Archive for the ‘ropey writing’ Category

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Use of language

2009-03-21

“Opening the brand aperture” and disappearing right up it, the Sci Fi Channel uses several paragraphs of run-on sentences and abstract nouns to explain their decision to reduce even further the amount of science fiction they actually show. Sadly, it doesn’t explain why they didn’t just have the guts to rebrand properly, instead of to a mockable homophone; maybe they should have asked Dave for advice.

Meanwhile, a substantially more coherent and moving piece of writing has bobbed up on various forums, Karl Paulnack’s 2004 welcome address to the parents of new students at the Boston Conservatory.

And a surprisingly informative debate took place yesterday in the House of Lords, saying what a jolly useful chap that Darwin fellow turned out to be; ideal for passing the time on your next long trip up the Amazon, perhaps.

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The Daze of Our Heroes

2008-10-23

Now five episodes into season three of Heroes, my diagnosis is that the writers are suffering from the same malady that afflicted Star Trek: Nemesis. Namely, they decided that they could recreate a previous success (in Heroes’ case, their first season; in Trek’s case, The Wrath of Khan) by cutting-and-pasting the plot of that success right over whatever characters happened to be left standing at the end of their previous outing.

In both cases, the results look disastrous, because they turn something that was compellingly character-driven into something that is depressingly plot-driven.

Previously well-drawn characters are being scribbled into increasingly blurry shapes in order to fit the plot’s unravelling contours. Whatever dopey thing that some erstwhile honorable or intelligent character has to do to push the McGuffin off the chess board, that’s what they do:

  • kill their best friend or themselves because the plot demands a surprise;
  • be strong or weak, trusting or suspicious, with little regard for their character’s journey;
  • fail to use their power because it would wind things up too soon;
  • ignore their prime directive or vital instructions on a whim;
  • forget about what happened last time in just this situation;
  • act like dorks in moments of crisis because it’s not their turn to shout;
  • create the world-threatening jeopardy that they themselves ranted at everyone to avoid;
  • be surprisingly more related to one another than a bag of rabbits;
  • and generally behave like day-time soap characters at a cliff-hanging convention.

To Heroes‘ credit so far when compared with Nemesis, at least none of the villains has made a dramatic entrance down a Bette Davis staircase (such as you might find on any standard war ship), nor leered around through Bela Lugosi eye-lighting.

(Although it does look suspiciously like Heroes might have an uber-villain executing the most complicated and long-winded world-destruction-plot-cum-sudoku-game ever, despite being moments from the bottom of Death’s downward escalator. Even Dick Dastardly would cut to the chase under such time pressure, I think.)

Given the way things have gone so far this season, I expect Jeff Goldblum to turn up soon (as Dr Suresh’s hitherto-unmentioned aristocratic half-clone, Machiavelli Petrelli) just so he can do a double-take when he sees Mohinder hanging from the rafters with his skin peeling off and cocoons everywhere, before mutating into a flying shark and jumping over the freshly-decapitated Henry Winkler. Whose scalp, it turns out, was tattooed at birth with the secret, missing formula for credibility. In Welsh.

As the plot gets ground into a deliciously gritty gruel by Ando’s cold, robotic heart (courtesy of Primatech’s Organ Lab and Cookware Salon on Level 51); after the writers have gone blind from hanging lanterns on everything; and after every TOS alumnus (except Shatner) has had a walk-on part, Patrick Stewart floats down on an Oceanic parachute, says: “Computer, end program”, and returns Our Heroes to the holo-jungle, bringing to an end another brain-poking, eye-twinkling season of Star Trek: Mystery Island.

But wait!

That sound, in the trees; is it…banjos?

That symbol, in the sky; is it…a swastika?

And that guy, in the tuxedo; is it…Ricardo Montalban?

Find out in… Volume Four: We don’t know what happened either.