Stop it, Sherlock! Five TV tropes that need to die

From eccentric scientists to sexy dead women, television is full of repetitive motifs that must desist immediately

The idiosyncratic pathologist

Where: Sherlock, the cast of Silent Witness, Endeavour

We get it. A pathologist is someone who willingly spends their working day with the dead so must be unusual or offbeat in some way. They cant just be ordinary folk, trying to do a job. No, they must be other and possibly on the spectrum, although its never said. Dr Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox) in Silent Witness is the cool, unemotional bone-kicker with no home life at all. The only place she can find romance is at the office, which rather narrows her options down to fellow whey-faced indoor type Dr Harry Cunningham, a cadaver or a Bunsen burner. Harrys eventual replacement, Jack Hodgson, is also just your run-of-the-mill forensic pathologist and part-time cage fighter. Like normal.


The cast of Silent Witness. Photograph: Jonathan Ford/BBC

Sexy dead women

Where: True Detective and every brooding detective show before or since

If I never see another deceased sex worker, bent over a log with dream-catchers up her bum, itll be too soon. A detective who cant be bothered to open his mouth when he speaks usually examines said stiff while the camera languorously pans up her body to classical music. Can we just call a moratorium on dead women all together? Its a cheap shot to kick off your crime thriller with a hot corpse and is so lacking in imagination and so overused its actually an insult to your audience. Fair enough, a historical drama about a famous serial killer who offed women might need to include the actual women (the BBCs Rillington Place, a recent example), but I think weve done that literally to death now. Serial killers are bad. Consider the topic covered for the time being and move on to a new subject, please.


Matthew McConaughey as Rusty Cohle in True Detective. Photograph: HBO

The in-show recap

Where: Everything shown on a digital channel

And talking of insulting audiences, the extent to which recaps are used during shows on digital channels constantly interrupted by advert breaks, is now off all known charts. Previously in this short paragraph of text, I said that the extent to which recaps are used in television is getting ridiculous and now Im going to say something else pertaining to that. Heres what Im going to say next. The amount of advertising needed to support something on ITV Be about a man who used to be on Towie now requires each new segment to be 50% previously and 49% coming up next leaving 1% of actual new content per segment. So look forward to reading that, and other sentences, after this short break. Ugh.


Previously on The Only Way Is Essex Photograph: ITV

Im going on a journey

Where: Who Do You Think You Are?, all pop docs presented by a celeb

Ever since it dawned on a TV producer that literally any old layperson can present a documentary as long as its couched as a voyage of discovery, weve been buried under an avalanche of these shows, seemingly created by randomiser software. Results range from Stephen Tompkinsons African Balloon Adventure to Robson Crusoe: A Surprising Adventure, in which Robson Green is stranded (for a week) on a paradise island because hes always wanted to do that, not just because his name sounded good in the title. Lets follow him on his spurious, entirely arbitrary journey to see if his journey is what Robson Green hoped it might be. The journey doesnt always have to cross oceans. In fact its better if its an emotional journey, like when Danny Dyer found out he was royalty (sort of) on Who Do You Think You Are. Actually, I make a notable exception for Dyer. He can go on as many journeys as he likes, but everyone else should have their emotive passports revoked for a year.

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