Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Can't scriptwriters do a little research?

I find it annoying when scriptwriters don't bother to check out basic facts. It is one thing to take license with historical facts for the sake of a story, but it is quite another when they make absurd errors.

Normally I wouldn't comment on such things but recently I had two different television shows running while working on the computer. And both of them made silly errors.

Both are shows that I enjoy quite a bit, which is doubly disappointing. In "Mr. Monk and the Marathon Man" a woman is murdered but the prime suspect was in a marathon race at the time of the death and his computer chip proves he passed one check-point after another. One of the other runners is a supposed famed marathon runner of the past named Tonday, from Africa. Tonday uses the word "amandla" with Monk. Monk is then told this means "courage." But amandla does NOT mean courage, it means "power," which is quite different.

In a rerun of Bones, "The Man in the Fallout Shelter" a body from the 1950s is discovered in a fallout shelter. Zack cuts into the bones and it releases spores into the air which set off the bio-hazard alarm. Because Zack and Hodges were exposed to the spores, and the rest of the team were exposed to Zack and Hodges, they are all quarantined together over Christmas. And, while there is much to say for this episode there is a huge flaw in the story.

The fungus to which Hodges and Zack were exposed is Coccidioides immitis, a fungus that causes Valley Fever. One might ask how a man in a Washington, DC fallout shelter had been exposed to Valley Fever, given that it is a fungus endemic in the American South West and not the DC area. As the show goes along it becomes clear that the victim was from Oklahoma. But Oklahoma tends not to be a location for the fungus.

But that is relatively small in importance. We can pretend he was exposed someplace else. The major problem is that Valley Fever is NOT contagious. No one would be put into quarantine because of exposure to the fungus.

That's a good thing too since it is generally assumed that about half of all people in places like California, Arizona and other nearby states have been exposed to the fungus.

At one point of the episode Dr. Brennan sneezes and her FBI partner, Seeley Booth and Brennan both get horrified looks on their faces. Sneezing is not one of the symptoms of Valley Fever.

These are small things, but to quote a proverb, "the little foxes spoil the vine."