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Guina
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Plotholes
Aug 29th, 2010 at 5:39am
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Hi,

due to the recent discussion about Foster and why he brought the Psychobombing lady into HQ, I would like to talk about plotholes in the filmed episodes and how one can or should or possibly shouldn't deal with them.

It happens throughout the series that we get a situation A, with characters being somewhere or doing something and then directly afterwards we have a situation B, with characters somewhere else or being in a different state of mind/health etc..

That's the natural consequence of a variety of things, the most notable being:

1) the hole is there on purpose (to save screen time)
2) the hole can't be avoided (e.g. because filming techniques weren't up to it)
3) the hole is the result of cutting (of script or the filmed material)
4) the hole is the result of sloppy planning or writing

Now let's have a look at these plotholes. Those of type 1 are easy. E.g. we have such a one in Kill Straker, where the action switches from Moonbase to HQ at some point.

We are not told how the characters go from Moonbase to HQ, so we have choices of how that may have happened:

- via SHADO shuttle
- via NASA transport
- via an alien ship
- via a Russian capsule

That's just naming a few which actually do occur throughout the series. Theoretically any of them could be how the characters go from moon to earth.

However, logically there can be only one solution: an uneventful SHADO shuttle flight. Why that? Well, "uneventful" because we are not seeing any problems after the change of place, and "SHADO shuttle" because anything else would have been noteworthy (for the characters) under the current circumstances of the story then.

Now, we could discuss back an forth here, that the other options are equally valid, have been used before to convey people from moon to earth or vice versa etc etc.. But there's just one solution which fits the logic of the plot and the acting to be seen in that plot.

Let's look at a plothole of type 2 and where this leads us. Such a one is e.g. in evidence in Subsmash. The rescue of the Commander and Nina is not filmed. We see them dying from suffocation in one take and in the next take both are laughing and smoking in a hospital room. Huge gap, I mean that one is truly very large.

All we get told is what Straker says Alec did (blow the submarine off the shelf), we don't see it at all. The reason why we don't get to see the actual rescue is easy to pinpoint, the techniqual and financial means of Anderson's production company were not up to a (believable) filming of that underwater rescue. So he didn't and resorts to have a character simply say what happened.

That's no problem to the plotline, what Straker says is a logical explanation, hence we do accept it. And that even though again there are quite a few alternative possibilities.

Now let's look at plotholes 3 and 4. I lump them together because it is not easy to discern which is which simply from looking at the end result. What looks like sloppy writing or planning may simply be the result of a cutter having to pare down to an exact running time and cutting a vital piece of information to do so.

Such a plothole (rather several of them) undeniably is the discussed end scene of Psychobombs. We get a few others like that sprinkled across the 26 episodes. E.g. ESP has a few, as has the Cat with ten lives or Ordeal.

So, let's look at this end scene again. It does have massive problems, because

- the woman gets into the most secure building on the planet
- she gets out of her detention cell without trouble
- HQ doesn't explode even though the situation appears to be the same as with the other bombs

Of course, and that is really glaring, all of the above is not as it ought to be. The writers ought to have come up with a fluent and believable climax of the plot instead of what was filmed in the end. My (very personal) take on this is that it's likely they did so much on location filming for that episode that somehow they lost track of time and storyline, the whole episode appears to be slightly rushed in looks. In the end the real reason doesn't matter, it indeed just as well may have been a sloppy script.

Back to the plotline though. We have Foster with the lady in the park and we need to go from there to the resolution of the episode, which entails that a climax happens, that HQ still is unharmed, the lady dealt with and the mind-controlling UFO destroyed.

So how to get the lady into HQ? She's no female James Bond or Rambo, she also has no scheme like the bomb before her (appropriating the skin off the fingers of a SHADO exec and replacing him) the obvious solution for her is to peruse Foster in some way. He has access.

As a result we see her "seduce" Foster (in the park) and have him end up in a bewildered state in HQ with the lady along, telling the Commander that he does not know why that happened.

How to interpret this? Well, I contend that here the viewer needs to think about what is the intention behind characters and their actions to fill the empty spaces around this part of the plot.

Would it be logical for someone as thoroughly trained as Foster is, to knowingly forget procedures? Is that likely? Is it likely that a man known to be a rather experienced, quite jaded womanizer to fall for the beauty of a girl to such an extent that he forgets procedures? Really likely, especially as we know he did not compromise SHADO towards beautiful girlfriends before? Or is it more likely that we get to see the girl manipulated several times by the UFO and then have Foster act curiously? What is the most likely reason why he takes a girl along who is under alien control? With the UFO up in the air and "radioing" the girl at the same time?

The above is what we have to go by, plus the dazed behaviour of Foster, plus him saying he doesn't know why he brought her in.

The real question is what the aims of the characters are, what the meaning behind the plot is. Is the meaning really to tell the audience that Foster is so led around by his dick that he shouldn't be on SHADO's payroll at all? Or that he is too inexperienced (after some 20+ episodes and a rather pro way he dealt with the situation prior to that plothole)? All of this is possible. But is it likely? And is it what the makers of UFO wanted us to believe? A dickhead, incompetent Foster would take down Straker as well, as the latter steadfastly is holding him up.

The next plothole is the girl leaving the cell. We've been shown before how the bombs are very strong and able to open doors. We've seen Foster behave in a daze as he wouldn't else. The filming leaves it to us to imagine how she gets out. There are at least 2 valid possibilities, so I do not see a problem there.

However, the next one is the failure to explode. And that one indeed is a biggie over which I stumbled the first time watching the episode, because it happens so fast.

We do get however two things: the electricity in HQ goes down (which it didn't for the prior bombs) and the UFO is shot down (however, we get told about this AFTER the deed).

As it is filmed and cut together, the explanation can only be that the girl lost her status as a bomb when the UFO was destroyed (similar to how Jim Regan becomes normal again when the cat is killed by the dogs). Why else would Straker be asked about this and confirm it once again? It's certainly not elegant, but again the most logical solution and the only one which is in line with how such situations were solved in episodes without any plotholes.

So to me there is the question left of how to deal with plotholes. Do we interpret them? Is it better to be willing to provide the most likely chain of events? Is there a need to look at the rest of the series and at the aim of characters? Are we willing to stay true to the purpose of characters? How important is a plot which leaves nothing to doubt?

Personally, and that's purely my opinion now, I think that the glass ought to be half full there, rather than half empty. I watch any SF with suspension of disbelief. Else I'd find it extremely silly. I am willing to fill most plotholes in the most likely, logical manner which stays true to the intention behind characters and story. I do not easily take down a character because the director or screenwriter inadvertantly have him/her behave silly once (due a plothole deus ex machina) - as opposed to usually behaving competently. And last but not least, I don't hold people, that includes TV producers and their crew, to an impossible standard of perfection. Nobody's perfect.

And a nice site to start doing this is here:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/UFO

  Wink
  
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Guina
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Re: Plotholes
Reply #1 - Aug 29th, 2010 at 6:18am
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Hi again,

actually, after watching the whole episode this morning again, I find two other plotholes much more disconcerting:

1. Why isn't Straker killed right away by Clark? Easiest way, no need for any ultimatum.

2. The way that Mason takes off the fingerprints they ought to have been inversed.

Of course Straker can't be killed or the series wouldn't go on, but that point is the one which stretches my will to disbelief actually most.
  
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Lightcudder
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Re: Plotholes
Reply #2 - Aug 29th, 2010 at 7:24am
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Morning Guina.. a very deep and thoughtful post! 0813 hours here as well. so.
Plot holes. I must admit I don't watch Psychobombs often, or when I do I tend to 'half-watch' simply because the ideas are badly presented.
as you say there are major plot holes and for someone as pernickety as me..( and you know how pernickety I can be!) it gets annoying and I feel like shouting at the screen...
I can accept that the girl uses some form of control over Foster. It is the only logical explanation for his actions, and indeed I have always thought along those lines, but the end.. where Straker tells her that the UFO has been destroyed.. is he bluffing?
How does he know? sheer guesswork? ESP .
It always smacked of desperation on the part of the scriptwriters.

Most of the rest of the plot holes can be reasoned away, but that  one sems to have no justification, no thought behind why Straker said what he did.... unless it was to try to appeal to her 'inner self' as he did with Craig Collins... and we saw where that ended up. Straker having to kill COllins. So why did he not kill the girl as well.. isn't her armed? Not sure. Damn.
Guess what i am going to have to do today.

Watch Psychobombs, Angry

I'll report back later!
  

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Lightcudder
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Re: Plotholes
Reply #3 - Aug 31st, 2010 at 7:32am
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I suppose no one in 1970 ever thought that we would be doing this right now... dissecting the stories! and of course there was no opportunity to video/record the episodes. You watched them with bated breath and it was only afterwards that you might, just might think to yourself..hey? why did that happen.
Plot holes .. I had one in Break Time. I couldn't work out what the hell the aliens were intending to do with Straker, as they wouldn't have been able to take him back to their own time frame. So I wrote this! A cop out, yes, but it worked!

I wonder why the alien simply didnt kill you when he saw you out on the studio stages? Ginny Lake mused.
Straker looked at her. I think he was probably trying to get the command codes from me. Or perhaps just to remove me permanently from SHADO. He wouldnt have been able to take me back to the normal time frame. He sipped his water. Well never know.
It doesnt really matter does it? Rachel murmured, youre back here, with us, with me, and she smiled at him


Wiful suspension of disbelief.. is that the term? Whatever, I don't mind some plot holes, but others, drive me mad!
  • Flight Path. I can't work out how they know it is Dawson! Angry
    Kill Straker.. how the hell has Foster concealed that gun in that tight, tight uniform without someone seeing it! ..snigger! Shocked

and there are others. But I don't let it spoil my enjoyment of the series, and that is the main thing. Grin
Really enjoyed your detailed analysis Guina. Smiley
  

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MkIXHawk
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Re: Plotholes
Reply #4 - Aug 31st, 2010 at 8:21am
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Lightcudder wrote on Aug 31st, 2010 at 7:32am:
  • Flight Path. I can't work out how they know it is Dawson! Angry
    Kill Straker.. how the hell has Foster concealed that gun in that tight, tight uniform without someone seeing it! ..snigger! Shocked

and there are others. But I don't let it spoil my enjoyment of the series, and that is the main thing. Grin
Really enjoyed your detailed analysis Guina. Smiley



I think Flight Path was mis-edited - someone mixed up the clips - they might have been pressed for time.

As for Foster and the Gun...


Captain Jack Harkness managed to conceal one... Shocked
  
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