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Saturday, March 9, 2013

As a mental break from househunting in Tulsa, I think I’ll blog about a recent TV trend. It involves action/detective-type shows, including the family of CSI shows and the Law and Order spinoffs. One of the staple features of these shows nowadays is the rapid-fire dialogue where various detectives or coworkers are reeling off plot details to each other as if they were engaged in “normal” conversation. Often the premise is that the various team members have been sent to do specific research into what happened at the crime scene or by the perpetrator. They get back together to brief the entire group and fire off detail after detail so that everyone is up to speed. The result (in the mind of the writers)is that the audience also has sufficient information to follow the progress of who gets chased or arrested, etc. In my recollection, this feature of these series may have begun with The West Wing, when the president’s staff members spent much of the time walking the halls of the White House bringing each other up to date on plot details. My reason for mentioning all this is that I believe most of the shows and most writers do a poor job at making their dialogue sound real, normal, natural. It sounds like what it is, that they are simply using this method of conveying information to the consuming audience. For example, in NCIS they use Abby to lay out forensic details, McGee to explain the role of computer research, and the agency director to lay out the political intrigue involved. It’s probably one reason why I like the current TV series, Burn Notice. Here the hero does a narrative as the hero/announcer. No pretense about working the transfer of info. Into the dialogue.