A Fact-Check for the Four-Color World

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Moving, and Moving Fast

As I mentioned in passing in my last post, I moved last weekend. For almost the last two years, I've shared a house with my brother (my grandmother's old house, to be precise), and as he is getting married next month, it was time for me to find a separate abode.

So now I'm living in Atlanta, in a one-bedroom half of a duplex. Best of all, it's very conveniently located to the MARTA subway station, so no more vehicle commuting for me. I hate commuting, and it's why I avoided downtown for so long.

Anyhow, one consequence of my move is that my 'Net access has been a wee bit interrupted. I haven't set up a new service provider yet, and even if I had, my computer is still back at the old house. So until that's resolved, any text-intensive posts (like my She-Hulk series) are on hold.

But that doesn't mean I can't write about smaller things, and there's one I wanted to mention today. Without internet, I've watched a little more TV in the last week. I saw Boston Legal last week, and I caught my first episode of Conviction on Tuesday.

Both of these episodes shared an element that I've raked some comics over the coals for using: the astonishingly speedy trial. In Boston Legal, they had a civil suit get to summary judgment, and criminal bigamy case go all the way to jury trial, all within the week or so that the two main characters were on vacation. In Conviction, they had a murder case go from death to jury trial in what seemed like a matter of days.

Suddenly, a Manhunter or She-Hulk comic where a case takes three or four weeks to get to trial seems downright leisurely by comparison.

On Law & Order, where the characters' private lives are left alone and events aren't dated, one can presume that each episode spans months, and that episodes overlap. But when character-based B-plots are introduced, those can't be dragged out in the same way. Unless a writer can afford to have his story jump ahead months at a time, or drag out a case for multiple episodes or issues, the chronology has to be compacted. It's an instance where realism runs contrary to the dramatic demands of a story, and compromises must be reached. I still feel a week is unreasonably fast, but a month is definitely tolerable. This is a position I'd been moving increasingly toward, and seeing some worse offenders finally tipped the scale.

I still plan to mention in passing when a story speeds up a timeline, but it's not something I plan to dwell on again. I just hope no one tests my patience by emulating TV and offering up a Wednesday trial for a Monday morning crime.