Movies/TV shows set in a location you know well, but obviously not filmed there, or just gets something wrong

So this thread @carrps said:

So I did.

Monk was set in San Francisco. Some establishing shots like Monk’s apartment building were shot there, and I think at least some episodes in season 1 were filmed there. But the rest was filmed in Southern California, which resulted in episodes taking place in suburban neighborhoods full of large houses that look nothing like anything in San Francisco.

And while not related to the actual filming location, Monk totally screws up Bay Area geography as well. In one episode Monk and Natalie are trying to figure out if the killer could have gotten from Richmond to Novato on a motorcycle in time to commit the murder… showing a montage of them riding through downtown San Francisco. If you were trying to get between those two cities as fast as possible that is not the route you would take. And in the episode where Jason Alexander played a rival detective, he suggested that the suspect left via train and says to check Millbrae and San Bruno. Except the only trains in those places are commuter trains that can’t take you any farther than Gillroy. The Amtrak trains are in the East Bay. And then they went to a train station that looked suspiciously like Los Angeles Union Station.

But for shows filmed in locations that look nothing like where they’re supposed to be set, Psych takes the cake. It’s set in Santa Barbara, but obviously filmed in Vancouver. Santa Barbara has a unique look, with lots of Spanish style architecture that looks nothing like Vancouver. But the worst was scenes shot out in the wilderness, in lush Pacific Northwest forests, which look nothing like SoCal.

Shazam- There’s an important scene in the subway. The car shown (jokes about garbage and junkies aside) looks nothing like a SEPTA car.

Rocky- The movie (still beloved her in Philly) has the El running in south philly. The EL runs from northern to cenral Philly.

Yes! If they were in some generic neighborhood maaaaybe (but not really). But the scenes in wilds were completely totally wrong.

There is a series called Chesapeake shores that is so obviously not filed on the Chesapeake that it pisses me off. The geography, flora, the water, everything is wrong. It looks like the Pacific Northwest to me (probably British Columbia).

Then there’s this movie that was NOT filmed in Sitka Alaska, (and obvious to anyone who ever spent time in Sitka)

The scenes in Firefox that were supposedly set in Moscow were actually filmed in Helsinki. This is especially obvious when Eastwood is riding the Metro, which had only one line at the time. (The older parts of the city are frequently used to represent locations inside Russia.)

Cities in the Baltics stood in for London in the Soviet The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series, even though the two are not at all alike. (However, the films themselves are excellent. The actor who played Holmes was even honored by the late QE II.)

There’s a lot of movie/shows set and filmed in Chicago, and I can’t help but notice when they get the trains wrong. Usually a line being on an elevated track when I know that in that area it’s a subway, or connections that don’t exit, or lines directly over a street in a neighborhood where the lines run over alleys.

Shazam was filmed largely here in Toronto, and those subways are the TTC subway cars. I forget if the set photos came out during filming or the articles only started appearing once the movie was out, but the subway map shown onscreen was basically the Toronto one but with other lines added to it. We Torontonians took it as a sad commentary on how sparse our underground system is compared to other major cities of similar size.

My favorite fumbled use of location has to be the misbegotten Highlander III: The Sorcerer, partly because of the effort that went in to other parts of the movie. It’s a globe-trotting story: for the Scotland scenes, they filmed in Scotland. For the Japanese scenes, they filmed in Japan. For The Morocco scenes, they went to Morocco. And for most of the New York City scenes they went to…Montréal. The budget only stretches so far, I guess. My favorite bit is Connor landing at JFK airport and we see all the orange and black “Bienvenue à Montréal” signs in the frame. Sigh.

The first half of the movie Them! is set in the White Sands region of New Mexico. It really doesn’t look like the real White Sands, but they tried. I have to give them points for effort.

However, they did an excellent job reproducing the State Police uniforms. They got lots of small details right: The black-and-gray color scheme, the triangular DPS shoulder patch, the caps where the capband consists of thin leather strips in an open weave pattern, to provide ventilation in hot weather.

The TV show Step by Step takes place in Port Washington, Wisconsin. I grew up in West Bend about 13 miles away. When I was a teen we’d go to Port in the summer to cruise chicks. There is no freaking roller coaster on the shore of Lake Michigan. And Mequon is pronounced “Meck-Juan” not Meek Won. And it’s not a rough and tumble town. The poor people there are upper middle class.

Somebody failed to do their research when they wrote those scripts.

The movie Walking Tall starring Dwayne Johnson has him taking the role of Sheriff of Kitsap County. He’s in a tiny cabin out in a rural area.

I’m from Kitsap County. I lived there for years. The Sheriff’s office is in very urban Silverdale, next to a large shopping mall. It looks nothing like anything portrayed in the film.

Sort of the reverse…
Any movie NOT set in the Sonora desert that shows Saguaros. So, any Western that shows them that is set in Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, California, etc, etc.

A video game, not a movie/TV show, but it’s strongly narrative and attempts to represent its setting realistically, so I think it’s worth discussing.

The Last of Us Part 2 is set mostly in and around Seattle. And if you’re not actually from there, it feels like it’s pretty accurate. The street layout is surprisingly close to reality (with a few minor compromises that are necessary for gameplay and therefore acceptable). The Needle, the sports stadiums, the Smith Tower, the waterfront aquarium and the neighboring Ferris wheel, even the Koolhaas library are all more or less in the right place. The city buses have the right design and color scheme. And so on.

But if you are a longtime local, there’s a bunch of deep-tissue stuff that tells you the game’s design team did not include anyone from Seattle, and that their research mostly amounted to looking at maps and “touring” the city via Google Street View.

(Note that these complaints are just about the city’s representation, and are not about the game itself. On that level, I think it’s a groundbreaking instant classic, and a master class in marrying thematic ambition to conventional game mechanics, and I’ll defend it against all comers. So please don’t get the wrong idea.)

Some examples:

  • During one sequence, you pass through a large passenger-and-vehicle ferry that’s been beached near downtown. In the pilothouse, you find a journal that describes the boat’s route from California up the coastline to Seattle. An outsider may think nothing of this, but Pacific Northwesterners know this is a Washington State Ferry, which transits exclusively between ports in the relative safety of Puget Sound. Not only are these ferries never taken past Anacortes in actual practice, they simply aren’t seaworthy on the open ocean, and wouldn’t last a day in the conditions of the Pacific.

  • As you explore the streets of post-apocalyptic Seattle, you of course have to weave around all the abandoned trucks and passenger cars. Again, the outsider won’t notice anything unusual, but the Seattleite might realize something about the setting feels wrong. Basically, the proportions of the cars are off. There are too many light trucks and distinctly American-styled sedans, and not nearly enough higher-end SUVs or all-weather cars like Subarus and Volvos.

  • The waterfront aquarium I mentioned above is open for exploration. Its exterior styling isn’t quite right, with a playground and a big fiberglass octopus, but that’s a cosmetic detail, and forgivable. Inside, though, there is an enormous pool with a stage and bleacher seats, like you’d find at Sea World. It is absolutely unthinkable in Seattle culture that there would be a circus-animal type presentation permanently installed downtown. It would be the target of fierce and vociferous citizen opposition, and would attract immediate attention from local politicos even in the planning stages. It’s a non-starter, and one of the real giveaways that the game’s design team didn’t actually know their setting.

(There’s also a sequence that takes the player into Seattle’s sewer system, which has absolutely nothing to do with the actual sewers of the city. But hardly anybody has ever been down there to know why this is wrong, so I’m more willing to accommodate that little flight of fancy.)

Again, though, these are just annoyances, and I still do very much enjoy the game. I just have to ignore the fact that its Seattle isn’t, y’know, Seattle.

These are the kinds of things that come to mind, regarding the OP’s question. Compromises on superficial aspects of geography don’t bother me that much. But I definitely notice when the storytellers are violating fundamental aspects of their setting due to ignorance or laziness and inappropriately projecting their own assumptions and experience into the location. A street in the wrong place? Eh, don’t care. The end of the Tomb Raider reboot movie, which has Lara Croft buying handguns off the shelf in a London shop? That’s a chuckle.

I rode the ferry as a commuter every day for years.

The idea of taking a Seattle ferry to California is about as realistic as flying a 747 to the moon. :grin:

Yes, this is hilarious. :laughing:

Toronto’s subways often fill in for other North American cities’ subways. The subway cars, sure, but even more telling is Lower Bay station. Used for only a few months in the 1960s, it sits unused to this day, except for the rare occasions when trains have to change from the Bloor-Danforth line to the Yonge line. But such trains carry no passengers, so the public rarely to never sees Lower Bay.

Except in the movies. Lower Bay station is just like Upper Bay, with a platform, subway tiles on the walls, train tracks connected to the rest of the system so trains can pass through, and so on; and it is easy enough to disguise it to indicate that it is in New York or Chicago or another North American city with a subway. So being unused by regularly-scheduled trains, filming can occur at anytime, even during rush hour.

A lot of Dexter’s residential settings were filmed in Long Beach, despite the show being set in Miami. From here, it’s claimed that many establishing shots and murder scenes were filmed in Miami originally but then the show migrated back to Long Beach and SoCal. Long Beach is a decent stand-in for Miami since it has lots of wealthy areas, marinas, and a variety of neighborhoods that align with Miami.

The TV series Emergence was set in Southold NY, my home town. It would be simpler to list everything that they got right. There were about five minutes of establishing shots, and the logos for the police car and police uniforms were correct.

Everything else was wrong. The show was shot in New Jersey; Southold is situated on a peninsula.

None of the exterior shots were anything like the real thing. They also got the geography wrong.

  • Someone headed directly south from the town harbor for several miles into the ocean. Directly south from the port goes about 1000 yards before hitting an island.
  • They didn’t understand the difference between Southold and Greenport, the only village in the town.
  • They tell a character to go to the library from the police station. The two are at least three miles apart, and the police station is outside of the main business district
  • Subtle, but they refer to a road as “Route 25.” That’s the official name, but everyone in the area refers to it as “The Main Road.”
  • The characters drive to Brooklyn to check something out. It seems to take a relatively short time, but it’s a two-hour drive both ways.
  • They visit a secret facility north of town. There is no north of town; the peninsula is east-west. It would take at least four hours to get to it.
  • They show a location in central Long Island with rolling hills. Long Island has very few hills. The area they show (on a map) is basically flat scrub plain.
  • They show a beach with seagrass-covered dunes. Nothing like that exists in Southold.

I figured that with such sloppy attention to detail, the show was in trouble. I was right; it didn’t last a season.

Fringe was notionally located in Boston, but I’ll be damned if I ever spotted a location that was actually Boston-based.

Looking at IMDb, it was filmed in Vancouver, Toronto, and parts of New York City…

The stations and trains of the Washington DC subway system (“Metro”) are very distinctive and it’s apparently very difficult and expensive to get a filming permit to shoot in an actual Metro station, and they are required to follow a Byzantine set of rules. House of Cards shot in an actual DC Metro station in the first season, but shot in Baltimore for a second season episode. Scandal and Homeland are among many others that have scenes in the DC Metro that are definitely not the DC Metro.

it was a cheapy sci-fi original… but supposedly behind the no longer there dunes hotel on sierra highway in Lancaster ca there’s supposed to be something resembling ancient Egyptian pyramids underground or some such twaddle wanna guess the reality ?