How to Spot Bad Writing When It’s Shooting You in the Face: A Commentary

That wasn’t going to be the original title but I threw it out as a joke and it was accepted so here we are. Having finished two of my newly favorite TV shows, Trollhunters and The West Wing (to be fair I didn’t finish The West Wing, I stopped watching after Sorkin left and it took a nosedive) I’ve been looking for something else to watch while I paint. I could paint in silence, or with music, but I’ve always been better at working when my brain can tune in to something else.

I decided, finally, to give Dark Matter a try. For those of you who don’t know, Dark Matter was supposed to be the answer to Firefly fans everywhere. (I’m not an avid Firefly Lover but I do ENJOY Firefly and have seen it several times.) I knew, in my gut, it wasn’t going to be any good. I’d seen the character pictures. Still, I turned on the first episode thinking, ‘how bad could it be?’

What resulted was…amazing. It was amazing, guys. It was so bad. It’s the kind of bad that pretends like it’s not really /too/ bad, but everything that happens is also bad and stupid, and I didn’t finish the episode. In fact, I’ll let you know how far I got at the end of this post, because right now I’m going to take you on a walk through some of the worst writing I’ve ever seen. It’ll teach you critical thinking skills, or something. It might just make you mad. It might leave you going ‘It really wasn’t that bad,’ and that’s………………….fine, too.

Let’s begin. Note: These reactions were taken straight from a Facebook chat I had with Arielle while I watched. She can attest that they are genuine, if edited for grammatical accuracy.

darkmatter

Dark Matter: A Dramatic Reading (kind of)

“Okay so I’m ten seconds – hang on let me check – okay fifty five seconds – into the first episode of Dark Matter and my tolerance for silliness is so low that I’m just staring at this tunnel in a space ship life support is at %15 and all I can do is go OKAY BUT REALLY HOW COME ANY TIME A SHIP IS FAILING IN ANY WAY IN ANY PORTRAYAL THERE’S RANDOM STEAM AND SPARKS FLYING OUT OF RANDOM PLACES LIKE THAT’S NOT HOW SHIPS WORK

Because a ship failing in some way is pretty boring to look at and we must have SPARKS and things because the voice going ‘life support at fifteen percent’ isn’t enough of a giveaway

Oh look a boring guy waking up from cryosleep. This is good I’ve never seen this before.

He takes off running immediately how long has he even BEEN in cryosleep

If it’s longer than 24 hours he’s already impressive
The Hot Girl has woken up and they’re already fighting for control of the ship they haven’t even spoken that was fast how about a ‘hey do you know where we are? or what’s going on?’ just wHAM.

Honestly her bed head is out of this world

get it
out of this world
they’re in space
I wish /I/ could wake up with that hair after who knows how long in cryosleep

How come you can never actually READ anything on ship computer screens? It’s always in this tiny unreadable and/or alien font and never like

you know
easy

SO SHE’S RESTORED LIFE SUPPORT LIKE IF THAT’S WHAT YOU WERE DOING WHY DIDN’T YOU ASSUME THAT’S WHAT /HE/ WAS DOING DO YOU THINK HE WANTS TO DIE?? I JUST

‘what was that for?’ ‘you were in the way’ okay but like he was doing THE SAME THING YOU WERE DOING i just
Angry bed head double-gun man is here
he’s no help either
that’s their big opening wow
I’m blown away
Okay seriously there is CONDENSATION inside these cryo tube things like their hair would be horrendous and not these flawlessly styled curls

‘shake and wake, tiny; shake and wake’ okay in what universe is ‘shake and wake’ the new ‘rise and shine’
Mr angry double guns is such a bad actor and i have the sinking feeling he’s the Leader
We have angry asian man who a) was the only person we didn’t see wake up and b) is just scowling in the background so he’s probably not long for this world. probably gonna mutineer

I have so many questions but the most pressing is

Mr angry double guns has no shoes. nobody has shoes. but he retained two guns and two tHIGH HOLSTERS??
AND NO SHOES??
WHAT IS THE PREREQUISITE FOR BEING FROZEN

That’s the thing NOBODY HAS SHOES apparently you can’t be frozen with shoes but THIGH HOLSTERS is just OKIE DOKIE

THIS IS SO STUPID SO FAR I’M SO ANGRY BUT IT’S HYSTERICAL
okay and now – NOW
he’s all ‘guys check this out’ and opens a door and it’s just another big hallway-room THEY’VE BEEN RUNNING THROUGH LOADS OF OTHER HALLWAY ROOMS WHAT WOULD HAVE MADE HIM THINK THAT DOOR WAS DIFFERENT. WHY DO THEY NEED TO CHECK THAT ONE OUT IT’S NOT SPECIAL
‘What is this place?’ ‘it’s a ship’
He just said that with no humor it wasn’t supposed to be funny. Why. Obviously he’s the Enlightened one
And Hot Chick is all like ‘as soon as I stopped us from VENTING ATMOSPHERE I was able to get the ship back online and restore the repair protocol’ and I’m just like /THAT’S WHAT HE WAS DOING /TOO/ OH MY GOSH/”
The First Dude wasn’t sure what he was doing but that was no reason to just beat him up and waste the time you find so valuable to FIGHT HIM and then go fix things USE YOUR WORDS
Two Guns Angry Man found a weapons cache and he’s like HA HA and he’s got one of the guns and the nice girl with blue hair goes forward like ‘ooh’ and picks up a gun and Hot Chick is like ‘I don’t think so’ and takes it from her and then starts giving orders I hate her already
I HATE her.

Like the blue haired girl has done nothing to indicate she doesn’t know what she’s doing or is in any way irresponsible and hot chick isn’t even going ‘we put these back until we figure things out’ she’s just like ‘no you can’t have it I’m taking it’

“Expecting trouble?” “HOPIN'” brother you’ve been awake for five minutes chill
Also Two Guns Angry Man doesn’t seem like he’s gonna be the leader anymore I think he’s the Jayne but without the likability
okAY so Asian guy is the weapons expert and that’s cool and all but they also didn’t show him waking up while they showed literally everyone else so that’s just a goof on their part if he’s not a red shirt
The only character with common sense so far just let the dumbest character walk off on his own because he was like ‘ooh i wonder if I can fly this side-pod’
He called another woman they found in cryosleep ‘sweetcakes’ nobody calls anybody sweetcakes that’s not a thing – OH SHE’S THE ANDROID CHARACTER the one good thing in this whole dumb show really I’m pretty darn sure.
‘Is somebody gonna die?’ asks the wide-eyed blue-haired girl LADY THE HOT CHICK ISN’T gOD HOW WOULD SHE KNOW
how dumb are you
now he’s calling the hot chick ‘dollface’ also taGGING NAMES LIKE THAT ONTO THE END OF EVERY SENTENCE DOESN’T HELP ANYTHING /or/ MAKE YOU COOL it just sounds awkward. Nobody talks like that
Okay I’m done with it I can’t do it”

THE END.

I made it 13 minutes.

Note: Over the course of my life I’ve had people say “Watching movies with you would be SO MUCH FUN.” And I’m here to say – it depends on the movie. Or show. And also this is why I have a hard time finding anything to watch. 
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9 thoughts on “How to Spot Bad Writing When It’s Shooting You in the Face: A Commentary”

  1. I watched 3 episodes of this about a year ago. My recollection was the first episode wasn’t very good but I always give first episodes a pass and then I sorta enjoyed the next two. I still wasn’t loving the show but I didn’t hate it enough to quit so it stayed on my list but then I sorta forgot about it and haven’t watched it since. Plus knowing the show got canceled tends to kill my motivation – I like to know I’m at least heading toward a resolution… So yeah…

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  2. The show was a slow burn. I actually enjoyed it up till the end of season 3. The acting gets a bit better, and once you get to know the characters you’ll start to be like, “Oohhhh that makes more sense …” I mean, a little more sense anyway.

    BUT it’s no Firefly or Farscape. The plot hooks are fairly predictable. There are a few “Oh snap” moments of realization.

    I’d never give the show a 5 out or 5, but it’s one of those shows where “I watched all of the Agents of Shield, Supernatural, Full Metal Alchemist, Flash, Green Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow … I guess that’ll work.”

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  3. Wow, know I feel slightly less critical . . . maybe . . . not really. Sometimes I’m just too lazy to delineate why I think something is terrible, I just “feel” its terrible and move on . . . sometimes. Other times I drive my siblings bonkers.
    I think this is part of why I’m not much of a t.v. person. The writing level is poor and stretching of too little content for too many seasons with too many episodes. I’ve been using a free trial of Hulu and watching some shows; I’ve learned from previous binge-watching that I cannot just plow straight through the seasons without hating everyone and everything by the end. So I tried using Wikipedia and selectively picking. Still got fed up. I just feel that t.v. shows rely on crisis after crisis often with a basic formula (even for sitcoms which is what I’ve been watching; 6-7 break-ups for basically the same reason between the same people gets REALLY boring) to prolong the show.

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