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


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.


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


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Check out Jack’s other posts and reviews

Agree/Disagree? Feel free to add a a few of your own!

74 thoughts on “10 Movie/TV Clichés That Need to Die A Horrible Death!

  1. Yes, for just about all of these. Especially the damn, friggin’ shaky cam! The ‘Heroes Walking Away From Explosions No One Could Survive’, a Michael Bay specialty, is especially tired. Well, unless it’s you’re Edgar Wright, and you use it effectively in Hot Fuzz to parody Michael Bay ;-). Well done, Kevin :-).

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Michael:

      Thanks for starting things off with such a great catch in turn around parody with ‘Hot Fuzz’!

      My list began after a string of marathon ‘Burn Notice’ and ‘Leverage’ episodes. Then branched out into memories of the old ABC WW II series, ‘Combat!’ of the 1960s. With Sgt. Saunders (Vic Morrow) and his Thompson Sub Machine Gun that never jammed. Never had its 20 round magazine swapped out. And could shoot Germans out of trees at 150 yards.

      Overblown explosions are cool the first time they’re viewed. And lose their effectiveness quickly. I have a balance problem with IMAX. And “Shaky Cam” is not far behind!

      1. Agree with all of the above! Especially continuously pumping ghost shells into shotgun chambers. In one episode of Angel, the character of Wesley cocked his twelve gage so many times I was laughing as anyone would because the gun obviously had no shells. A really inappropriate one was on the movie American Gangster when Russell Crowe was chasing a criminal around tight corners, never knowing when the criminal might turn and shoot him. When the criminal trips down, Crowe rushes up to him and cocks his shotgun. so he was rushing around corners without a round in the chamber…..brilliant!

        1. jackdeth72

          Welcome, james:

          Excellent catches!

          ‘Angel’ is an excellent example.

          As is the more recent “dirty cop trying to catch drug dealers and other dirty cops” series, ‘Dark Blue’ for either FX . Where a bad guy had already jacked two live rounds from his Winchester pump shotgun. A shootout ensues in the house. Dylan McDermott retreats with the slide locked back on his pistol (Empty!). Doesn’t change magazines. Then charges the bad guys!!!

          1. jamesb59

            Another one you mentioned was the flash back trick. The first time I noticed it was in 1970 on a Mod Squad episode where, within the first ten minutes, Linc gets shot twice. The show goes back and forth from showing Linc go through the ambulance, surgery procedure backed up by flash backs from previous shows showing us all how tough Linc really is. Even then my older brothers and sister were rolling their eyes saying that the writers must have taken the week off. Also Rocky IV. I was ready to leave the theatre during the awful eighties music and flash back montage during that film.

            1. jackdeth72

              Hi again, james:

              “Majority Flashback” is the last refuge of lazy writers. Putting together a shoddy and slapdash plot. Then padding it with clips from that and/or earlier seasons’ episodes.

              I think the original Hawaii-Five O may have your ‘Mod Squad’ episode beat, but not by much. With one of Wo Fat’s hired gunslingers almost tagging McGarrett (Jack Lord) while Danny and the boys attempt to seek justice.

              The same original series also was a pioneer in the “All Returning Vietnam Vets Are Psychos” trend of the 1970s. With a very young Yaphett Kotto as a returning Marine experiencing flashbacks and wounding Danny Williams with a hospital guard’s .38 revolver.

              1. jamesb59

                I saw that episode prime time. I can think of myriad movies and even more Hawaii-Five O episodes that had the same theme. Of course I knew it was far fetched when I watched my brother and many others return from there after seeing heavy fighting and they were all okay. If I remember right, Kotto at least had a good reason..I believe he had been hit in the head with a baseball bat or something of the sort that threw him off.

                1. jackdeth72

                  I believe Kotto took a blow to the head in the beginning of that episode.

                  Not to be outdone, The present series decided to do a remake or homage to the much earlier Kotto episode. With a returning Iraqi veteran losing it at the Naval base’s infirmary and then taking hostages on a walking tour of a battleship.

                  And of course, McGarrett saves the day!

                  Jeez guys. Can you say “Bad taste”?!!!

  2. Ted S.

    I totally agree on all of these cliches Jack, good stuff!

    I hate shaky cam so much, it works on certain films but now a lot of directors seems to over use its welcome. You don’t need to shake the damn cameras when people are talking to each other, just because the cameras moves around, it doesn’t mean the scenes will be even more exciting or interesting. I recently saw the remake of RoboCop and the director can’t seem to hold the cameras still for more than 2 seconds, it drove me nuts! Alright I better stop ranting about this stupid trend in Hollywood now, it gets under my skin so bad. LOL.

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Ted:

      Not surprised by the lack of love headed towards the “Shaky Cam”. If used in moderation and in key scenes it works well. One of my favorites is the rolling zoom in on the cabin in the original ‘Evil Dead’. Which was done with the camera sitting across a 2X4 and carried at either end by the Raimi brothers,

      A remake of ‘RoboCop’ with or without “Shaky Cam”is questionable. Since the worked so well!

  3. Re #10 ‘Special Episodes’

    I mentioned this briefly recently. NBC used to label their shows as Must See TV.
    That’s been upgraded to:
    Just Can’t Miss TV…

    Is this progress or something else?

    Hopefully your post will get some folks in TV land thinking.

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, JustMeMike:

      I believe that “Must See TV” was also known as “Appointment TV” during the 1980s on NBC. With ‘Hill Street Blues’ leading the charge for recorded and time delayed viewing on VCRs.
      Then warping and morphing into “Must See TV” with ‘ER’ and ‘The West Wing’.

      Right now, NBC seems very busy trying to hype banality.

      1. jamesb59

        the only show I now watch on NBC is Grimm, which I really enjoy. these guys even got rid of Jay Leno as he was raking in money for them!

  4. I would disagree with South Park being lowbrow. Sure there’s plenty of crude humor but it’s also pointed satire and dead-on hilarious, the reason why it’s one of my favorite TV shows.

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, ck:

      ‘South Park’ does have some gems to their many seasons. Though their use of defecation in satire and humor is often over the top and occasionally driven into the ground.

      Still think their ‘Die. Hippie Die!’ episode is a scathing clash of generations and cultures. As well as great satire of that time’s bombardment of “boring into the earth’s core” sci-fi fims.

      And any story where Cthulhu is actively sought out and put to use. Or aliens and giant dish antennas are used to parody reality television cannot be all bad!

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, jjames!

      I’m pleasantly surprised with all the attention “the final four” in regards to firearms is receiving!

      Numbers 2 and 3. Wiggled under my skin at an early age. When ABC’s ‘Combat!’ was a weekly Tuesday night event. Followed by ’12 O’Clock High’.

      I was in awe of the miracles Vic Morrow could pull off with his Thompson. That could easily and accurately be fired one handed. Never seemed to run out of ammo. Yet ejected little if any brass! While Cage and Little John’s M-1 Garands and Kirby’s Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.) threw brass to their heart’s content in firefights with the Germans.

      Nowadays. With Hollywood slowly doing to firearms what they did to smoking and tobacco. I hope, but don’t hold a lot of faith in things turning for the better.

      1. Nope. Not for a long time anyway.

        I am no gunsman, but I do know handguns cannot (or at least should not) be fired sideways, with the thumb pointed downward. Yet, we see it on movies all the time. Including at least three times in Ride Along.

        They ain’t going for realism.

        1. jackdeth72

          “Front sight! Front sight! Front sight!”

          If cannot line up the slab of a handgun or rifle’s front sight with the notched rear sight, You are NOT going to hit your target.

          I wonder if John Woo is bothered by the number of misses, ricochets and wounding and injuries to innocent bystanders accrued by “Drive by” and “Turf war” street gangs using his multiple, guaranteed to miss “Gangsta style” of shooting?

            1. jackdeth72

              Equal and negative reaction.

              Sideways shooting is a farce because the front sight is nowhere to be seen, Your sight picture is non existent to off. Though the recoil may be directed back to your wrist. Instead of contained and dispelled in a standard two handed “Weaver Stance”.

              “Gangsta Style” is all “cool” looks, but guarantees disastrous results.

  5. Ha! I don’t watch a lot of TV and I’m still convinced most of it is mundane bullshit and not worth my time. But I’m a snob. I don’t have issues with anything on your list. Let me counter with a little goes a long way. I do agree entirely with everyone who is sick and tired of the shaky camera. BUT as a contrast it works. Just not the whole film. Lovely post, Kevin. 🙂

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, Cindy!

      Thank you so much!

      I always enjoy the perspective you bring to your insightful comments.

      Not disagreeing with the idea of “Cinema Verite” used in moderation can add layers of depth and inject suspense into a scene. And perhaps five continuous or interspersed minutes of “Shaky Cam” in a ninety plus minute film might be advantageous. But certainly not the entire film.

      Might I also suggest, that if you have access to PBS. You might indulge in its “Masterpiece Mysteries’ mini-series, ‘Sherlock’? A new and contemporary twist on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, that is anything but mundane. 😀

      1. Kevin, yes–PBS is wonderful–I find most of my issues are time. My time is spent reading books or watching films. And blogging. And writing that second novel. It’s easy to forget T.V.
        I was in a grouchy mood earlier? There’s a lot of great foreign films and classic films and documentaries and Indy projects out there that gobble up my time. Maybe I swipe away the TV because it’s easier than making time to watch them. I like Downton Abbey. 🙂

        1. jackdeth72

          Hi, Cindy:

          No fault. No foul.

          ‘Downton Abbey’ is the ‘Barry Lyndon’ of imported episodic television from across the pond. An intriguing story spread over a decent number of diverse characters, All impeccably dressed and detailed. Living within the confines of British manners, more, morals and etiquette of that day.

          There never does seem to be enough time. And if any of my chosen Pet Peeves or cliches brought a smile or a counter point. I’ve done my task well.

  6. Great post Jack. I know I’ve harped on this but the raunchy comedy drives me insane. I swear that’s all Hollywood churns out and the comedy genre has suffered for it IMO. I also agree about the shaky handheld camera. It’s especially prevalent in action movie fight scenes often times making it impossible to see what is going on.

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Keith:

      It seems like over the past ten years or so, Hollywood has been on a “How low can you go?” kick in regards to half hour situation comedies. Where much earlier writers would come up with a theme or idea and hammer out the dents through repetition. Then polish the end result for those in front of the cameras.

      I keep falling back on the late, great Jack Paar and his years on ‘The Tonight Show’. Where he would come up with a joke. Embellish it. Test it out on his writers. Who more often than not ran with it. Creating brilliant monologue in the process.

      Not so much anymore. Where a quick, often raunchy or lazy double entendre or zinger will suffice. Tested on the starting blocks of ‘Two and a Half Men’ where it rated well. Then branched out nearly across the board. More’s the pity.

      The one sure way to kill “Shaky Cam” is to have Roger Corman and ‘Sy-Fy’ create a really lousy Sci Fi flick like ‘Sharknado’ and shoot it all in “Shaky Cam”.

      Just a thought.

  7. I’m with you on all of this. Especially the shaky cam which was once a great tool in cinema to capture some realism but it became a gimmick for horror and action films to the point that you couldn’t make sense of what is happening and you end up feeling sick.

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, ninvoid;

      Excellent comment!

      Another down vote for “Shaky Cam”

      I have a slight Inner Ear Disorder that puts IMAX, “Shaky Cam” and any Virtual Reality game in the dizzying, near deathly ill, “No Fly Zone”.

      Even if I didn’t. The criminal over and misuse of this bastard child of revered “Cinema Verite” has long ago worn out its welcome.

  8. Awesome post. Sometimes when editing in a fight sequence is so quick it’s hard to tell what’s going on. It also bugs me when a guy stuffs a loaded gun down the front of their pants … that’s just a no no. 🙂 You nailed it about walking from an explosion, it may look cool but so unrealistic.

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, sidekick:

      Holsters are made for a reason. Unless you are wearing a overcoat or trench coat. You are going to lose your pistol. There’s not enough real or ‘Sansa~Belt” on the planet to keep a small framed revolver securely tucked away between body, waist and jeans, slacks or pants. Gravity will always find a way to win.

      I think Adam Savage and ‘MythBusters’ did a lot to dispel and quell the allure of overblown explosions. By doing one of trademark “Indiana Hones” homages by leaping away from gas, diesel and Ammonium Nitrate explosion. Set off more than fifty yards (Well beyond the Blast Radius) behind him.

      While with editing “Shaky Cam” footage. There is so much going on between the action and camera shaking. All there is to work with and edit is blurs!

  9. Yeah, most of these really are annoying. I wonder how films had more than one of these cliches in a single movie. Now that would be beyond annoying! Did you encounter many in your research for this?

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, Asrap:

      An excellent question!

      The ‘Lethal Weapon’ franchise covers most all the bases. Though more so the first.

      From baguettes peeking from the Glover family Grocery bag. To clumsily made and blinking LED bombs. To cocking a pistol uselessly in a standoff. Glover, again. To Gibson behind a scoped, though short ranged “sniper rifle” to get Glover’s kidnapped daughter back. To a climactic rapid low or no recoil gunfight with Gibson and Glover against the bad guys.

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, mikeyb:

      Times have changed in regards to firearms, shoot outs, heroes, leading men and high paid studio actors.

      Warner Brothers was notorious for using live ammunition in many of their gunfight scenes with Jimmy Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and the like in ‘The Roaring ’20s’ and ‘White Heat’. Though the technicians behind the triggers were paid to shoot away from the actors.

      Post WWII, blanks became all the rage. Though more popular in revolvers than semi-automatic, slide operated pistols. Today, “Air Soft” replica pistols and rifles look and act like the real thing. And CGI muzzle flashes can be created more cheaply than buying higher priced blank, rosette crimped rounds.

        1. jackdeth72

          Excellent point, mikeyb!

          Especially after having been raised on ABC’s WWII dramas of the 1960s.

          Where in ‘Combat!’ Old School squibs exploded following the heroes and marred brick and mortar walls amongst the odd explosion from either mortars or grenades. As they dashed across bridges, open ground and dove behind whatever was handy. In fight sequences that easily consumed about of third of those episodes’ budgets.

          Absolutely no contest visually or emotionally to today’s penny pinching, cheap, tacky looking “Sparkler” like CGI misses, hits and ricochets!

      1. jamesb59

        Just watched an old episode of The Untouchables last night and the FBI had surrounded Ma Barker and her sons’ hideout. Great action with, of course, no crappy CGI bullet hits. Of course they still showed little, if any brass flying, and were firing long bursts with little loss of control. The old movies and shows REALLY had a love affair with the Thompson machine gun and those round magazines. In reality, the BAR was a much better weapon, as the round Thompson magazines jammed frequently and were hard to pop off and lock in. Clyde Barrow wiped out two or three policemen with a BAR and the Thompsons the police using were literally outgunned in one shootout.

        1. jackdeth72

          Great catch and details, jamesb!

          The old shows and movies also had respect for the firearms and their ammunitions and capabilities.

          The Thompson was an original “Room Broom”. Chambered for .45 Automatic Colt Pistol and tracers. Made for short range firefights. Well within line of sight. The BAR was chambered for 30.06.

          The same round as the Springfield and Garand M-1. Heavy, long range and brutally lethal close up. Which is why Clyde Barrow preferred cutting down stocks of BARs to create what he called a “Whippet”. Far deadlier and with longer range than shotguns, pistols or Thompsons. Whose large capacity (74 round, usually) drum and 30 round magazines were more trouble than they were worth.

          While the German Infantry in early “Blitzkreig” and throughout the war focused their rifle squads around the MG-42. Which would later be modernized and re-tooled as the M-60 for US troops in Vietnam. The US Infantry and Marines focused around the BAR. Which was the first true Squad Automatic Weapon.

  10. So glad you mentioned the flashback episode – one of my biggest peeves. It’s lazy to begin with but I hate the fact it takes the story backwards not forwards (where I want to go – doesn’t everyone!). To me it feels like a holiday for the production staff and actors, regurgitating past scenes to hang their commercial breaks on!

    It’s funny you mention a few “gun” related cliches – these are ones I wouldn’t even notice to be honest. I’ve never held a gun, never owned a gun, never fired a gun, never wanted to having anything to do with a gun – so I have no idea how they work (apart from the obvious). That said, it has always troubled me that the bullets in Aliens are described as “standard tip case-less” yet we see shells existing the gun during the action sequences (plot hole?).

    Speaking of guns – I love the telescopic sight. Even if it bends plausibility, it works on a dramatic level, something that the flashback TV episode certainly does not.

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, Dan!

      Always a treat when you take the time to peruse and opine.

      “Flashback episodes” are the height of sloppy laziness amongst writers. With Castle the major offender. Visiting that arena not once, but twice . Primarily with Beckett in the ICU after being shot in the chest. Then again with a twist last season. And Beckett standing on a devilishly booby trapped mine!

      Which is a shame, since the series had so much potential coming off the starting blocks.

      Guns are a part of the U.S, Historically and culturally. A large part of television and film entertainment. And open to interpretation, as with the film, Aliens .

      Written and made when “the next step in ammunition” being “Caseless” and without brass cartridges. With its solid propellant charge wrapped around the projectile (bullet) with the cool looking, Buck Rogers, Heckler & Koch G-11 Rifle. A great, way ahead of its time idea that was not made for overall U.S. or NATO standardization.

      And bait for a quickly seen and revealed plot hole.

      Also. Excellent ending and exit statement regarding telescopic sights and scopes!

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Tim!

      The Number 1 spot is rightly deserved, because it’s such a macho and useless gesture.

      Especially when semi automatic pistols are concerned. If there is a live round in the chamber. Pulling back the hammer is a useless gesture close to a “Pissing contest”. While with a revolver. All the act accomplishes is rotating the cylinder to another round.

      I’m glad you got such a kick out of it and the other cliches!

    1. Oh this is my friend Kevin’s list, I’m not a gun expert to know that much about what’s realistic or not, ahah.

      There are too many cliches we moviegoers put up with isn’t it? I hate the seemingly-endless shaky-cam trend, that makes me so nauseous.

      1. jackdeth72

        Hi, Ruth:

        Great choice for this post’s banner photo!

        Sends the message succinctly and colorfully.

        The idea kind of popped in my head. And having the fallback of “lists” worked out very nicely as I noted and lined up cliches. Not intent on covering all the bases, but enough to spark a spirited discussion. Which seems to have happened. In Spades!

        Excellent choice of Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar) from Burn Notice behind her trusty modified, “Red Dot” scoped AR.

        Displeasure with “Shaky Cam” seems close to universal. With an inkling of leaning that way towards overblown explosions. Very, very pleased with how this dissertation is panning out!

        Now go visit Michael’s for some gratification regarding a film you had hinted at earlier. 😀

    2. jackdeth72

      Greetings and felicitations, Zoe!

      I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the ladies offering their perspectives. Something I hadn’t really expected. Even more so with my “Final Four” regarding firearms. I’m glad you liked it.

      Thank you very much for perusing, commenting and hope to more in the future!

  11. PrairieGirl

    Hey Jack D, agree completely, great list. But I LOVE Burn Notice and am very oblivious to how guns actually work or explosives blowing things up, so not seeing either one in a Burn Notice episode would be like going to a hockey game and not witnessing a fight, very disappointing I must say. So I have to give BN a pass, especially with campy Bruce Campbell in the cast ;-D

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Prairie Girl:

      Point(s) taken.

      Granted, an episode of Burn Notice without Fiona commenting about shoes, blowing stuff up or making quips before squeezing the trigger of a rifle from a rooftop would be akin to watching paint dry.

      All Ms. Anwar had to have done was back off a bit from racking her pump shot gun du jour.
      Leaving more time for Bruce “The Chin” Campbell’s Sam Axe to crack wise and drink beers with Mike.

  12. Brittani

    Great list! I don’t know a lot about guns, I’ve never shot one, so I miss a lot of those cliches. I actually love the ‘Cool guys don’t look at explosions’ cliche, it makes me think of that Will Ferrell songs.

    I can definitely agree with group hug endings! Those could go. Also shower scenes where the character is in deep thought, and stiletto heels. In Time drove me nuts because Amanda Seyfried’s character is running around in these 5 inch heels, then when she has the opportunity to change, she picks ANOTHER pair of 5 inch heels. No one in their right mind would do that if their day involves lots of running/walking.

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, Brittani:

      Excellent personal choice with shower scenes. Which is more a tease or foreplay device than anything to do with personal hygiene.

      Who would have thought that a low scale fetish device from Eric Stanton and Bill Ward cartoons from the 1950s and 60s would be a fashion “Must Have” for almost two decades?

      Yes, stilettos turn the calf and ankle nicely. But how do women walk, let alone run in them when their center of balance to shifted two inches directly to their toes?

      A step back is needed with the old saw: “Three inch heels for the office. Four inch and higher? Strictly bedroom!”.

      Hope to see you drop by and comment more often!

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Three Rows:

      Cross hair shots worked well in The Manchurian Candidate, The Day of The Jackal and The Wild Geese .

      Not so much. Very close to hitting the Point of Diminishing Returns when used during the intro to the old NBC ‘Ironside’ series of the 1970s with Raymond Burr.

  13. Fun post, Kevin! A variation on #9 was especially popular on the soaps I watched in the ’80s. Contract negotiations invariably led to the character landing in the hospital with a coma. If completely unsuccessful, it would lead to the dreaded “the role of [character] will be played by [totally different-looking and -sounding actress].”

    Shaky cam and toilet humor should be banned or something. I had had enough 10 years ago or more.

    Also, #1 – #3 were mostly news to me. Thanks for the info 🙂

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Paula!

      My mom was very into her soaps. Especially All My Children . Which has a particularly slimy, scary and long oily haired southern pimp. Who left to play a secondary character in The Friends of Eddie Coyle . That actor never returned to the soap, but was replaced by a completely different actor playing the same pimp. Which didn’t help much at all.

      There must also be some secret underground lab where evil twins and cousins are bred, raised and set free after failed contract negotiations. Or massive doses of “Writers’ Block” savage soap opera bullpens.

      Am I the only one who thinks there should be an age limit for hiring prime time sit com writers?
      There seems to be a plethora of juvenile writers running amok in Hollywood. Juvenile writers create juvenile, close to worthless scripts!

      Pet Peeve Cliches, #1-#3 are kind of off the beaten path. Yet personal to me. Very surprised at all of the comments and feedback they’ve gleaned!

  14. Great list Ruth! Perhaps the item I agree with the most is number 6 for toilet / obscene humor. For the past few decades of comedy, I feel like the genre has become so obvious and kindergarten-like. A lot of the “improvisation” by actors is all over the place, and most of the time do not make sense resulting in terrible awkward scenes that go nowhere. If not that, many characters especially males are stupid or dumb. They don’t make decisions where actions naturally go awry but because they can’t think of other clearly storyline-breaker solutions. Shows like I Love Lucy and comedians like the late Sid Ceasar are so timeless because of the timing and clever scripts, but the quality of modern television and movies has fallen very far.

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, Katy:

      An excellent perspective!

      Few situations are more tightly controlled than on a sound or theater stage. Where time literally is money and chances to stray off course should be kept to a minimum. Especially when one of the hardest forms of entertainment lurks in the shadows.

      “Improvisation” works best when kept brief. With the rare inclusion of an extra line of dialogue. As with Harrison Ford’s “It’s not the years. It’s the mileage.” line from ‘Raiders of the Lost Arc’.
      Opposed to actually letting the lead actor go off script into who knows where.

      While the slow, agonizing extinction of “the strong, smart male lead” in television and film is in its fourth decade. Starting subtly in situation comedies like ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ and ‘The Courtship of Eddie’s Father’. Which over years evolved into ‘Bosom Buddies’ and ‘Mork & Mindy’. And laid the gates open for ‘Two and a Half Men’ and ‘Anger Management’ today.

      Quality all around. From the the time to present a cogent humorous story. To the talent, or lack of talent, of the cast has dwindled over the years. Much more so in the quality of writing. Leaving no comparison to the rehearsed, well timed, rapid fire delivery of the icons you mentioned.

      Great work, Katy. I hope to see your well thought out and insightful comments more often!

  15. ‘Majority Flash Back Episodes’ is a great one.
    Something that comes to mind for me, is in a horror movie where the victim is hiding (lets say under a bed) and the killer looks under the bed, and the victim has suddenly managed to make his/her way to the other side of the room without making any noise. I mean, cmon now, haha.

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, Lights:

      I started catching onto the “Majority Flash Back Episodes” during the shows of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Thinking it was just a passing fad. That grew into ever sloppier monstrous proportions in the decades beyond.

      The “Silently Disappearing and Reappearing Hero” schtick dates back to the days of William Castle and his low budget horror films. Still think one of his best “Seat Jumping” scary moments the the sudden silent appearance of the old crone in ‘The House on Haunted Hill’.

      One of the best “Ten Little Indians” murder/horror films with Vincent Price.

      1. jamesb59

        Yeah. How DID the hero get around that corner or behind that curtain without so much as a cats paw sound, and within .00005 of a second? VERY frustrating. I will comment, however, that the horrible old lady appearing so quickly behind the female protagonist in the original House on Haunted Hill was one of the most terrifying moments in cinematic history.

        1. jackdeth72

          That must be a Trade Secret, james.

          Though I remember experiencing, though not seeing Peter O’Toole do it as a high end art thief in ‘How To Steal A Million’. And Robert Wagner had that time/space dimensional rift down pat as debonaire, secret agent/cat burglar/thief, Alexander Mundy during a few seasons of ABC’s ‘It Takes A Thief’ in the early 1970s.

  16. I dont know that I agree with Shaky Cam. It all depends on the context its used and the skill of the directo and DP using it. Bad shaky cam stands out, yes, but I wouldn’t write off the whole idea of it because some filmmakers just dont use it properly.

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Ian:

      Bad “Shaky Cam” can be God Awful. Especially when used in excess. While moderately, coherently and briefly used in a few key scenes. Can be beneficial. Adding tension and suspense. The problem is that it is used far too often. And badly.

      Personally, a sabbatical of year couldn’t hurt. The end result not being for it to die a horrible death. But more of just breaking its arms or legs for a while.

      1. Bad shaky cam can truly derail a film entirely. The last horrible use of it was Parkland. It’s so unnecessary to use such a technique (not that there is a film where its use is essential anyway) and it made me SO nauseous that I almost passed out!! Totally ridiculous as it took away from the story. I’d say yeah it needs to die a thousand death!!

  17. Brilliant post!! Agree on everything, especially on happy ending and group hugs. Hollywood has too many of that kind of ending even though it started great but forced happy ending always makes me angry

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, Novroz:

      Happy endings are never the norm in real life. Fate. Karma or whatever you wish to call it will always show up. Upset apple carts and allow you to learn and hopefully, be a better person.

      I remember a “mean girls” episode of Veronica Mars that borrowed heavily from Joan of Arcadia . Where the lead mean girl suddenly and inexplicably had a change of heart and reasoning before the epilogue. So that the girl Veronica was investigating and all the mean girls could make nice before the final credits.

      Even a well thought out and executed “forced happy ending and group hug” is tolerable. Not so much, when logic is tossed out the window to achieve the desired result. Which, sadly seems to be the norm today.

      1. May I add…the norm in Hollywood because I have seen so many movies from other countries that create better ending because they don’t force it to be happy so the audience will like it.

        One of the example is Lake House (as much as I like watching it because it stars two of my fav actors) but the Korean one has a better ending, it was sad but more reasonable than the happy Hollywood version.

        I am not saying that other country doesn’t have forced happy ending but I see it so often in Hollywood than others.

  18. Well done, Jack! I’m with you on all of these. I remember when I was much younger, the first time I fired a gun I couldn’t believe how much recoil it had. All of the movies and TV shows made me believe that there was nothing to it.

    One more that I would add: the fact that beer bottles just pile up at a bar as the characters sit there and drink. A real bartender would not allow the bottles to sit out like that. I get why filmmakers do this, but it bugs the hell out of me.

  19. jackdeth72

    Welcome, Eric:

    Hollywood is in the business of selling illusion. And many first time shooters are surprised at the noise and recoil of any rifle or pistol. Myself included.

    When I was a kid, what now is a sprawling apartment complex was an equally large rifle, pistol and archery range. About ten minutes walking time through the woods.

    Great catch on bartenders and loose, uncollected bottles on the bar! I think that is more of a “continuity” thing to denote the passage of time. Figuring 15 minutes per empty beer bottle.
    A real bartender would never let that happen as it might screw up the night’s count. Or lead to an accidental or deliberate injury suit.

    Another gripe is the hero trying to get a lead from his or her local snitch at a bar or dance club. Tucked away in a booth or at the bar and speaking in normal or lowered voices while everyone else is screaming to blaring music.

  20. Pingback: Movie Review – Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle

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