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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Mythbusters

(c) ABC

(c) ABC

Just a quick one about the latest episode (1×10) of The Whispers (ABC) in which a scientist named Theo (pictured above) tries to explain to Wes why “his alien” – the entity called Drill – is “literally” becoming less powerful:

Theo: Maybe it’s different where he’s from.
But in this planet, in this atmosphere,
he’s basically chewing celery.

Wes: I don’t understand.

Neither do I, but go on …

Theo: It takes more energy to chew celery
than the celery can provide, so a human being
eating nothing but celery…

Wes: … will starve to death.

Err … that doesn’t sound quite right, my dear. Let’s hear what Uncle Wikipedia has to say about celery and nutrition:

Celery is used in weight-loss diets, where it provides low-calorie dietary fibre bulk. Celery is often incorrectly thought to be a “negative-calorie food,” the digestion of which burns more calories than the body can obtain. In fact, eating celery provides positive net calories, with digestion only consuming a small proportion of the calories taken in.

Huh. And that guy calls himself a scientist? Well, it’s probably the glasses, they could fool anyone.

(c) ABC

(c) ABC

Later in that episode, the kid of a government employee who has the codes to the DSN in his home safe (!) is convinced by Drill to steal said codes. Apparently, these codes change daily, but they still put them in a neat little binder so they can be put in a safe in someone’s home.

Fortunately, the code to that safe is right up there on the wall for everyone to see:

(c) ABC

(c) ABC

They seriously want to make us believe the keys to America’s satellite network are locked in somebody’s cheap consumer-grade safe with the combination right next to them? What if the combination needs to be changed? Is he going to buy three new baseball jerseys? Shouldn’t the combination on such important safe be changed rather frequently anyway?

Unfortunately, we’re not done yet.

When they trap Drill inside an abandoned school – abandoned for three years no less, but all windows and light bulbs seem to be intact – the weather’s really acting up:

(c) ABC

(c) ABC

It’s clearly not raining anymore and there are hardly a few drops on their clothes (let alone the hair) but the ambience sounds like its raining cats and dogs. As soon as the camera angle shifts, there’s heavy rainfall visible in the lower right corner, but the actress stays dry. And no, they aren’t standing under a pavillon, because as you can see above, they are standing right in front of one instead.

(c) ABC

(c) ABC

At least that way the entertainment value stays high enough for me to care, because frankly, that show is not even cheesy enough to be good.

The Fog

It’s hard to believe (ha!) but episode 5 of NBC’s show Believe features exactly zero instances of location warping. It almost looks like they wizened up because they don’t mention real addresses at all – or the writers didn’t feel the need to do so, which is more likely. However, there seems to be no episode without glaring continuity errors, and this one is no exception. Read on, if you dare.

The episode starts with Ben the fake journalist blogger receiving the scoop about Dr. Skouras from an unknown source. Or so he thought: he’s so bedazzled by the fact that someone hijacked his computer that he doesn’t notice the PDF the hacker opens for him contains only Lipsum text. Maybe he has to read between the lines?

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

As we see the hacker’s screen, he’s clearly using some kind of backdoor software to control the blogger’s computer.

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

That’s a C99 root shell used to gain control over web servers. Unless the blogger was running a web server on his MacBook, there’s no way in hell the hacker would have been able to even access this software. Here’s the same script running on my own computer; I had to install a web server to be able to run it. It’s a more recent version but most of the interface looks the same:

c99shell

What’s worse is that you can’t use this backdoor to gain control over the target computer’s screen – and you can’t see the screen either, which is no problem because web servers usually don’t even have graphical user interfaces. And of course you also can’t talk the victim, let alone speak with a fake voice. Oh, and a “Voice Modulator” changes your voice, it doesn’t do text-to-speech – that’s a speech synthesizer‘s job.

Now things start to get a little foggy.

After some other scenes that introduced Bo to Taryn, the blogger’s wife, we see the two of them sitting in their living room. The sun seems to be shining brightly through the windows.

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

One scene later, Winter finds out that the blogger lives just next door from their safe house which is obviously not good. What’s also not good is the weather: it’s foggy as hell.

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

Winter decides that Bo and Tate need to leave because it’s too dangerous. Channing barges in on them to tell them to pack up, and the weather’s suddenly bright and sunny again. You can even see sun rays on the table in several cuts.

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

Bo doesn’t want to go and destroys the TV with her powers, leaving a perfectly centered hole in the screen. The Wootens next door are packing their stuff, only to be interrupted by Skouras’ minion who’s inviting them for tea. It really looks pretty foggy outside.

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

Not foggy enough? Maybe this will help:

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

Channing, Bo and Tate are running to the neighbor’s house, and while it’s not a bright, sunny day, it’s certainly nowhere near as foggy as before:

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

In none of the following shots outside the apartment there is any fog visible at all. Its very grey and looks like it might be raining soon, but that’s it. Yet, when Tate and Skouras’ dude are fighting, it’s suddenly a bright sunny day again if only for seconds at a time (in several scenes, you can see sunshine, while in some cuts it’s grey again):

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

When they leave the house, it’s grey again, but not foggy …

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

… but the fog sets in as soon as we see Skouras’ enforcer run after them.

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

But the real kicker is when we see them drive away just a split second later, the thick fog that covers everything would make John Carpenter proud.

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

And yet, there’s no fog to be seen from inside the car.

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

I guess stuff like this happens when you give your continuity manager the day off.

Anyway, after some lengthy, dialogue-heavy scenes that actually seem fine, Ben the blogger takes a cab to a train station to meet the mysterious source.

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

The taxi is an obvious fake, but this also doesn’t look like a train station at all, and for good reason: while the set decorator bothered to put up a “Station” sign, he failed to remove or conceal the bleedingly obvious sign reading “Moët Hennessy USA”. Why would a train station have such a sign? It’s not flashy enough to be advertising, so what is it?

Well, here’s a Street View shot of the real deal:

Picture (c) Google

Picture (c) Google

This building is the Moët Hennessy USA company headquarter and is located at 85 10th Avenue in New York City.

Elsewhere, Tate grabs their stuff from the not too safe “safe house”. And guess what, the weather is acting up again: no fog here …

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

… but as soon as he leaves mere seconds later, there is:

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

They all roll up on the train station the blogger went to. Bonus info: the entire exterior scene was shot at W 120th St and Lenox Avenue (if you look very closely, you can see the pillars of Mt. Olivet Church reflecting in the car door window).

I have no idea which train station was used to film the following scenes – it does look real with the exception of the same fake “Station” sign they also used outside – but what I do know is that there are some obvious continuity problems: when Bo starts to scream at the mind wiper, the clock next to him shows 5:16pm …

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

… and when the window behind him explodes, the time has been turned back to 5:15pm …

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

… and as soon as they carry Ben to the exit, it’s either 4:26pm or 5:26pm (it’s pretty hard to see, but it’s definitely not 5:15pm) …

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

… no wait, it’s actually 11:35am!

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

So much for continuity. I fear the person responsible for this mess might need to find a job soon. Security guy sounds nice, that way he could even be in the picture on occasion …