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Jumping the Sharknado

How far can you stretch credibility before you lose an audience? Apparently, quite far.

In case you missed it, a recent made for TV movie Sharknado was about a tornado that picked up sharks, allowing them to leave the ocean to seek revenge against the humans killing them. I didn't watch it, but the premise alone is full of lapses in logistics, cause and effect plot holes, and overlooked laws of physics. But ...

People tuned in (mostly to laugh at it). However, someone invested money to make it.

In the television series House, British Actor Hugh Laurie, whom I adore, played a curmudgeonly doctor. He had a Vicodin habit and snarled at his patients with lines I'm certain every doctor wishes they could utter. In real life, that doctor would have lost his licence over the Vicodin alone. As for his approach to patients, if he had any, he would also be sued into oblivion.

In addition to this stretch of the imagination, House's team of physicians not only did their own lab work and pathology, which had my husband and myself rolling on the floor with laughter, they actually broke into the suspect's, I mean patient's, home to investigate. Yet, this series lasted multiple seasons.

The television series Body of Proof, Dana Delany played a former neurosurgeon turned (miraculously and without a fellowship or training) into a forensic pathologist. Her cohort was a female medical examiner. They not only performed autopsies, they interviewed suspects, investigated, and solved cases. Since my husband performed forensic autopsies for twenty-five years and never once interviewed a suspect, it was really hard for him to overlook this ridiculous conceit. However, we did enjoy the three seasons because the characters were fun.

Fiction often demands that the audience suspend disbelief. Audiences are willing to accept that there are vampires, witches, aliens, and killer sharks with superhuman power in the name of entertainment. If the audience accepts this one made-up rule, the rest of the story should flow logically and organically from it.

To sum it up, can you "jump the sharknado?" It would seem so, as long as you make the rest of your story strong enough to overcome the big fish tale you ask your audience to swallow.

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