On Tuesday evenings I go over to Len Wien and Christina Valada’s house for dinner, and then Len and T and I watch three TV shows back to back — The Flash, Agents of SHIELD and Person of Interest. Len has dubbed it Action Tuesday which is a great name for it. Person of Interest continues to be the best show on television (more on that later), but it was a moment in AOS that caught my attention and made me think again how much easier it is to write a script where shorthand and outright hand waving, or no explanation at all is perfectly acceptable.
SPOILERS if you haven’t been watching the show or following the movies ——
SHIELD is not in very good odor around the world. It’s been branded a terrorist organization, and law enforcement is hunting down SHIELD agents and agent… correction, Director Coulson. So Coulson needs to go talk to a U.S. Senator, and we simply cut into the scene where the Senator enters his office and finds Coulson waiting for him. They have a fraught conversation and make a deal. Okay, pretty standard stuff, but what struck me is that in film the writers feel it’s perfectly acceptable for Coulson to be waiting in the office without any explanation or even a scene showing how this wanted “criminal” managed to enter the Senate Office Building undetected.
In a book we could never get away with that. We would have to show either the planning or the execution and make it believable or we would be faced with a reader’s inevitable ah come on moment. But not in film. It bumped me briefly, but I just went with it, and filed away this little nugget to write about here on the blog. Is it because when we’re watching rather than reading we’re willing to accept more shortcuts to keep the action moving? God knows planning scenes/committee meetings are death in a book, and triple death on screen, but a hint at how this was accomplished would have helped me over that one rough place. And maybe nobody else noticed it and was bothered, and this is the price I pay for knowing how the sausage gets made. I would love to hear from people if they are more tolerant of logic lapses in film than they are in books.
Then there was Person of Interest. (I don’t shorthand that title because it’s disrespectful to a great show. ) Anyway the week before the episode had been dark and hell and very depressing. This week was almost comedic, and then came the kicker at the very end like the lash of a scorpion’s tail. I just can’t say enough in praise of the writer/producers on this show. I bought the first three seasons of the show and I’m looking forward to starting the series all over again, and sharing it with Carl when we’re home at Thanksgiving and Christmas.