showed an episode of ALMOST PERFECT that centered around the production of an hour cop show. My friend, Lee Goldberg good-naturally pointed out some inaccuracies. I reminded him of how on terrific shows like THE GOOD WIFE, cases go to trial in one day, and thus began a fun exchange of the creative license that shows and movies take.
In the past, I wrote about the things we did in CHEERS that required a suspension of belief (in some cases, a MAJOR suspension of belief). You can find that here.
The problem arises when the arena is something you yourself are very close to. Lawyers cringe watching legal shows. Doctors have big trouble accepting the shenanigans that go on in medical dramas. So the inaccuracies really stick out whereas the average viewer just goes with it. A doctor friend of mine said he was always able to diagnose the mystery ailment in HOUSE by the first act break. (My problem with HOUSE was the patient rooms all being glass cubicles. You really want to use your bedpan with strangers walking by.)
On MASH, we had a medical consultant, a nurse on set, and a military advisor and we still took some liberties (like them being there for eleven years when the Korean War was just over three).
lots of technical issues with WKRP IN CINCINNATI but was able to get past them all because Jan Smithers was in the show.
But my favorite example is going to see the baseball movie, BULL DURHAM with a professional ballplayer. I was broadcasting for Syracuse at the time of the movie’s release and went to see it with a few players to kill some time on the road. I loved the movie (still do). But as we walked out one of the players said, “What a piece of shit!” He had even thought of walking out. “What was your problem with it?” I asked. “There was that scene where the count was 2-1 and the catcher called for a slider. That would NEVER happen.” Amazingly, that glaring inaccuracy did not bother the rest of America. (Of course this is the same player who hated WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT because he thought Toontown wasn’t realistic enough.)
We all walk a fine line. There’s an old expression “Never let facts get in the way of a good story,” but there’s also the obligation to be as accurate and realistic as you can. Still, aren’t movies long enough without having to watch Julia Roberts drive around for ten minutes looking for a parking space and then walking two blocks to the restaurant? Imagine 24 if things really took place in real time. “Tonight Jack Bauer drives from CTU to Van Nuys and gets as far as Coldwater Canyon.”
VE ARE MAKING MOVIE MAGIC HERE.