Things that make you go argghghgh in movies/tv [NOT 10/3/21]

Michael Bluth from Arrested Development with quote "I don't know what I expected"
I really don't know what I expected

Hi, friends! What are some things that always give you brain pain when you watching content?

I’ve been watching the Netflix series “Murder Among the Mormons” and the cavalier way they’re handling 150+ yr old documents and books in the re-enactments is so, so grating on my nerves. I understand that clean, dry hands are fine for handling archival documents. But they’re just touching and moving them around all willy-nilly letting anybody handle shit.

I also hate every depiction of an archaeologist in movies. Evie in The Mummy is the only person I’ve ever seen doing things properly, and she’s a librarian.



  1. I do not like any movies or TV show where the dog dies. Kill off all the people? Have at it. But I hate it when the dog is hurt, killed, or dies a natural death. It is why, after a few seasons, I had to stop watching All Creatures Great and Small.

  2. This is not exactly what you meant but I’ll go first. I’m a huge fan of “Murdoch Mysteries.” There are many dozens of episodes, and it’s a Canadian/ITV production so there are many more coming down the pipeline to America. In one episode Det. William Murdoch of the Toronto Constabulary of circa 1904 (don’t ask; it’s a wonderful show) gets sucked into the strange world of competitive dog breeding/showing. That episode is called “Murdog Mystery.” I’m teetering on the cliff-edge of descending into this pit of madness myself, having owned dogs all my life, having known breeders, having attended Westminster, having known Westminster judges, & etc. 
    In summary, the producers decided to cross “Murdoch Mysteries” with “Best in Show” and it is one of the best and most surprising things I’ve ever watched. 
    Otherwise, the only thing that really bothers me is when period dramas/soap operas lapse into anachronistic terms. “Downton Abbey” was famous for this. For all of the Dowager Countess’s bewilderment at confronting the term “week-end” or a swivel chair or electricity or a gramophone, almost every episode had someone saying something that might have come out of a self-help guide from the 1970s or later. 

      • This might be a SPOILER ALERT but I have very acerbic English friends who hate-watched “Downton Abbey.” When the Spanish flu swept in one of them said to me, “No offense, Mattie, but we were all hoping that it would take that dreadful American Cora away…”

  3. My primary beef is science. I hate it when movies, etc., completely ignore physics, for example. As I’ve noted, I’m a comic book nut. Okay, yes, I can accept a man from Krypton can show up on Earth and have super powers. But I can’t accept when those powers violate the laws of physics. In last night’s Superman and Lois, for example, Superman hears a disaster in China with his super hearing. 
    Except sound travels at 721 mph at sea level. So the sound of people screaming in China won’t reach Smallville, Kansas, for several hours. It’s not physically possible. Nor is it possible for a man to hoist a gigantic section of bridge. The bridge will buckle around the support point (Superman) and collapse anyway
    That doesn’t address my narrative issues with omnipotence which stifles drama, but that’s another post. And it’s not just superheroes — all kinds of shows and movies do things which aren’t possible. Suspension of disbelief requires you accept a divergence from the normal (alien comes here from Krypton and can do special things), but when additional impossibilities are piled on top of the initial conceit, it completely drags me out of the experience. 
    Second is failure to research, which is related to the initial post. You owe it to your audience to find out how things actually work in a profession before you just ignore that. I couldn’t watch Mad Men because that’s not how advertising agencies work, and I know that because I spent most of my career working in them.  I’m sure doctors, nurses, police, firefighters, soldiers, attorneys, teachers, anybody who sees a dramatic “representation” of their professions have the same issues (in fact I know they do).
    I get that Breaking Bad took liberties with teaching for dramatic license, but you should acknowledge basic things like a) teachers tend to have pretty good health insurance and b) talented chemists can find an extraordinary array of teaching (and employment) opportunities up to and including colleges even without a doctorate. Those people are scarce. Your writers need to figure that shit out and explain it, not just ignore it.  
    Imma stop now, but I could go all night. 

    • In a similar vein, when basic physics are ignored for bad strategy.

      Like in that Return of Skywalker movie when they had the mounted horse-like cavalry attack on the surface of the bad guy ship, all those dipshits had to do was tilt the ship and they’d all fall off. 

    • I have separate science-related rants I’ll do on a separate thread, but agreed on that, and in underdog sports films where they ignore the realities of time. (Sure, I totally believe you could come back from being 20 pts behind with the four seconds left on the jumbotron clock.)
      Re: not doing the research on a profession. 

    • I once worked on a physics textbook. I only had to copy edit it, as I know nothing about physics. [My spelling of my part-time profession is itself something copy editors/copyeditors fight over. We’re a very strange breed.]
      The textbook was meant to bring students through a rigorous exam, but just in case the students were extremely clever and quick on the uptake the final chapters had even more good stuff, so the teacher wasn’t left with nothing to say for a month.
      That’s where things got very interesting. Early on, we determine how to measure the mass of the sun. Child’s play, to these students. Toward the end, we move into astrophysics and theoretical physics. Imagine two twins. One remains on earth and the other goes on a years-long voyage in space. Assuming no distortionary biological changes  due to various conditions, when the space twin rejoins their sibling they would have aged  more slowly than their earth-bound-twin. Suppose we colonize a planet and the space twin reproduces. The child would probably not be able to survive back on earth because of gravitational and atmospheric phenomena that only we experience and adapt to. Apparently you can pump all the nitrogen/oxygen and create as much of a replicated gravitational field as you want but that child would suffer almost immediate organ failure if let loose on terra firma.
      That was only the beginning. We know we have a neighboring galaxy, Andromeda, and there’s yet another one that’s been somehow observed, or posited. In addition to that, theory holds that our galaxies should be moving away from each other, but there is evidence that ours and Andromeda are actually moving closer together.
      Does the universe have a border, sort of? Theoretically, no, and in fact there are many universes, called the multiverse. And in fact, because time and theory of time and our understanding of time is so incomplete, theory holds that many universes and indeed, many multiverses, are somehow co-existing. 
      I was very glad to get to the end of this project. I’ll just sit here in my little speck of a somewhat distant and obscure solar system (oh yes, the Milky Way galaxy is mapped to the best of our abilities, and we’re far from the center of it) and try not to think about what might be in store three or four hundred billion light years from now.

    • I’m with you on the superpowers one, superhuman strength and speed are almost never done properly.  Even with simple stuff, like picking up heavy objects.  Even if you are strong enough to lift a battleship, just trying to pick a car up by the bumper will just turn into a weird acrobatic/poledancing thing where the character would be holding the bumper and sticking up into the air, because they don’t weigh anywhere near as much as a car.  Or like Captain America doing a somersault and chucking his motorcycle at an enemy in Avengers: Age of Ultron – Even his super strength isn’t strong enough to pull that off, and even if it was, he would have just ripped the handlebars off of the bike.  Or in that X-Men movie (First Class?), where Magneto pushed a coin through someone’s head… that wouldn’t have happened unless the head was pinned against something, or there was significant metal in their head to allow Magneto to “hold” the head in place.  I mean, you might get a small cut, and it wouldn’t be comfortable, but pushing a coin against someone’s head, even with ton’s of force, isn’t going to push the coin through their head at slow speeds, it’s just going to push them back/aside.  I shouldn’t even get started on Quicksilver in X-men, let alone Ant-Man…

      • All of that. I remember watching the Six Million Dollar Man as a kid, and thinking, wait, lifting a car would rip his arm off. The book(s) explained things better, but the show never did. 

  4. Almost everything on tv related to the paranormal bugs me. And I love spooky stuff, so I usually watch it anyways. I’m agnostic about the topic. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are things we can’t explain, like ghosts or non-human entities. Do I think a bunch of dudes (and sometimes ladies) running around with gizmos shouting in the dark are capturing them? Absolutely fucking not. The one that bothers me the most is The Dead Files on Travel Channel. According to the sensitive on that show, every single place she’s been has centuries worth of dead people, demons, elementals, and sometimes aliens. I realize I’m about as psychic as a ham sandwich but I’ve never noticed a thing!! And then her solution is always to find a male, 35, chaos magician with a Taurus rising who is left handed. Good luuuuuuccck!!!!

  5. @brightersideoflife Are you by any chance an archivist or archaeologist? Because I do understand the frustration at having your field of expertise misrepresented–or presented lazily. 
    One of my arrrrggggghhhs is when biomedical science and research is misrepresented. I won’t get into the battalion of CSI-type shows (because forensics isn’t my thing and several older techniques lack legitimacy), but seeing laboratory research depicted sends me up the wall. 
    1. You wear gloves when working on anything. Goggles or safety glasses are also quite often conspicuously absent onscreen. 
    2. I hate seeing a flask of clear, fluorescent liquid stirring or shaking when it’s clearly not a real substance (other than water + dye) and has no relation to the sample/medium being spoken about. 
    3. If you don’t understand molecular biology, don’t write a genetics-heavy conceit into your plot. It probably is rubbish and doesn’t work that way.

  6. Although, I’m not an actual medical person – it drives me crazy when tv medical people shock a flatline and the person comes back. You can’t shock someone in asystole back to life. 

  7. The small world phenomenon drives me crazy. For exmple, The Sopranos originally set up Tony as a significant mob boss, and at first you could believe he had a wide network of criminals under him operating through a lot of central NJ.
    But as the show progressed, it became increasingly clear there was no real organization, no serious number of underlings, and I assume Paulie made his money stealing from vending machines or something. Breaking Bad seemed the same way — Gus Fring was supposed to be running a mega million dollar operation, but he never seemed to have more than Mike and one other guy doing his dirty work.
    You get supposedly big law firms with only a couple of lawyers, hospitals with the same surgeon doing all operations… I assume it is done to keep show costs down, but it is so annoying to me when writers don’t try to address it somehow.

  8. When period programs use modern language and modern mores it makes me fucking crazy.  Don’t use current euphemisms to try and make your period shows and films “accessible”. It just makes your shit unwatchable. 

    • Audiences actually like it when they get to figure out anachronistic things. People get Shakespeare when it’s well performed even if they don’t follow every word, as long as the context is clear.
      The only exception is intentionally non-traditional performances. I’m OK with a mashup of 1920s gangsters and knights of the round table as long as it is up front when that’s happening.

  9. I’m so tired of writers using fridging as a plot device.
    SPOILERS I couldn’t get into Picard because the very first episode does it (twice!) and I stop giving a fuck as soon as that happens. The first time happens early on and sparked the following exchange between Mr. HZG and I. “Uh oh, they fridged her bf. You still wanna watch this show?” …”Technically he was collateral damage and she’s on a mission to save herself not avenge his death. I’d say that was a half-fridge and we can keep watching.” The episode ends. “Welp. That was a proper full-fridge. I can’t deal. Why did Sir Stewart agree to be on this show?”

      • See Meh-zuzah’s link above.
        It’s when the partner (usually a female) of the protagonist is killed, assaulted, or held hostage in order to spur the protagonist into action, provide character development or depth.

        • I forget the trope-naming examples, but it’s named specifically after a couple of comics where the protagonist comes home to find their one-dimensional wife/girlfriend stuffed in the fridge.
          Really tangential, but I enjoyed Catherynne M. Valente’s response to this in her The Refrigerator Monologues.  And there’s a bit in The Watchmen (original graphic novel) where Rorschach kinda subverts it…

    • Followed up by the fridged one (fridgee? Fridgidaire?) never being mentioned again. If I had a wife/girlfriend/dog axed by a villain, I’d be a mess for years. Writers shouldn’t do that unless they are willing to commit all the way.

      • So, so, so, SOOOOO much.
        I am not a person you should watch things with, unless you actually enjoy “what-the-fuck” comments and criticisms…
        on the short-list, much like @bryanlsplinter, any fucked-up science that I have even a basic grasp on.
        I’m hardly a firearms person, but when they do dumb shit with guns, it gets on my nerves.  Rifles and handguns are completely different classes of weapon.  Not just accuracy, but also ease of use and power.  I can overlook a bit for stuff like John Wick, where it’s an individual with ridiculous/superhuman skills (and even he chooses a rifle over a handgun when he has the opportunity), but all too often they show normal people with handguns taking out normal people with rifles.  Using bullshit cover like car doors or interior walls.  racking/pumping the loading mechanism for emphasis.  thinking bumpstocks are a good idea…
        Also, diving into a body of water to escape damage from an exploding boat or something else in the same body of water – water relatively noncompressable, so all that energy is just going to travel through the water, and into you and your internal organs (bonus points to William Gibson’s Neuromancer for the grenade/pool scene…)
        or just when people doing anything I know remotely anything about do something dumb for no discernible reason. -in the Netflix movie The Ritual, once one of them is injured, they decide to cut through the map “as the crow flies”, and supposedly that came from the experienced outdoorsperson.  what!? no! nobody does that, especially with an injured person.  Keep following the (relatively) easily navigatable ridgeline, don’t go up and down ridges and through a primevil forest, have you ever left a suburb before?
        And spinning in fights, especially swordfights, is a good way to get your back opened up (notable exception for Terminator: Dark Fate – MacKenzie Davis’s character is effectively super-powerd, and using long-reach weapons where she can generate significantly more power through a spinning wind-up, and is often doing it as a follow-up when her opponent is “stunned”).  kip-ups look cool, but are just likely to get you knocked back on your arse – do a back roll instead, it’s not as flashy, but keeps some distance betwixt you and your opponent, and will let you keep your arms in front of your face/torso.  And loosing consciousness from a head injury is no joke, that can fuck someone up, it’s not at all like taking a nap…
        TL;DR: don’t watch movies with lochaber…

      • apologies, I replied to your comment instead of the post in general.  I really should be better at this considering how much time I spend on the internets…

    • …much as I do agree with this it occurs to me that under some specific circumstances a similar phenomenon is (to some extent) less infuriating…to wit, I have watched a possibly unreasonable amount of kung fu movies & it’s sort of a staple of the formula in those…there are actually quite a few of what friends & I agreed were identifying features before any of us had really come across the idea of tropes as a way to describe them & one of the mainstays we referred to as revenge-motivated-by-the-death-of-close-personal-friend-or-relative…usually but not always the teacher of our protagonist…it’s sort of like the way hollywood movies apparently can’t get a green light unless there’s a romantic interest for the lead somewhere in the mix…there are exceptions but they’re almost vanishingly rare…but it became sort of a source of amusement rather than an irritation…to the point that it had some odd side-effects

      …generally hollywood attempts at kung fu movies at the time were pretty dire when compared to the stuff from the likes of the shaw brothers…& much of that had to do with an apparent inability to shoot/choreograph the fights…but some of it seemed to be linked to an attempt to alter the formula to make it fit the one hollywood adheres to…so although in many ways it was/is a sort of awful film we had kind of a soft-spot for best of the best 2…almost entirely on the grounds that it managed to include pretty much every one of our collection of identifiable genre conventions

      …it’s an odd take…but we had some odd ideas, I guess…for example if you happen to be watching that sort of kung fu movie & a character says “buddha’s name be praised” we more-or-less-unanimously agreed that you could assume what they meant was “dear holy motherfucking shit” & the rest of the dialogue would make sense?

  10. i actually ran into that the other night watching the expanse
    using a bigly steel cable to tow another ship whilst everyones yelling be carefull or the cable might snap
    and im like…..why are you all still standing right next to the cable?
    space osha has a word or two for yous stupid bastards
    (in unrelated news…i planned to watch the rest of the expanse yesterday but…i went for a quick lie down after i got home and only just woke up?….5pm to 5 am….i think that legally counts as a coma…wtf?)

  11. Minute 2:48/2:49 of THIS clip;

    ALLLLLLLLL of the costumes (AND HAIR!!!) in this movie were terrible  from a “historical accuracy” standpoint….
    But that zipper, in particular,  is showing up literally *hundreds* of years too soon!!!

  12. …probably too many to get into…but the one that seems to come up most often is sort of hard to define…I get that in order for drama to work shortcuts are necessary because too much detail takes too long & screen time is limited

    …but…remarkably often it seems like people do shit that seems to go against all reason unless you’ve read the script in advance…like shooting at/blowing up/otherwise-fucking-with a vehicle in which someone is being kidnapped/transported & the sole objective is to save them

    …the chances of killing/maiming/permanently-injuring the person you’re meant to be saving are way too high for that to make sense…& that’s just one variant…any number of plots rely on the idea that someone can predict a series of incredibly unlikely things happening “just so” in order that the scene someone wants to happen somewhere near the end is deemed to have been set up deliberately…it’s often intended to be sold as “a twist” demonstrating how dizzyingly clever some character is…which aggravates me since quite often it makes some part of my brain think “so, if any one of those things had gone a much more probable way your whole master plan would have fallen apart & I’m meant to think you’re smart?”

    …I might not be describing the phenomenon well…but then I try to be circumspect about this stuff since a time years back when a friend was remarking he enjoyed a particular author’s books…& I responded that they were all right but ultimately all seemed to follow a particular formula…they asked what I meant & like an asshole I told them…& subsequently pretty much ruined that author’s work for them because once you could see the formula what was hanging off it just seemed either arbitrary or unengaging & I don’t want to make otherwise enjoyable content infuriating for people?

    • A term I’ve heard for this is plot-hammering, where you force characters to be in a place or do a thing strictly because the plot requires it, not because it occurs naturally or organically. Happens a LOT. 

  13. No courtroom lawyer, in real life, ever says “I’ll see you in court.”
    EVERY lawyer on TV (and almost all movie lawyers) says this.  Drives me up the friggin’ wall, every time.

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