Bad TV Plotting

William Rabkin tipped me off to a blogger's hilarious example of  bad television plotting. Here's an excerpt:

I think the worst offender here is the History Channel and all their programs on the so-called "World War II"[…] they spend the whole season building up how the Japanese home islands are a fortress, and the Japanese will never surrender, and there's no way to take the Japanese home islands because they're invincible…and then they realize they totally can't have the Americans take the Japanese home islands so they have no way to wrap up the season.

So they invent a completely implausible superweapon that they've never mentioned until now. Apparently the Americans got some scientists together to invent it, only we never heard anything about it because it was "classified". In two years, the scientists manage to invent a weapon a thousand times more powerful than anything anyone's ever seen before – drawing from, of course, ancient mystical texts. Then they use the superweapon, blow up several Japanese cities easily, and the Japanese surrender. Convenient, isn't it?

…and then, in the entire rest of the show, over five or six different big wars, they never use the superweapon again. Seriously.

Great stuff!

5 thoughts on “Bad TV Plotting”

  1. I was ten when this nonexistent superweapon obliterated two Japanese cities. Within days the war was over, and my brother in the Pacific Theater could come home, and the two million casualties expected in the invasion of Japan never happened. Here in Montana, the nonexistent weapons remain in buried silos, while Air Force personnel in blue trucks maintain them. Maybe the History Channel got it right. Maybe the young commenter’s posting was satire, intended to be funny, but I have the bad feeling that he doesn’t really know his history.

  2. Paid-per-word British pulpster Lionel Fanthorpe once told me of his method for producing a 50,000 word novel in a weekend. He’d begin dictating into a machine on Friday evening, working to no plan. His wife and mother-in-law would transcribe the tapes and give him a running report on the wordcount. If by Sunday he was getting close to target and the plot was showing no signs of resolving, one character would turn to another and say, “This is getting desperate. We’ve no choice. Break out the Flazgas Heat Ray.”
    Two pages later, the story was done.


Leave a Comment