10 Movie/TV Clichés That Need to Die A Horrible Death!

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Greetings all and sundry!

While taking advantage of the intermittently snowy, yet not disastrous winter weather and snow visiting the mid Atlantic east coast. I’ve taken to television, DVDs and the occasional film to develop a list of annoying clichés. That try as one might to avoid or ignore. Keep returning to the scenes of their crimes.

We’ve all seen them. Some may even look forward to their optimization. While other scenes are relatively new. Others personally date back to the 1960s and earlier.

Lists have been compiled to the more often seen. Baguettes peeking from grocery bags. Opulent loft apartments, whose renter doesn’t really do much for a living. Always having an empty parking spot close to home or the scene of the action. heroes stoically endure being beaten up or flesh wounded on moment. Only to wice as the heroine tries her hand at First Aid. Stiletto heels on femmes fatale, arrogant businesswomen, lawyers and CEOs. And those pesky crudely assembled bombs with LED countdown displays. That rate a only a slight roll of the eyes.

No. Mine are more personal. And perhaps, more trivial. Though one quickly tires of.

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#10 |”Very Special” Episodes of Any Television Series.

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Which had their heydays in the 1980s and 90s. Usually attached to a popular situation comedy or drama. Focusing on the deep, dark, politically correct news item of the day (Gary Coleman in ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ and Child molestation) and tap dancing all around the topic. While never solidly addressing it and its collateral damage.

Also used when a cast member leaves the series. Due to a contractual dispute. Or lack of empathy with the audience. While often wrapping that episode in the cloak of the:

#9 | Majority Flash Back Episodes.

At least once a season, a series will have its hero or heroine barely escape death. Laid up on an ICU or Post Op hospital bed. Hovering at Death’s Door. Though with cognitive senses intact and remembering highlights oblique or in line.While the series’ supporting cast plays “Catch up” and tries to find out “Whodunnit?”, “Whydunnit?” and “Let’s Go Get ’em!”

If thought-out well and executed concisely, it works pretty well to heighten or maintain suspense. If the results are slap dash and shifted to the last few seconds before the commercial breaks, you have a problem!

Greatest offenders: Castle, Hawaii Five-O, CSI, Burn Notice and Law & Order:SVU.

Which brings us to a change of venue with …

#8 | Shaky-Cam.

Once known and revered as Cinema Verite ages ago in a galaxy far, far away. This little cinematic gimmick allowed the cinematographer holding the camera to add a First Person point of view to many chase scenes, troop advancements or segments of battles. Adding a well deserved touch of authenticity to such films as The Battle of Algiers, Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, Full Metal Jacket. The original Evil Dead. And most recently in American Gangster.

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What has evolved in far too many films to annoyingly count. Is an often stomach churning glimpse of action lost as the camera uselessly (Cloverfield leaps to mind!) bounces up and down. Beginning with The Blair Witch Project and transmitted and mutated by directors who should really know better. Most predominantly, Michael Bay.

Who also rates very high in the next regression of style, panache that has become a trade mark for excessively loud and headache inducing attempts at toy product placement and Inner Ear Disorders.

#7 |  Heroes Walking Away From Explosions No One Could Survive.

Aided by a large dose of Mathematics and some cinematic sleight of hand. Used in ways to the “Coolness Factor” into the Stratosphere. While keeping stunt double alive and well and far beyond the usually CGI enhanced explosion’s shock wave.

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Miraculously being exactly where flying debris sails close, but does not score to remove a limb or head. Almost universally set up and executed in ways where not much is between the heroes and exploding building or car. So there is no way to determine where the explosion initiates. Though it usually is “sweetened” (ala The Matrix) and made larger with CGI. Greatest offenders are Transformers, Charlie’s Angels, any later Tarantino film. Beginning with From Dusk Till Dawn, The Expendables, The Losers. Also USA’s Burn Notice. TNT’s Leverage. And occasionally, Covert Affairs.

#6 | Toilet Humor And Belches Instead Of Clever Writing.

With supposed Romantic Comedies, Buddy Flicks and any number of supposed comedies where adult males play overgrown, yet to be weaned children with Egos far larger than their collective IQs being the greatest offenders.

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I’ll reach back and opt for John Landis’ Animal House and FOX’s first season “shock troops” of Married With Children. Though, in those instances this new addition or substitution worked. And has slowly de-evolved through the decades. With Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, the Hangover films, Friends With Benefits and Comedy Central’s South Park taking the lead. Followed by any early Rom-Com with Reese Witherspoon, Jesse Eisenberg, Mila Kunis, Matthew McConaughey, and Seth Rogen close behind. And ending in Paul, and The World’s End.

Of course, these choices are mine and welcome to open interpretation, discussion and disagreement.

#5 | Happy Ending And Group Hugs.

Another topic I noticed while occasionally bay siting my very young nice while sitting through episodes of Joan of Arcadia and Gilmore Girls on CBS. Mysteriously branching out into dramas like the CSI franchises. ER and The West Wing. An annoyance to be sure. That stealthily threaded its way to then “Go To” series reruns and DVDs of Tour of Duty, JAG and The Unit. And recent episodes of Blue Bloods and Hawaii Five-O.

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Now. One thing David Mamet does not believe in is Happy Endings. Which I took with a grain of salt. Though, when Romantic Comedies take a sudden twisting plot twist to where the female romantic lead can see some good in a less than sterling, bad boy suitor. It did give me pause (The Breakfast Club). Enough to notice it in Block busters like, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, Gatsby. Most Harry Potter films and anything other than Thelma And Louise.

Which brings us to “The Final Four”. Distinctly male in content and execution. And very personal to yours truly. Goofs and blatant errors noticed first at a very young age, Becoming a hopefully too quick to notice staple of myriad television series and films.

#4 | Telescopic Sights On Rifles.

First used in John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate as a dramatic device to heighten tension as Lawrence Harvey decides who to assassinate.

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With cross hairs wind and gradient lines transposed on the camera lens. Then brought into shocking relief with the assassination of JFK in Dallas. Even though the distance and direction of the Presidential Limo was well within range for open sights.A dramatic tool was added to the film and television arsenal with glee and abandon. Used ad infinitum by every international, high priced hit man. SWAT and Tactical Response cop in the visual realm. Definitely too much of a not-so-good thing!

#3 | No Recoil From Handguns Or Rifles:

Being an avid civilian shooter of pistol, rifle and shotguns. This one has gotten under my skin since Joe Mannix (Mike Connors) was hitting bad guys at fifty yards with a one inch barreled .38 Smith & Wesson revolver back in the early 1970s. And has seemed to flourish in cop and private eye shows through the ’80s and beyond.From personal experience, the physics of firearms dictate that the firing pin strikes the cartridge’s primer and explodes the powder within. Sending the projectile (bullet) down the barrel. Causing torque as Newton’s First Law raises the barrel up and away. Left or right. Depending on the twists inside the barrel.If your stance, grip, breathing and trigger squeeze is correct. The weapon will drop down exactly where you had last aimed in around a second. Making many rapid “Spray and Pray” moments seen on Hawaii Five-O, the NCIS franchises, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, the very recent Mob City questionable in regards to actually hitting and dropping any said target or bad guy.

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Granted, firearms used in television and films have been adapted to fire blanks with a lower powder charge. Actors are hired and paid to sell illusion. Even with the recent preponderance of “Air Soft” rifles and pistols substituting for the real thing.

“Sell it!!!” A simple roll of the wrist can add so much. Even in the face of….

#2 | No Ejected Brass From Semi Automatic Pistols And Rifles.

The last time(s) I saw empty brass cartridges ejected in its trademark flat arc from an M-16 was in the CBS series, Tour of Duty. Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. John Irwin’s Hamburger Hill. Friedkin’s To Live And Die In L.A. and Randall Wallace’s We Were Soldiers. Simply because the directors understood that the medium demanded it.

Not so much nowadays. Where replicas are as well detailed as the originals. And barrel flash can be simulated with CGI. C’mon, guys! Get your sound man to buy “Delta Force II” or any UibSoft/Tom Clancy “Splinter Cell” computer game and loop the sound of ejected, clattering brass, It’s not rocket science!!!

Which delivers us to the Number One Spot. An annoying and useless few seconds of countless television series episodes. Dating back to a very young Frank Gorshin as a failed and desperate pool hustler turned failed kidnapper playing his last card as the cops close in on an episode of Peter Gunn.

#1 | Cocking Loaded Handguns For Dramatic Effect

You could also include “Jacking Rounds Into Already Loaded Pump Shotguns. Where Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar) would easily lead the decades long pack of offenders in the USA series, Burn Notice. Mossberg, Remington, Benelli or DiFranchi SPAS 12 have all fallen victim to this cool looking and sounding, though overall useless stunt.

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Though with pistols, any lightweight heavy or minor bad guy on Blue Bloods, Elementary, Hawaii Five-O, Covert Affairs, White Collar, the CSI and NCIS franchises. Or the short lived, Dylan McDermott led Dark Blue would do. A completely ineffective effort for semi automatic handguns in close, face to face quarters. And even more so with just about anything short of a Civil War Ball & Cap or Antebellum Single Action (Which has to be cocked before firing) Colt Revolver. Unless it is to draw a dramatic line in the sand. Which becomes negated and moot once the pistol’s hammer is drawn back.

Seeing it pulled off so well once five decades ago worked well. But to see it driven into the ground through those intervening years. Especially the 1970s and ’80s has relegated this quick action into the lunar trajectory of Pet Peeves!

Overall Consensus:

Granted, this list may seem eclectic and perhaps, even a bit off the wall. Though arrives gleaned and ready through five decades plus of time spent before large and small screens. Back to the 1960s and the heyday and much looser standards and regulation surrounding prime time and half hour syndicated series. Though, not focusing entirely in that arena. Branching out into the near across the board, slowly crumbling quality in structure, writing and execution of contemporary films and network television series.

As noted above. These choices are mine and explained to the best of my ability.


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