The Last Dirt Scout

***Spoiler Warning: this unrelated review spoils the opening scene – and just the opening scene – of the 1991 film The Last Boy Scout, as well as various parts of the second episode of Dirt. Proceed at your own peril.***
The film The Last Boy Scout opens with a teary football player in the locker room, talking on the phone. He’s talking with someone who is a major fixer of football games, and this guy plans to do something heinous (I forget what… I think he had some member of the player’s family hostage, or somesuch) unless the player goes out and scores that extra goal and wins the game or covers the spread or whatever the fixer needs. So the player heads out on the field, the play starts… and he pulls out a handgun. In a visually impressive scene, he then runs down the field carrying the ball and shooting anyone who comes at him, until he lands in the end zone and shoots himself.
Quite a stunning scene, yes… but completely undercut by the idiocy of the set-up. For someone putting such work into his criminal enterprise, the crook needs to go back to school:

  • Sports 101: Sports players by default want to score and win.
  • Game-fixing 101: The way to fix a game is to make the players who are expected to win to want to lose. You don’t need to convince the folks who are expected to lose to want to win (see Sports 101).

I expect that the people who made this film actually knew this, but chose to ignore that because they needed the ridiculous set-up for the cool scene they had in mind. Wasn’t worth it. It’s not worth making your concept look ridiculous for the one moment you have in mind. I don’t adhere strictly to the “kill your darlings” school of writing, but you certainly can’t afford to let your darlings hold you back.
And thus we return to the Courntey Cox series Dirt. The pilot episode had a few “well, that seems rather unlikely” moments, such as finding out that Cox’s character had suddenly been named the editor of two different celebrity-focused magazines, or that the key (and seemingly only) papparazi photographer for the sleazier of the mags used a film-based camera (an unlikelihood given the need for speed of use of such photographs; time lost to processing pictures would seem a severe liabilty in the modern sleaze scene when digital photographers can have a picture not only shot but shipped off and received by a publication in minutes.)
But the reasons for both these awkward set-ups became apparent in the second episode. The photographer’s life was complicated by film developing problems. Cox made the radical suggestion of merging two magazines into one. These were the moments that appear to have driven the silly aspects of the set-up… and achieving them wasn’t worth making the series seem silly. I don’t think I’ll be returning to this show.
(And just to make it more galling – Cox didn’t need to be the editor of both magazines in order to suggest that they be merged. The politics inside the publishing company are supposed to be part of the series, and a certain heartlessness is key to Cox’s character. So wouldn’t it have been a more dramatic move for her to suggest merging someone else’s magazine into her, killing someone else’s mag to build up her own?)

Published in: on January 15, 2007 at 4:00 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Lets see if this comment makes it through… the anti-spam plugin hasn’t been kind to me.

    The merger really didn’t sit well with me since I wanted to see more of the Drrt:Stick::Now:Carrot bit, since that does reflect the way magazine publishers are now. (That Nick Lachey US Weekly cover comes to mind, which he claims was promised to be a Rolling Stone cover, but when Rolling Stone found a better cover image they let their sister mag use it. Something like that could be more interesting if it were the same person making the trade.)

    What’s got me hooked on Dirt is the cynicism. Having grown pretty tired of the Entourages out there, Dirt is a suitable anecdote. Plus, I’m one of the few who finds Lucy Spiller a compelling character, she seems so dead inside, probably because she’s part of a system she absolutely hates but can’t leave it either.

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