltunteered
- That he is the Governor of the planet
- The name of their home planet
- That there is a rebel force fighting against them on the planet
- That those rebels are children
- That those children are becoming more of a concern to them
How is it possible that all that info dumping could possibly happen in one conversation? Well because of how ridiculous the whole thing is, I actually wrote out the dialogue when I did my review of the Space Museum. You can read it here
Believe me, it’s worth reading.
Nobody Ever Admits To Being Ill
We can maybe exclude medical dramas in this, but generally in TV and Film, nobody ever admits to being ill, whether it’s serious or trivial. Instead, no matter what it wrong with them, they’ll let that ‘secret’ out by walking round a corner from the people they are hiding their illness from and doubling over in pain.
No matter what the illness is, the symptoms always manifest themselves in the form of a stomach cramp.
And in almost every case, if the person had come out and said ‘I wasn’t feeling too well’ earlier in the story, everything would have been fine. Unfortunately, because they didn’t speak up, they either die as a result or put whatever storyline they were involved in in jeopardy.
Nobody Owns a PC
Have you ever noticed that nobody on TV ever seems to own a PC? Everyone owns an Apple product.
Usually my criticism is aimed at the writers of TV shows, but I assume the reason for this is because of an aggressive marketing strategy by Apple to ensure their products are represented in TV land.
And while it annoys me, I have to give them a sort of begrudging praise.
The Use of The Internet
There’s this myth in TV and Film that you can find anything on the internet. A myth that everything is there if you look for it, even highly classified documents that could bring down the government, or paper trails that lead back to the root of some global conspiracy.
What a load of crap.
Have you ever tried searching for something on google? By half way down page 2 of your search you are into crap that has nothing to do with what you searched for in the first place.
It’s not just that though; it’s the way whenever you see someone use the internet, they appear to be using some kind of custom made search engine and operating system that looks more like DOS than Windows 7 or OS X.
The Way People Play Video Games on TV
On a somewhat related note, have you ever noticed the way people play video games on TV?
No matter the game, people seem to play them by frantically mashing the buttons while also elbowing and cajoling the person they are sitting beside and playing against.
And they also hold the control stick between their thumb and forefinger.
Have you ever seen anyone play a game like that in your life?
Also, in almost every case (and Neighbours is a massive culprit for this), gaming sessions just seem to end by someone putting the TV off. No, they haven’t paused the game, nor have they finished what they are playing, saved their progress or even shut down their console; they’ve just put the TV off.
And beyond all of that, people talk about games in such massively out of date terms.
“I got the high score” or “Oh, I can’t believe I made it to level 32”.
What are they playing? The Atari ST?
Everyone is to blame for this one. The writers, the directors and the actors. It annoys me because it’s 2012 for crying out loud. Surely people are aware of what video games are and how they are used?
We’re not done yet. I’ll have more things that annoy me soon.
But if there are any examples of things that annoy you about TV or examples of bad exposition, let me know.