Believe It Or Not

It’s time for Friday Fancies and I’ve been thinking about excitement vs. believability.  Every work of fiction demands at least some degree of willing suspension of disbelief.  The more fantastical the story, the more suspension required.  There is a line, however, and if the creator of the plot crosses it, he or she could shatter that bubble the audience has been happily maintaining.

Where is that line?  I’m sure it varies depending on the genre and story, and of course everyone has their own personal preferences.  The example I’m going to use is from the series premiere of Terra Nova, a television show about humans traveling from a dying future earth to prehistoric times in order to start over.  There are quite a few things the audience is going to have to take the story creators’ word on.  Hey, these people are living with dinosaurs; how awesome is that?


Warning, I’m going to talk in detail about one of the last scenes in the episode, though I won’t be giving any plot arcs away.

In this episode, one of the things that happens is a group of teenagers sneak outside the perimeter to have some fun.  They get stranded and attacked by slashers–mean dinosaurs with tails that could slice you in half.  They manage to take cover in a rover, but the power cell is dead and they still can’t escape.  One of the girls has a panic attack and decides to make a run for it, despite her friends trying to hold her back.  And she runs right into a couple slashers.  *Cue commercial*

Think the girl dies?  Commercial ends and the rescue convoy finds her staggering through the jungle bleeding to death.  That’s where they lose me.  Sure, a girl getting ripped up by dinosaurs is exciting.  It gets the heart pumping, the pulse racing.  You’re wondering whether she’s going to make it or not.  Here’s the thing–she shouldn’t have.  No predator is ever going to let their wounded prey simply limp away into the night.  In Jurassic Park, the characters were often saved by a bigger and badder predator coming in and eating the attacking dinosaur, but that’s not what happened here.

I’m not saying I wanted the girl to die.  I probably wouldn’t want to watch the show if that were the case.  But having her run off into the night to get slashed up a bit for excitement’s sake and then easily escape death by digestion feels like it crosses that line of believability.  At least for me.

So I pose the question to you guys: Where do you draw the line?  What kinds of things pull you out of the story?  What kinds of things are you willing to forgive?  If you watched the episode, did this bother you, or did you gloss over it, engrossed in the excitement?  I love hearing from you!

I’ve also got a mash-up of some very thoughtful posts for you.

Have I mentioned I can be a total douchebag?” by Natalie Hartford–Natalie talks about how competitive attitudes can ruin good ole fun.

Please Don’t Close Your Eyes, Because I Can’t See Your Soul” by Diana Murdock–The eyes are the window to the soul that cannot lie, so what does that mean for interaction on social media?

Why Busy People Need Poetry” by Alina Sayre–Btw, Alina’s one of my besties and she’s new to the blogosphere, so hop on over and wish her a warm welcome.  🙂

Are You Hungry Enough?” by Marcia Richards–Marcia talks about what happens to dreams put on the shelf.

Wander Off Trail” by Kate MacNicol–You never know what you might find.  Kate found alien babies in the woods.

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Studying the Behaviors of the Criminally Inclined” by Tiffany A. White–Tiffany reviews one of my favorite TV shows: Criminal Minds.  If you don’t already watch it, she’ll tell you all the reasons why you should.

13 comments on “Believe It Or Not

  1. Hartford says:

    Thanks for the fahhhbulous shout out! 🙂

    I absolutely get where you are coming from. Strangely enough, I have found it’s easier to believe the unbelievable in books, especially if they have great characters etc. I just read Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series and it was “out” there but I bought it hook line and sinker cause the suspense and character building was so incredible.

    I find TV shows and movies – it gets trickier – it gets easier to discount it as unbelievable and kind of ruin the show. I loved the show LOST but towards the end, it got so insane, it was getting hard to buy into it and stick it out.

  2. Stacy Green says:

    I watched the episode, and the girl getting hurt was predictable. I think the show has promise, but like Natalie said, it’s easier to write things off in movies/shows as predictable. Stuff like that interrupts your focus on the movie.

  3. Marcia says:

    Hey, Angela, thanks for including me in your awesome mashup! I agree with Natalie, with TV shows the writing is not always as stellar as it should be. I think there may be alot going on that we aren’t aware of…censorship, money issues, misreading their target audience, and who knows what else affects what gets on air. I watch very little television these days and can’t compare to this to anything better. I think that, if you come to love the characters and the show’s premise, it’s easier to let an unbelievable scene slip by now and then.

  4. I’m with Natalie on this one – I am a forgiving reader. Book can be high fantasy, with weird twists and totally unexpected and less-believable happenings, as long as the voice is great and the plot and characters are well crafted. But if I see the same on the screen, I most likely cringe. I don’t watch very many shows and definitely not the fantasy ones. Although I love good fantasy and sci-fi movies.

  5. I agree with you Angela, this episode might have made me roll my eyes. I would also wonder if they were going to use the injured girl in another episode — maybe someone or something is outside the perimeter has the ability to save her? Now that might be good but a little predictable too…

    One rule I try to stick by in writing is not to use the first twist that comes to mind… it is often the most predictable. Go deeper! Terra Nova take note. LOL

    Thanks for the blog mention!

  6. Alina Sayre says:

    Thanks for including me in your mashup, Angela! Lots to learn about this brave new world of blogging…

  7. You all raise an interesting point about books being easier to swallow than TV and movies. Perhaps that’s why I’m so compartmentalized in my interests. I love fantasy/urban fantasy in books, but rarely watch it in TV and movies (unless the movie is based on a book). I didn’t know why before, but maybe it’s that believability issue.

  8. I didn’t think of that one- TV and movies suck me in pretty easily, but I did catch other things. I’m willing to go along with a lot for the sake of a good story- or a really hot actor, but it has to be “real” as in enough ground work has been laid down and the rules of the created world clear and followed.
    An example- I love The Lost Boys- but the sequeals suck and they suck hard. One reason they didn’t follow the rules of the first movie- which all of us die hard fans know- by heart. So as long as you follow the rules, and keep it “real” I’m a happy camper and hey maybe the dinos didn’t like her perfume- but let us know.

    • Hey Alica, yes! Following the rules is definitely important. I’ve seen several TV shows, even fantastic ones, that broke the rules laid out in the first season. And yeah, as a fan I definitely remembered and noticed.

  9. T.F.Walsh says:

    I watched episode one last week and I totally love the show… hoping it continues to be good. But when I was a bit ‘ah that’s typical’ when the girl ran out of the car – I mean given the situation, who does that? But agree, the survival feels a bit forced to me. I mean how did she escape??? I had the same thoughts.

    • Exactly, T.F. And how come with the Sixers, the slashers killed them with the first slice, yet they miss critical arteries and such with three teenagers? Those are some incompetent dinosaurs. No wonder they went extinct. 😉

      Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Chihuahua0 says:

    I also had the savvy to know she was going to be hurt. First of all, someone always gets hurt in that type of situation. So I narrowed it down to the girl with a darkish skin tone…two strikes, huh.

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