The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

It's No Good



Clichés are terrible thing, I avoid them like the plague. But that doesn’t stop me trying to invent new ones.

Because I’ve noticed, in my Doctor Who scripts, that there always seems to come a moment where the odds are stacked, as is their wont, against our heroes, with peril and doom threatening like two big threatening things, that someone will utter the immortal line;

It’s no good. There’s nothing we can do’.

Or, it’s Bruce Forsyth-ed equivalent:

‘There’s nothing we can do. It’s no good!’

I always feel a little self-conscious at this point. Partly because the phrase ‘It’s no good’ can always, during recording and during listening, feel like a commentary on the quality of the script, in the same way that the line ‘We must act’ always draws attention to the quality of the acting. But I stick with it nonetheless, because I also get a little thrill at this moment, in much the same way that I still have a drink whenever anyone on television uses the word ‘protocol’ whenever something technological has to bend to the convenience of the plot. For some reason ‘protocol’ is the magic get-out word. It’s practically a cliché in itself.

The ironic thing about clichés is, although they are obviously symptoms of bad, unthinking writing, is that they are really how people speak. When someone has bad news, you tell them that you’re terribly sorry, and although if you’re me you then feel self-conscious at being so obvious, it’s the best our language can manage if you want express sympathy, to say anything else would seem thoughtless or insincere. Similarly, if you’re in a spaceship about to hit an asteroid and none of the buttons on your dashboard are working, you’re going to say ‘It’s no good, there’s nothing we can do’, because anything else would sound contrived.

Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Like glue.

1 comment:

  1. I've thought this through very carefully, and you're wrong. If I was in a spaceship about to hit an asteroid, and none of the buttons on my dashboard were working, I would say "Fuck".


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