Saturday, September 08, 2012

Great minds plot alike

Am I the only one who noticed that the big concluding scene of THE NEWSROOM and SUITS was the exact same scene? I’ve held off writing this post for several weeks, giving you all ample time to catch up on the them on your DVR’s. But if you still haven’t seen them then SPOILER ALERT.

What’s fascinating to me is that this is obviously a coincidence. Both shows are extremely well-written, both shows are very clever, and I don’t even think they’re written on the same coast. They’re on two different networks so the odds that either had a chance to see the other before it aired are remote at best.

And yet, both scenes were so identical it was somewhat eerie.

Here’s the situation: In SUITS, ace lawyer Harvey is about to be fired for taking drugs. In THE NEWSROOM, ace anchor Will is about to be fired for taking drugs. They’re both going before the big board of directors. They both have an ally (Charlie in THE NEWSROOM, Jessica in SUITS). They both admit to taking drugs. They’re both fired.

But wait. They both have cards to play. They both have knowledge of wrongdoing from the corporate head that could explode into a big scandal. At first the charges are denied. Will and Harvey both have proof.

A manila envelope is slapped down on the boardroom table. Inside contains all the hard evidence that is needed. The evil-doers are trapped. They admit their indiscretions. The bad apples are weeded out. Will and Harvey keep their jobs. They use this smoking gun info as leverage to negotiate favorable terms for themselves in lieu of going public with the info. The day is saved.

And then there’s one final twist. They were both bluffing. The info in the envelopes were not the necessary proof. But by then the bad guys had confessed to their crimes.

Sounds like the same scene to me. The point is: it happens. I’m sure neither show plans to sue the other. Sure, they could use the manila envelope trick, but in this case I don’t think it’s going to work.


Dan J said...

Sorkin got there first... the scene is a low budget riff on the courtroom scene from A Few Good Men. A powerful person is bluffed into confessing with a piece of fake evidence -- that envelope might as well have been return-addressed to "Airmen O'Malley and Airmen Perez".

Mike said...

This is a standard plot device from Thrillers and Police Proceduals that goes all the way back to Year One. I also recognise the Boardroom scenario - the drugs, the envelope, the lot.

Consider the plot holes:
a) The accused gets to face the Board. Wouldn't happen. They'd be given a plastic bag by a security guard and told to leave the building.
b) No-one but Head Honcho (& the accused) knows he's been cooking the books. Wouldn't happen. Consider the recent Energy Company or Investment Bank scandals.
c) Not even Head Honcho opens the envelope and reads the contents properly. Wouldn't you?
d) The Board doesn't sack the accused anyway. They're guilty of drug-taking and extortion. They're also accomplice after-the-fact of embezzlement.

Earlier this week, you mentioned cramming plot twists into episodes. One reason is to cover the plot holes.

Michael said...

I'm reminded of the later MASH episode about removing a colonel's appendix to get him off the line and the ensuing debate, but nobody seeming to remember they had removed another colonel's appendix years before.

trail of bread said...

another programe similarity. I just watched the new Matthew Perry programme Go On. I enjoyed it and laughed quite a few times. The only thing that spoilt it for me is that it appears to be Community, but staring Matthew Perry rather than Joel McHale. Or is it just me?

josh said...

At what point are two plots so similar that the older plot creator can sue the newer plot creator?

MikeN said...

Harvey was not fired. They didn't take the vote until after he presented his evidence.

I don't know what USA is doing promoting drug use like this.

David said...

I watch both shows, so I noticed the similarities, though I hadn't picked up on as many details. But there's more: in both series, the season finale also included a similar romantic monkey wrench: The Couple That Should Be Together (Jim-Maggie in Newsroom, Mike-Rachel in Suits) has a brief moment together, before they're separated again by a third party (Don and his romantic move-in-I'm-trying scenario, Mike's old hookup Tess reappearing).

Paul Duca said...

Michael...exactly--and it was Ken and his TRUE life partner, David, who wrote the second one. I was going to bring that up to show that the same idea can come from different sources at the same or different times without there being any connection, improper or otherwise, whatsoever.

Tomas said...

Dan J:

Yes, A Few Good Men used the fake evidence plotline, but as I understood it the main reason that Cruise's lawyer got Jack Nicholson's colonel Jessup to confess was that Jessup firmly believed that he had done the right thing, and he strongly wanted to tell the world that drastical measures such as ordering a Code Red sometimes had to be taken.

Unknown said...

well, thanks..... not:

"I’ve held off writing this post for several weeks, giving you all ample time to catch up on the them on your DVR’s."

.... the final episode is this week in the UK

(you do know these shows you talk about and visitors to your blog - many of them are outside of the US?)

By Ken Levine said...

Uh, excuse me but I said SPOILER ALERT. You had ample opportunity to click to something else. It's not like on a local channel's newscast they said SPOILER ALERT on the Olympics but visually posted the results.

Unknown said...

.... you just added "SPOILER ALERT".... that wasn't there before. Also if you follow along on an iPad with Flipboard it has a habit of showing text from the middle of a page... either way the first thing I saw was the drug bit.

No worries.

RCP said...

media_lush said...

.... you just added "SPOILER ALERT".... that wasn't there before...

Actually, media_lush, I read this post yesterday and distinctly remember reading the words SPOILER ALERT.