Monday, July 01, 2013

Things that drive me crazy

Okay.  I admit -- it's a long list that covers just about everything in daily life.  But I'm going to concentrate today on television. 

As a TV writer, these things stick out for me. And some of them I’m guilty of doing myself. But there are bits of behavior or speech patterns that are frequently used that don’t feel real. And yet, they’re very acceptable on TV although not in real life. Some examples:

Did you ever notice that very few people on television say goodbye when they finish a phone conversation? They just hang up. How much longer would it take to say “Bye” or “See you” or “call me back when you steal the Hope Diamond, thanks?” Wouldn’t you find that rude if people never said goodbye to you? “Bring home the cleaning on your way home.” CLICK.

Characters also tell each other things that are obvious or things they already know. I loved 24 but this always drove me scooters. Jack Bauer calls Chloe to tap into some schematic that will help him find a bomb that will blow up the universe. He calls her four times and always says, “Chloe, hurry! If you don’t find that schematic the world is going to end.” Like if he didn’t remind her she might’ve just gone off and taken her break. I always wanted her to say, “Jack, I KNOW! I’m not a fucking idiot!” But that convention is to remind the viewers that there is a huge imperative involved here and some of them are fucking idiots.

Fellow blogger/writer Earl Pomerantz once pointed out that in every cop show, whenever someone is arrested and put into a police car, one of the cops will always put his hand on the perp's head as he gets in so it shouldn’t hit the door frame. When do people ever do that? When was the last time you grabbed your date’s head and said “get in there!” as you stuffed her into your car?  (Okay, last Thursday doesn't count,)

In television, people call each other by name way more than in real life. “Thanks for the staple gun, Sara.” “No problem, Marvin.” If a spouse or parent calls you by name it’s usually means you're in trouble. The next time you’re hanging out with a buddy, make note of how many times you call each other by name during the course of say a five-minute conversation. Once? Maybe. (And “dude” doesn’t count.)

Questions are always deflected and the person asking them never follows up. “Why are we climbing this cliff?” “Later. The sun’s going down.” “Okay.” Huh? They did this all the time in LOST. “How come we’re back in 1955?” “There’s a tree. We can rest now.” “Okay.” Wouldn’t he say, “Fuck the tree! Why the hell is our president Dwight Eisenhower?  It's kind of important.”

TV women all wear full make-up to bed.

TV women generally have sex with their tops on.

Apartment front doors are usually unlocked.  Even in New York.  

Whenever a potential suspect is questioned by the police he’s always abrasive and dismissive. Just once I’d like to see one worried. “You’re coming to me? You really think I did it? Why do you think that? Am I in big trouble?” I’d be scared shitless if two detectives from homicide showed up at my front door – even if I didn’t do anything. But on TV, ballet teachers and crossing guards say, “Unless you got an arrest warrant get the hell off my porch.” Or “Yeah, I knew her. I hated the bitch. She ruined my life and stole my money, but I didn’t kill her.” Who tells the cops that and is able to sleep at night?

And then there’s the scenic conversation. Two people discussing or arguing over something while walking around town. The camera cuts from location to location but the conversation continues uninterrupted. Example: Mike & Lisa are strolling through Manhattan. They’re at the Natural Museum. Mike says: “So would you like to go out Saturday Night?” Cut to Central Park. Lisa: “Sure. Wanna see a movie?” Cut to Times Square. Mike: “Great. What do you wanna see?” Cut to the Statue of Liberty. Lisa: “I hear VOLUNTEERS is good.” You get the… (cut to another blog) idea.

These all fall under the heading of creative license and I get that. There are always parking spaces right in front, people always get window tables in restaurants, etc. But it’s like spotting a piece of white lint on a dark suit. You know it’s there, it doesn’t ruin the suit, but it bugs you.

What are your creative license pet peeves?


Michael Stoffel said...

In every tv movie and series, when a female wakes up in bed....she already has a bra on! From my limited life experiences, I don't know of any woman wearing her bra all night.
As far as not saying goodbye on the phone, I work in radio, and no one says goodbye on the request line. No matter what the conversation, they just hang up when they're done with me.

Jeremiah Avery said...

It's when the show conveys some obscure fact accurately and yet gets certain aspects wrong of everyday things that could have easily been verified via an Internet search.

For example, a show set an episode within the agency that I actually work for and yet got so many things wrong that could have been checked via the public website! Didn't even bother to take exterior shots of the actual buildings but instead used generic office buildings and for some reason my work uses all paper files (which was crucial for the story actually since they needed that one folder with the info they needed) instead of the computer system we've had for over 10 years.

Joe Willy said...

Why do people on TV enter a room and never shut the door behind them? It's really distracting when the show is set in a NYC apartment building where people wouldn't just ignore that their door was left wide open.

Anonymous said...

When bloggers tweet three times in a row announcing their latest blog post.

Tracy Austin said...

Women detectives in high heels. :(

Igor said...

I've seen cops do that head-thing in real life.

Pet peeve: Shows in syndication, when the end-credits run and they're shrunk down so that something else can fill most of the screen.

First, the text is then too small to read. Second, why run them at all? Is there a rule that the station run the credits?

Sure, if I'd worked on the show, I'd like my name to scroll by every time, but if the text is too small to read, what's the point?

OK, this one is about radio, but I love that the CBC show "As It Happens", when they do phone interviews, they not only include "Hello" and "Goodbye", they also include the sound of the phone ringing as they place the call.

Igor said...

Oh, and in addition - about the cops and the head-thing - you wrote, "When do people ever do that?"

Well, when the person you're helping into the car has her hands cuffed behind her back. Lemme tell you, it only took one time being bitch-slapped by a pimp for me to always remember to do that.

Charles H. Bryan said...

I know an older guy who refuses to say "Goodbye" or "See you later" or any of that. He said, straight faced: "It's bad luck. My mom always said it was bad luck. If you said 'Goodbye', it might be goodbye for good." I just accept it as one of his idiosyncrasies.

But I've also noted it at my job -- people don't end a phone call 'goodbye' or even the dreaded "Have a nice day". (Which I don't dread. It's a nice little drop of social lubricant, and there are far worse things that can said.) They usually end the call with "Can I speak to your supervisor?"

Amanda said...

The never saying goodbye at the end of a conversation and the women wearing full makeup to bed and when they first wake up are two pet peeves that I agree with you about. So annoying!

Pete Grossman said...

Any cop that says "I've got a month on the force before I retire." Retire is right - right to the cemetery. This person might as well be wearing the red shirt from the original Star Trek series.

In general, especially in news stories - the walking shot. WTF? So many of these people appear so uncomfortable walking in their offices, down the street, where ever. Look, I know this is the time for the preamble narration to set up the story, but come on! Show some better b-roll for goodness sake like stills or video of the subject that the story is going to be about. Yes, it takes more time and may cost a little more, but the walking thing is old, stiff, and annoying. Get creative!

unkystan said...

I hate when someone on the phone repeats the other part of the conversation. "How are you? You've got a bad cold and have to stay in bed for 48 hours or you'll die? But the doctor said you'll be ok after that. Well, that's a relief."

Murray said...

The TV-movie quirk that is becoming an embarrassing obsession with me are goggles. Fully rigged-out soldiers and SWAT members have their armour and helmets...but never lower their goggles over their eyes. It's gotten to the point with me that friends ask why I'm squirming and excited when we're watching a show. "They're wearing their goggles! They're actually wearing their goggles!" It hasn't happened very often, though.

unkystan said...

I also hate the rushed credits. Maybe it's so we don't notice (like I did, even backed up the DVR to make sure I saw what I saw)that on TV Land last week "Hot in Cleveland" had guest star Tom Conway! And that's after promoting Tim all week!

Richard Y said...

Depending on the crime or medical drama where a body is discovered in late evening or early morning hours (it is dark)"screams all around at the discovery' but the ME or investigators do not arrive until midmorning with daylight and shadows on the ground, hours later.

Anonymous said...

On "Big Bang Theory, whenever anyone wants to know what's going on, especially Leonard or Penny, they always ask, What the hell's going on?" I firmly believe those characters wouldn't ask in that way. -- Jeff Clem (I do this anonymously because my computer won't let me do it any other way - say, what the hell's going on here?)

pumpkinhead said...

TV cops always seem to take what the witnesses say at face value and assume it's the truth when evaluating what comes after. "Pomerantz couldn't have been at the record store when it went down because Levine said they were both across town at a book signing for Levine's new book The Me Generation...By Me (Growing Up in the 60s) at that time."

Also, every television bedroom seems to be equipped with a spotlight that goes on when the main lights go off.

And then there's the reset. Last week, Skippy and Mallory were locked in the basement together by accident and had a heart to heart conversation that left them closer and more understanding of each other... this week she called him a pimple on the butt of humanity again as soon as he walked in the room.

Then there's the awkward statement to move the story forward, especially when there was an easier way... "Yes, George (Costanza), she's no longer run that story about us being gay. I guess we 'fooled' her." What, you 'fooled' her? That doesn't make any effing sense except that you need to say that so she'll overhear it on the other line and publish the story after all. There was no other way to do this? You had to have Jerry say something ridiculous?

slgc said...

In the movie Stepmom, Julia Roberts and Ed Harris were constantly driving between Manhattan and the suburbs in seemingly no time. I know that drive - between retrieving your car, New York City traffic and the bridge and tunnel crossings, you're not getting from the City to the burbs all that fast....

McAlvie said...

I love NCIS, but I live in the DC area, and I'm telling you that by the time the team gets to the crime scene, the body would be decomposing. Instead, they make it look like everything is about 20minutes away.

And on the subject of crime scenes, am I the only one who has noticed that the blood always stays bright red? It never seems to dry to that rusty brown color it does in real life. And I've always thought dried blood was freakier because you know it's been sitting there a while.

And on a recent episode of Rissoli and Isles, people are injured and/or trapped in a building that's collapsing, and wouldn't you know that the only available doctor is the ME and her estranged biological mother?

Dan Ball said...

BIGGEST tele-peeves ever: when TV shows don't chew with their mouths closed and don't use coasters.

Anonymous said...

I'm always amused on TV shows (and movies) when someone racks the slide of their handgun as a way to show they're "ready for business". Racking the slide advances a bullet into the chamber, so you're ready to fire. Anyone - and I mean ANYONE - that carries a handgun is already going to have a round in the chamber.

Though the reality doesn't allow for that cool sound effect!

The worst offense I can remember of this was an early episode of Leverage. The tough guy Eliot was involved in a tussle and taking a handgun off another tough guy, and in the course of the altercation you could hear the slide racking THREE TIMES for the same gun.

Milwaukee, WI

Brian Phillips said...

In dramas, being nice, charismatic or having a family member that is dependent on you is a harbinger of death. It says to me if I absolutely must kill someone, make it a rude waiter, because it won't matter. No one should be murdered, even if I don't particularly like them.

I saw part of the first episode of "Motive". I saw a guy smiling, laughing and people were swarming around him. I said to my wife, "He's dead". 10 or so seconds later, freeze frame and up pops the graphic, "The Victim".

I also dislike lines that are deliberate plot point rehashing or a joke set-up. It usually is signified by someone saying, "Let me get this straight...". At least this has supplanted the abominable, "Cut to the chase!"

Fun exercise: Count how many times you hear the one-word sentences, "Really?" or "Seriously?"

Carol said...

It always drove me crazy in shows when the doorbell would ring and the people in the house would carry on a 3 minute conversation before answering the door. Or the phone, actually. I'd be wanting to shout 'answer it already!'

Also how people use the back door when the scene is set in the kitchen, but the front door if they are in the living room. Even if it makes no sense for them to be using that door.

DwWashburn said...

Pet peeves for TV in general would take too long. Here were two from the MASH series that always got to me.

The doctors could drink to their hearts content and never get drunk unless the drunkenness added to the plot line. When it did add, just a sip could make them sloppy drunk (Alcoholics Unanimous, Hawkeye Get Your Gun).

None of the writers apparently understood poker. I always cringed anytime that a poker game was involved in the plot. Usually it was because of the small buy in by a character and his unrealistic win. In one case where Charles whistled when he bluffed, everyone at the table called one of his hands ultimately to punish him. But in reality everyone except the player that won the hand would be "punished". You might be able to beat Charles, but if you didn't beat the other players you threw your money away just like he did.


Ron Clark said...

Actually, we did do the "hand on the head" thing back when I was a police officer. It's not out of kindness to the suspect; try getting into the back seat of a car sometime with your hands behind your back. For a lot of people it's a guaranteed ride straight to the pavement when they lose their balance.

Brent said...

I'm like Ken. The list of things that drive me crazy (or at least seriously peeve me) is far longer than it really should be.


To Michael Stoffel; no offense, but your experience must not include a female with a really large (I mean like 44GG) endowment. My ex wore a bra most nights when she was pregnant or nursing. Lots of weight to be supported.

To Richard from Milwaukee; YES! It's even worse when it's the guy with the pump shotgun. Plus, it drives me bonkers when the detective looks at the bullet hole in the body and says "looks like a .38" or "looks like a 9 millimeter". A 38/357 magnum is .357 inches in diameter. A 9mm is .354 inches in diameter. Your naked eye can tell the difference down to three one thousandths of an inch?? You couldn't do that on a piece of paper, let alone a decomposing body.

But my biggest peeve is cars. If you are going to do a period piece, make sure the cars are the correct vintage. Don't have a series like Vegas, set in 1960, and then have the lead antagonist drive around in a 1965 Lincoln.

Anonymous said...

The whole 'let's make the "ugly" girl pretty' thing from SHE'S ALL THAT and movies of that sort.

One of the girls, corners the "ugly" girl, does the most minimal of things like removing glasses, taking out her pony tail then ALL OF A SUDDEN, some 6ft Valkyrie-like goddess is standing in front of them.

Or the complete opposite in THE BREAKFAST CLUB, when Molly Ringwald decides to give Ally Sheedy a makeover, but turns her into a poorly made-up drag-queen instead.

Suzyq said...

A calls B and asks them if they're watching the news because something shocking and/or relevant to the story is airing RIGHT NOW. B turns on the TV, and the news story starts from the beginning.

Terry said...

One of mine is when characters (usually on a sitcom) start a conversation as soon as they walk in the room after having returned from somewhere. (e.g. The front door opens, enter Ray Barone: "Well that was a crazy trip to the beach."

As though they waited until they got all the way home to begin their conversation. Although on some vacations I've taken with my family, that's not completely outside the realm of possibility.

Chris said...

I'm bugged when a big deal is made of something that is essentially easily found on Google.

I never watched the show regularly, but I was curious when Wil Wheaton was playing a murderer on Criminal Minds where he's living out Psycho in some remote hotel. Fine. So most of the team is investigating on site in the middle of BFE Lake, California when one of them contacts their researcher, who's back at HQ, to find all the hotels that are around BFE Lake.

And I couldn't watch after that because it was just improbable. Even if it was out of cel range, they're in a police department, who would likely know such things anyway. Obviously it was a casting thing but it was so distracting.

Dave Wilson said...

What annoys me is when a countdown to a bomb exploding or some such, and the protagonists are desperately trying to clear the area; when, suddenly, they have a moment where they stare at each other for what seems to be an eternity...meanwhile the clock is ticking!!! Just get the heck outta there!

Kirk said...

Whenever there's a fictional famous person is instroduced in a TV show or movie, he or she is compared to a real famous person. Example: "Is that Shelia Shinebright, the movie star? Why, she just as famous Angelina Jolie!"

I mean, I know why it's done that way, so you'll get that they're famous, but I can't imagine anyone in real life saying, "Is that anne Hathaway, the movie star? Why, she's just as famous as Nicole Kidman!" (Probably more famous at this point, but I drew a blank)

Erik said...

My TV pet peeve is Food. People on TV will order chinese food, pizza etc, and then.... never eat it. They sit there playing with the food, maybe occasionally lifting a slice of pizza to their lips, but never actually eating it. They're too busy with the dialogue for the scene (understandably, I suppose) But this always drives me nuts.

ODJennings said...

Whenever someone has groceries, it's always a paper bag with 1. a loaf of french bread, and 2. a bunch of carrots sticking out of the top of the bag.

In any movie or TV show set in Paris, the Eiffel Tower will be visible from every window.

Any birthday or christmas present will have the lid and the box wrapped as two separate pieces, so opening it requires no tearing.

"Don't have a series like Vegas, set in 1960, and then have the lead antagonist drive around in a 1965 Lincoln." --true, but it's also just as silly to have everyone in 1960 driving a 1960 model car, especially when 90% of them are top of the line models.

Aunt Judy should be driving her old 1952 Plymouth station wagon with the dent in the front fender instead of tooling around like she's the lead in American Graffiti.

emily said...

Hey, cop actors -- when you enter a dark room, TURN ON THE LIGHTS... like the rest of us would. And don't walk backwards ('cause the bad guy's always behind you).

It's not just Tom Cruise, every cop show has to have "a running scene" as well as the unnecessary "walk-and-talk" scene.

I also want a computer that's as fast as cop computers.

johnachziger said...

Whenever actors let out a big sigh before each line.

Dave Bittner said...

Friday question - How often does a specific character trait get dropped during the run of a series? Specifically, in the first season of Frasier, Daphne possessed psychic powers, but this seemed to have been dropped over time. Did it simply play out?

We've been catching up on episodes of Frasier on the Hallmark Channel, where they run several shows every night. Evidently you cannot say the word "ass" on Hallmark, where they mute it out. Sexual banter is fine, notably in the episode where Patrick Stewart guests as a gay opera director. Hallmark is fine with endless double entendre, but not the utterance of the word "ass."

Retesh Shah said...

I have 2 pet peeves:

1. When there are 2 people in the room and one wants to tell the other a secret, one actually whispers it into the other's person ear - why? They are the only people in the room!

2. There will be a scene between 2 people at one location and an incident happens there. Next scene - same 2 people are at another location discussing the incident. But they drove there from the 1st location - why didn't they discuss it in the car? Why avoid this conversation in the car?

Donald said...

Re: Ken's pet peeve about people not saying goodbye before hanging up the phone.

Here's a nifty montage:

Igor said...

Following up on Dave Bittner's comment about The Hallmark Channel and the word "ass".

There's an episode of "Everybody Hates Chris" entitled "Everybody Hates Mr. Levine".

During a black-out and subsequent rioting in the neighborhood, Chris (Tyler James Williams) discovers a hold-out, ornery old Jew (Steve Landesberg) living a reclusive life in a basement apartment - then talks him into coming out for a tour, since Mr. Levine hasn't been out of his place in decades.

They enter the corner store and, with all the effortless subtlety of Paula Deen, Mr. Levine says, "Bring me out of the house to meet a room full of schwartzes?"

When I saw the episode in syndication on broadcast TV, as best as I could tell, no words were bleeped. But when I saw the same episode on BET, one word was bleeped. Nope, "schwartze" came through loud and clear.

The word that BET bleeped? "Cracker."

Charles H. Bryan said...

Sex scenes. Even just kissing/make out scenes. They all look alike, they all try to get just up to the edge without getting angry mail or sponsor exodus (exodi?), and frankly, they're almost all boring unless it's a comedy and something funny happens.

I get it -- they love each other, or want each other. Let me see them move in and then pan to the open window with the fluttering drapes. It's no worse a cliche than seeing two people face-grinding.

CSL said...

My pet peeve: people who say "Thank you" instead of "You're welcome" when somebody thanks them. Example: Public Radio. At the end of the segment/report, 1) the announcer thanks the reporter for whatever little tid-bit they said with "Thank you", then 2) the reporter says "Thank you" right back.

Sami said...

My pet peeve: window screens!!!! Where are they? How come everybody and their mother is always escaping effortlessly through some conveniently screenless window? And why does every sitcom restaurant have a window in the bathroom? I cannot remember a public restroom I have ever been in that had a window. And how can all these characters lift themselves up to these high windows and shimmy through them with the ease of a 13 year old female gymanst?

Granted, I live in a hot and humid climate tailor-made for the rapid reproduction of kinds of tiny critters. But are there no house flies or mosquitos in other parts of the country? Because if that's true, that should really be front in center in all your tourism and chamber of commerce promotions.

And doors should be locked--building doors, car doors, etc. And most people say goodbye on the phone. I think it's basic manners.

Male detectives where sport coats and jeans or pants, while the female detectives where tight shirts and tight pants and high heels and run in them. I actually worked in a prison for a little while (for school), and a woman would/should never dress like that while in a prison environment. And I imagine that's no more appropriate in the real life of detectives than a school teacher dressing like that.

Michael Westen and company have been blowing up stuff all over Miami for 6 plus seasons now with impunity. They use C4 plastique explosives. You'd think Homeland Security would be all over that. Or just the Miami police department or the local news choppers. But nothing.

Cell phones always work. Pillow cases are make-up free when those are in full make-up in bed.

On the Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Leonard share an apartment because of finances (they've mentioned it), yet the waitress across the hall lives alone in a nicely furnished apartment and has a car and lots and lots of clothes on her meager salary.

Not that I've ever noticed any of this stuff...

Covarr said...

When "smart" is treated as a personality trait. In schools, there's always the smart kid whose only interests are things that can be used to show the viewer how smart he is. Rarely is the "smart" character interested in video games, and absolutely never does he play any sports; instead, he needs to exclusively indulge in activities that visibly demonstrate intelligence, such as chess or math club.

The Big Bang Theory does better than most, simply because its design pretty much forces all four main characters to have distinct personalities, but even it dips into this trend way too often for my taste. I'm actually rather disappointed with how frequently the show relies on stereotypes and "don't forget these guys are physicists" dialogue, especially given how promising the concept that even supergeniuses can be complete dumbasses is.

Jen said...

It always bothers me when characters walk in with coffee/tea/a drink and you can tell there's nothing in it because they're gesturing wildly and nothing is spilling. Obviously the cups are empty - how hard is it to put some liquid in there and pretend???

Same with fake babies. You can always tell when an actor is pretending to hold a baby because they don't look like they're holding anything with weight.

I don't begrudge CSI shows that have the techs doing work in the dark. It used to bother me until I took a forensics course, and the instructor shut off the lights so we could look around the floor with flashlights - the lack of overhead lighting showed SO much things we missed when all the lights are on, so it does have a practical purpose.

Not wearing a bunny suit, booties or a hair net at a crime scene is another pet peeve. The way investigators contaminate the crime scenes on TV shows boggles the mind. I know it's because they want the actors looking pretty, but I like my realism lol.

Tom Reeder said...

The Bob Newhart Show was notorious for having its characters call each other by name. Every speech seemed to include the name of the person being addressed -- Bob, Emily, Howard, Jerry, Carol. The public (or at least, college kids) caught on and it became a drinking game. The rule was simple: Every time someone is mentioned by name, take a swig. At the end of a half-hour episode, you could have a pretty good buzz going.

My pet peeve is the line, "Are you OK?" This comes up in every episode of every show at least once, and is asked of someone who clearly isn't OK. Sometime I'd love to hear the response, "No, I'm not OK! My stomach hurts from all this scenery I've been chewing!"

Cap'n Bob said...

The couple wakes up in the morning after a night of passion and the woman holds the sheets up to her chin.

Characters who flash all 32 of their teeth after delivering a line so the audience will know it was supposed to be funny. Prime offender: Polly Holliday.

Cars that won't start when a quick getaway is critical.

People wearing brand new clothes to go camping or fishing even though its an activity they supposedly do all the time.

Smarmy kids.

The Mutt said...

People in bars never order anything by brand, they just order beer or scotch. And they never pay.

When the cops on Law and Order interview people at their workplace, they keep right on working while they talk.

Diogo said...

lines establishing relationships always bother me, like "How long have we been brothers"?
establishing shots of houses or offices always bother me. like people can't figure out that the outside of Frasier's apartment looks like a building. On that show they never used establishing shots, but as far as I can remember it's the only one.
On Seinfeld they used loop lines over establishing shots. that bothered me because it was badly done and in service of something not worthy.

Ken Fisher said...

My pet peave is that when an actor answers the phone, they always say hello before the phone is up to their mouth. I could never prove it before but DVR has proved I'm right. Check it out sometime.

Dan in WNY said...

Re sex scenes in comedies: Ken, you wrote my favorite of all time, where Frazier is getting hot & heavy on the sofa with his new squeeze, and Eddie interferes.

Onr of my favorite scenes in all of TV comedy.

Diogo said...

Also, the fact that characters wait until they get to the main standing set before discussing something they'd have clearly talked on the car ride over to the house. "Did you see how grampa crapped his pants all over their nice carpet"
If characters on tv ever watch tv, they seem to turn it on at just the right time to hear what they need to hear in order for the story to move forward.
Most characters on tv don't eat/drink like regular people. they mostly take either small sips, usually just one or small bites. and most of the time leave the scene with the drinks unfinished and hardly touched.
the convenient way cellphone reception is/isn't available depending on what the story demands.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

One aspect that used to drive me crazy on shows is the way bosses treat their employees, in such a rude and obnoxious way for no reason.


JETSON: Yes, Mr. Spacely?
JETSON : ..yes?
SPACELY: brilliant.

It's almost as if Spacely had a brain tumor, and can't talk to employeed any other way. He has to yell angrily.

Murray said...

Beer. As life goes on, ordering a beer in a pub is getting worse than choosing one's courses for a university degree. "What's on tap? Do you have (obscure micro brew)? Do you have a pale ale similar to that?" The waitress recites name after name and it's a mighty decision.

In movies and TV, any and all characters walk into any bar anywhere and says "Give me a beer."

Ryan Patrick said...

It drives me nuts when an actor is having a one-sided phone conversation and won't allow enough time for the other "person" to talk. Example:

(sfx. phone ring)

Actor: Hello? (two second pause) What do you mean the bomb is set to explode in two hours unless we find the encrypted code that's embedded in the text of Ken Levine's latest blog post?

AlaskaRay said...

TV women having sex with their top on really bugs me. I sure wish they wouldn't.

MEs are doctors but not medical practitionners. It's like asking your plumber to repair the international space station. I wouldn't let an ME touch unless I was crazy or dead.

Crutnacker said...

Watching 24 always amused me, especially after power watching several seasons at once. Here are some that the show excelled at:

Building a CTU with incredible security holes and more moles than my parents woodland backyard.

Sprint phones that actually got a data signal that worked.

Phones whose battery lasted the full 24 hours even after heavy use, unless there was a crucial plot point that depended on the battery dying.

Some more:

Anyone saying "shots rang out". I've never heard a gun that sounds like a bell.

The woman who gets out of bed clutching a sheet around her.

Hearing someone say "I'm updating my FaceSpace page" or "Let me look this up on Megasearch", or the corresponding fake websites created for such purposes.

tb said...

Like Ken pointed out, the people who are dismissive and sarcastic to the cops at the door. Always bugs me. Nobody's ever nervous or cooperative. Smack talking to the police, right, sure...

alkali said...

@Jeremiah Avery: For example, a show set an episode within the agency that I actually work for and yet got so many things wrong that could have been checked via the public website!

More generally, when a show is deliberately set in some highly specific cultural or geographic setting and then displays no interest in that. (E.g., Rizzoli & Isles, or basically any other show set in Boston, with the exception of some sitcom set in a bar that I hazily recall.)

Stephen Robinson said...

Too often, phone conversations in TV/movies involve someone repeating everything the person on the other line is saying. "I should come over right away?" & "You want me to meet you for dinner?"

BigTed said...

It's always funny on police procedurals when one character will provide information for the audience by explaining it to a (presumably competent) coworker who would clearly already know it.

Detective 1: "See that big hole in the victim's chest?"

Detective 2: "That suggests he was shot by a gun, at close range."

In real life, the proper response to this would be "No sh*t, Sherlock." Or maybe a punch in the nose.

Anonymous said...

5-5-5 phone numbers.

Mitchy said...

Gotta second the "waving obviously empty mugs/cups" around, that drives me crazy. If they can't put water in it, how hard is it to act as if you're carrying a container of hot liquid that will hurt you if you spill it all over your hand?

Anonymous said...

It really bugs me when all the women wear very cleavage-revealing tops/suits to the office, when someone answers the phone and the caller must have said something like "We just found dad hanging in the garage" yet the person answering the phone says "Oh my God, no!" a mere TWO SECONDS LATER, and when, in old movies, drivers of cars slide across the seat and exit from the passenger side...

Diogo said...

in pilots it's very common, if the show has an obscure name, to try to shoehorn an explanation of the title of the show in dialogue. don't know if anyone else said this one, but the fact that most characters on procedurals call each other by their last name, even after they are dating and have a kid (Scully and Mulder)

Michael said...

"Friends" was an exception to the always getting a window table - they magically always got the only big couch in the coffee shop.

A related pet peeve was how little time they apparently spent at work and the fact that Monica was a chef but apparently did not work evenings.

Uncle Al said...

Thank you Jen. I have been fuming about those empty cups for so long my husband has had it with me. I find some comfort knowing there is someone else out there as peeved as I am.

The Indian Bustard said...

People lugging around empty suitcases when they travel...Put some bricks in them!

Perfect teeth and flawless skin, before civilization, or after the apocalypse...

chalmers said...

An offshoot of the disappearing character trait is the disappearing explanation for a trait that remains.

On the "Golden Girls" pilot, Dorothy explains what seems to be a network-note explanation for Sophia's bitingly honest remarks. Dorothy said that due to a stroke, her mother lost the ability to censor her impulsive thoughts.

Soon enough, the producers apparently realized that the character was written and played well enough that she could be cutting yet likable to viewers. The internal censor explanation (which should have itself been censored) was not discussed again.

Diogo said...

the bomb clock that always stops at 001. in Goldfinger they had a great joke, it stopped at 007

RCP said...

Oh I'll give you peeves - but only have time for a few:

Couples clothed in bed after sex.

Whenever someone's pouring coffee, they pour half an inch in the cup.

As already mentioned, actors whose timing sucks on phone conversations.

Non-tv related: People in the first car at those five-second green lights who don't move for three seconds - allowing three cars to get through.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking today's blog (and comments) would make a fine study course for future writers.

Verna said...

The ACT of eating, chewing, smacking - I just don't want to hear it! Or, god forbid slurping! Yuk!

Laugh tracks - who thought that was a good idea?

Morning conversations and morning kissing after a night of sex and NO ONE wants to get up and brush their teeth! Does no one have morning breath in Film Land? Yuk!

The Confession: Really? Criminals not only confess but outline how and why they did it? Wouldn't the average person just clam up and request a lawyer? But nooooo!

Well, I could probably think of way more . . . but I have to get on with living!

I do feel appropriately vented - thanks, Ken.

Jon J said...

No characters seem to want a mixer or even ice with their liquor. They all just knock it back neat. Fewer props to deal with I guess.

Becca in Seattle said...

I got one for you Ken, and you are the guilty party! I've been re-watching Cheers from the begining, am now in early Season 3, and one thing keeps happening over and over again that drives me crazy: Two or more people talking about a third person who is obviously within earshot as if it's a private conversation. This happens all the time at Cheers and sometimes it's blatant. "Come on Sam, she can hear you talking about her, she's right there and you are looking at her while you talk!" jeesh!

David said...

Why do people nearly always drive with their car windows down? And who, in Los Angeles or New York, gets out of their car and walks away leaving the window open?

This is especially irritating when it's a police car. What cop would leave open their cruiser with it's computer, shotgun, and God knows what else available for the picking? I have never seen an unmanned police vehicle curb side with its windows open.

chuckcd said...

I agree with you Ken. I try not to nitpick about that stuff, or every show would be ruined for me.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more.

This Ken Levine guy is smart...?

Nooo, he's just old...

Captain Incredible said...

When a character comes pounding on somebody's door or leans on the doorbell at three in the morning because the world's going to end, but then stops a full thirty seconds before the door is opened, despite having no way to know whether:

(a) anyone's at home; or
(b) on their way to open the door.

Invariably in such a scene the POV shifts to the occupant of the house/apartment, so you can tell that unless he shouts "Okay! Okay!" or some derivative, the visitor remains clueless.

kent said...

With regard to cops putting their hand on their perp's head to help them into the car, you're date doesn't have her hands cuffed behind her back. Oh, wait...

Charles H. Bryan said...

Fake smoking. I can tell from the way the actor draws on the cigarette whether they're faking it. They don't really inhale.

If they're not willing to risk chronic/fatal illness, I doubt their commitment to the role.

Michael said...

Parents who are able to come-and-go as they please without worrying about who is watching their young kids and/or babies.

Diogo said...

when the story is about having money troubles, and yet, the place the characters live in and the clothes they wear are obviously expensive.

Wally said...

Related to the fact that there's always a parking space right in front, the driver getting out of the car never takes the keys from the ignition and pockets them(before there were keyless cars).

Rob said...

Actors who laugh at their own material (Sherman Hemsley, Florence Henderson)

On-screen laugh tracks - Alice on The Brady Bunch delivers a corny punchline and everyone is shown laughing at it.

Psychic characters who always know which end of the house to enter to find who they want (see Everybody Loves Raymond - which house was across from which and why did they always walk all the way around both houses?)

The sex-crazed older woman who can spin a double-entendre out of any line (see Three's Company, Who's the Boss?, Golden Girls, Dear John, etc.)

The choppers interrupted Margaret's wedding, but what if they had arrived the night before when all the docs were falling-down drunk? Did they always know in advance? And why was Potter the only one with a hangover?

How did Radar regain his virginity?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

The one no one's mentioned that drives me absolutely nuts is the nighttime phone call when the character answers the phone and immediately turns on the light and has no trouble seeing.

Seriously: who turns on the light when the phone wakes them up unless they have to write something down? And who turns the light on and then *doesn't* spend a few minutes squinting while their eyes adjust?


Gary said...

The series Rhoda was one of the absolute worst for characters saying each-other's names too much. The sisters would say "Rhoda" and "Brenda" in just about every sentence. Nobody talks that way! The reruns are coming to MeTV, so I'm anxious to see if it's as bad as I remember.

Also, people in sitcoms get away with insults that you could never say in real life. One character will say something awful to the other, and that person barely reacts. In real life, feelings would be hurt, and/or shouting matches would ensue.

Powerhouse Salter said...

Cop show foot chases where the suspect ducks into an empty alley leading to a 6-foot high chain link fence. Thanks to this fence NEVER being topped with razor wire, the suspect manages to climb over it and escape his pursuer at the very last second.

Henry said...

Magical voice recordings used as plot devices in shows like 24 which somehow can't be copied, so there's only that one recording of the vice-president confessing to the murder and now the terrorist has it! If only copying files was something CTU knew about.

555 numbers. Nothing ruins my suspension of disbelief more than those three digits.

Beautiful people. I like looking at attractive people, but I don't need every character to look like a model. Much prefer the British style of casting (or do they just not have enough good looking people to fill the rolls)

PG said...

I can't stand how much EVERY host on EVERY MSNBC program APPRECIATES every guest they have on.
Are there no synonyms?

Cody said...

I think one of the biggest creative pet peeves I have is when writers & producers ignore real world procedures or technical realities for the sake of the brain dead idiots who are too lazy to do a little learning after the show or because they don't know how to write/produce a thrilling sequence that's also accurate. A great example of this was the recent movie 'Flight' with Denzel Washington. Number one; the crash sequence required WAY too much suspension of disbelief. The speeds and maneuvers with which he was pushing that aircraft- the wings would have sheered completely off the frame. Two; the plane apparently only needed 50ft to come to a complete stop after it crashed...while it was traveling just above stall 156mph. AND, the airframe was mostly intact and the majority of people survived...after landing in an uneven, hard surface field. Three; they skipped ALL the dialog a REAL pair of pilots would have had in that cockpit, even if one of them was a reckless, drunken asshole. Also, they would have us believe that NO ONE reported his behavior at some point to the FAA, USAPA, NTSB, hell- the FBI. This happens all the time in military/flying/medical/law enforcement type movies and shows. The writers are too lazy to do their research, or the producer makes them cut it way down or all together so he can 'get the widest possible audience'. I'm not saying the audience needs to be bombarded with so much technical jargon we're all confused as hell (Get the trans-phase inducers to Kelvin standard and flood the chamber with radiation so i can have my popcorn!), but don't assume every single person in the audience is a brainless twat who can't use deductive reasoning to pair the dialog with the actions happening onscreen, even if you don't fully understand what they said. If it was exciting, you'll go to the damn library (fire up Google) after the movie or show is over and actually learn something. "Wow, so you can't fly 6 miles in 45 seconds the way Batman did in that awful 3rd movie."

DBenson said...

In old movies:
-- The nightclub singer who does one song and is evidently done for evening, off get murdered or deny murdering somebody else.
-- The comic who's as funny as a rash reducing the on-camera audience to hysterics.
-- Freelance mystery-solvers who are as anonymous as Clark Kent one moment and recognized on sight by everybody the next. Even Sherlock Holmes would bounce between celebrity and blending into crowds undisguised.
-- Out-of-town Broadway musicals with sets that wouldn't fit in a blimp hangar.

On sitcoms:
-- Real-life minor celebrities (second-string British Invasion bands, lesser Jackson or Osmond brothers, cast members of other shows on the network) who trigger reactions more suitable to the Second Coming. They are abruptly revealed to be the all-time favorites of one or more regulars.
-- Shows about cartoonists, advertising creatives and even TV people who have an idea one day and have it in front of an audience the next. "I'll put that in my nationally syndicated comic strip TOMORROW!"
-- High schools where anybody gives a **** about showy pranks and idiot scams to fool the cute new girl.

Kosmo13 said...

These pull me out of the scene I'm watching:

Characters stop their car, get out, walk away… and leave the car doors wide open.

The Disc Jockey on the air has the mic open to announce something, but the record being played is still audible through the in-studio speakers… and doesn't cause feedback.

No movie theatre projection booth ever has the platter and tree system for feeding film into the projector, despite those having been the norm in real life for decades. The Projection booths have the small single reel of film that feeds down into the projector from directly above.

Two characters in a room with other people want to discuss something confidential. The camera moves in for a close-up two-shot so that anybody standing directly outside the frame can't possibly hear what's being said. When the camera pulls back to include everybody, nobody else has heard the confidental discussion.

Someone says an unusual-sounding name and the PI (or whoever) automatically knows how to spell it.

The detectives investigating a mystery find someone they suspect might have useful information. They ask him a question, get an answer and rush off to pursue the new lead... without bothering to find out if that person might have additional relevant information.

It's distracting enough when the driver of a moving car looks at the passenger instead of the road while driving. It stretches credibility even more when the passenger doesn't admonish the driver "will you please pay attention to the road!"

Marty Fufkin said...

Like you said about women having sex with tops on, I find it grating when TV and movie characters are having sex under the sheets, and when they're finished, they're careful to stay covered up. It takes me out of the moment because it's an admission that half a million people are watching, and the characters know it. Characters that don't have sex naked, on top of the sheets, like real human beings, are the equivalent of the married couples that slept in separate beds in the 1950s.

VincentS said...

How about in thrillers when people die right after talking to the detective. Don't the bad guys think the police will suspect a pattern?

Mitchell Hundred said...

Regarding clothed sex, I thought this was a rather interesting point to make.

Jim McClain said...

People on TV rarely put cream and/or sugar in their coffee. 95% of the time they drink it black.

Mary Stella said...

I hate it when someone knocks on the door of a house/apartment/hotel room and then calls out to the occupant they expect is inside. Nobody who visits me knocks on the door and then calls out, "Mary? Hi! It's (fill in the blank)."

To me that's a device so the people in the room can pause and look concerned that, oh no, the person they were just talking about and said they wanted to keep a secret from just showed up and is right there, at the door! Quick, we must play it cool and pretend nothing's amiss.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

@Henry: ARGH, my other pet peeve: fantasy technology. "Enhance that!" orders the detective. A line goes over the screen, and now the fuzzy CCTV image taken from a camera in the raised ceiling is crystal clear and you can read the inscription on the pill in the person's hand on the floor, two stories below. (Yes, I'm looking at you, LAS VEGAS.)

The worst one - which killed *all* of 24 for me - came 10 minutes into the 24 pilot episode, when Kiefer Sutherland, panicked about his missing daughter, thrusts a piece of paper into the hands of an underling and barks, "Get me all the Internet passwords associated with that phone number." Just no. I couldn't take anything in the show seriously after that.

Oddly enough, one of the many pleasures of THE GOOD WIFE is that so much of the technology is really well done. Kalinda's study of compressed video looking for dropped frames, the malleable memory stuff in S1e06, the phone taps in S2 - all of that is *right*.


estiv said...

One thing that's gradually come to drive me crazy is criminals having tense conversations about their crimes in public. You're going to start arguing about who was responsible for the body not being buried deep enough to keep the cops from finding it, when you're in a restaurant, surrounded by twenty strangers? I know the reason - just like with walk-and-talks, the people behind the camera are trying to make the scene more visually interesting. Two doofuses sitting in a car wouldn't do. But as a viewer, I don't want to be reminded that it's all fake. Which I guess is what we're all saying in this thread.

Anne C. said...

Charles H. Bryan wrote about actors not inhaling when smoking cigarettes. One of my bigger pet peeves, too. You can also spot a non-smoker when they light a cigarette, say one line, then immediately put it out. No true smoker would (or could) do that (speaking from past experience).

Wendy M. Grossman - You beat me to it. Fake technology is my top one. 30 minutes to locate the origin of a speck of paint that was discovered at the crime scene to three factories in the world and one of them is directly across the street from our top suspect! Or tapping into a security camera feed at some obscure location in 10 seconds to be displayed on monitors the size of theater screens that are apparently standard issue in every police station across the country.

Fun topic Ken!

Hank Gillette said...

On TV, a man and woman have just had sex, but when the woman gets out of bed, she wraps a sheet around herself.

I could forgive all of the other things if they'd just get this on right.

Bob said...

Carrying on a conversation while standing single file. Who does that?

Mel Ryane said...

"Let's have dinner"

Hang up.

Where? What time?

Home renovations that take 3 minutes without fights excepting the requisite cute paint splatter which always leads to sex. Really?

Paul Duca said...

I just learned that the term for a TV character always getting a parking space in front of where they are to go is called "Kojaking".

Rich said...

In television commercials food, particularly fruit, is always moving.

RareWaves said...

Another vote for empty beverage cups. Lorelei and Rory did that all the time on Gilmore Girls. Jeez, put a sandbag in the cup or something; learn to handle objects realistically.

Also, people running on top of a moving train jumping from car to car or jumping from one moving vehicle to another. I can't prove it but it just seems that 9 out 10 times, they'd end up dead after a stunt like that.

Oh, and people that get knocked out cold for just the right amount of time when they're punched in the face. Again, it's possible, but not as likely in real life.

Finally, in a home setting, a few from a group will split off within a room or go to another room (like a kitchen and then close the "pass-through door") and talk in private, but how could others not really hear this supposedly private conversation?

Don't get me started on cartoons!

Nick said...

On the phone thing. We have a morning show here (in Australia) where they ring viewers to give away money. Good idea right? But this is the part that gets me.

"Congratulations this is Kochie from Sunrise - you've won $ 10,000!"
"Oh wow that's awesome blah blah blah..."
"And now we're cutting to Nat with the news."

WTF? Did they not want my contact details? How do I get the money? What happens next? Have they just cut me off or has some producer jumped on the line?

Frustrates me every time...

A_Homer said...

Oh yes: "Exposition" rules of conversation are nice - to a character who hasn't been featured in the one episode: "Hey you're back, I haven't seen you for a while, how was that vacation you were on..."

And the doorway of an apartment is just always wrong.
People able to somehow walk directly into the apartment building and to your apartment door. Big Bang Theory and others lock no doors and apparently are the only flats in the hallway. All these buildings that seem to be comprised of two facing apartments and a stairway.

Loosehead said...

OK, here's some of mine. I may have more later.

The Grissom-isms in CSI just before the opening credits roll. They weren't great puns when Grissom was actually on the show (was it in his contract that he got to do all of them?), and now the rest of the cast are sharing them out, they still aren't funny.

When our heroes race across town to the scene of an ongoing crime - Criminal Minds is the worst offender, but they all do it - when a phone call to cops actually patrolling that neighbourhood would work much better.

And a real-life one. What does "reaching out" mean? "We reached out to Tom and he agreed to do a cameo in a fat suit". I've even seen edgy rock stars use the term, when you phone up someone famous and ask them a favour.

benson said...

I'm a tad late to the conversation, but one that really sticks out for me was on the old Andy Griffith Show. It was probably for blocking purposes, (or in Howard McNear's case, due to his stroke) but characters driving cars were either sitting by or exiting through the passenger door.

benjamin cieslinski said...

The professional scientist in me... cannot stand how easily the most common and mundane items are so specifically and easily analyzed and tracked.

For example, the black plastic shard is found at the crime scene and is sent to the lab. Ten minutes later from a blown up colored chart they discover that this formula of plastic is only manufactured by one company which only produces one distinct product that is only made in this extremely distinct shade of black, and they only sell it to one store in NYC.

No. It takes days to weeks to digest the plastic to a form even possible to analyze. The test is ungodly expensive, takes forever, and will just tell you there's carbon and other chemicals. No lab uses color printers; cartridges are expensive. Almost everything uses is only made from about ten different plastics with different coatings, and they're all made of the same stuff (just crosslinked differently), and are all made in the same factories in China. No one tracks this stuff!

As for the casual viewer... how come everyone just throws cash at taxi drivers through their window? I've always had to ask how much, pay from the backseat through the iron bars and wait for change. On TV, just throwing huge wads of cash at an open window is all good.

Janet said...

I didn't read all 110 comments so this could be a dup, but I know this isn't realistic:

The detectives are interviewing someone in their home and they just continue folding their laundry, peeling their vegetables, washing their dishes, whatever, as if they wouldn't sit down and talk to the cops. Sheesh!

And then half the time they say, "well, I've got to pick up the kids," and they're out the door.

Janet said...

Not an issue with creative license, but a huge pet peeve of mine is that so many actors mispronounce the word "women." Don't they have people that check that sort of thing? Mariska Hargitay gets it right about 25% of the time. And she uses the word a lot.

Unknown said...

It drives me crazy to see someone 'playing' a musical instrument expertly, when it's obvious they have never even held the thing properly, let alone made anything resembling music come out of it. The same thing goes for fake keyboard typing. Nothing has that many Qs or Zs in it.
Also a popular misconception is that any lock can be picked with one pick in about 10 seconds.

Julie said...

A couple of my pet peeves:

On shows like "CSI: Miami," the female crime scene techs wear white slacks and high heels to crime scenes. Really? I think that collecting evidence at an explosion might dirty those beautiful white slacks.

Also, has anybody noticed how quickly information is available to detectives? Especially on Criminal Minds. Garcia is like some kind of data savant...."Garcia, can you get me a list of all previous offenders within a 30-mile radius who have bought Nutella within the past 3 days and who have connections to the super secret neo-nazi organizations in the state?" Boom--she has the answer in about 10 seconds. Sheesh!

Andy Grieser said...

"Having feelings." Nobody in TV-land is in love any more, or likes someone, or can think of some creative way to describe the gray area between. No, instead even witty shows like "Veronica Mars" have someone explaining that they or a third party "has feelings" for someone else.

It's a vague cop-out of a line that has zero application in real life. Spoiler alert: I have feelings for everyone I meet and most I haven't. I feel Ken is a funny, talented writer.

Johnny Walker said...

Lots of great annoyances here!

Being British, I can tell you that we hate it when we hear American actors doing TERRIBLE British accents. It's possibly unfair of us to feel this way, but it really winds us up.

Imagine a British actor in a MAJOR TV show doing a terrible American accent. I'm sure it would drive you crazy to listen to them, and make you wonder why they couldn't have just hired an American.

Likewise, it always bugs me when representations of other countries are so off the mark in US TV shows (British TV shows don't tend to go abroad that much -- we can't afford it). I remember when LOST showed Brixton here in London -- where I lived for several years. There were homeless people standing around barrels of fire! Barrels of fire!!!

Speaking of which, when was the last time you ever saw a homeless person standing around a barrel of fire *anywhere*?

It also drives me crazy when a police detective says something like, "We've got him at the scene of the crime, fingerprints on the weapon, but we still don't have a motive." As if real police or courts give two flying monkeys about something as intangible and debatable as a "motive"!

Same goes for the old TV nonsense about getting phone calls once you've been arrested. If I hear another suspect say, "I know my rights!" one more time... *sigh* Doesn't *anyone* (aside from the writers on THE WIRE) care that it's a Hollywood myth?

It kind of irks me when a show has aspirations of realism and they do the "character gets knocked out from a blow to the head" trope. It's used so often, and it is a great story device, but in reality not only is it extremely difficult to knock someone out, but it would likely cause brain damage if they stayed knocked out for longer than three minutes.

It drives me nuts when, again, an otherwise realistic show has the woman carefully wrap her boobs in a sheet when getting out of bed with her HUSBAND/PARTNER. I can understand some shyness on the first few dates, but after years of being together...? Absurd. It totally takes you out of the moment because all you see is an actor and not the character.

Same goes for men when they position things to precisely hide their manhood... as if the audience doesn't notice and isn't taken out of the moment. (Side tangent: If the human body is treated with maturity, and not overly sexualised, I don't see why there should be shame or embarrassment for the actors OR the audience -- Watchmen had a glowing blue penis throughout the entire movie and everyone dealt with it. I digress.)

FYI - Apparently the hand on the head when getting into a cop car is taken from real life. They only do it if the suspect is handcuffed, obviously, and with your hands tied behind your back it's very dangerous if you trip. You can read more here:

Johnny Walker said...

Ooh. I thought of another one. You don't see it THAT often anymore, but in sitcoms when the foreigner is portrayed as the dumb/crazy/eccentric one -- sometimes with an absurd accent to boot.

RockGolf said...

It's not the obscure names that bug me when cops are calling them in, it's the ambiguous ones:

"Cynthia, it's Ted. I want you to look up everything we got on Jean Shepherd."
"Gene Sheppard, okay Ted, got it."

Anonymous said...

A couple supposedly in love who never touch each other (because it would be hard to redo from multiple angles). When I like a girl we slink around each other like hungry cats.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Johnny: I've just been watching the UK (original) HOUSE OF CARDS, and the guy who plays Benjamin Landes should not be allowed to speak - the accent is so fake it's ghastly. Same goes for the guy who wanted Waldorf salad on FAWLTY TOWERS. I've seen a number of British actors do American accents on stage in the West End, and most of them become terribly wooden as they focus on trying to pronounce things right.

I also hate the "village idiot" approach to comedy, where you have someone so stupid (or foreign or off-beat) that even the dumbest audience member is guaranteed to get the it's-supposed-to-be-a joke.

Unknown: that is another of my pet peeves, too. One of the genuine pleasures of NASHVILLE this year has been that the actors are going their own playing and singing. I am particularly smitten with the Canadian girls who play Connie Britton's daughters - check out their video clips on YouTube (Lennon and Maisy Stella).


tb said...

I forgot my number one peeve - the wet streets! God, I'm so sick of that. If the streets are wet it means it's raining, or has JUST rained. Yet the cars are always dry, the people are all dry, no it's not rain, it's pretend-land! "The lighting looks better"? Not worth it.
It just screams fake. Stop it, Hollywood

Dana Gabbard said...

"Michael Westen and company have been blowing up stuff all over Miami for 6 plus seasons now with impunity."

Actually for part of the third season there was a Miami detective (of course played by a hottie) that was intent on putting the team in jail for all the havoc they had caused.

TV Guide years ago complained of this sort of thing and gave Knots Landing a thimbs up for the scenes where William Devane's character finds his car ticketed with a rhino clamp. I know someone once marveled that the folks on Seinfeld always could find a parking place and traffic never seemed to be a problem. In New York? A producer for 24 at Comic Con joked about Jack Bauer's secret way of driving from downtown L.A. to Simi Valley in 5 minutes, declaring the production staff knew the secret and it was going to stay that way.

Kate said...

OK, I'm late to the party but I have scanned most of the comments and I don't think this is a dupe . . .

I live in a NYC apartment building and anyone coming to visit me has to be buzzed into the building. You ring the buzzer from the front door of the building, someone in the apartment hits the intercom and says "Yes?" The visitor says "Hey, it's me, Bob." You say "Hey Bob, come on up" and buzz them into the building.

In TV world, people apparently have complete access to the building and can just knock on your apartment door whenever they want.

Unless it's a needed plot device. On Friends no one, not even the pizza delivery guy, had to get buzzed into the building. Until the one time Ross had to talk to Julie through the intercom just after Rachel told him she had feelings for him.

The exception to this glaring loss of reality is Seinfeld. George and Elaine always had to be buzzed into the building. But apparently that was as far as security went in Jerry's world. Kramer could walk right into the apartment whenever he wanted. Didn't Jerry never lock his door?

Johnny Walker said...

Kate, apparently that wasn't an oversight in Seinfeld. Larry David used to leave his door unlocked when he lived in New York, and his neighbour, Kenny Kramer, did used to just wander in.

croquemore said...

My pet peeve - When there is a press conference in a tv show and the video camera operators don't know how to hold the damn camera correctly. I've never understood this because you would think that on most tv/movie sets that there would be an inordinate amount of people who work there that have held a professional video camera before and could look at the extra and show them how it's done.

Another pet peeve - "new" directors that don't understand basic visual storytelling rules. An intimate, two person conversation should not be shot in wide profile unless you don't want us, the viewer, invested in your characters..i'm talking to you Lena Dunham

Ron Clark said...

Police officers, Doctors and Lawyers: the three most trope-ridden, misrepresented, misunderstood professions portrayed on TV. The trouble is that they SEEM like they should be constantly exciting and interesting, based on what people think they actually do. The only TV show to ever even come close to what it's like to be a detective is Barney Miller, because it showed what it was that we did most of the time; talking to people and doing an incredible amount of typing. Just about every guy I ever worked with had a counterpart on that show, or else was a combination of those characters. The only other show that ever even came close to depicting actual police work was the first season or so of Homicide: Life on the Street, only because it followed David Simon's book pretty closely. Beyond those two shows, pretty much everything depicted on any cop show drives me crazy, because it's nearly all bullshit. In fact, prosecuting attorneys now have to devote part of their case in trials to explaining to a jury how all that stuff they see on CSI or NCIS or whatever is nonsense, because juries are convinced that if the police weren't able to determine what beach a grain of sand found on a defendant's shoe came from, then they did a half-assed job. Defense attorneys love the shows for the same reason. They even call it "The CSI Effect".

RCP said...

A lot of funny and interesting comments here - very enjoyable reading. A couple more:

Television and film period pieces featuring vintage cars - particularly from the 30s and 40s - they're almost always in pristine condition. Obviously these vehicles have been lovingly restored and nurtured, but most cars on the streets are not spotless - it detracts from believability.

Something that always grated from The Golden Girls: Rose's bedroom is down the hallway off the living room to the left, but the view from the living room window shows only a yard/open space where the bedroom/side of the house should be. This same set was used for seven seasons, and nobody noticed this?

Anonymous said...

Nothing good ever happens in a parking garage.

D Mitchell said...

I've got one. I'm a scientist, and so what always bothers me the most is when a character who is supposedly a brilliant scientist mispronounces a simple scientific term. It takes me completely out of the show, and my suspension of disbelief is shattered. For example, my enjoyment of CSI never fully recovered from the time William Petersen mispronounced "microscopy." Don't these shows have advisors who should prevent this from happening?

Wally said...

Pet peeve from a Seattleite: shows and films supposedly set in Seattle but filmed in Vancouver, B.C. I know the reasons are economic, but Vancouver doesn't look anything like Seattle. And its not constantly rainy or gloomy in Seattle, and when it does rain, it hardly ever thunders.

Gary West said...

On the old, "I Dream Of Jeannie" did you ever pick up the fact that Dr. Bellows (just) walked into Tony's house. All the time. Any hour.

I realize it was the necessary element of surprise thing - but talk about creative license.

Johnny Walker said...

Ron Clark, you should watch THE WIRE. It's HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS without the Hollywoodization. Pure uncut David Simon. You would love it.

Johnny Walker said...

croquemore, I have to say, that what you're describing is a specific style, not an oversight by the DOP. At the opposite end of the spectrum you have Michael Bay who shoots nearly everything in close up :)

Rob in Toronto said...

This is more common in films than on television , but every time a character lights up a cigarette the sound designer includes the sound of the tobacco burning, something I don't believe I have ever heard in real life.

Brian said...

My pet peeve is cut off or eliminated theme songs in syndication. We need more theme songs. However the other day the TV Guide channel was running a Cheers anniversary special. It ended with a collection of still pictures accompanied by the theme song. But not just the TV version, the long version that Ken has shared with us here. I don't know how many people have heard the full version, but I felt special. "And your husband wants to be a girl...Aren't you glad there's one place in the world...."

VP81955 said...

If you are going to do a period piece, make sure the cars are the correct vintage. Don't have a series like "Vegas," set in 1960, and then have the lead antagonist drive around in a 1965 Lincoln.

Conversely, don't have everyone driving a 1960 car; add a variety of '50s cars into the mix, even one or two from 1949. Yes, Detroit had something called planned obsolescence, but it wasn't done quite that rapidly.

Ron Clark said...

@ Johnny Walker:

Hi Johnny. I've heard great things about The Wire, though since I don't get HBO I've never seen it. As for Life on the Streets, I don't think the Hollywoodization began until after the first season, when they more or less ran out of the events from Simon's book. There was dramatic license taken in the TV series, but it was still pretty faithful to the techniques, methodology, etc. It only started to go downhill for me when they ran out of reality and started concocting stories.

Joey H said...

I'm annoyed with the trend of the Foley artists and sound mixers to make the act of kissing sound like they are plunging out a clogged drain.

Anonymous said...

Rob, way upthread: Thank you for mentioning the Raymond house. Not only did they know what door to enter, but somehow the back doors faced one another AND the front doors faced one another.

Johnny Walker: I have heard some mighty odd American accents on British shows -- Morse comes to mind. They are gratingly unrealistic, not to mention unflattering. At least when our actors do bad Brit, they're trying to sound sophisticated.

Johnny Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johnny Walker said...

I'm glad to hear that bad accents grate on both sides of the Atlantic.

Ron: The Wire is no longer running. Try to pick it up on DVD if you can.

Good to know that season one of Homicide is worth watching. I should check it out (I've read Simon's book -- it was fantastic reading).

Kirk said...

Here's one from an old episode of GUNSMOKE. Two outlaws, after having killed and wounded a few people, discuss what to do next. The first one says something like, "We'll have to get out of the state quick!" The second outlaw replies, "We can't! Marhall Dillon spotted us. They'll have all the exits blocked off by now!"

I don't know just how much time elapsed between the killings and the outlaw saying that, but it's still clearly the same night, so how can all the exits out of Kansas already be blocked off, even if Dillon saw them? It's not like he had a two-way radio on his horse!

I like westerns when they take the time period and the whole concept of the frontier seriously. But too many of them, especially the ones on TV, are just cops and robbers shows with horses.

I also once saw an old episode of Daniel Boone. Up in the sky was a white trail of smoke left by an airplane. That's REALLY not taking the time period seriously.

Charlotte said...

I've seen many of my pet peeves listed in the blog post and comments, but my biggest is the way that two people in a scene walk three feet away from the other people in a scene to have a private conversation that apparently no one else in the room can hear. I always wonder about the invisible soundproof shield that apparently goes up. Some kind of soundproof cloaking device, perhaps. It drives me crazy!

Jeffrey Mark said...

I'm sick to death of being in a movie theater and while waiting for the show to begin there are a gazillion of "dumbed-down" commercials thrown at you at the speed of light. They are so bad, so tasteless and so in your face. Whatever happened to just sitting in a theater quietly waiting for the movie to start? Why are they doing this to us? I hate this!!!

And...the movie trailers really suck! Just one bad, bad movie after another and horrible trailers that just blind the eye because they throw so much at you. I hate this!! Big time suck.

Storm said...

I'm a costumer with a lifelong love of fashion history, so nothing takes me out of a scene faster or pisses me off more than when it's set in a certain era/decade, and they don't even TRY to get the hair or clothing right. Especially hair, which is more vital to visually portraying an era than most people realize (Hot Lips having 70's Hair used to drive me nuts as a kid, that's how long this has been an issue for me). And I don't mean serious period pieces like "Downton Abbey", I mean when it's supposed to be as recent as the 70's or 80's, when (I assume) the hair stylists in question were alive and should know what hair looked like then! It's one of the things I love most about the British show "Call the Midwife", which is set in the East End of London in the 1950's; the hair, make-up, and wardrobe are so spot-on, it makes an absorbing script and moving performances that much more real and engaging.

Nitpicky, yes, but aren't most peeves?


ChicagoJohn said...

Wow... I have a list. Let's try to hit on the worst:

Hacking and/or anything with computers. The website "Hackaday" actually created a video with the worst hacking incidents in TV and movies, just because actual hackers cringe during those scenes.

People who all have the same "look" in a show. They look so similar that its hard to tell the three lead guys from each other, because they all have the same hair style and partial beards. -And you eventually don't care, because they bleed into each other. Its like the casting agent had a type that they really liked and never realized it.

Yes, I hate when everyone is stunningly beautiful in a show. The only thing I hate more is when they have the "nerdy" looking person who would be a knockout in any real life situation.

24 gets special notice for all of the wrong things it did, but should also get special notice for hiring actual middle-aged actresses to play middle-aged women.

Press conferences where not one photographer is looking through the lens. I have to admire Boss for this one. They actually hired people with real photography experience to work as their photojournalist extras.

Any show that has photo enhancement. Yes, photoshop is crazy good nowadays. But it can't bring out the detail that never existed in the photo in the first place.

Sex scenes that have little to no foreplay. Kiss, kiss, the top comes off.

One last personal one: I have a hard time watching the Big Bang Theory, because the characters are not actually smart. They're nerdy. I'd love to watch a show where the characters figure things out before I do... because they are actually smarter.

Anonymous said...

As far as the cops putting their hand on the persons head when they put them in the car, that's straight out of real life. They do it because they've learned that if someone is handcuffed behind their back their sense of balance is thrown off and and if they start to lose said balance they can't throw their arms out to try and regain said balance.

Not so much an annoyance but I noticed on Friday Night Lights that even though people had cell phones, the characters would just show up on the Taylors doorstep at all hours without calling ahead. I realize it's a plot device and a pretty neat one, as the Taylor's house is kind of a castle/holy ground where people with problems can go and feel safe and cared for and loved and protected and get some help with said problem.

Jake Mabe said...

One of mine is the ridiculous way TV and films used to (and may still) show the POV of somebody looking through binoculars.

Every single time I would yell, "IT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE THAT!"

Julie said...

I hate when a couple kisses right when they wake up. Eww! Morning breath!