Tag Archives: TV shows

Things I’ve Learned From TV

I recently took a week off and, conserving my funds, made it a working vacation for writing. This means I wrote one story, finished another, submitted a bunch of poems and stories and started rewriting my novel…again. In between that, cleaning and doing the great purge on my place, I was also suffering from a case of Smallvillitis. What’s that? Well it’s where you start watching Smallville, on your laptop and watch an episode every day. Of course, this was season 9 so I’ve had the disease for a while. In fact, I watched season 1-9 this year.

That’s actually pretty bad for someone who professes to not watch TV. But I can blame that on Joss Whedon and Buffy who got me back into watching interesting and intelligent TV. Still, I try not to become a total couch potato. However, watching so many seasons at once really lets you see the character and story arcs of the show. What gimmicks or themes are big for them: for Smallville, the theme of power and what’s right and wrong are tantamount, laced with unrequited love, jealousy, faith, fear, alienability, etc. The other thing that becomes evident are the gimmicks or tricks that the directors and producers like for a show. Some of these are the clichés of Hollywood and some are clichés in the making.

Smallville survives because it has interesting enough plots, characters changing sometimes so subtly from good to evil and back and pretty good dialogue. But it falls captive to some of those TV realities, which do not affect our real world. Not just Smallville, but other shows and movies get caught up in the same trap. Below is a partial list of some of the things I’ve learned from TV and from Smallville.

  1. Creepy things in fields and graveyards (or meetings in such places) are always accompanied by mist. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Kansas or the Alps, there’s bound to be spooky mist.
  2. Cars, no matter how small the fire, will always explode. If this were true people would probably never drive them. Explosions are actually very rare. I once copyedited a Hulk novel (I think) where the truck transporting grape jam exploded and the fire was hot enough to melt glass and turn everything purple from the jam. Of course, that’s hot enough to melt a lot of stuff and anything organic would carbonize, not retain its color. I think they still left it in, no matter how inaccurate it was.
  3. Air ducts are always big enough for a full human to crawl though, and spic and span clean. I look up in the buildings I walk through and never notice ducts this big, nor do I think that they could support the weight of a human if I see one. And usually they’re half the size. Where are all the spiders and grungy dirt bits filtered out from the great outdoors?
  4. Elevators always have a hatch at the top, big enough and easy enough for someone to escape into. Everyone is of course a super athlete. In the one level elevator into the underground garage where my bank is, there is a grill and yes a hatch big enough to crawl through, should I be able to hoist myself up. But I don’t often see these in business buildings. And what do the escapees do anyways, crawl up the greasy cables to the next floor?
  5. Fires in houses, even primitive cottages will still cause and explosion. Yes, like cars and trucks watch out for the giganto fires. Toss a lamp down, and it will flame crazily and instantly, and yes the house will explode sooner or later.
  6. Every slum even in big cities, has guys burning fires in oil drums. Next time you’re out in your big city, think about or drive through that bad or down and out are of town. Vancouver has Canada’s poorest postal code with the Downtown Eastside, and you know what, even there with drug addicts and alcoholics and people who need care, there is not one oildrum with a fire burning in it. Dang where is that disenfranchised utopia?
  7. Glass tables; everyone has them because they can fall through them. Yep, you would not believe the number of times someone has tossed someone through a glass table on Smallville. They love it and it happens about every three episodes (I’m just guessing) because well, it looks so good and makes great crashing sounds (done afterwards in the foley studio but who the heck cares).

I’ve already talked about the brainiac glasses cliché where every egghead computer user sports them. But I’ m sure I’ll be able to add more to this list in the future.

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Writing: Ray Bradbury, Sexy

Once upon a time I was a child reading whatever I could get my hands on. I did the classic flashlight-under-the-covers thing (now it would be a laptop) and read read read. Nancy Drew, Norse myths, fairy tales, you name it. My mother’s fiction books and eventually my brother’s books, which were Heinlein, Clarke, Herbert. But I was also reading Edgar Allan Poe.

ComicCon, San Diego, photo by Sophia Quach

At least I tell myself this but I wonder now how many stories I actually read of Poe’s. I think it might have only been a few but they resonated so strongly that the imagery of the words stuck in my head. At ten I was reading many of these books. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, as well as The Dosadi Experiment and The Green Brain by Frank Herbert. Ray Bradbury (pictured left) was a short story man in many ways and I read the collection called The Illustrated Man when I was about 12. It had creepy stories and I remember them keenly. Even if I didn’t remember the story I remembered the feeling and I have to say that the atmosphere was so strong that probably Bradbury influenced my writing in way that Herbert and Heinlein did not. I read them. They did SF, and showed future worlds and places. But it was Bradbury who dug into the psyche of people. His stories were never quite horror, though often horrific.

Many of his stories were made into movies or TV shows and in the era of The Twilight Zone (which consequently had many of the young up and coming actors in the shows), his style fit right in. In fact several of his stories were made into The Twilight Zone, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The (New) Twilight Zone episodes. As well, there was a Ray Bradbury Presents TV show with numerous episodes. To say the man is prolific is an understatement.

Two of his most lyrical titles are I Sing the Body Electric (I love that, and think it one of the best titles of all time) and Something Wicked This Way Comes. I have not read these but they were both made into movies, which I did see. As well, Fahrenheit 451 was probably one of his most famous books and movies. He is considered one of the great minds in American literature and has written several stories under every letter of the alphabet. And at the ripe age of 90, the man is still writing. The following links list all of his stories, and the other media in which his work has appeared, such as plays, movies, episodes.

Last year, in 2009, another collection of his stories came out, We’ll Always Have Paris and most of these stories were written that year.

We'll Always Have Paris

Ray Bradbury has a strong spark of being a creator who is unceasing. I guess it’s no wonder that there is now a song that has come out, done tongue in cheek and slightly naughty. I’m sure that Ray Bradbury has seen it and has had a good laugh. And writing this, I’m getting a hankering to read some Bradbury, which really spurred me into writing, and that I haven’t read in a long time. So I think I’m going to go out and buy We’ll Always Have Paris. And now, feast your ears on this song F**k Me, Ray Bradbury
which looks at the sexy side of being a writer. An homage of a different sort for one of our greatest writers.


Ray Bradbury Stories

Bradbury Media

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