1. Crawling in duct work. This mistake drives me nuts because I used to be a facility manager. To begin with, ducts aren’t made to support the weight of a person or persons. They’re suspend from the ceiling or beams by thin strips of metal. With one or two people inside, they would come crashing down. On TV, they appear to be 16X16 which is big. Ducts work like this, they come out of a furnace or air handler and progressively downsize as they supply heat or AC to a room. A duct vent in a room could be 12X4 – hardly big enough to crawl inside. They’re also filled with things like filters, smoke dampers and fire dampers. Just once I would like to see our hero fall into the furnace.
2. Unlimited ammo. Writers are getting better at this, but there’re still scenes where our hero never runs out of ammo.
3. Super lightweight machinegun ammo. This one is a little complicated. In the scene, our hero grabs a machinegun and begins killing hordes of zombies or whatever. So far so good. If he/she grabbed a M249 light machine gun (LMG), it weighs only 22 lbs. The ammo is the standard light 5.56x45mm NATO round. The M249 can fire 725-rounds per minute. If our hero carries 200 rounds of ammo, that’s about 7.2 lbs. That means he/she can shoot for about 15 seconds. But does our hero pick up the M249? NO. Our hero picks up a M61 Vulcan, a hydraulically driven, six-barrel, Gatling-style rotary cannon which fires 20 mm rounds at a rate of 6,000 rounds per minute. Our hero would need a wagon or truck to carry enough ammo for one minute, and they’re heavy.
4. Instant hacks. The crime TV shows give the impression that computer nerds can hack anything instantly. Not true. I expect to see a show where the electric tooth brush gets hacked.
5. High speed transportation local and international with no jet lag. I know you’ve seen this one. Our hero has 48 hours to stop the criminal master mind before a weapon of mass (WMD) destruction is detonated in NYC. To stop the master mind, our hero must first fly to Moscow to locate the master mind’s partner, then fly to Antarctica to get the code book needed to defuse the WMD, then return to NYC during rush hour to save the city – all within 48 hours. Yeah, right.
6. Licking cooking spoon. This one I love. The scene is in the kitchen. The world renown chef is cooking something on the stove. He takes a spoon, tastes whatever is in the pot and places the germ-infested spoon with all his DNA and other bodily fluids back into the pot. No way. No professional chef would risk food poisoning or salmonella. I love to cook and even I know better than to do that.
7. Noise in space. Here’s another one that drives me nuts. In outer space, there’s no air. To make sound there must be air or something to transmit the sound. So why do we watch a space craft soar by with a roaring engine? It wouldn’t happen.
8. Ear buds not detected. I enjoy watching TV shows like Scorpion, Quantico and Agents of Shield. If you are a fan, you know when the agents go undercover they use ear buds that transmit and receive so they can communicate. Everyone knows that. So why is it that the mega-corporate outfits that are behind all the evil in the world never bother to check in their ears when they do a pat down? Surely, at least one employee has a TV and watches the shows.
9. Cellphone reception. This is like the ear bud scenes above. Our hero is underground in a cave or under water in a submarine. He/she pulls out a cellphone and makes a call. WTF? I can’t even get reception in an elevator.
10. Giving away the conspiracy. I think screenwriters do this for the audience. It happens in two ways: The criminal mastermind explains his/her plan or the detectives explain their theory. You know the scenes. The mastermind is about to kill our hero. But before killing, he decides to explain to our hero his entire manifesto for world domination and enslaving mankind. Why? Because he like to hear himself talk, I guess. In the second scene, the detectives bring in their prime suspect, and during the interrogation revel to the suspect their working theory and all the evidence they have so far. Why? Because they’re stupid. I guess they think the suspect will confess on the spot.
11. Liars. On TV crime shows every suspect, person of interest and witness is lying. Really? Has society sunk that low?
I hope these tips help your budding screenwriters. Best wishes.
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