It’s the Little Things

1 Feb

For me, it’s the little things. For example, watching a really silly film called Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000) and noticing that they were using actual Illinois plates! Sounds stupid, but so many films don’t get it right.

It seems like a silly thing, but a little detail like license plates can throw you off. If you watch any commercial, all the cars have generic license plates–usually gray squares with numbers. It insists that what you’re seeing is fake… with a professional driver… or a closed track. Do not attempt.

In the opening scene of The Dark Knight (2008), the film makers made sure since they were filming in Chicago, in case you were confused by the Illinois plates in the background, made the Gotham City plates look just like the Illinois ones at the time. In case you’re wondering how we got from the 2000 plates to the 2008 plates, the Secretary of State goes into great detail explaining it.

Side note: That’s the current Secretary of State of Illinois. Jesse White was SoS in Illinois when I lived there last… 15 years ago. He spoke at Illinois Boys State while he was just a state rep while I was in high school over 25 years ago. Just pointing that out; come to your own conclusion.

It’s like product placement–me and the fam are binge watching Chuck, the brilliant comedy action show from 2007-2012–and I pointed out that Subway became a sponsor of the show midway through the 2nd Season. This saved the show, but once you see the number of Subway sandwich references, you can’t unsee it. It was my son, Asher, who finally noticed that they deliberately avoided any other product placement – for example, all the chips bags were turned around so you couldn’t see the label. Frankly, I don’t think it costs a show to do free advertising, and I don’t see companies objecting… but maybe there’s a legal reason I’m not aware of.

However, someone took the effort to do that. Just like in Star Trek: The Next Generation, someone’s job was to make sure that the stardates were the correct order. In the original series, they just used whatever four-digit number they wanted. And anything that keeps the audience’s attention in the show, and not distracted, is a win.

Can you come up with a better example where the little details were appreciated by you… and precious others? Let me know in the comments below!

2 Responses to “It’s the Little Things”

  1. seankfletcher February 1, 2021 at 5:01 pm #

    My family are great fans of Chuck and I personally thought that the Subway references were brilliant actually. If you watch a Kdrama, they don’t hide from product placement at all – front and centre actually, with Subway a big favourite. Anyway, South Korea makes awesome shows. I have this thing about looking at what is in a bookshelf in different scenes when watching a show or movie. From this I can tell if they have put some effort into the prop or not. I guess I can’t help myself. In the short films and other projects our daughter has made, she has ofter used things from our home (sometimes the house and gardens themselves). I remember one time we went to the premiere of one of her films and about a third of the way through I started spotting all out stuff. I had been away for many months and wasn’t aware this had happened. Not that I minded, it just took my brain a few extra seconds to connect the dots. As for the Next Generation – a great show and was always on the lookout for how good the data screens were etc.

  2. Silk Cords February 1, 2021 at 8:56 pm #

    I’m NOT one that picks through every frame of a film or TV series, but (like you) I do notice and appreciate many of the small details, or lack of attention to them. When they get it right, I do appreciate it. When they don’t or are lazy, I TRY to look past it and use suspension of disbelief. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

    Product placement… I’ve always assumed it was simply about profits; “want to see your product in our movie? You’re going to have to pay.” Your point about legal reasons is a good possibility though. Everybody sues over everything now, and I could see some smaller company suing a production company because they used brand X instead of their product.

    BTW, speaking of BLATANT product placement… somewhere around season 5 or 6 on Hawaii Five 0, Danny’s Chevy Camaro gets all shot up by bad guys. New model year, so the sponsor has to have the latest and greatest, after all. So, McGarrett and Danny hop in the new car for the first time and take it out for a drive. Steve ohhs and ahhs for a minute about how nice it is, and Danny gives him a “you like it huh?” Steve replies what’s not to like and proceeds to rattle off all it’s performance specs and feature packages. Blatant over 1 minute commercial for the sponsor right in the middle of the show, LOL.

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