Sunday, May 2, 2010

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

I ignored May Day.

In fact I - and you might have noticed this - didn't even schedule something to go up that day.

I'm not really sure why. I guess I can just be a cranky pants sometimes. Instead of commenting on that, I'll continue from before.

When I experience science-fiction {books, movies, television, etc.}, I don't question the fact that apparently everything, from wooden door to 53rd century computer, can be undone by a small object with a blue flashing light. No matter how complex the technology, how explosive or dangerous the weapon, its dismantling can be accomplished in the span of five, ten, twenty seconds. Typically at least one of the rules from the Evil Overlord's Handbook will be broken:
I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labeled "Danger: Do Not Push." The big red button marked "Do Not Push" will instead trigger a spray of bullets on anyone stupid enough not to disregard it. Similarly, the ON/OFF switch will not clearly be labeled as such. There will be no Plug.
Coming up with "plausible" explanations and technologies isn't the point of science fiction, and if there were long spiels of technobabble every episode or page or minute it'd be boring. Sometimes I forget about that.

Sometimes I forget that the "punchline" of an episode doesn't have to be shocking or unexpected. Science fiction is more about posing questions in such a way that we, the viewers, will query analogous phenomena in our own lives.

My tolerance for the deus ex machina of a sonic screwdriver, or of the moralizing message intoned by a creepy creature that looks like he's making a cameo from Rainbow Brite, is in direct proportion not only to the level of writing, but to the foreshadowing surrounding that same action. It turns out the character known for her inability to deal with computers saves the day because she's imbibed some of the alien biology? Ok, because there were weird moments prepared us to expect something. "The Beast" is actually "the beauty"? Sure, because we should never expect things to be exactly the way they're so clearly expressed within the first five minutes of a storyline.

Still, there's a fine line between foreshadowing and non-sequiturs that sound forced and stilted and horrible. I'm not going to do a line-by-line analysis, but suffice it to say that a recent episode had far more of the latter than the former. There comes a time when you, Mr. Episode-Writer-Author-Dude, stop sounding exciting and smart and fill me with anticipation, and start sounding like a dull cocktease.
"So it was Ol' Man Whipplethrop Snaptickler the whole time?"

"And I would've gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you darned kids and that dog!"
Just like that.

I really AM crankypants, today, for whatever reason. Le sigh.

6 comments:

Miriam said...

Rainbow Bright!!!!!!!

Justin said...

Dearest Andrew:

We, the citizens of the United States, would like to here note that we are a week behind the rest of the world's Dr. Who release schedule. So... stop doin' that.

Andrew said...

Dear Mr. Joe American,

I was talking about the episode that aired in the UK April 24, which means more than a week had elided from the airdate to the time of my post going live.

So, um...suck it.

Sincerely,

Your daily dose of Frozen Icarus
Now with Attitude™!

Justin said...

Well we're two weeks behind, aren't we then!

Why do they hate America!

Andrew said...

Can I just comment on the logic gap here that

a) they don't broadcast Dr. Who in Russia
b) I don't even have a TV.

This is not tantamount to an admission of guilt in any court of law, but...

Justin said...

Fair enough!

I'm lazy and like watching my Doctor on the pretty televisor.