An odd thing occurred to me last night watching television: that too many shows, mostly the action/drama hourlies, feel it necessary to keep a musical background overriding every scene. I hadn’t noticed it until we watched, tried to watch, this week’s episode of Hawaii 50. We couldn’t understand most of the dialogue, either because of excessive background noise (car motors, city sounds, wind) or because of that intrusive musical score overlying the scenes. It was annoying enough that we abandoned the show halfway through. I know we’re both getting up there in years and our hearing probably isn’t what it once was, but I don’t want to have to strain to understand what characters are saying. That got me to thinking about other shows on the tube: How many of them also use this musical device to heighten emotion? So we watched NCIS and sure enough, there it was. Then The Good Wife, yepp, but not as intrusively as with the action dramas. Okay, I guess a musical score has always played a part in most movies, forcing an emotional response in the viewer. Remember the shrieking violins in Psycho, or the thumping theme that introduced the great white every time he showed up in Jaws? Go back a little further (actually, a bunch further) to Alfred Newman’s score for Captain from Castile in 1948, with the main theme called “Conquest.” Oh, man, the entire audience felt like jumping to its collective feet and marching along with the conquistadors. All right, musical backgrounds to movies and television dramas have a long tradition, but when they interfere with my ability to follow the dialogue, I won’t stand for it. Or listen to it.
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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life is the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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