Friday, March 19, 2010

Still More TV Laws

I'm going to have to do some revision on what I wrote yesterday because I had a scene go in an unexpected direction. A character I introduced in the scene turned out to be something very different -- and more interesting -- than I imagined, and that then created a better set-up for a later event in the book, and I was really excited about this. And then after I finished the scene, I realized I'd been so excited about all these developments that I'd kind of forgotten about the original reason for the scene and the stuff that was supposed to happen in it that had been set up in an earlier scene. The cliffhanger in the earlier scene showed the bad guys finding out that this scene was going to happen and heading off, but they never actually showed up. Oops. Well, hey, if I managed to write an interesting scene with conflict and tension without the main plot event, then when I add the main plot event it should be even better, right?

I've got a writing conference to go to this weekend, with a speaker who made my head explode (in a good way) when I heard him do a two-hour session. A whole weekend should be really mind-blowing, though it likely will mean me realizing I need to rewrite the whole book. And since I'll be out all weekend, I won't be doing any pantry cleaning cooking (though I've found several new bean recipes I'm looking forward to trying).

Meanwhile, I think I've officially hit the big time. According to Google Alerts, Enchanted, Inc. has been referenced in TV Tropes. Apparently, it's in an entry on gargoyles. I have not followed the link to read the actual reference because TV Tropes will easily eat several hours if you even go near the place.

In honor of that, I haven't done any Laws of the TV Universe in a while, so here are a few more, crime show edition:

1) Teenage girls are hazardous to your health if you're in danger, are in witness protection or are a fugitive. If you're a TV character who has to go on the run or go into hiding, you'd better hope you don't have a teenage girl with you because she'll be so worried about her social life, she'll give away your location to the bad guys. She'll call her friends or boyfriend, allowing the bad guys to trace the call and find the super-secret location, she'll sneak out to go to the party or the prom and then either get taken hostage or get followed back to the hiding place, or she'll try to sneak her boyfriend in, thus breaching the perimeter and creating a distraction for the security detail that allows the bad guy to sneak in during the confusion (after he followed the boyfriend or used the call to the boyfriend to find the house). TV teenage girls are more afraid of losing their social status than they are of being killed by organized crime hitmen, South American drug lords, killer robots, evil vampires or Al Queda terrorists -- even if they were there for the initial near-miss attack that led to having to go into hiding or on the run. Even if she's the one the bad guys are after, she won't be able to resist using the telephone just once, and it will never occur to her that the bad guys might be monitoring the people she's most likely to call.

2) On television, prostitutes are incredibly wise and insightful. They know everything about the human psyche, especially the deep-seated emotional needs of men, and about managing long-term romantic relationships. One arrested hooker being processed in a squad room can provide more counseling to every cop present than a whole team of police psychologists. A good TV hooker can save marriages, give potential couples just the little nudge they need to find true love, and help people figure out what they really want out of life. Apparently, in the television universe prostitution mostly involves listening to clients talk about their feelings.

3) TV cell phones are amazing. They work in a variety of places real-life cell phones usually don't -- in elevators and stairwells, in tunnels, underground, in interior corridors in high rises, in the middle of nowhere, on top of mountains, in people's downstairs bedrooms (or is that just my phone or my house? I'm not sure even a miraculous TV cell phone would work in my house.). They also never need to be recharged. A TV character on the run can talk on the phone for hours without having a charger handy.

UNTIL ... it's crucial to the plot for the character to be unable to communicate with anyone else. Then the character can stand under a cell tower and not be able to get a signal and the very act of placing a single call will cause the battery to die at a crucial moment in the conversation. If the situation could be resolved with a single phone call, the phone will not work. A cell phone can only work in a crisis if it somehow tips off the bad guys and makes matters worse.

4) In any series involving characters who work as partners and carry weapons, at some point in the series, the partners will draw guns on each other. It's inevitable. The reasons vary -- one partner may be acting crazy and about to do something that will jeopardize his/her career, one partner may be taking the law into his/her own hands so that the other partner has to do something to stop it, one partner may walk in on a situation that isn't what it looks like, or it may even be a humorous mix-up where they mistake each other for someone else. Still, you can pretty much bet on them holding guns on each other at some time, and that moment will very likely be the cliffhanger for either a commercial break, the end of the first part of a two-part episode or even the season finale. After the situation has been resolved, it will be entirely forgotten.

5) If you work in law enforcement on a TV series, at least one of the following will happen during the course of your career:
A) You will be the victim of a crime outside the scope of your duties -- you'll be stalked, robbed, beaten, raped, kidnapped, targeted by a serial killer, held hostage, be the victim of domestic abuse or shot in a non-job-related situation.
B) You'll have a case with a personal association, where a friend or family member is either the victim, a suspect or a witness, or else it will relate to some case you handled in the past.
C) You'll be framed for or falsely accused of a serious crime.

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