TV pet peeve #2: “So what you’re saying is…”

Smile, boys!

Prime time’s non-stop lowest common denominator is BACK.  This time around the exceptional acting talents of Mary Lynn Rajskub may find themselves outshined by the dramatic stylings of such masters of stage and screen as sassy comedienne Janeane Garofalo, TV’s Red Forman and that guy from Entourage.

The Bowler! I'm talking to YOU, dumbasses! 'Ugly Betty.'

If the writers on 24 didn’t invent expository dialogue, they’ve certainly perfected it.  A choice example from the two most recent episodes, just to give you a taste:

It’s Day 7.  “Sengalan” insurgent Iké Dubaku is holding the entire American nation hostage.  CTU renegades Jack Bauer and Tony Almeida — reunited in deep cover, both having been revived from the dead — have cornered Dubaku’s key political and moral rival, Prime Minister Ule Matobo, in his safe room. In an aside to Jack, Tony reminds us what’s at stake: “Jack, we leave here without Matobo, we lose our only chance of getting at Dubaku.”  (Thank you, Tony.  Jack probably wouldn’t have reached that conclusion all by himself.)  According to my calculations, the time is 11:59:50am.  A full 68 seconds later, Tony huffs another aside to Jack: “We’ve gotta get Matobo.  Without him we’ve got nothing.”  (Jack must somehow have forgotten since Tony last relayed this exact same piece of information.  A minute ago.)  Several more minutes pass.  Jack and Tony make their way to the kitchen, where Tony warns Jack of the danger posed by trying to gas Matobo out of the safe room.  Jack responds, at 12:08:20pm: “Delivering Matobo is our only chance to get to Dubaku and the CIP device.”  (Jack realizes, of course, that Tony has forgotten what he had said to Jack, twice, just 8 minutes ago.)

We’re all clear on the central dilemma of the hour, right?  Whatever they’re paying you, David Fury and Alex Gansa, it’s not nearly enough.

– J.C. Freñán

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3 thoughts on “TV pet peeve #2: “So what you’re saying is…””

  1. Some further examples of expository dialogue, just from this season:

    Presidential Aide: “[The message is] from Colonel Iké Dubaku. He’s Djuma’s right-hand man. He’s known as the butcher of Sengala. Over 300 000 people were murdered.”
    President Taylor: “I know who he is.”

    Tony: “We gotta make a move, Jack.”
    Jack: “I know.”

    Tony: “Jack, we’re sitting ducks if we stay here.”
    Jack: “I know.”

    CLASSIC. Drinking game material, easily.

  2. A good friend of mine died of alcohol poisoning 2/3 of the way through the season premiere. So worth it though.

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