So, for reasons I can’t adequately explain I watched Primeval yesterday evening and had a revelation. OK, first I had the thought ‘dear Lord, this is truly awful’ but my revelation went some way to explaining that: I realised that the show it wants to be isn’t Doctor Who, but 90s BBC action show Bugs. It’s one of those shows – like Hotel Babylon, say – that’s set in Generic International City London, where it’s easy to strip off the soundtrack and redub it in German, Spanish, Russian, Uzbek or whatever, and no one’s going to need to know anything about the setting other than it’s Capital City. And of course, if you know your dialogue’s only there to serve as a placeholder until it gets overdubbed by someone else, why bother going for nuance or subtlety that’ll be completely missed by the translator? Just make sure people talk in fluent exposition, and it’ll be easier to sell as they can probably get the Babelfish software to do 90% of the work for them.
In related news, I’m thinking that what the world needs is an objective ranking of TV show quality, and I’d like to present the Stupid Stick as a way towards developing that objectivity. Basically, the Stupid Stick ranking is a count of the number of times when something happens on screen that can only be explained by the character, writer or both having been hit hard on the head with said stick. For instance, on last night’s Primeval, someone (the blonde girl who was in S Club 7) is part of a team looking for strange creatures and has seen several herself in the past including, it seems, owning one as a pet. She’s on a boat with a couple of other people who are looking for a strange creature in a canal basin. She sees something in the water that rises up towards the boat and then moves away, which scares her. Does she (a) say ‘hey guys, I think I saw something’ to the other people on the boat with her, or does she (b) say nothing – even when her teammates on the boat question her exclamation of shock – and then stand up very close to the edge of the boat thus making it easier for said creature to grab her.
Yes, it’s (b) and we score 1 to the Stupid Stick count. Sadly, my Stupid Stick measuring device just gave up and exploded during a later scene with a conveniently waterproof machine gun.