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September 1, 2014

TV dramas: stop the music!

by Nick Zaino, posted Apr 27th 2009 12:12PM
Law & Order Criminal Intent A plea to those writing one-hour television dramas - please stop writing scripts that feature musicians trying to "make it" as rock or hip hop stars. Writing as someone who covers music, as a friend of musicians, and at some lowly level a musician myself, it's almost always painful to watch an episode about aspiring musicians, with all the cheesy, clumsy, brittle stereotypes.

I was looking forward to seeing Jeff Goldblum's debut on Law & Order: Criminal Intent last night. Then came the extended cold opening where a musician was walking down the street with his friends, talking about how he doesn't want to deal with all his other problems, he "just wants to play," complete with air guitar. I was hoping he would just stumble upon the dead body and that would be the end of it.


But no, it turns out this episode is called "Rock Star." So, cut to a artists' loft that makes Rent look like cinema verite, where the fresh young kid looking for a break is playing a generic blues riff for friends sitting around in hip squalor. An argument breaks out when the slightly older, wiser musician takes the guitar and plays the same riff slightly faster, supposedly by way of teaching. Then enter the landlord of the loft who also happens to be a manager who looks like Bono dipped in patchouli in fading hipster drag. A musician dies (of course), and a drummer dedicates an embarrassingly pantomimed gig to him, announcing she is sure the dead guitarist is "up there with Sid and Kurt." A veritable feast of clichés.

Makes me wonder if other professions feel the same way when the see what they do on TV. I know some comedians were bemused by an episode of CSI where a character played by Bobcat Goldthwait killed a character played by Jeffrey Ross for being a lowest-common-denominator hack.

How about you, out there, reading this and trying to avoid spoilers? What do you do, and have you seen it on TV? Tell us about it. Did they get it right? Horribly wrong? Laughably inaccurate? Feel free to comment below.

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Gig

As "...someone who covers music, as a friend of musicians, and at some lowly level a musician myself..." do you think that just might be that some stereotypes have their roots in truth. I mean come on you know all of you guys "want you money for nothing and your chicks for free."

April 27 2009 at 4:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TotallyNormal

Don't get me started on "hackers" and software developers in movies and TV. Yikes!

April 27 2009 at 2:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dreamer

I'm a mathematician, and I can tell you that the portrayal of mathematics in TV is largely benign - sometimes you'll see a blackboard featuring Schrodinger's equation and a few summations, sometimes you'll hear some babble that doesn't mean anything but as far as the layman can tell it could, etc. etc.

The sin that I detest, though, is the frequent occurrence whereby a mathematician or scientist character gives a long technical explanation of some supernatural phenomenon, upon which another character - who is usually supposed to be perfectly intelligent - says something to the effect of "Now tell me in English." And the scientist DOES. Now, how do the scriptwriters manage not to realise that if that could be done, there would be no need for technical language in the first place? Even Lost does it (with Daniel Faraday).

I hear that Numb3rs is actually quite accurate, but I still can't bring myself to watch an episode.

April 27 2009 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ben Scripps

A big yes to other professions. I direct local newscasts, and there's nothing quite as entertainingly awful as watching a drama take place at a television station. Apparently in television land, there's no such thing as a control room--everything happens in the studio. All producers are 23-year old men who wear a backwards baseball cap and a vest. And reporters in the field have no need for pesky things like live trucks or cables to connect them to the live trucks. We *always* get a laugh out of that...

April 27 2009 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
allthingslawandorder

I wrote about this episode on my own Law & Order blog as well. I was unimpressed with the entire story. What a disappointing intro for Goldblum. I know they had some trouble with the production of his episodes, but really, they owed Goldblum a much more credible story to start with!

http://allthingslawandorder.blogspot.com/2009/04/law-order-ci-rock-star-recap-review.html

April 27 2009 at 1:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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