Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Lampshading the idiot ball

Now this is a fun site, though I warn you it’s easy to lose an afternoon exploring it:


Hit the random item button for best results.

Some of these tropes are well known, Jumping The Shark is in fairly common usage these days. If you’re mystified it refers to the moment in a long-running TV series when the makers try to liven it up with a ridiculous stunt/event. This is a sign that the series has lost its way and will never be as good again. So a show that has jumped the shark is in terminal decline. It refers to the startlingly popular ‘70s US sitcom Happy Days and an episode when the main character (the Fonz) did actually jump over a shark while water-skiing. While the show continued to run for at least two more series, it was generally agreed that it had lost its way. There have been recent attempts to replace the phrase with nuking the fridge, a reference to the most recent Indiana Jones film, but I think the shark is here to stay. Meanwhile, the trope Chekov’s Gun (if a gun is mentioned in Act 1 it must be fired by Act 5) is well known in theatre.

Other tropes I found on this site and liked included The Queen’s Latin which references the fact that historical characters nearly always speak with an English accent, and holding the idiot ball which is when an established and normally intelligent character suddenly becomes very stupid for no other reason than to keep the plot going. The Archers seems to be currently going for a complete, never before attempted, 100% of characters holding the idiot ball. One assumes they’re being sponsored. A-Team Shooting refers to the situation where, presumably for ratings reasons, a vast number of shots are fired but no one is ever hit. It refers of course to The A-Team where our heroes were particularly adept at this. Aesops are characters who turn up once solely to make a moral point (the old college roommate who’s now a raging alcoholic for example) and genre blindness is when characters do something the viewers know they should not because of the conventions of the genre they are in. This is not so common now since the Scream films highlighted it. Meanwhile, lamp shading is when the writers get over a major cliché or coincidence in the script by drawing attention to it, sometimes in an ironic post-modern way (‘Well constable, you wouldn’t get away with it in a book, but coincidences do happen in real life you know’).

Watch your favourite programmes with a fresh eye and start collecting them now.

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