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 Posted:   Jun 4, 2007 - 10:08 PM   
 By:   ZapBrannigan   (Member)

Worst sci-fi cliche on TV: a main character is possessed by an unknown alien being, and controlled like a puppet. He does terrible things, but in the end when the alien is driven out, his crewmates instantly believe this improbable story, and thus forgive him completely.

 
 Posted:   Jun 5, 2007 - 1:42 PM   
 By:   Jon A. Bell   (Member)

In any whodunit, at some point in the film or show, we meet the person whodunit, even though they have yet to be identified as the culprit.

For once, I would like the person whodunit to be someone who DOESN'T appear in the film until right up to the point that they are apprehended or whatever.


That's very dangerous dramatically for a whodunnit or drama, unless the guy is a stealthy, near-supernatural killer.

A rule of thumb for films and books is you NEVER introduce a major character who influences the plot after around the half-way point in a film. (Although Bollywood films break this rule, but that's the least of their genre-bending issues.)

If you don't find out who the killer is until the very end, and you've never seen him in the entire film (only the aftermath of his work), then the film would have to completely focus on the protagonists, and the reveal of the killer won't be as shocking, or scary (since it could literally be "anyone") as knowing that you've actually SEEN him earlier in the film, but it's as much a mystery to you as it is to the heroes.

The only film to pull off a conceit similar to this is "Seven," and even then, there were suggestions of the killer throughout the movie. Dramatically, it's very tough to do this without the audience feeling cheated.

-- Jon

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 5, 2007 - 1:57 PM   
 By:   Paul MacLean   (Member)

The "Sword and Sorcery" plot...

A young, naive "reluctant hero" must make a perilous journey to a far-off "dark fortress" where a monstrous villain is poised to destroy the world. At the last minute the hero vanquishes the villain and sets the world aright (and usually lives happily every after with the maiden or princess).

J.R.R. Tolkien more or less came-up with this, but ironically every fantasy movie -- Dark Crystal, Dragonslayer, Krull, Legend, Black Cauldron, Willow, et al -- exhausted the idea long before LOTR was brought to the screen.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 5, 2007 - 6:22 PM   
 By:   The_Mark_of_Score-O   (Member)

Roger Ebert has a whole list of movie cliches that are really funny.

One of my favorites is "the fatal cough" -- if a character in the film coughs for no obvious reason, that guy/girl is gonna die of some hideous disease. You can bet money on it.


So, what are we to make of a TV personality's face swelling up like a balloon, Roger?

 
 Posted:   Jun 6, 2007 - 11:42 AM   
 By:   Jon A. Bell   (Member)

Roger Ebert has a whole list of movie cliches that are really funny.

One of my favorites is "the fatal cough" -- if a character in the film coughs for no obvious reason, that guy/girl is gonna die of some hideous disease. You can bet money on it.


So, what are we to make of a TV personality's face swelling up like a balloon, Roger?


The fact that they may have had cancer, and a stroke, and jaw surgery, and have been taking medications for it -- as Roger Ebert has?

-- Jon

 
 Posted:   Jun 6, 2007 - 12:41 PM   
 By:   LeHah   (Member)

Every single episode of Firefly was a rehash, redux, redo, rewrite, rethink and rewind of a zillion cliched yet superior Western shows like Have Gun, Will Travel and The Rifleman.

A whore house full of "honorable" women and they're under siege?!

The main character gets into a duel with someone who's a better marksman than he is?!

The tough guy's past catches up to him with hilarious results?!

Zzzzzzzzzz.

 
 Posted:   Jun 14, 2007 - 9:21 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Let's also retire the "spinoff within an established TV series" plot. The Star Trek episode "Assignment: Earth" comes to mind, it dispenses with Kirk and crew almost entirely and they only emerge at the end with that sickening bit when Kirk and Spock wish Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln "luck." Magnum, P.I. also pulled the spinoff trick, with the episode, "Two Birds of a Feather" with William Lucking as some pilot and Magnum nowhere to be found except at the end when he phones Lucking about the case or whatever.

Another tired premise is the "letting the audience know that their beloved main character will not be in this episode" routine. There was a Quincy episode, "Has Anyone Seen Quincy?" that had the Klug-Man absent from the entire episode and replaced with some Asian guy. The regular characters are either not seen, except for maybe one token scene and it's usually via a phone call or a hurried explanation by a supporting character, like that tried and untrue bit when Redd Foxx held out for more dough: "Oh, Fred Sanford? Why he's in St. Louis, but I'm Grady and I'll be here this week", or some such nonsense.

 
 Posted:   Jun 15, 2007 - 1:08 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

In any whodunit, at some point in the film or show, we meet the person whodunit, even though they have yet to be identified as the culprit.

For once, I would like the person whodunit to be someone who DOESN'T appear in the film until right up to the point that they are apprehended or whatever.


Let's also retire the old warhorse with the detective assembling all of the suspects in one room and giving a big speech until finally revealing "whodunit."

And just once, could the witness NOT inform the bad guy that he/she is going to the police to turn said bad guy in, so that the bad guy won't kill them immediately afterwards?

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 15, 2007 - 8:03 PM   
 By:   Tom Barnaby   (Member)

Retire this plot. A murder happens and the suspicion initially falls on some lower-class person, but then over the course of an hour a plot is revealed that shows a corporate CEO WASP is the guilty culprit.

Just once, reverse gears at the end and show that the initial suspect was really guilty after all.


Damn those CEO WASP's. Always stinging those lower classes. lol

 
 Posted:   Aug 21, 2007 - 10:22 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

One plot that has been retired is the TV movie or shows from the early and mid 1970s that dealt with the "crazed" Vietnam veteran who goes berzerk and immediately arms himself. This as recently as 1982's First Blood, albeit more sympathetically. I guess we'll see the storyline altered to accomodate more recent conflicts.

 
 Posted:   Aug 21, 2007 - 11:19 AM   
 By:   Jehannum   (Member)


Another tired premise is the "letting the audience know that their beloved main character will not be in this episode" routine. There was a Quincy episode, "Has Anyone Seen Quincy?" that had the Klug-Man absent from the entire episode and replaced with some Asian guy.


I remember there was an episode of The Incredible Hulk without Bill Bixby (David Banner was seen only from a distance, and the episode was from Jack McGee's POV), and one without Lou Ferrigno (David had a semi-hulk out because of a meteorite).

 
 Posted:   Aug 21, 2007 - 11:28 AM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

Another tired premise is the "letting the audience know that their beloved main character will not be in this episode" routine. There was a Quincy episode, "Has Anyone Seen Quincy?" that had the Klug-Man absent from the entire episode and replaced with some Asian guy. The regular characters are either not seen, except for maybe one token scene and it's usually via a phone call or a hurried explanation by a supporting character.


That "some Asian guy" was Robert Ito, who played Quincy's assistant Sam Fujiyama in 38 episodes.

 
 Posted:   Aug 21, 2007 - 2:26 PM   
 By:   Jehannum   (Member)


That "some Asian guy" was Robert Ito, who played Quincy's assistant Sam Fujiyama in 38 episodes.


No it wasn't. It was an older guy, a Dr Hiro.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 21, 2007 - 2:37 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....Let's also retire the old warhorse with the detective assembling all of the suspects in one room and giving a big speech until finally revealing "whodunit.".....


LOL!


One of my absolute favorites of these is in CHARLIE CHAN IN THE SECRET SERVICE.

Sidney Toler, as Chan, gets everyone in the drawing room (a Monogram Pictures-sized drawing room, mind you) and reveals to them that the killer has offed one of his victims by shooting them with the poisoned dart, from a gun secured to a wall in a weapons display, via radio control.

I'd seen this film several times over the years and never realized until just a few years ago that the large finial on the table lamp, which Chan indicates carries the radio receiver, is actually one of those ribbed copper-color floating metal balls from your toilet tank, stuck on top of the lamp stem!!!

Talk about cheesy and cheap (but imaginative) B-picture set dressing!!!

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 21, 2007 - 6:27 PM   
 By:   CindyLover   (Member)

How about having a suspected suicide actually be a suicide, rather than murder. That would put many 1970s detectives out of business, however, and we all know that Frank Cannon and Dr. Quincy need the dough...

Quincy maybe, but Cannon certainly seemed to live pretty well (unlike most private eyes on TV). That plot premise actually was used, sort of, in Quincy, M.E.'s "Semper Fi" (in which a cadet found dead after a fall hadn't died accidentally or been murdered, but jumped) and Hawaii Five-O's "R & R -- & R" (also suspected murder, but suicide).

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 21, 2007 - 6:34 PM   
 By:   CindyLover   (Member)

Let's also retire the "spinoff within an established TV series" plot.

Especially since it almost never works (among the few exceptions: Ironside with the pilot for Amy Prentiss and more recently One on One with that for Cuts). The most obvious example I can think of was, of all things, Filmation's BraveStarr (one of their better cartoons) - they did a two-part episode called "Sherlock Holmes in the 23rd Century" with Marshal BraveStarr shoehorned into a plot that had Holmes fighting Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls, falling off and plunging into a time warp...

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 21, 2007 - 6:39 PM   
 By:   franz_conrad   (Member)


(I'd also like to see, in every shot of a film set in Paris, the Eiffel Tower visible through every single window in a flat, even if you have a Steadicam going from room to room, each facing a different direction. Same with London and Big Ben, San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, etc.)

-- Jon


Fantastic idea! Can I use that in a short film?

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 22, 2007 - 12:03 AM   
 By:   CindyLover   (Member)

That "some Asian guy" was Robert Ito, who played Quincy's assistant Sam Fujiyama in 38 episodes.

Rather more than 38 episodes, in fact...

 
 Posted:   Aug 22, 2007 - 5:27 AM   
 By:   Scott M (Oldsmith)   (Member)

I could forever lose the "screaming police captain who's always wrong about our hero." Or the "punch the jackass official at the very end after pretending to walk away."

Evil twins can go. Also, I'd love to see the main bad guy just shoot the son of a bitch without explaining anything (or even taking the time to say he's not going to explain). A real evildude would not take the chance of a delay.

A little tired of the "bad guy dies quickly, but springs back to life at the last second" thing.

TV show specific chiches:

Trek - "Shields are down to 30%. 15, 12. The next shot will kill us for sure!"

The landing party is on another ship. They start to beam them up, the other ship explodes. Did they get the crew off in time?

24 - Jack torturing someone. "4 cc's!" Jack going rogue. Jack getting the shit kicked out of him, is clinically dead, but running after a terrorist less than an hour later.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 22, 2007 - 7:44 PM   
 By:   zooba   (Member)

The "YOU SAVED MY LIFE" scenario, where the one who is saved has to become the "slave" to the saver.

Just saw it on THE BRADY BUNCH with Bobby and Greg

GOMER PYLE with Sargent Carter and Gomer

and an almost identical script on

THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW with Andy and Gomer again.

I think they did one on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND didn't they with the Skipper and Gilligan?

Sheesh.

 
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