Every "universe", whether it's the real one we're living in, or one made up for fiction, has its own set of rules. You can comfortably sink into a story and let it sweep you away, because you know how it's supposed to work and you don't need to spend brain power trying to determine how it's possible. This is why, especially in television shows where the universe is a little bit different, it's important to establish those rules right away, and STICK to them.
Joss Whedon, I may be talking to YOU here.
An interesting point was brought up this past week, while discussing the latest episode of Dollhouse called "Belle Chose". As fans, we can take the concept of vampires, esteemed geishas, people with programmed personalities and run with them. But screw with something like a GPS locator, and we flip.
I think it comes down to the established rules in the show's mythos, established “rules” in the real world, and where they clash… with a bit of liberty thrown in for expedience of telling a story.
If the rules for raising a demon, or whatever made-up procedure, are already established, and then the show breaks those rules simply to provide a plot point, people are going to cry BS. I think the problem with the tech in Dollhouse is that there are viewers who KNOW how GPS works, know how computers work, know how data streaming over wireless networks works, etc. The main objective of all this tech, wiping people’s brains, may be made up… but they’re wrapping it in familiar technology and trying to treat the familiar with the same cavalier attitude they used with the “mystical technology” of Joss’ previous shows.
Unfortunately, people are too familiar with real-world tech to be able to get away with it. And if I’m able to spot little holes like these, I can’t imagine how crazy it must make, say, someone who went to MIT.
Can we send Joss to ITT tech? I mean, seriously.
I remember an episode of Angel (maybe) where someone spilled a cup of coffee on a computer keyboard. This somehow magically caused sparks to fly from the CPU, and if I'm remembering correctly, tripped the breaker, plunging the hotel into darkness.
No. Just... no.
I think that it's extremely telling that while I can remember that incident with clarity, I can't remember what the episode was about. I can't even say for sure it was Angel, it may have been Buffy, although I doubt it. The reason I remember it so clearly? It totally slammed me out of the story. I couldn't think of anything after that but the gaffe.
I was reminded of all this quite vividly with this crap about a missing GPS strip from Victor. I realize this was all a setup so that Topher would have a reason to attempt something as potentially dangerous as a remote mind-wipe. I realize that attempting this is one step on the road that leads us to the events of the unaired episode, "Epitaph One" (viewable on the DVD set or for a fee from Amazon Unbox) I really get that.
But unfortunately, if you use real-world tech, you have to abide by real-world rules. If you have giga-quads of data LIVE streaming from an active in the form of heartrate, respiration, and brainwave patterns, then these actives have some form of tech still in their bodies. You can't tell me that someone, somehow, FORGOT to add the GPS locator, but added back all the other tech. And if it was removed for dermal reconstruction of Victor's face (which is doubtful in itself) then the rest would have needed to be removed also. Which it obviously wasn't. And you can't tell me that it's not possible to somehow stream all that biological information without being able to tell where it's coming from.
If the cops in '95 can track a cell phone making a call to within one city block on "Without a Trace", then Topher and his magical mystery machines can track down an active, with or without a damn "GPS strip" as long as they're still receiving data.
That's my TV gripe of the week.