What is extremely common in TV or movies but almost never happens in real life?

It has also been hollowed out.

Geography in movies … where do I start? And stop?

Historical dramas tend to be major offenders. A number of films show the actors traveling … long distances? Because the terrain they cross changes dramatically, even thought the plot says they are still in England, or France, or wherever. Perhaps they made some very lengthy detours? They cross areas that are clearly not even in Europe. Generally anything to do with Robin Hood gets this treatment; Friar Tuck and Little John fight on a bridge in a deep dramatic valley, and Sherwood forest suddenly becomes mountains. Er, no, Nottingham was boringly flat, even back then.

There is an obvious problem with old buildings, mainly castles, and there are frequent anachronisms. Of course, there is the issue that the actual building may not be available, or was radically rebuilt over the years and does not look the part. Or the film or series was shot in a specific country; The Tudors from Showtime was shot in Ireland, so you don’t get the obligatory views of Hampton Court.

The workarounds are often rather obvious; most medieval epics have plenty of footage of people riding through unspoilt countryside, usually forested, and the rest is close-ups or interiors, or CGI.

One major peeve; fire in films set in the Middle Ages. Fire arrows? Nope. Catapults hurling fireballs? Nope. Trenches set afire as the enemy charges (hello, Braveheart)? Nope. It looks good, but it was not done.

Most films about the Crusades like to depict the Holy Land as semi-desert. Apparently this is not so in the areas that the crusaders held.

One of my wife’s treasured stories is about reading a historical novel set in England that wrote about Cornwall being up near the border of Scotland. That’s become one of our standard jokes.

I was just watching Alex Korda’s version of Thief of Bagdad, and he has a sailing vessel (which appears ludicrously anachronistic, and has wilding luffing sails, to boot) pulling into the port of Bagdad, which is actually on the Tigris river, about 1000 km from the Persian gulf. To be fair, Ray Harryhausen’s Seventh Voyage of Sinbad also seems to envision Bagdad as being a seaport. If you’re making an Arabian Nights fantasy, geography doesn’t count, apparently.

Interesting … what was the novel?

I assume it was set in a period after the huge earthquake. Either that, or Scotland expanded a long way south.

I don’t know. It’s some romance novel she read back in the 1980s, but she can’t recall the title or author.

She always talks about the historical and geographical facts she’s picked up from those historical romances, but you have to keep an eye out for the ones that have no idea what they’re doing. Or are playing a long game of gotcha. with their audience.

Even the Poldark books, which are extremely well done, contain some anachronisms and other things I found hard to believe. F’rinstance, 18th century miners using dynamite, children playing with “elastic,” and Cornwallers learning of Washington’s death two weeks after it happened.

I wonder how Winston Graham could ever have made such mistakes.

This one might be feasible according to an audiobook about Regency Britain I’ve been reading recently. International post then was a lot faster than you’d expect.

It took less than two weeks for news to cross the Atlantic in 1799?!? :astonished:

I don’t believe I, or anyone I know, has ever done anything noteworthy because of mistaken identity.

I’ve waved at strangers. I have screwed up names of people I thought I met. No doubt while drunk I have told nonsense stories to people who I thought had some mutual acquaintance with me. Never did it change who I decided to murder or some other zany antic.

I don’t know about less than, but New York’s daily newspapers were on sale in London three weeks after their publication, and the London news would be relayed to somewhere remote like Cornwall within two or three days. That’s for general news, and isn’t much longer than two weeks.

So two weeks might be pushing it, but not so much that it’s worth nitpicking.

Hollywood pretty aside, I think overweight people as extras would be a pain. They stand out in the background. I can imagine the hassle of getting that exact person, not important to the story mind you, back to reshoot anything with them in a scene.

Snow or even cloud cover in scenes is rare for probably the same reason.

Whoa! Three weeks in the age of sail is really fast! :open_mouth:

I remember when Airport was being filmed in Minneapolis the winter of 1969–70. MSP International was chosen because the producers were sure the conditions would be right for as long as they were there.

Turned out there was hardly any snow that winter, and the fake stuff they used had to be shipped in.

I have trouble remembering any episodes in the entire series run of Law & Order in which the D.A. did something useful.

Seems like they were only good for chastising the A.D.A.s for putting the office in a bad light, or waving their arms and demanding better evidence.

Sort of like the TV and movie trope where the police captain/squad commander is similarly only good for bawling out the underlings.

Carrier pigeons.

Indeed. Not only that, but actively hampering the investigation:

Detective: Chief, this is great. I’m one step away from solving that rash of serial killings in the city. All I need is…
Chief: Dammit, Jones! I’ve had enough of your nonsense! Give me your badge and gun and take the week off!
Detective: But Chief, here is a rock solid confession from the guy who was at the scene with blood all over…
Chief: Jones, I said take the fucking week off or else it will be permanent! Now get the hell out of my office!

Of course, you lost a lot to drowning in the Atlantic during the grueling training phase, but the survivors were a truly hardy lot.

There are a few examples where Adam or the other guy used a back channel to persuade a judge to make a useful decision. Two examples that leap to mind are “I.D.” when the judge is harassing Jamie : Adam gets the judge to resign from the case https://lawandorder.fandom.com/wiki/I.D. and “Red Ball” in which Jack makes a deal with the defendant to get info on the location of a kidnapped girl - Arthur talks to the judge, leading to the judge declaring the deal to be against public policy Red Ball | Law and Order | Fandom

And then of course Jones goes rogue and proceeds to surreptitiously solve the murder anyway, though he was explicity warned off. And is fully reinstated as a hero cop afterward. In fact, it may even turn out that the chief was not just being clueless, he was actually being bribed or blackmailed to stop the investigation.

Yep. We have actual period purpose-designed fire arrows, as well as accounts of the use of ad hoc ones.

By “fireballs” do you mean the projectile is lit on fire before launch? That doesn’t seem to have been a thing, I agree. Explosive-on-impact catapult ordinance, though, was totally a medieval concept.