Saturday, November 7, 2009

When Words Hurt

I have been trying to hang in there with the new television series "Flashforward". The premise was intriguing to me and I like several of the actors in the cast. However, there have now been five or six episodes and the dialogue is so bad it sometimes causes me physical pain. I literally get a stomach ache, it is so disappointing.

It has made me realize how key dialogue is to keeping the viewer/reader interested. Man, nothing pulls you out of the story faster than lame dialogue. I feel sorry for the actors for having to say some of this stuff, and frankly, they look pretty uncomfortable too.

I am not good at pulling up dialogue from memory, so I borrowed this example from a reviewer at who has the same complaint. This is from a scene where the lead character, FBI agent Mark Bedford and his co-worker, Janis have traveled to Germany to try to get information on the blackout from an imprisoned Nazi (the premise of the show being, everyone on earth blacked out at the same time, for two minutes and 17 seconds and saw a glipse of the future six months later):

Janis: Isn't this where Sophie Scholl and the rest of the White Rose Nazi resistance group were executed?

German Prison Guard: If I'm not mistaken, your country eradicated its idigenous Indian population and practiced institutionalized slavery for 250 years.

Mark: We also gave the world Brittany Spears.


The acting is also painful, which I'm blaming mostly on the writing and partly on the direction. You can only do so much with this kind of dialogue and I have seen most of these actors do much better work. I also wonder if the acting is suffering because several of the leads are foreigners trying to pull off an American accent (see Joseph Fiennes, Bryan O'Byrne, Sonya Walger). Joseph Fiennes has a perpetual look of angst on his face, so he's either concentrating too hard on the accent or he is constipated.

So, I'm wondering if I have a right to complain when I am still watching it. I'm intrigued enough by where they are going with the story to hang in there, but I beg the producers to call in a script doctor, stat. Or even better, a whole new team of writers.


  1. Even if the dialogue weren't that bad, anytime people simplify American history down to "You came here, killed the peace-loving Indians and built McDonald's", the discussion is pretty much over. It's like something dropping Hitler's name three minutes into a political argument.

    However, he does have a point about Britney Spears.

  2. Yeah that show is one that we are trying to watch but its not holding my attention very well. I can see your point.

  3. In contrast, I love the dialog in 'Castle'. Without the clever and fun repartee it would be just another crime drama on TV.

    As a side note, one of the worst movie lines of all time from 'Xmen'.

    Storm: You know what happens when a toad gets struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else.

    Can I get a collective head slap?