SPOILER rant about Redshirts

September 22nd, 2017 at 11:13:44 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 332
Posts: 11982
Redshirts by John Scalzi is a Trek parody, centered on the phenomenon in the original Star Trek series where crew wearing a red uniform shirt were killed often.

Massive spoilers follow.

The gimmick this time is the crew of the Universal Union flagship Intrepid are characters on a basic cable TV show in 2012. They are real, but from time to time the narrative of the show takes over. then people act more dramatically, the talk more dramatically (and use nonsensical words like "counter-bacterial"), things that shouldn't go wrong go spectacularly wrong, random crew die (the color of their shirts is not specified), information manifests itself out of in people, and even the laws of nature themselves change.

Scalzi doesn't spell it out, but based on the codas at the end (three of them), and assumptions and hints dropped through the novel, the act of making the show created a whole alternate universe, or timeline, where the Universal Union, the Intrepid, Andy Dahl (the protagonist), etc. exist for real.

More spoilers:

To prevent more senseless deaths, all occurring when it's dramatically appropriate, from taking place, Andy and his remaining friends (one dies in the narrative), kidnap a senior officer and travel back in time to stop the show's production.

Up to that and most of what follows is ok, including an overly dramatic scene to explain the absence of Andy and co. And the fact that they have to bring a senior officer along to make the laws of nature change (because regular cast can't die off-screen), is quite in keeping with the parody.

Ending a TV show that has been on for six seasons ins't easy. They begin by approaching the actor who plays Andy, who somehow gets to believe them and manages to help them contact the actor who plays the officer they kidnapped.

That's when things go wrong, narratively speaking. we learn from this actor that the show's producer hasn't seen many people lately and attends no meetings, because his son had an accident and is in a comma. here I guessed they will offer to save the son in exchange for ending the show, and that's exactly what happens.

That's not so bad. But the way they end the show (and I'm not saying what it is), involves the producer and the head writer. Both of whom know all about the alternate reality and the really dead people they killed for senseless dramatic reasons. They both agree to 1) film a scene necessary to save the producer's son, 2) stop killing off random crew, and 3) end the show in one more season.

The first coda is about the head writer looking for help because he has writer's block. He can't keep writing the show without killing off random extras now and then (why not?), and if he can't keep doing the show he'll get fired.

Now, didn't we just say the show's producer agreed not to kill off random crew? he did this in exchange for his son's life, who would otherwise have almost certainly never recovered. he won't fire his writer for doing something they'd both agreed to.

And that's too bad, because Scalzi makes some really interesting observations about dramatic deaths in fiction.

Later with the other thing that bothered me.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.