Plot holes and characters with no common sense (warning – may become a rant)

So I’m watching The Big Bang Theory last night, and it did the typical sitcom thing of not proposing a sensible answer to a problem. And for some reason it bugged me.

Yes, I know. Sitcoms are based on the assumption that the characters have no common sense. That’s what makes them funny. But last night it jumped out at me, and I’m someone who’s never been great at spotting plot holes.

I mean, it’s not like they couldn’t have made the suggestion and dismissed it – one of the characters is invited to Geneva to see the Large Hadron Collider. It coincides with Valentine’s Day, so he decides to take his girlfriend. However, his friend’s lifelong ambition is to visit the LHC, so cue hilarious consequences (although nowhere near as hilarious as when they’re giving out Christmas presents). Everyone ends up falling out with each other, while I’m shouting at the TV "Buy an extra ticket!" Okay, it’s nowhere near an ideal solution, given the characters, but no-one suggested it, even for it to be dismissed. And it annoyed me.

Of course, this isn’t the first time this has happened. I hate it when, say, Superman or Spider-Man go through hours of emo wibbling because they can’t tell the woman they love about their secret identity, even though everyone knows that keeping it secret only leads to more trouble in the end, and besides, what sort of relationship is based on constant dishonesty anyway? Plus the fact it’s boring. Not romantic – boring.

Then again, some of these things would kill a franchise dead. Take the Batman mythos. Sudge is going to tear me apart on this, but the series is set in the USA, which has the fifth highest number of executions in the world. It’s also set in Gotham City, which is known for being corrupt and messed up. And yet no-one has found a way round the Joker’s insanity defence? None of the dodgier police officers have accidentally seen him ‘trip down some stairs, repeatedly’? Okay, it’s basically the plot of Kingdom Come, which ended badly for the heroes, but, y’know… I hate the Joker. At least as a character who keeps cropping up to commit yet another atrocity. Go get him, corrupt Gotham cops!

And then Jurassic Park – WHY DID YOU CLONE CARNIVORES?! We’re not talking lions here! We’re talking a FULL GROWN T-REX! One man took down your security system AND HALF THE VISITORS GET EATEN!!! You were after the money, weren’t you? Oh, you could have been happy with revolutionising science and simply cloning that big dinosaur with the long neck that used to be called a Brontosaurus but they change the name every week, but nooooo, you had to try and go for the big guns and clone a big-ass predator that, in the event of a powercut, will eat everyone. Admittedly, that’s not a plot hole, that’s one of the philosophical points of the book/film, but all the same, they not only clone T-Rex, but to make things even more exciting they put a bunch of velociraptors in there! Here’s an idea, why didn’t you just machine gun all the visitors as soon as they got through the turnstyles?! IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN QUICKER!!!


And then there are shows where, if they had some basic HR pactices, like you and I probably have in our own workplaces, the plots would never happen. 24 wouldn’t have got to season 2 if CTU actually bothered to vet its staff for a) moles or traitors, and b) loonies, but the worst of this, for me, is seen in the Star Wars prequels. Anakin has a premonition that the woman he loves is going to die. Instead of actually doing something about this, instead of accepting your duty of care to one of your team, he’s basically just told to go away and forget it. "Meh," they say, "These things happen, Jedi don’t do emotion." And because the Jedi suck, Anakin turns to the Dark Side, goes crazy, becomes Darth Vader and starts blowing up planets. Well done Yoda. Everyone thought you were cool in Empire, but basically you could do with doing an NVQ4 in Management, because frankly… huh.

Sometimes this sort of thinking doesn’t help. I’m not convinced that Terminator 2 can actually work within its own model of time travel, but I don’t want that to be true – I like to think they change the future and save the world and that Terminator 3 never happens (because it’s stupid). And if one of you could insert a dig at The Matrix here it would help, because I’m tired and I can’t be bothered.

And then we get silly. Avatar – the planet is basically a giant network, and the trees are the interface. There’s a major catastrophe when the Evil Military-Industrial Complex ™ destroy the giant tree that is the centre of the planet’s civilisation, and it’s all sad and tragic.

And now all I can think is – bonsai. I don’t know if I came up with that, or if I heard it somewhere and it stuck, but… Bonsai.

I suspect James Cameron didn’t want me thinking bonsai.

I may need professional help.


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