Voice-over, what is it good for?

Pushing Daisies. Gossip Girl. Dexter. The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Veronica Mars. My So-Called Life. Grey's Anatomy. Arrested Development. Scrubs. Desperate Housewives... and so on ad infinitum.

Everyone always says "Never ever ever ever put voice-over in your spec pilots." So why do so many dang shows end up on TV with some form of VO or narrator all over them?

The obvious answer is because it's easier. Right? I mean, what better way to reveal those little plots twists, provide backstory, and turn those emotions up to 11 than by using voice-over? And how much easier it is to make something funny if you can shine a little VO flashlight on the joke. Or even give lots of jokes to the narrator, a la Arrested Development.

In some cases, it really does work. Imagine Arrested Development without Ron Howard. C'mon! How 'bout Pushing Daisies without "The facts were these". We'd be subjected to line after line of laying pipe. Veronica Mars without Veronica's clever insights? Probably not as strong. Desperate Ho-wives without Mary-Alice. I don't watch that show, so you tell me.

Thing is, it's so easy to get VO terribly, terribly wrong.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles, I'm looking at you. Can anyone ever remember Sarah's pseudo-existential ramblings from one episode to the next? Do they help tell the story, add a layer of characterization, entertain us? Anything? No. They do not. If they never wrote another VO for that show, no one would even notice. Except those of us that would be going, "Thank you Josh".

Same goes for Grey's Anatomy. I don't care what Meredith thinks "The thing about surgeons" is this week. Really. The only time I liked the Grey's VO is when they gave it to Dr. Bailey. 

What about Gossip Girl? How can a character we never even see be so annoying and so unnecessary? I love Kristen Bell, but we don't need her in GG-land. How can you call a show Gossip Girl when you really don't need the gossip girl? It wouldn't make any difference to the characters' lives if she never wrote another gossip column. 

They should change the name to Spoiled Rich White Kids with Inconsequential Problems. We don't need some bratty blog to get off on that.

Artery Cloggery
Burgers from Orean's on North Lake street in Pasadena. Totally vegetarian, totally yummy.

I didn't have fries or a shake, but I wish I had.

1 comment:

Josh said...

I agree about Gossip Girl's VO 1000 percent, which makes me sad since I love the Kristen so much. It's not only unnecessary (say what you will about it being built into the premise), it's the worst part of the show.