Dumbest computer crap in a TV show

I think I found a good example: I’m home sick today watching CSI:NY, and they wanted to find the location from which a blog post was being made. So one of the detectives trotted off to “create a GUI using Visual Basic” to trace something (she might have said IP). Five minutes later there was this super-slick app that looks like something out of the Matrix - she’s apparently quite a VB programmer.

Any others?

This is a classic that I always think of when this comes up. Arguably it’s stupid about games more than it is stupid about computers, but I think there’s enough to go around.

“A game console…it’s like a computer, isn’t it?”
“It’s not like one. It is one, it’s just a hard drive with games on it.”

If you haven’t seen it, you really have to watch until the end.

Frequently Abby does this on NCIS. It’s funny too because she will explain what she’s doing tracing an IP, verifying with the ISP which account that was and tracking that to an actual person (example), that’s immediately followed by some whiz bang screenshot of a GUI tool she’s using that looks more akin to a game than anything else. It’s like they consult for the script, but then the people who do the props for the set go overboard doing whatever looks flashy but isn’t based on anything real.

My pet peeve is when they show someone browsing a web page in some flashy non-brand web browser. WTF? Just pick a real one and use it.

A similar deal is that I notice all the shows that pimp Cisco phone systems, which is fine, but then they cut to a scene at someone’s house and what’s sitting there on the end table beside the couch? A Cisco IP phone (of the type used in a CallManager environment at work.) It’s not unheard of that someone would set one up, but when every shot of someones home has one … yeah. Overkill. Perhaps that’s more of an advertising overkill than dumb use of IT crap.

Don’t forget the super-amazing photoshop filter of up-rezzing. It allows you to zoom in on a license plate in a grainy low-res security camera shot, press the magic button and the filter up-rezzes the photo and fills in the detail to reveal the license plate number! That one annoys me every single time. Which is quite a lot.

Wow, I think I’ve seen maybe 30 minutes total out of all the police procedural shows ever made, and I actually saw one of those scenes in NCIS.

Funny observation on the Cisco phones, too. I hadn’t noticed them in residential homes, but that is pretty hilarious.

“Chloe! Open up a socket! I need you to run a backtrace on this IP log or MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WILL DIE!!”

That reminds me of one episode of some show I saw recently (they all blur together after a while) where they took security camera footage and enhanced it to the point where they could see the perpetrator through a reflection off of the victim’s eyeball…

For image enhancement you really need to go all the way and make it awesome instead of just highly improbable. See Blade Runner.

The latest show I’ve seen it in is House. One of the main stars had a Cisco phone at their house. I don’t think it was House himself, but Cuddy maybe.

An early episode of X-Files has Scully circling something on her screen with a permanent marker.

Not a tv series, but…
This is a UNIX system, I know this!

Oh, well, if we’re going to expand this discussion to movies, let’s discuss the entire second half of Independence Day. :)

Oy, those last two, those are my picks as well. Like Unix systems all have some nifty 3d CAD thingy built in and she can just whiz through it and get a map of the facility. Because, you know, it’s Unix and she knows it.
Oh, and the alien ships, which mostly look really alien and organic, have monitors that have, what VGA graphics? And I wonder, do their networks use TCPIP or novell or what? Well, we DID have the captured ship at area 51, so I guess our guys figured all that out, no matter how alien it was. or not.

Edit: I joked with my buddy after watching ID, “No, you’ve got it all backwards… where do you think we got all our computer and network technology to begin with?!”

On 24, the staff of the Counter Terrorist Unit rivals the crew of the original Star Trek series for their use of technical mubo-jumbo in dialogue: Open up a secure socket to the president on the double. Initiate inter-departmental protocols and reconfigure the routers. And make sure you TRIPLE FILTER EVERYTHING! To enjoy the show, you have to suspend disbelief, like you did when Scotty explains about the dylithum crystals and how “She cann’a take any more ‘a this.”

Spooks, since the beginning. Every computer cliche in the book.

I still love the X-files (and meeelions of other plot devices) where there’s no good reason not to just pull the plug on the evil computer to thwart it’s plan. Is Die Hard the only film where they get round the impenetrable, highly redundant computer system by just switching it off?

Wasn’t that 90% of the ending twist in Rising Sun? No, you see, they are Japanese security cameras…

After A Beautiful Mind, the #1 thing people did to irritate me was write on my office window or the tall window next to my office door with a white board marker.

Wouldn’t you rather use the white board for that?

Oh, no. I’m good over here.


If we’re talking movies too how can you not forget “The Net.