Tuesday, February 15, 2011
saw and order
n., the collection of plot devices and time-worn cliches frequently employed by procedural legal/police television shows
Examples include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:
a) the classic good-cop bad cop gambit
b) the shadowy Internal Affairs investigator
c) always just missing being able to trace a call by mere seconds
d) when the judge says "I'll allow it, but tread lightly counselor ..."
e) overuse of cop jargon ("perp," "skel," "I need a bus")
f) the job's workaholic nature and the tendency to take one's work home
g) lab scientists and technicians only being able to speak in highbrow. scientific terms and force the layperson detective/attorney/agent to look confused and say "In english?"
h) the dreaded psychological assessment after a shooting (also must call all mental health professionals "shrinks)
i) the two-handed lapel shake of a suspect up against a brick or concrete wall
j) a maverick yet successful cop/crimesolver locking horns with a straight-laced, by the book supervisor, but ultimately coming to a grudging and heartwarming acceptance of each other's
k) deus ex machina -- the highly improbable "god out of a machine" endings that either save of the day or defy all probability
l) eating a hot dog at a busy streetside stand
m) Continuing to "work" a case after being suspended or taken off the case
n) Melodramatic "turf war" between cops/lawyers from competing jurisdictions/agencies
o) Visiting a retired cop to have another look at an old case
Don't get me wrong. I love cop and courtroom shows. In fact, I watch several of them a week. But, they typically don't stray too far from many of the time-honored tools of the trade.