So dating Grant = watching a LOT more TV than I used to. Not in a bad way, either – while I’ve always been to cheap and busy to bother with cable, having a cabled-up boyfriend who has a DVR and a giant projector screen means that we can watch whatever TV we want, even the intelligent, non-network stuff, and we can save it up and watch it when it suits us instead of being slave to a certain time slot. SO GREAT.
But along with this technological advancement in my life comes a certain amount of frustration. For you see, when you watch a show regularly, and you watch the episodes in the actual order in which they are supposed to appear, and you choose to watch any given show from the very beginning, you wind up paying a lot more attention to the details and getting much more invested in the whole process. So you notice when there are giant holes in the plot, or when an episode was clearly written by someone other than the usual writer(s), or when the entire show is written by a new crew of folks (Gilmore, anyone?). All this stuff stands out.
Also in the “stands out” category are little details that make for crappiness in an otherwise stellar show. This is a combo of watching regularly, plus having a detail-oriented boyfriend, plus watching things on a massive screen. But still, here are some examples of things that have just gotten UNDER my SKIN lately in TV and movies (watch out, spoilers abound – yet another thing I’ve become uptight about):
-On one of my favorite new shoes, Dexter, there is a scene where the main character is posting an ad on CL. Something that anyone who reads my blog knows I’m familiar with. Now, first of all, the email address he used in the first screen was firstname.lastname@example.org. Why, why? Why be so fakey fakey? Then, once he had posted, he got a pop-up window that read “Your Ad Has Been Posted”, rather than the usual CL screen indicating such. Why? Why not be accurate and assume that your incredibly complex, intelligent, and savvy show has intelligent and savvy viewers who are capable of understanding realism and subtlety?
-And don’t even get me started on the “beep boop BLEEP bip bip HONK” computer noises that come with every mouse click, screen change, etc. This is more Grant’s pet peeve than mine, but I’ve come to be irritated by it as well – why, why do PCs on TV/movies have to sound like robots from a fucking futuristic space adventure? As Grant put it, everyone has been using them for TWENTY OR SO YEARS NOW – so why do we have to sensationalize them like that? Stupid.
-And THEN, when Dexter’s intended recipient sees his ad on CL, he hits a “Reply To This Post” button which does not exist on the CL interface. And in the email message that pops up, the address is now email@example.com, as it should have been originally. Inconsistent AND fakey-inaccurate, yay! Sigh… why do these sloppy details have to exist, when they could be so easily cleaned up by someone like ME? Hollywood, give me a job. A telecommuting, cleaning-up-your-sloppiness job.
-And lastly, the inconsistencies, the glaring, giant plot-holes that seem to just get IGNORED whenever it suits the writers, producers, etc. WHY? On Gilmore, we seem to be ignoring vast amounts of personality constructed in prior seasons in this new, Palladino-free season (and Television Without Pity will expand on this in detail, should you desire – Al Lowe is a genius). And don’t get me started on Heroes; the show is complicated and mysterious enough to almost be able to pull it off, but NOT QUITE.
-And then (just kidding about “lastly”, apparently) there are the massive dumbing-down things that pop up. An intelligent, well-written show (such as Alias, R.I.P.) doesn’t need to be over-simplified for the audience. It assumes the audience is smart enough to be able to figure things out – scenes like hearing only one side of a telephone conversation, for example, are always done subtly yet effectively, never over-the-top. You’re trusted with the responsibility of paying attention and understanding important details and revelations. Unlike on Heroes, where in one scene we clearly see a Post-It note with the name and address of a specific person, whom we receive information about verbally. And in the next scene, when a character mentions that he’s going to pay Mr. Name On Post-It Note a visit, we don’t need to flash to a VISUAL OF SAID POST-IT NOTE to remember who he is. We can handle that much information retention, thank you. This is not kindergarten. We the viewers have not been collectively swallowed up by a wave of ADD. Sweet Jesus.
-Although actually, my strong suspicion (and thus dismay) is that the very reason that Heroes is so damn popular is precisely because it dumbs things down excessively – thus tinkering with its once-intelligent format to allow the idiot masses to view it – the ones who still thing clearly-scripted idiot-filled Reality TV is some sort of entertainment pinnacle, the ones who enjoy cotton-candy sitcoms with laugh tracks and jokes more predictable than rain being wet. Again, SWEET JESUS. I don’t think idiot viewers who NEED everything dumbed down deserve to be able to watch otherwise sophisticated and intelligent shows. It ruins it for the rest of us. Yes, I am a mean, mean narcissistic person. I just hate over-the-top dumbassery and bluntness when it takes so much away from a show that’s so good if you can manage to pay attention for forty-three minutes minus commercials that you are better off muting (or fast-forwarding through, if you’re one of them TiVo/DVR folks) anyway.
-Come to think of it, the very ability to fast-forward through commercials, thus watching a show continuously, is probably a large part of why I get mad about it being dumbed down – because I tend to have a pretty short memory span, and before my little DVR Revolution I probably needed those not-so-subtle reminders post-commercial as much as the next guy. And now that I’ve moved past that, I want everyone to catch up, because it’s just so much BETTER when you don’t have to deal with the dumbing-down and the ads for Creamy Hidden Valley Ranch and whatnot. Seriously. It’s worth the DVR price. I’d so get one if I didn’t already watch all my TV at Grant’s.
And a movie-not-TV-related P.S., though I’m convinced my newfound TV-watching is responsible for my feathers being ruffled by shitty writing in any medium now:
-In the movie Stranger Than Fiction, Maggie Gyllenhall’s character says she first realized she wanted to be a baker “in college”. When Will Ferrel’s character asks where she attended, she says “Harvard Law”. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but no law student, or even law school dropout, would EVER refer to law school as “college”. My roommate, and by extension several of my friends, are law students at the UW, and no fucking WAY would they dismissively refer to that masochistic grizzly academic plight as “college”. That word is reserved exclusively for undergraduate studies. I realize this is anal, but why not just say “in school“? That removes the complication; any form of study, be it undergrad, grad or post-grad, can be referred to as “school” or “studies”. Just not “college”. Anal, yes. But still true.