The Null Device
Vice Magazine is somewhat of a mixed bag, often throwing in an interesting article or two next to a lot of sophomoric cleverness, hipster self-indulgence and deliberate 'ditchtwat offensiveness. However, the most recent issue, which is film-themed, is a treasure trove of interesting articles. Such as, for example, interviews with Werner Herzog, Dario Argento, Terry Gilliam, David Lynch and Spike Jonze, an article on how the BBC's Play For Today changed British cinema in the 1960s, pieces about spectacularly goodbad Nigerian religious thrillers and low-budget Mexican crime/exploitation films and photographer Ryan McGinley's list of top 10 art films.
Blogging ambulanceman Tom Reynolds on the clichés found in TV drama, with an emphasis on medical drama:
I think that there are two reasons, first that TV producers think that viewers are stupid, secondly that the writers carry paintbrushes.
I remember, as a child, watching Rolf Harris on a Saturday afternoon creating works of art using 4" paintbrushes. Big sheet of paper, slopping the paint everywhere and then, as if by magic, a painting would appear.
Big tools, used well to create wonderfully subtle works of art.
Writers today also use those 4" brushes, but they use them not for portraits, but to paint walls. Huge strokes slabbered on with no finesse. Before I visited NBC's character biographies I could guess the characters 'personalities'. You'd have the maverick, the womaniser, the hard as nails female, the unsure rookie, the heartless administrator, the drinker/gambler/philanderer. The list goes on. Oh, and we must not forget the racially diverse cast of good looking people.
Look at those character types, you can see them appearing in pretty much every show.
And yes, 'Casualty' does still make me grind my teeth - 'blonde sexbomb'. 'joker', 'socially awkward nerd in glasses' who, in the their second episode tell us what their personalities are by talking to a psychiatrist. Next series I think they'll stop giving the characters names and instead they will instead walk around carrying placards with their character traits written on them.Elsewhere in the post, he posits an updated version of Chekhov's Gun which applies to such shows:
'Chekhov's pregnancy' - 'If there is a heavily pregnant woman in the first act, she will get trapped in a lift/locked building/under rubble and will then give birth'. (Needless to say, on TV pregnant women race through the stages of labour in fifteen minutes, not the more normal twelve hours or so)