Monday, May 24, 2010

TV and Books

Sometimes you see something on TV that prompts a comparison to writing novels. Authors are always supposed to start off with a hook that reels the reader in, and keep the story interesting, no matter how many twists and turns it takes.

This morning, I watched the episode of Miami Medical that I'd recorded, and WOW, whoever wrote that script knew how to pack an hour with things you never saw coming. Here's a small summary:

Opening scene - Four people golfing, one girl, three guys. All young. The shot of one guy lands in the water, and he has to play it where it lands. He takes off one sock and shoe and steps into the shallow pool. WHAM! From nowhere, an alligator drags him into the water, tossing him around like a piece of foam. Now, that's a hook!

In the hospital, a doctor finds two tickets to the Black Eyed Peas taped to her locker. People begin jockeying for the second ticket.

Next, the three others attempt to rescue him by beating on the reptile with their golf clubs. In the fray, one guy hits the guy next to him in the head, and the girl slips and hits her head on a rock. The scene ends with them staring a calm waters...all have horrified looks on their faces.

Next scene - hospital: They managed to pull the young man from the water and get him to the ER/Trauma room. They all look a little worse for the wear they've been through and are advised to see the ER staff to help with their cuts and bruises. Enter the footless man's wife, who evidently has a past with one of the other fellas. The alligator is captured and killed and delivered to the hospital, where the attending physician fishes around in the gator's guts until he finds the foot. Yeah, I believe that.

Carrying on: The girl is admitted for her head injury, and the doctor notices a rash on her arm. It turns out to be narcotizing fascitis, the horrible disease that eats away one's flesh. Her father wants the doctor to amputate her arm if it means saving her life. She, on the verge of a golfing scholarship at Stanford, doesn't want to lose her arm, and at the stroke of midnight, she'll be eighteen and can make her own health decision. Ohhh, the tension. so as not to keep you hanging, she loses her arm.

Meanwhile in the waiting room, one of the young men appears to have fallen asleep, but won't wake. The doctor calls for a gurney, rushes him to surgery, and he dies.

The original footless guy has his foot reconnected,and is back in the room with his happy wife, eating soup. The doctor is crying in another room over the young man who died, and the attending physician is making a move on the blonde doctor who successfully replanted the severed foot.

In the end, two doctors who wanted to attend the black eyed peas, meet the doctor with the tickets in the parking lot. The concert is long over, but they have warm beer and a CD. As the episode ends, they're all singing and dancing in the hospital parking lot, and none too softly. Shouldn't they know that a hospital is zoned for quietness?

Actually, I thought there was just a tad too much in this one episode. How in the world can they top it?


Lorrie said...

I watched the episode,Ginger. Certainly was fast paced, almost never let you breathe. It amazes me how they can pack so many events into so short a time frame.
I thought the end in the parking lot was neat. Unwinding and forgetting what all had been through that day. Letting loose.
I have to say, a very gory program.

Paul and Karen said...

LOL! I never watch this show but left it on after Medium to catch the news. Wow, what cliff hangers at every breath. And I wondered how it would read as a novel. It would take 70k words to go through that one day, LOL! Cute.

Karen :)

Ginger Simpson said...

I actually like the show, and I got that the ending was about forgetting the death and drama, but I couldn't help remembering seeing signs posted about being quiet in the hospital zone as their radio blared and they all joined in song.

Definitely fast paced, and very entertaining, and like Karen says, it would take a lot of words to capture that much energy. It wore me out blogging about it. :)

Cheryl said...

I don't watch a lot of TV, perhaps because I have become tainted by how often they sacrifice reality for a good story. Soap operas are a prime example, but other shows do it too.

As writers, we are encouraged to make things real for the reader, then we turn on the TV and discover that everything that happened on Dallas after Bobby Ewing's death was really just a dream.

I think I'll stick to books.


Ginger Simpson said...

I agree about Soap Operas, still I'm hooked on two that I started watching years and years ago. They seem to have grown even more ridiculous...visitors allowed in the same cell with the prisoner without being frisked or their purses checked. And most of all...the waking in the morning and engaging in a deep-throated kiss before they brush. Yuk! We're supposed to make our books believable, I think the same standards should apply on TV. :)

Jannine said...

I saw this episode, Ginger. I couldn't believe how much they shoved into a one hour show.

I watch a lot of tv between 8 pm and 11 pm. Actually, a few of my shows overlap, so I have to tape them and watch them on Saturday night when there is absolutely nothing on tv I like.

I'm addicted to the storylines. But it's purely entertainment for me. It's my time of the day to unwind and think of nothing. Unfortunately, I do compare plots to books, and yeah, they're a bit farfetching at times. Yet I still love the series I watch. I need the escapism.

Jen Black said...

It's shows like these (here in the UK we have Casuality every Saturday night, and the story lines are similar, though I must admit no crocodiles yet) that leave people wanting books to read as fast as the shows. Do we think its a good thing? I'm not sure. I gave up watching when I started predicting the accidents, however unlikely, that were going to end up on the hospital trolley. Someone's cooking? - there'll be a fire. Climbing a ladder - he'll fall, and take three pedestrians with him. Driving - well, it's never a single crash now, but it's always a multiple vehicle pile-up on the motorway and someone always has to have a limb taken off....
Is this entertainment? It seems so.

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