We watch... so you don't have to.

Don't Believe the Hope

Against my better judgment, I've flipped the channel to "Chicago Hope." That would be the perennially Emmy-nominated "Chicago Hope"; the perennially Golden Globe-nominated "Chicago Hope"; the "Chicago Hope" that so delights in making sly, cutting remarks about TV's other medical drama, "ER"...

The catatonic, phone-it-in "Chicago Hope."

The next time some nitwit from the Hollywood foreign press or any other agency tries to convince you that "Chicago Hope" is more deserving of a best drama nomination than, say, "Homicide," I would respectfully request that you direct the aforementioned nitwit to the episode of "Chicago Hope" that aired on January 20, 1997.

Which henceforth shall be known as "CONTINUITY FOLLIES!"

Don't get me wrong; I've seen continuity errors before. In the action gem "Speed," for instance, it's plain as day that the advertisements on the side of the bus vary back and forth from perfect alignment to hanging askew. And, as my good friend and frequent partner in crime Philip Michaels has noted with considerable derision, in the Anna Nicole Smith opus, "Skyscraper," there's a series of continuity errors involving scratches and bruises on the porcine Playmate's face so befuddling that one can only conclude they were made on purpose. After all, no one could be that incompetent... could they?

But "Chicago Hope" is different. This, the experts would have us believe, is a quality show -- indeed, if award nominations mean anything, one of TV's best shows. These people reshoot scenes that don't feel quite right; they rewrite scripts to get the proper spin; supposedly, they care deeply about their product.


Here's the scene: I'm lying on my bed when up flashes a shot of the doctors gathered in a room, watching the Chicago Bulls play the Detroit Pistons on television. Briefly the camera cuts away to pick up Mark "Charlie Grace" Harmon as he enters the room. Then it cuts back to the game on the TV screen...

What the hell? I bolt upright and rub my eyes. Something's not right.

The game has changed. No longer are the Bulls playing on the Pistons' home court, the Palace at Auburn Hills. Now, they're playing the Indiana Pacers at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. How do I know this? Because in today's NBA, it's not enough for a court just to have hardwood floors. These are the '90s; you have to appeal to the kids. You need wild patterns and exotic color schemes. And the color scheme in this instance has changed from a distinct red and blue to a very clear blue and yellow.

So there I am, whimsically musing about how any continuity editor could make such an obvious blunder and keep his job--one word: unions--when the camera cuts away once more, this time to pick up solemn authority figure Hector Elizondo. Elizondo takes a couple of steps into the room and stands next to the television . . .

Which is now broadcasting the Chicago Bulls-Miami Heat game.

Now, I am generally able to understand a good many things. I can understand how a downtown L.A. jury could acquit O.J. Simpson. I can understand the appeal of Carrot Top. I can even understand the French obsession with Jerry Lewis, though I won't pretend for a minute to understand Germany's jones for David Hasselhoff.

But what I cannot understand, what I cannot possibly fathom, is how these particular continuity errors could occur. I mean, it's not as if they were picking up the games live; simple logistics dictate otherwise. You can't write a script around a game for which you don't know the result. That leaves tape. So here's my question: What blockhead is running around the set, yanking tapes in and out of the machine between shots? And why do they have multiple Bulls tapes lying around to begin with? That seems only to be a recipe for disaster. Worst of all, how is it that nobody noticed? (And this in a scene central to the episode's storyline, involving the gambling addiction of one of the characters.) At the very least, you'd think the actors sitting mere feet away and staring directly at the screen would see something amiss, raise their hands and say, "Uh, Mr. Kelley, I think there's a problem."

Unless, of course, they were busy endorsing their paychecks...


TeeVee - About Us - Archive - Where We Are Now

Got a comment? Mail us at teevee@teevee.org.

* * *