A couple of years back there was an orange phone ad, where an executive twangs a pair of skimpy swimming trunks at a movie star and says: ‘wear these bad boys!’
This smart dialogue obviously impressed the TV writers of the world, because since then any random object can be referred to as a ‘bad boy’, in an attempt to recreate the magic of the original remark. The phrase stumbled to its tragic end (perhaps) in CBBC’s ‘My Almost Famous Family,’ when an injured schoolboy hobbled into a room on crutches and said ‘now I have to use these bad boys.’
At which point we can see the apple has fallen quite a long way from the tree.
Kids TV is full of these remarks that seem to take over and have to be repeated everywhere. At one point it was, ‘which part of (insert random element here) don’t you understand?’ For example, ‘which part of BACK OFF don’t you understand?’ then, humorously, ‘which part of NO don’t you understand?’ Or, (slapstick) ‘Which part of (POW! Our hero smashes the baddie in the face) – don’t you understand?’
For a while the universal phrase was ‘That went well!’ Spoken ironically, when something has gone badly, like the hero trying to bury the monster in rocks, only to find out the monster eats rocks. (They make him more powerful. That went well – now he’s like, going to be even more monstery than before. )
But, on Sarah Jane Adventures, when failing to negotiate with the Bane, Sarah Jane reflects sadly: ‘That DIDN’T go well.’ I was shocked to the core – but I will bet you anything that the script requested her to say ‘That went well!’ and Lis Sladen insisted on removing the irony – because, as a good actress, she knows it becomes tiresome.
One of the current beauties, is the hero says something like, ‘The aliens are attacking us!’ and the cheeky sidekick says (cheekily) ‘Ya think??!’ Because it is all so obvious and doesn’t need explaining. Ya think??! There, now I’m doing it too.
One of the nice things about writing Candle Man, is that it is not for TV, or comics. I am allowed to set my own tone, be individual and I do not have to tick all the trendy boxes when writing the dialogue.
It’s a curious thing, this cloning of styles, dialogue and catch phrases, which make so many TV shows sound like they have all been written by the same guy. Curious, because, I was brought up to value originality, but in so many writing jobs out there, it is more important to be slickly the same as the next guy.
Go figure! (As they say on TV)
Oh well, back into the network…