Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Are TV Writers Off the Hook for Realistic Storylines?

As a writer, I often hear the advice of how important it is to create realistic characters and storylines. You are never supposed to take the easy way out and leave the reader feeling disappointed. It seems some TV writers are not held up to the same standards.

Several months ago I got back into one of my favorite soap operas from my youth--One Life to Live. I got hooked on the storyline of John McBain and Marty Saybrook--wondering if they would ever get together despite Marty still mourning the loss of her husband, Patrick, and the challenges that John has with emotions and dating women. It finally looked like they had a shot. They began sharing special moments together and spent one night in a hotel room in Louisiana.

But, happy endings are boring, as are happy couples, so the morning after their night of passion, Marty is abducted. Amazingly, before John and Marty sleep together, she bares the secret she's been carrying--Patrick was murdered. So, when Marty turns up missing and John finds out that Cole has been taken too, John is easily able to figure out that the past has come back to haunt them.

Now, if the coincidences ended there, I might have been okay with that. But...

* John elicits the help of Ramsey--an FBI agent from John's past--who just happens to know the man John thinks is responsible for Marty and Cole's disapperance

* Ramsey--who was already working with John to find John's sister-in-law (Marcie) who is on the run with her adopted son, Tommy--just happens to know the last location of the guy John wants to find

* Ramsey is able to drop his job of hunting for Marcie in order to help John track down this guy in Ireland who might have taken Marty and Cole. I wonder if the real FBI works that way? If it does, then that certainly explains a lot about how ineffective one organization can be.

* Both men make it to Ireland in record time and find where Marty and Cole are being held very quickly

The next few things that happen I can buy: on the airplane to Ireland, John discovers a chip that Patrick hid in a poetry book (he took it from Marty and Cole's apartment after it was ransacked) which holds the information the guy who took Marty and Cole wants; John and Ramsey are overpowered when they try to rescue Marty and Cole, but John makes a deal with Simon (bad guy) to give him the chip in exchange for Marty and Cole's safe return; Ramsey--who has his own agenda--goes after the van carrying Marty, Cole, and Simon and shoots a tire, so the driver loses control and the van careens off a cliff.

Here is where reality takes a nose dive again:

* The van does several flips and lands on its side. Marty is the only person John finds in the van and he assumes Cole has been thrown. But since Cole was in the back of the van and the windows were closed, how did he fly out? John had to pry a door open to get to Marty, so how was Cole not in the van?

* Simon is nowhere to be found. I guess we could assume he jumped, but John and Ramsey would probably have seen him. And with the injuries he would have sustained in the accident, it's not like he is running anywhere.

* There is talk that the actress who originally played Marty Saybrook might return. Well, little problem--Marty just got blown up in the van because she sent John out to find Cole--who once again had been somehow thrown from a closed van. While John is tending to Cole's injuries, a spark ignites the leaking gas tank and the van blows up. So, how is Marty going to return at all? I guess she could be a ghost like Spencer Truman was for a while. But I can't imagine them recasting the part just for Marty to be a ghost. So, are we to believe that Marty, who was trapped under a heavy box, with numerous injuries--including two broken legs--slithered out on her own and just wasn't found by John or Cole? I really can't wait to hear what they are going to do with this one.

I can appreciate a good story and lots of conflict as much as the next reader/viewer, but I don't like the idea that I have to be careful not to take the easy way out in my stories, but TV writers can sacrifice believability and common sense in order to get to where they want the story to be.

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Blogger Lynn said...

I hated that the killed her off I liked her character

4:07 PM  

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