Monday, March 16, 2009


Oh the drama. Forget about reality shows with ex-B-rated-celebrities going through rehab and storming drunkenly out of videotaped group therapy sessions, or some woman punching the crap out of her housemate because they mistakenly ate her strawberry banana yogurt. I’m talking about a special whose only purpose should have been to garner the facts behind an event that has already taken place. Should be pretty straightforward, right?


Late one night, I found a one-hour show on some 3-digit cable channel about Flight 1549. You know…the plane that landed in the Hudson, with the hero pilot that saved all 155 passengers and crew? Yeah, that Flight 1549.

So. We all know how the story ends? I mean, it was fact…not fiction….and it had a happy ending. That’s my kind of story…yes, indeed. Being the incredibly visual person that I am, I’m not a big fan of the news on television. The replays of tragic events play out like an endless-loop movie in my head. So, it’s not surprising that I’d missed a lot of the media coverage of the aftermath of this miraculous event. Already knowing the positive outcome, I’d looked forward to hearing the interviews from passengers and eyewitnesses…and I figured the truth was as much drama as any group of writers would need…yes?

Evidently, no.

They began the show with a timer in the lower right hand corner of the screen…this displayed the number of minutes until IMPACT.


From this point on, I can only presume that the writers were told to address the dialogue of the voiceover-guy to an audience that was unaware that these events had actually taken place…something I found to be infuriatingly annoying. It took them a good twenty minutes to cover the story from take-off to water-landing, including two commercial breaks where the voiceover-guy would ominously announce “THEY WERE RUNNING OUT OF TIME. THE ODDS WERE ONE IN A BILLION THAT ANYONE FROM THIS FLIGHT WOULD SURVIVE…..”

Cut to commercial for cholesterol-reducing medication.

The thing is, we were intermittently watching interviews with some of the passengers. They were calm, concise…and quite obviously alive. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was supposed to be on the edge of my seat, waiting to see whether the people talking about what they’d been through…survived….to tell people what they’d been through.

Wait. What?

It’s like when I watch those mystery-who-done-it shows, where the wife dies and the husband is suspected of her murder. (This is merely a random example.) They interview the wife’s family and friends…and then they interview the husband (in the present) and we get to hear his side of the story. Of course, he says he’s innocent. What kills me (pun intended) is that they still expect the viewer to hang in there through the rest of the criminal/forensics investigation and the trial of the accused hubby…all the while wondering if he gets convicted of the crime, or walks off scot-free. (Note to self: Google the origins of the phrase scot-free…)

Anyone who’s paying attention should have picked up on the orange prison garb the hubby was wearing during the interview…or, sometimes they have on street clothes…but there’s that burly-looking guard standing behind them, or a drab institution-like scene surrounding them. I’ve yet to see someone interviewed in their living room that wound up being convicted 20 minutes later on the show.

But I digress.

The plane lands safely in the Hudson. (Phew!) Now the timer changes from minutes to IMPACT, to minutes to SINKING.

Aw, geez.

Again, after one passenger’s interview where she proclaims “Here we’ve survived this crash and I’m wondering if we’re now going to drown”…voiceover-guy says “FIVE MINUTES IN THE ICY WATERS WILL SURELY MEAN DEATH FOR EVERYONE ON BOARD.”

Cut to commercial for erectile dysfunction.

And so, even though I’m the most visual of learners…I think I’ll stick with print media. As we all know, there’s only so much drama that can be conveyed with the written word.

I’m forever grateful for that.

Anonymous said...

I know what you're saying. Instead of letting the drama of the event itself be the theme of the story, they exploited it and ruined it.

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