Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bad TV Writing

Ironically enough, this example is again from Jericho, which I just used a few days ago as an example of good TV writing.

In the first half of the season, there's a multi-episode arc involving Mayor Johnston Green (Gerald McRaneySimon & Simon, Deadwood). He's very sick--all indications are that he has the flu. His daughter-in-law April (Darby Stanchfield), a nurse, proceeds to pump him full of antibiotics.

Okay. First of all, the flu is viral. It doesn't respond to antibiotics. If you go to the doctor with the flu and ask for antibiotics, they tend to get annoyed. Antivirals, yes. Antibiotics, no. Secondly, the town's short on meds because of the whole nuclear holocaust thing, so there's a concern they're going to run out. Well, you'd have a better chance of not running out if you don't give all the antibiotics to folks with the flu.

So the mayor's flu progresses. Nobody suggests any other possibilities for what's wrong with him other than the flu. They also don't go to any particular effort to isolate him from the others, even though the flu's contagious and can be deadly. In the conditions depicted in the show—dwindling resources, little or no medical help—overlooking something as potentially devastating as a flu outbreak seems, well, really lame. Besides, haven't any of them read The Stand?

Then we get to the kicker. The mayor gets even sicker. Apparently, in spite of scads of antibiotics, the infection has just been too much for his system to handle, and he's gone septic. So what do they do? They risk a dangerous trip to a neighboring town to get Cipro, the power medicine that's going to cure him. Which is...even more antibiotics.

So I did some googling. Sepsis can be caused by a bacterial infection, so it fits if the mayor's affliction was, indeed, bacterial. But if it's bacterial, it's not the flu. And it's probably still contagious, so the question of whether he should have been isolated is still a valid one.

This is the kind of thing that makes me bang my head into things when I'm watching a show. It seems like a little research could have gone a long way in this particular series of episodes. Or maybe I'm just too damn picky... Thoughts?