Do it, but do it well

Although it might look like ABC’s drama soap Revenge is set in the Hamptons and New York City, it’s actually filmed nowhere near the Big Apple – instead, all the city scenes are produced in downtown Los Angeles. Usually, this isn’t a big problem, since most of the show is filmed in a studio environment anyway and the outdoor scenes could be located more or less anywhere. If in doubt, just add some NYC cabs and drop the name of some hipster deli and you’re good to go.

Or so I thought. In episode 17 of the current fourth season of the show, there’s a scene with Margeaux and EmilyAmanda set in a busy NYC street. Margeaux is entering the scene through a door that looks like it could lead to a subway station – in this case, Fulton Street, which is located close to Wall Street. Makes perfect sense for Margeaux to be there, since it’s only logical her company’s office is located in that area. There’s a NYC cab waiting outside as well. Looks perfectly innocent, right?

Picture (c) ABC

Picture (c) ABC

Would I not already know that Revenge isn’t filmed in NYC, this could perhaps fooled me, but the picture above is just the end of a sweeping shot establishing the locale. This is the rest:

Image (c) ABC

Image (c) ABC

More NYC taxis, but also a storefront called Caravan Book Store. If you search for it on Google, you’ll quickly find out that it’s a real store and that it’s located on 550 S Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. Google Streetview is just one click away:

Image (c) Google

Image (c) Google

This is where the scene was shot – the door Margeaux emerges from is really the door to the Water Grill restaurant. They went through some trouble to transform the restaurant’s sign and the sign next to the door to establish location just to blow it all by not covering up the damn bookstore? Seriously, guys, that’s basically the definition of “half-assed” …

Bonus continuity error! In the same scene, Margeaux stands with her back towards the street while talking to EmilyAmanda. First, a suburban passes by in the background …

Image (c) ABC

… followed by two smaller cars …

Image (c) ABC

Image (c) ABC

… and the same suburban again. Oops.

Image (c) ABC

Image (c) ABC

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Suddenly, Nazis

It’s always the same: as soon as (usually American) script writers run out of ideas, they add something about Nazis, usually set either in Germany or at least with some lines of German. If you aren’t German, well, you’ll likely not notice anything suspicious. If you are German, however, this often enough becomes an absolute riot and makes the whole thing so much more entertaining. That’s exactly what happened on the two most recent episodes of The Blacklist, a show I enjoy mostly for James Spader and less for the ridiculous story.

It started in episode 14 of the current second season. When Tom Keen – who isn’t dead despite being left for dead twice already – gets asked how his German is, I instantly knew this would become great, campy fun. Apparently, Tom is supposed to go to Dresden and infiltrate a gang of neo-nazis. Well, at least Dresden certainly has an abundance of neo-nazis, so that’s quite realistic. For this job he has to prepare.

First, put on German music, in this case “Major Tom” by Peter Schilling. It’s a track from the 80s and not related to Nazis in any way, but I guess the writer did like the play on the protagonist’s name.

Second, shave your hair:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

Sexy.

Third, get inked while smoking and chilling to the haunting tunes of Major Tom.

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

The SS symbol is VERBOTEN in Germany and will get you arrested if the cops notice it. Well done, Mr. Keen, this should look convincing! Unless anyone bothers to check out his other tattoo …

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

The SS logo on the right is mirrored, but that’s not what I’m getting at. You see, the neo-nazis use the slogan “Deutschland den Deutschen” to protest against foreigners in Germany. Translated into English, this would … ah, let’s do a little experiment, shall we.

  1. Go to Google Translator.
  2. Enter “Deutschland den Deutschen” into the left hand field, put it to “detect language”
  3. Put the output language to English
  4. Voilá, we get “Germany for the Germans”
  5. Now, reverse it …
  6. Aha, “Deutschland für die Deutschen”!

Funny how it works sometimes. With a tattoo like that, (Major) Tom would be discovered quite quickly. Hell, he’d be likely arrested on the spot when trying to enter Germany.

Fourth, he needs a passport:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

As you might have noticed, there are a few … problems … with this passport. Let me break them down to you:

  1. on EU passports, the photographs aren’t glued on, they are embedded into the passport and cannot be replaced without destroying the whole thing
  2. the color and background suggests its a passport from Poland, not Germany, but all text is in German – on a Polish passport, the main language would be Polish, of course. German passports are greenish and bear the “Bundesadler”.
  3. Tom Keen … sorry, Mr. Mannheim … is born on April 26th, 1979. Now while dates in the EU would be written either as 1979-04-26 or 26.04.1979 or 26/04/1979, the passport issue and renew before date are wrong as well. Unless Mr. Mannheim got his passport on his birthday in 1999, of course, but even then, the renew before date would be 2009, not 2019, since EU passports for ages 24 and up have to be renewed every 10 years.
  4. This is hard to read on the screen cap, but they managed to write “Unterschrift des Bearer” (Bearer’s signature) instead of “Unterschrift des Ausweisinhabers”. Any customs or police officer would spot that in an instant because the word’s length doesn’t match and it makes no fricking sense.
  5. Another obvious error: the number should be 790426 as its derived from Mr. Mannheim’s birthday.
  6. Oh, and just to add insult to injury, the personal card of modern EU passports don’t bend because they are made from plastic instead of paper.

The main question, however, is – why does Tom Keen have a Polish passport if he’s supposed to be German? Why does his birthplace sound Polish? Given the history between Poland and Germany during WW2, wouldn’t that kind of detail make people suspicious?

Oh, and before I forget – in Germany, you don’t use your passport to identify yourself, you use your ID card. The passport is only for travel outside of the EU. It would be rather suspicious to a German police officer would you identify yourself with your passport, which by the way is called “Reisepass” in German – “travel passport”.

So, Tom Keen is no more. Born from his ashes is Christof Mannheim the neo-nazi. He arrives in Dresden, Germany, and quickly finds new friends:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

Honestly? They just look like bikers to me. Here’s a picture of real neo-nazis demonstrating in Germany:

Image (c) taz.de

Image (c) taz.de

Hrm. Okay, this might be me nitpicking more than usual, but …

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

… oh look, ZZ Top is there as well!

Oddly enough, they are not just drinking while listening to cliché metal music, oh no – they are playing games! What games, you might ask? Manly stuff like arm wrestling maybe? Or illegal nazi fist fights? Ah, you’ll be sorely disappointed:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

They are trying to drive nails into wood with one strike of a hammer. For cold, hard Euro no less. What kind of Kindergarten nazis are they? Do they have rug time? I loved rug time!

Anyway, Tom Christof quickly does the one thing I’d never do among an illegal group of hooligans – he introduces himself. His name is Christof. “Fair enough”, you say, “his name is Christof, so why not tell them?” Because he’s not content telling them his first name:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

Might as well wave his fake passport around. Why would he tell them his last name, so every undercover cop in Dresden is aware of him? Great start there, Tom Christof.

Did I mention they all speak terrible German? None of them would pass for being German with that kind of mangled grammar, the pronunciation is way off, and they all sound like they have to try really hard to utter one coherent sentence. Shouldn’t be hard and/or expensive to find a few people in New York City who speak better German than these tools.

Onto the next episode, 2×15. The relevant segment of the episode starts like this:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

This could really be anywhere, so the subtitle is a nice idea to establish location. The security camera (top right) makes me wonder why neo-nazis would party there, but hey, maybe their Bier got stolen once too many.

Anyway, the scene is set to a Rammstein song I can’t identify because I don’t really listen to Rammstein – but neither would neo-nazis as they tend to enjoy music way worse than that. But it has German lyrics so it fits, right?

The Nazis are discussing their weapon procurement issues and in that context, they mention they don’t want to cross borders because that could spell trouble. That doesn’t seem to concern Tom Christof who quickly suggests he knows a guy in Salzburg – which is in Austria, across borders. No wonder his idea gets axed quickly, but that doesn’t get him closer to winning the Nazi’s trust, so he has to devise a different approach: he’s going to kill their arms dealer and bring in his own to save the day. Genius!

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

Here are the arms dealers dealing arms. Again, this could be absolutely anywhere, so this picture is just there for your enjoyment. But look, they must be in Germany because they are driving a BMW!

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

However, with a license plate like that they are just inviting the cops because that’s not a German license plate, that’s just nonsense. This is how a real license plate from Dresden, Germany looks like:

(c) olavsplates.com

(c) olavsplates.com

Also, while the BMW is a German car – but they do have foreign cars in Germany, in case you are wondering – the model they use is the US version of the 528i xDrive. You can clearly see the car has space for the differently shaped number plates used in the US, as opposed to the German version which looks like this:

(c) auto-news.de

(c) auto-news.de

If that wasn’t enough proof, the next street scene shows yet another car with bogus Dresden plates, and from the small white stripe underneath the plate you can see its yet another US version. Also, the pickup truck in the center background proudly sports US plates just for the heck of it.

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

Tom Christof shoots the driver and flees the scene on his bike, leaving the driver-less car careen into the next wall. The entire scene doesn’t look like it could be set in Dresden to anyone who was even remotely near Dresden in the last decade, but you can’t blame them for trying. Look, there even is Bernds Brauhaus (brewing house, usually a place to drink freshly brewed beer) in the background, because as anyone knows, these things are like Starbucks in Germany – literally everywhere. And look, the building is “ZU VERMIETEN” (to let) as well! Looks legit!

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

What’s with the red arrow, you ask? Oh, that … I wonder what “Aperture” means and why it would be written across the facade of a Brauhaus in Dresden?

Image (c) Google

Image (c) Google

Oh, it’s the Aperture Foundation located at 550 W 27th Street in New York City? Huh, someone must have mixed up the footage there. Whoops!

And let’s just take a look where the car ended up after the driver died:

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

Right in front of a delivery truck covered in German graffito, if anyone still had any doubts about the location.

These guys are everywhere

This is from the latest episode of Castle (season 7, episode 11). Please take note of the guy marked with a red arrow:

Image (c) ABC

Image (c) ABC

He’s standing there, holding his super-sized coffee to go, staring intensely at past the camera. I wonder if he’s got anything to do with production?

Image (c) ABC

Image (c) ABC

Hm. Now he’s on the other side of the road, trying to look harmless. Wonder how he got there, but no matter! Instead, focus your gaze intensely on the guy with the bright yellow backpack, helpfully marked with yet another red arrow. Also, observe this harmless young man wearing a scarf. He’s looking down, because he’s not involved with production in any way.

Image (c) ABC

Image (c) ABC

Now would you look at that … the guy with the backpack, in an entirely different scene, over 20 minutes later! But that’s not all …

Image (c) ABC

Image (c) ABC

.. here’s the guy with the coffee again, and who is he talking to? The young man with the scarf! It’s a small world …

Picture (c) ABC

Picture (c) ABC

… really small:

Image (c) ABC

Image (c) ABC

I found that one later, but the scene is actually at the beginning of the episode, when Beckett and Esposito first visit the school. For comparison purposes, I’ve added a blowup of the backpack wearing guy in the third picture – they are identical in every way. It’s really okay to reuse background extras, but if you do, at least have them wear stuff that doesn’t make it so easy to identify them.

Talking about easy to identify – everyone knows Castle isn’t actually filmed in New York. While they try to cover it up by putting NYC taxis and signage up, sometimes they just can’t help themselves:

Image (c) ABC

Image (c) ABC

One quick Google search reveals that the historic Haas Building is at 219 W 7th Street, Los Angeles. Would have been easy to avoid that one by just shooting a bit down the road or having Castle’s head covering the background …

Picture (c) ABC

Picture (c) ABC

… and waiting for the bus to pass before rolling the scene would have been a good idea too.

Print is dead

Can’t anybody give the producers of Crisis some tips on how to properly use GPS coordinates on their show? Because they clearly don’t seem to even understand the most basic things about them, as becomes obvious from watching episode 2.

But before we come to that kind of rocket science, lets start with something old-school: a simple newspaper. The hostages get their hands on a copy of the paper with Amber’s face on the cover, and it seems like everything is in order – until Amber reads the front page and, likely by accident, the back sheets peel back …

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

… to reveal the entire paper is a prop with empty pages to pad out the few ones they actually printed. They didn’t even last until after the credits this time!

That was pretty funny already, wasn’t it? However, the number of GPS coordinate problems this episode has is absolutely mind-boggling. Either the production crew didn’t care at all, or they just didn’t know it better, but in any case, the outcome is pretty damn poor.

The FBI figures out where Hurst, the Secret Service guy who shot his partner, was hanging out during his hour of “personal time”: the Pakistani embassy. They have marked his whereabouts on a handy map …

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

… which is absolutely useless since all five spots are marked with the exact same coordinates (15.94749 -140.28631), and even the “area designation” is identical. Where these coordinates lead to, you ask?

Picture (c) Google

Picture (c) Google

Why, the open sea hundreds of miles east of Hawaii of course! Where else would you expect the Pakistani embassy?

But it gets worse. After some back and forth, we get a more detailed description of the location:

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

Here, we are introduced to a completely new concept: two coordinates for the same spot, and both lead to the middle of nowhere. The top one to somewhere south of the southernmost tip of the African continent …

Picture (c) Google

Picture (c) Google

… and the other is really hard to read, but the part I can make out is -6 -147 which leads to somewhere “near” (read: several hundred miles southeast) Kiribati. So no matter which coordinate you take, you’d end up anywhere but the Pakistan embassy in Washington D.C.

This idiocy continues in a later scene when the formerly disabled GPS tracker of one of the kids suddenly activates inside the embassy:

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

The coordinates listed for the embassy look like they are the hard to read coordinates seen in the last picture and put them at -6.02052 -147.39134, although that doesn’t make them any less wrong. The coordinates for Kyle Devore are listed as 77.47995000 39.97963125, a location somewhere in the Barents Sea “near” the island of Svalbard. Even from just looking at the coordinates in relation to the ones listed for the embassy should make it obvious that something can’t be right, which gives me the impression the production crew just couldn’t be bothered.

Later, another GPS tracker comes online, and “this can’t be right: it’s tracking to this building” – right to the FBI headquarters.

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

This can’t be right indeed: 77.44957500 39.87720937 is pretty close to the coordinates shown for Kyle Devore in the previous screenshot, which, as we already established, point to somewhere to the far northern coast of Sweden. As you can imagine, these also do, although their location is a bit more to the east.

Whoever developed the tracking software for the FBI has some explaining to do.

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 …

Of bus drivers and little girls

This post is about episode 4 of NBC’s show Believe. As if episode 3 didn’t contain enough location errors to last for the entire series, this time, a Bo gets lost (or not) thanks to some asshole bus driver, and we are witness to some serious computer magic.

Anyway, after Bo ditches her babysitter/daddy in an attempt to find the recipient of some old letters she found under a brick in a wall (don’t ask), she’s boarding a bus. We see her getting dropped off, and the driver tells her “This is your stop, honey. 75th and Broadway”. Polite as Bo is, she thanks the driver and even waves him goodbye.

Unfortunately, when we can see the background, it doesn’t look all that much like this …

Picture (c) Google

Picture (c) Google

… which would be the corner of 75th and Broadway, but much more like this …

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

… which is obviously somewhere else. Let me guess – Central Park West maybe?

Picture (c) Google

Picture (c) Google

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

Central Park West & 69th St to be exact as is clearly visible from the buildings in the background. That’s not too far from 75th and Broadway so Bo could probably walk the rest of the way, but that’s one asshole bus driver to drop a 10-year old girl at some random destination (let alone him lying about it).

This would be pretty bad for the MTA if it was an isolated event, but it seems that more than one bus driver on that route likes to mess with the customers. When William Tate learns where Bo went, he also takes a bus – and the driver of that bus clearly announces “75th and Broadway. Next stop, 75th and Amsterdam” while dropping Tate at the exact same spot as Bo:

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

Later in the episode, Dr. Skouras has his psychic event catcher thingy looking for, well, psychic events, in order to find Bo (I said don’t ask!). Since Bo is a little angry at that time, it doesn’t take long before the event catcher catches an event. It even shows the location on a map:

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

One might think someone as wealthy and powerful as Dr. Skouras could afford a map with a little more accuracy (and street names!), but who knows, maybe he blew all his money on that psychic event catcher thingy. Anyway, the center of the 5 mile radius is at W 114th St, which feels a bit odd already, but thankfully, we also get coordinates: 40.51°N, 80.22°W.

I have the feeling Dr. Skouras should return his magic device to whatever pawnshop he picked it up from, because these coordinates lead to somewhere near the Pittsburgh International Airport. Fortunately, I can help Dr. Skouras: the proper coordinates for the location shown on his map would have been 40.80513, -73.96113. You’re welcome.

However, Dr. Skouras can’t know that – he’s probably not so good at this technical stuff – so he gets all excited and calls Agent Ferrel to tell her about his discovery: clearly, Bo is at 92nd and Riverside. That address isn’t even on the map he was looking at, let alone inside the 5 mile radius (in fact, Riverside Drive is just outside of the circle, the last white line to the left), but Ferell can’t know Dr. Skouras is confused and is all over it.

We see Bo and Daddy on the move again, and it looks very much like they are in Central Park. Where exactly I don’t know, maybe someone reading this can shed light on it?

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

Winter’s coming calling, telling them to get their asses to 79th St Boat Basin within 15 minutes, so they hail a cab. Unfortunately, they are seen by a cop who’s calling in their location as 90th St and West End – that’s at least quite close to the Boat Basin. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out where they really are, but what I can say with some certainty is that it’s nowhere near their supposed location since 90th and West End is surrounded by buildings …

Image (c) Google

Image (c) Google

… while the scene shows them in an entirely different environment.

Image (c) NBC

Image (c) NBC

The remaining scenes are a jumbled mess of location warping I can’t even begin to untangle without going insane. However, I can happily report that the scene at the 79th St Boat Basin seems to have been actually filmed there, which I guess is a start.

Right around the block from here

Crisis is a (pretty mediocre) drama series about some very well informed gangsters kidnapping 20 kids from Washington’s most powerful parents to extort demands from them (the parents, not the kids). When the parents do what they are asked, they usually get their children back. If that doesn’t sound terribly exciting, I don’t know what does!

Anyway, this post is about episode 5, where two parents had to steal sensitive data from the CIA (on a memory stick attached to a cellphone no less – don’t ask). They did their job, so they can have their stupid brats back. For that purpose, they are told GPS coordinates they can relay to the Feds no earlier than 3pm. Makes sense since the kidnappers would want to wait for the parents to be successful before they bring their hostages to the point designated by the coordinates. So far, so plausible.

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

The GPS coordinates we are told are 38.9072309 77.0364641 – a location, as the Feds quickly find out, is “right around the block from here”. Maybe they have more sophisticated equipment than I have, but Google Maps is usually quite sufficient. Let’s look them up, shall we?

Picture (c) Google

Picture (c) Google

Well, I wouldn’t call that “around the block” at all unless you happen to live in the absolute middle of nowhere in rural China. I guess the parents didn’t memorize the coordinates properly or the kidnappers are just daft. I’m going with the former theory because so far, the kidnappers thought of everything. Hell, they even have a handwritten (and handdrawn!) journal detailing every single step of their criminal activities.

But fortunately, the FBI is smart and powerful, so they must have seen the obvious error: GPS coordinates in the USA have a negative longitude – for example, 38.95282387 -77.14719311 are the coordinates for the CIA headquarters in Langley, VA. So what do we get if we just modify the coordinates given by the kidnappers accordingly?

Picture (c) Google

Picture (c) Google

Wow! That’s smack dab in the middle of Washington D.C. – you could call that “right around the block” from Langley, although you’d still be driving for a while. However, there’s something slightly off with the location: it’s a tunnel. And even if you ignore that and just move to the surface …

Picture (c) Google

Picture (c) Google

… you’d be in the middle of a busy street crossing at the Hahnemann Memorial in quite the pretty neighborhood – I highly doubt there’s an alley like this nearby:

Picture (c) NBC

Picture (c) NBC

(The obviously fake “no parking in alleys” sign sure is a nice touch!)

Thank god for the FBI! They can quickly find your abducted children even if the kidnappers give them an entirely wrong location!