Airplane! The Sequel

NBC’s The Blacklist: Redemption is on the air for a few weeks now and as I predicted it’s utter dreck. James Spader is missing every second, and the entire premise just feels extremely forced. Tom “I just want to be a dad” Keen suddenly spends all his time at his mother’s beck and call instead of doing that parenting thing he always dreamed of. Liz doesn’t really seem to mind or even notice – and how could she when she’s out chasing bad guys for Reddington in the main series?

Without Spader, there’s no comic relief either – unless the computer nerd counts, but his kind of humor really doesn’t click with me. Or maybe Solomon? He’s cool, but he’s ultimately a bad guy (not unlike Reddington, but Red’s just more charming).

After all, however, Redemption isn’t so different from your standard Blacklist fare: the storylines are ridiculous, the computers can’t be controlled without hammering on some kind of holo-keyboard (ever heared of a mouse, guys?) and Famke Janssen plays every bit as terrible and wooden as Megan Boone. The only upside is Terry O’Quinn, but his character is just not written well enough to be of much interest.

This post is a bit long, read on if you dare.

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The Emperor’s Young Clothes

UPDATE: Veteran actor Bill Paxton, who plays the character this post is about, died on February 26th, 2017. I’d just like to clarify this post is not about Bill Paxton’s performance. In fact, he’s by far the best actor on this show and clearly does his best to save it, but in the end it’s a team effort and his effort alone is just not enough.

It’s Training Day, y’all!

Compated to the movie of the same name, the show is a bit lame, but it’s still better than the train wreck that was Rush Hour, just not as funny. This is just a quick post about something I noticed in episode 3 (and others, but it was most prominent here).

In a flashback at the end of that episode, we see Max Payne Detective Whatshisface shooting a dude and rescuing a girl. Apparently, this was 20 years ago, and here’s our hero:

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

And this is the same guy 20 years later:

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

Not much of a difference, you say? Neither do I since it’s the same actor. He even sports a similar beard and haircut, but in the first shot he’s wearing a hoodie and t-shirt to make him appear younger. I’d say he aged well since he manages to look worse twenty years ago.

Of course they could have cast a younger actor that looks alike like most shows would do, but … nah, screw it, that would cost money.

Ironically they manage to cast a perfect young counterpart to an older character in episode 4. Sometimes I really don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes.

Autocorrect is a way of life

While Rush Hour (CBS) occasionally features rather funny writing, it’s main bullet point seems to be the terrible production quality which is on par with the worst NBC shows.  Of course, the show is cheaply made, but some of the more glaring mistakes could have easily been avoided by taking a little extra care (or at least one more look at whatever you’re filming).

This post is about episode 11 in the show’s first (and thanks to early cancellation, last) season. Captain Cole has a date at the LA Concert Hall (also known as Walt Disney Concert Hall), but it doesn’t really go as planned. The guy she dates is a total bore, and for good reason: he’s talking like he wants to advertise something.

Boring date
But it’s not just about looking good. CrossFit is a way of life.

Captain Cole
Huh. Is that a fact?

Boring date
Yeah. Cardio boxing for endurance and tai chi for precision and focus.

Captain Cole
Oh, fantastic.

Fantastic, yeah, considering CrossFit isn’t just a way of life, it’s also a real product, so this dialogue turns out to be actual advertising. And it’s definitely not a coincidence either, since the CrossFit brand is dropped on another CBS show as well – American Gothic (episode 7):

Reporter
So, how married are you exactly?

Allison
Very publicly married with two kids, as you know.

Reporter
And yet you still somehow find the time for… CrossFit, I’m guessing?

No, actually she finds time to fool around with her lesbian lover, but I disgress.

Anyway, of course things go sideways when armed gangsters storm the concert hall and take hostages. Before all that, we get a look at the concert hall’s loading dock where we can spot a very sloppily redressed sign:

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

Of course it was too expensive to print a new sign instead of just taping over the real phone number. Renting the LA Concert Hall was probably cutting into the budget so much nothing was left to put up a proper sign.

When Cole finds out there’s something going on, she pulls out her gun (on a date? no wonder she’s not dating well!) and her cell and – as luck would have it – she has the LAPD on speed dial:

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

Unfortunately, her phone doesn’t have service so she can’t actually place the call. She tosses her phone and moves on just to find two guys on the ground along with a purse and another cellphone. After some shooting, she grabs the phone from the ground (why she ditched her own phone in the first place is beyond me) and hides in an unlocked room. Here, she uses the phone she picked up to call the cops, and lo and behold – it has service!

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

What we see is the lock screen of an Android phone (although it looks like it was doctored as there’s no carrier designation in the upper left corner). While there’s definitely a way to call the police or emergency services from the lock screen, I doubt it would show up as “LAPD” just like on her own phone – it just makes no sense, especially after learning later on that the cell belongs to a person who lives in Switzerland. Instead, it would likely say “Emergency Services” or something unspecific like that.

Cole manages to call for help and the cavalry arrives. She’s on the move through the venue, looking for the kidnappers. Suddenly, the phone has no reception any more. Despite being an experienced police woman, she’s standing out in the open where everyone can see her, and that’s exactly what happens: she gets jumped. She manages to knock her attacker unconscious and would be able to go into hiding, but she doesn’t. Instead, she’s kneeling down basically right next to the downed guy and rifles through his duffle bag. Oh well, at least she gets some intel about the kidnappers.

She then sends a short message to Carter’s phone:

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

Carter (while looking at his phone)
Unknown number.

Carter (reading aloud)
“I’m upstairs. Alone.”

Carter 
Ah, this must be that Latin chick I met at the club last night.

Carter (writing message)
Busy right now. Will hit your sexy ass back later.

Cole
Come on, you worthless piece of…

Carter (reading aloud)
“Carter, you loudmouth jackass.”

Carter
It’s Cole!

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

Carter runs to the commander to tell him about this revelation when Cole starts to type another SMS:

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

However, thanks to the autocorrect function, the message she actually sends reads:

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

That’s not how autocorrect works – she should have seen the wrong words as she was typing the message, and since we could see her screen, it’s clear there was no autocorrect at work here. Not to mention that it’s highly unlikely to get the word “grenade” corrected to “Teddy” and the word “Picture” to “Peanut” – at least the second word is so damn common that it would never be autocorrected even by the worst autocorrect ever. What’s also odd is that the message was supposed to read “Grenades, Picture of … Pickering” yet the word “of” vanished entirely. It’s also noteworthy that her previous SMS didn’t have any issues in that regard despite using words like “jackass” and “loudmouth” which would be equally prone to auto correction.

Of course, Cole gets caught and is used by the kidnappers to communicate their demands to the police outside. The cops send a negotiator to, well, negotiate. As you can see, he’s clearly the only one at the top of the stairs aside from the kidnapper and Cole:

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

So why is there someone standing behind him in the reflection?

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

Ah, it’s probably nothing (or it’s the steadycam operator, which is more likely).

After much back and forth, the two detectives decide to sneak inside the theater to get to Cole. But the entire building is surrounded by police snipers, so it’s kind of difficult to get inside. Their solution? Dress up like theater guests and just go inside via a stairwell on the back of the venue. I have the feeling police snipers would definitely report two civilians sneaking around the area but maybe the snipers fell asleep, who knows? Even if the snipers knew the detectives played dress-up, they’d still have to report it since order was that nobody gets in or out (especially not Carter and Lee, who have been more or less banned from the area for disobeying orders).

But they do get in via an air duct and quickly stumble upon a kidnapper:

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

There’s a clock hanging on the wall. It’s 9:55pm and 20 seconds.

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

After Lee downs the kidnapper, Carter comes out of the air duct and the clock still shows the exact same time – in fact, the seconds don’t move at all during the entire scene. The clock is obviously out of batteries in order to make preserving continuity easier, but since it’s so clearly visible, the effect this achieves is exactly the opposite. The timeline fits, though, as we can see on Carter’s cellphone:

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

Ah well. Shouldn’t expect too much from these movie adaptations, should you? These mistakes aren’t exactly shocking, but they really show the creators aren’t exactly commited to excellence either.

Bonus for artistic impression

Honestly, Partners in Crime: The Secret Adversary (BBC) was barely worth watching thanks to the glacial pacing and mediocre acting, but I did it anyway just to encounter this surprising “twist” at the end. Be warned: this post reveals the ending, so click below if you dare.

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A flaw in the system

Hey, Starz Originals’ utterly mediocre gangsta drama Power is back! Bit of a surprise there because the first season wasn’t really anything to write home about, but I guess it’s still less a surprise than the return of The Last Ship.

Anyway, in episode 2 we can find a classic example of bad mockup UI design. Angela Valdez, everyone’s favorite AUSA slash gangsta whore, is using the DOJ’s system to look up stuff on her friends. Because she has been kicked out of the task force she’s trying to break into the system using her former boyfriend’s account. I doubt he’ll appreciate that.

(c) Starz

(c) Starz

She’s having a bit of trouble figuring out the password, but after a few tries, she manages to get in using the woefully unsafe “grace”, the name of Gregory’s dog. Oh dear.

At least she’s in the system now and is greeted by this rather odd looking screen:

(c) Starz

(c) Starz

As evident from the Windows Explorer icon at the bottom of the screen, the operating system used is likely Windows 7. However, there’s no Start button and nothing else, not even a task icon for the foreground application, which looks kind of strange.

The app itself has likely been thrown together in Visual Studio and is supposed to be a case database. A little quiz here: how would you query a federal case database?

By entering the …

a) case number
b) case name (e.g. “United States vs. Bad Guy”)
c) defendant’s name and date of birth
d) your own name

If you answered b) you are likely on the team responsible for this mess of a mockup, because that’s exactly what Angela does: she queries the database by entering “United States vs. Felipe Lobos”, as if there was no way there’s two or more cases with the exact same name. Admittedly, in this case the name’s rather unique – for example, whitepages.com lists only one Felipe Lobos – but how would that work for “United States vs. Peter Muller“? Since checking on the wrong man would be kind of pointless and could also turn rather unpleasant for the poor sod, a real database would require some kind of secondary identification to pinpoint that exact person or case.

The database also contains audio files, which is handy since Angela wants to listen to a certain recording in order to hopefully identify that “Ghost” guy. She opens the recording and suddenly, the screen is all zoomed in and the app window doesn’t even fit anymore. The top left input field is empty …

(c) Starz

(c) Starz

or is it? Suddenly, the text has reappeared in the input field.

(c) Starz

(c) Starz

Listening to the audio file jogs her memory: it’s Tommy! She quickly conducts a background check on him, which is done via the window aptly titled Background Check. Not that there’s any visible way to even reach that window, but maybe she used a keyboard shortcut, who knows. Odd design nevertheless.

She queries the database for “Thomas Patrick Egan”, which happens to be Tommy’s real name:

(c) Starz

(c) Starz

Again, it would be a really bad idea to check on the wrong person, but Angela isn’t to blame here as the database app doesn’t even allow filtering by anything else than the name – not even a date of birth or social security number! And to add insult to injury, there’s no way to enter the first, middle and last name separately – designing a database used by law enforcement to work like that would not just be incredibly inefficient, but also extraordinarily stupid and dangerous.

Heartstopping

Oh golly, there’s a new show on Netflix, and one created by The Wachowskis to boot! Wait … aren’t The Wachowskis the guys sibilings who didn’t produce anything of relevance since The Matrix? Oh, this is going to be fun!

Sense8 is the name of the show and after watching the first four episodes, I’m not entirely sure where this journey will lead me. I’m also uncertain if this show actually goes anywhere or if it’s just pretentious bullshit. It’s not that I’m bored yet, but the setup – eight people around the world can “help” each other from afar by means of whatever magic – doesn’t really seem to leave much leeway for surprises. So far most of the show’s minutes have been – admittedly colorful and pretty – pictures and very little else.

Anyway, I just wanted to write something about Sense8, but since this is a blog about stuff, here’s something the continuity person should have noticed. It’s a common error as well, which just makes it worse.

One of the eight Sense8rs (or something) is in the hospital because reasons (not going to spoil anything yet because the show is extremely new). In the first shot, we can see the health monitor (a GE Healthcare DASH 4000 – seriously, Youtube has videos about anything), and all vital statistics are clearly visible. The red number says 72 which is likely the heart rate.

(c) Netflix

(c) Netflix

You can probably see where this is going … this is a later shot, and the heart rate monitor seems to have a problem – looks like either no sensor is attached or the patient is dead. Because its hard to see on a still image I made you an animation.

(c) Netflix

(c) Netflix

Seconds later, we are back at 72 beats per minute:

(c) Netflix

(c) Netflix

And that is what happens when you film out of sequence and your continuity person has their day off.

Back to the old school

Hey, look, it’s Sergeant Odelle Ballard from NBC’s American Odyssey! In episode 7, she’s making a tape to prove she’s still alive!

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

The arrow points at the important bit: there’s an icon showing a SD card, so the camera is likely one of these cheap digital camcorders that are common now, as opposed to one that uses real tape, like a MiniDV cassette for example. From the display it’s pretty clear that we are talking about digital storage since the run time of tape cassettes used in handheld cameras don’t really exceed 90 minutes.

Begs the question why the resulting tape is shown to be stored on exactly that: a MiniDV cassette. Oops.

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

The bigger question is this, though: if it’s so damn important that the tape gets out, why not upload it straight to Youtube instead of calling a New York Times reporter to come out to Mali? I’m pretty sure they can manage to find an internet connection that works, and given that the video isn’t that long, the upload would only take a moment (at the very least it would be faster than to wait for the reporter to arrive). Once the video is on Youtube there’s little chance for anyone to get rid of it and news would spread like wildfire, so why take all these risks?

Bonus! Our two hackers are searching the internet for information about Amir Alamra, and they even find something:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

That URL format sure is odd! It’s not an IP address, doesn’t bother to mention the protocol (http or https) and simply doesn’t look like an URL at all. For reference, here’s how the search results should be formatted on the search engine they used:
americanodyssey107-realbing

But how do I know what search engine they used? Well …

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

Oddly enough, the episode credits do not mention any “promotional consideration” by Microsoft – instead, it’s sponsored by Apple, but barely features any Apple material.