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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Dude, what is my car?

I’m not going to lose many words about TNT’s winter filler show Major Crimes, mostly because there’s not much to say about it. Possibly also because I actually like it even though Mary McDonnell seems to be on Valium most of the time. How she got nominated for an Oscar ages ago is absolutely puzzling as she can’t act for shit. But hey, I love me some Lt. Provenza!

On the latest episode (5×19) I spotted quite the blunder which I’m going to write about. Can’t stop me now!

The team is looking for someone who killed a young cyclist by running him over with their car. Thanks to debris left at the crime scene, the detectives know what car they’re supposed to be looking for:

Good news, we know it’s an SUV made by either Chevy or GMC between the years 2000 and 2006.

Well, that certainly narrows it down a bit, doesn’t it? All that’s left is finding the correct car. After a while of frantic searching, the team is in luck! The mother of another car accident victim – who ironically was killed by the now-dead guy – owns one of these cars:

And she has two vehicles registered to her name. One is a 2006 Chevy Tahoe.

Unfortunately, that car is nowhere to be found as it’s probably in the shop to repair the damage from the hit-and-run. So the team is looking for the garage and, by some ways and means, discovers the car:

majorcrimes-5x19-gmc

Can’t see it here but there are scanlines on an image from a digital camcorder. – Image (c) TNT

Yeah, there’s really nothing wrong here. Except the huge GMC logo on the grille where the Chevrolet emblem is supposed to be. Oh, and the entirely different front. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it’s not a 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe at all, but what do I know? I’m not the detective here!

chevrolet-tahoe-2006-6

This is a 2006 Chevy Tahoe, by the way. Spot the differences! – Image (c) momentcar.com

The car they actually found is a 2006 GMC Yukon – at least they got the year right! Unfortunately, that doesn’t prove the soccer mom they’re arresting is guilty.

Jammin’

Ransom, a rather new show on CBS, is about a team of professional – and commercial – hostage crisis negotiators. Why that’s a thing is beyond me as usually the police is pretty good at doing that already, but why not. Since it’s a CBS filler show – heck, it airs on Saturdays! – it’s pretty much a given that the paper-thin plot is peppered with plot holes and the cast is just as dull, and that’s okay – not every show can be the next Homeland. Oh, by the way – this is the gig Frank Spotnitz left The Man in the High Castle for. No, really. Must be a long way to fall from this height, but he finally hit rock bottom.

So far, the episodes were just your average nonsense but the third one pretty much did it for me. As usual, the script author probably read something about something, thought “hell, why not!” and went with it, logic be damned.

So there’s a hostage situation in a bank. The two hostage takers don’t want to negotiate because it’s not really about money, and obviously that’s a problem for our crisis negotiation team since they are hired to negotiate, not sit around in their thousand dollar suits and look pretty. The perps collected all the phones the hostages had on them so there’s no way to go around them and simply contact a hostage instead.

ransom103-smartwatch

Image (c) CBS

Luck has it, however, that one of the two rent-a-cops in the bank wears a smart watch, more specifically a Samsung Galaxy Gear. How do they know that? Because it’s visible on the security cameras, duh! Unfortunately, the police has a cell jammer active and doesn’t want to shut it down just because some smart looking fella asks them nicely.

What’s the idea here? Well, the lead negotiator pairs his smartphone with the watch and starts to send messages to it. Why any given smartwatch would be able to receive messages directly from the paired smartphone is beyond me as there’s really no need for that kind of feature. Remember: the watch is normally paired to the wearer’s phone, which is likely in their pocket – what good would it do to be able to send messages from the phone to the watch? Except for resolving a hostage crisis, of course, but I doubt that’s high on the priority list when developing a smart watch.

That kind of nonsense aside, the security guy wearing the watch is laying on the floor (he got shot) pretty far from the bank’s entrance and the negotiator is standing a few meters away from it as well. Given how supposedly terrible the Samsung Galaxy Gear’s bluetooth range is – way less than the average of 30 feet, which is about 9 meters – and the fact that there’s a wall and several desks between the phone and the watch, the entire “I’ll just pair my phone with his watch” thing likely wouldn’t work in the first place.

But it gets better. After the negotiator manages to send some messages to the smart watch and gather information about what’s going on inside the bank, he can convince the cops to drop the cellphone jammer in order to get a “dedicated signal” to the phone connected to the smart watch (which, at this point, would still be his own … yeah, this is really through through). Actual cell jammers do have a feature to allow certain phones, although I highly doubt there’s need to shut down the jammer to configure it. The whole “dedicated signal” stuff is nonsense anyway – the cell jammer would simply be blacklisting any and all mobile signals except the ones that are on the whitelist, in this case the phone inside the bank and the negotiator’s phone, and the phones used by the cops.

Fantastic technical research, guys. No, really. No wonder Mr. Robot gets glowing reviews for their way of displaying actual technology at work when everyone else is just doing a hack job out of it every single time. Doesn’t really take much to shine in this colorful CSI world most shows tend to live in. Ugh.

Oh, and while we’re at it – what the fuck is this:

ransom103-screen

Image (c) CBS

No, I don’t mean the cop grinning like a moron, although … yeah, that too. No, what I’m talking about is the … holographic screen that is perfectly readable against bright sunlight. There’s even some room for nonsensical widgets that don’t seem to display any feasible information, and let’s not forget the very important company logo which is  always a great use of screen real estate! Now that’s some prime CSI tech right there! Must have blown out their entire SFX budget given an explosion of four blocks of C4 in a tight air duct looks like this:

ransom103-boom

Image sequence (c) CBS

Oh well. At least there still was some cash left to add a bunch of colored lights to the detonator.

Playing video games

SIX recently started on History Channel, and while it’s got decent production values and a good cast incuding Walton Goggins and Barry Sloane, it still looks and feels far too much like they took Call of Duty and made a TV show out of it. Maybe it’s because we Germans simply don’t value our military service personnel as much as we maybe should, but all this heroic brouhaha is a bit annoying. Of course, all these brave, stereotypical soldiers have families and everyone has their own baggage, but it’s all far too shallow and predictable to be of much interest to me. But hey, at least History Channel finally manages to air something else than documentaries about Hitler or UFOs – or Hitler and UFOs – so that’s a start.

Fitting the overall impression of the show being a video game coming to life, the writers also took a page out of the book of reality. Remember when Edward Snowden revealed that terrorists were using multiplayer video games to talk about their evil plans? Well, the SIX scribes thought it would be a cool idea to implement that idea into episode two of their show. Unfortunately, instead of just faking a chat on any given (or fake) MMO, they resorted to … this:

six102-playingvideogames.jpg

Image (c) History Channel

What happens here is as follows: some terrorist dude puts on a wireless headset and talks to another terrorist dude via voice chat in a video game. While they are talking on the voice chat, the exact words appear on the screen as well, as if the game could magically guess what the guys said. It’s pretty clear neither of the terrorists is typing anything, so how does this work? Of course there’s a thing called speech recognition, but why on earth would you bother with stuff like that in a video game, especially one as crappy as the one they use?

So far, so ridiculous, but there’s more! To their merit, they did everything right in the first scene this comes up, which makes their blunder even more damning. In a later scene, one of the operators comes home to find his little son playing Gears of War:

six102-playingactualvideogames

Image (c) History Channel

To wit: two cables running to the TV (power/HDMI), the screen is actually powered on.

six102-playingactualvideogameswithactualcontrollers

Image (c) History Channel

Exhibit 2: the controller is an actual Xbox One controller and – woohoo! – powered on! It’s really hard to see due to the reflection on the glossy surface but in this freeze frame the button is clearly lit. Rosewood set decorators, take note: this is how it’s done!

Or not. Daddy goes to check on his daughter and finds her with a boy. She claims they didn’t do nuthin’ but daddy still finds this behaviour entirely unacceptable and throws the boyfriend out. I wonder what he was doing at that age in his spare time, knitting?

six102-playingdifferentvideogames

Image (c) History Channel

While the boyfriend is escorted out of the house, we pass the TV once more, and all of a sudden there’s an entirely different game to be seen: Sunset Overdrive. And what’s even better, the game is already in progress which is quite a feat given that the player would have to quit Gears of War, find Sunset Overdrive on the console, launch it and start playing, all within about 20 seconds. I highly doubt this is even possible given the sluggish menu of the Xbox One as well as the long load times and endless splash screens most games have.

No, the real reason for this mistake is likely them filming out of sequence again – possibly on different days as well – and not remembering which game they loaded up. Or maybe the kid actor wanted to play something else because Gears of War got boring. You know, kids. They just go and do as they please. More power to them.

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.

The tyrant’s choice

I’m not sure why Tyrant is still a thing. The show runs in circles for a while now, even though several key characters have (possibly) died over the last few episodes alone, and there seems to be no real development in terms of character building or story. It’s astounding how the same people could create shows like Hatufim or Homeland and then produce such garbage without ever thinking “no, wait, this ist just awful”.

I spotted this little curiosity in episode 4 of the current third season. As you might have imagined even without watching the show (and trust me, you aren’t missing much!), it’s about the ruling family of fictional Arabic country Abbuddin. Of course, this family lives in a palace, and when it comes to the interior design, there’s nothing cheap here:

Image (c) FX

Image (c) FX

Image (c) FX

Image (c) FX

Image (c) FX

Image (c) FX

Yeah, it’s just as one would expect: expensive carpets, heavy furniture, tasteful interior design all around the palace. You know, these guys don’t just shop their furniture at IKEA!

Image (c) FX

Image (c) FX

Hey, wait a second! That thing feels quite out of place here .. I wonder …

Image (c) IKEA

Image (c) IKEA

Yep, exactly: that’s DOKUMENT, a waste paper basket I happen to own myself.

At just $4.99 (or $3.99 for IKEA Family members) this basket is the obvious choice for every home, no matter if it’s just a single room appartment or a 300 room palace!

Easy to read

Ah, Rush Hour. If this terrible movie spinoff is any indication of the quality of all the other remakes or spinoffs coming in the near future, that future looks pretty grim. Fortunately, CBS already cancelled the show a while back and is now burning off the remaining episodes on saturday nights.

In episode 9, the two (mostly annoying) detectives are briefed by their (also mostly annoying) colleague. She’s showing them an article about a suspect:

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

Let’s take a look at the paragraph of text in the center of the picture. Well, for one, it’s terribly formatted – no real news site would publish an article with that kind of block formatting, especially not with such small text. However, the text is really irrelevant anyway since it’s Lipsum – there’s nothing there, just Latin gibberish. Seems that whoever had to put the screenshot together made every effort to add more or less legit looking advertisements and video links to the page but couldn’t be arsed to write a halfway decent article. Granted, considering how low-effort the entire show is, that’s not entirely a surprise, but it’s funny nonetheless.

Later in the episode, the detectives are tracking a car using this incredibly detailed map:

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

I like how the map has to state it’s Los Angeles in (comparatively) huge letters so everyone is aware it’s not any of the countless other cities built in a grid layout. Pretty amazing tech, folks!

And while writing this post, I went back to the beginning of the episode where I found this little gem:

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

Yep, that’s the camera sitting on a dolly, and there’s the camera operator and a dolly grip pushing the dolly. Ah, glass fronts, they are always so tricky to film!