Frivolous Monsters

TV: One Plot, Two Different Series

Warning: This post contains explicit SPOILERS about the plots of British television series and if you don’t want them ruined then I recommend that you look away now… Right now… Because not so long ago I spotted that two high-profile series had ended up using the same plot.

The First Series: An episode in the second series of E4’s Misfits generated a long-term story arc when the gang of delinquents come across a crazed comic villain stalking the streets whilst playing out his life to the rules of a computer game and hell-bent on achieving his mission which will see him completing each new level.

The Second Series: The opening episode of Steven Moffat’s second series of Doctor Who sees the Doctor, played by Matt Smith, is reunited with Amy, Rory and River Song on the banks of Lake Silencio in America – with the cover of Doctor Who Magazine declaring One Of Them Will Die! – when out of the water an impossible astronaut appears to break up the picnic.

Equally comic villains

In Misfits the “Super-Hoody”, revealed to be Simon from the future, sacrifices himself to save Alisha by jumping in front of the villain’s bullet. He knew events were leading to this and left instructions that his body is to be burnt with a to-hand can of petrol so that the future can eventually work itself out to something approximating a happy ending.

In Doctor Who the Doctor goes to confront the Spaceman, which with his knowledge of the future he was expecting, before being shot and killed by the astronaut and thus setting out the story strand of how the lead character can escape the death traumatised children have just witnessed. Then whilst his friends are taking this in an old man called Canton Delaware III turns up with pre-arranged instructions that his body is to be burned with a to-hand can of petrol… Or gas: It was America.

But before any accusations of copying: episode 2.4 of Misfits was broadcast on the 2nd December 2010, whereas the Doctor Who episode The Impossible Astronaut was broadcast on the 23rd April 2011 and knowing the length of time of planning that goes into these things the few months gap is nothing.

As the Doctor Who story arc was resolved at the end of the same series in the episode The Wedding of River Song broadcast on the 1st October 2011, with the Doctor using his fore-knowledge of impeding doom to turn up in a, previously introduce, shape-shifting avenging robot staffed my miniaturised people, he’s now got the drop on Misfits where we still wait for a resolution after a convoluted navel-scratching third series, which fumbled towards joining up the dots to give us some sort of answer, and with knowledge that two further actors (those who play Simon and Alisha) are said not to be returning for the fourth series then for a series which was sublime at it’s height of the climax of the second series it’s fast becoming comparable to the ridiculous devil-may-care disposable plotting of Primeval.

But then… Then almost a year after this plot was initiated in Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who it similarly turned up again in Steven Moffat’s (and Mark Gatiss’s) Sherlock on 15th January 2012 when in the second series finale The Reichenbach Fall Sherlock Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, has to sacrifice himself to save his friends by committing suicide off the roof of St Bartholomew’s Hospital whilst Doctor Watson looks on in horror from below…

As a resolution is eagerly awaited, as to how he escaped inevitable death, it’s interesting to note that The Guardian printed a list of reader’s suggestions which included the notion that Sherlock had changed places with a shape-shifting robot piloted by a crew of tiny miniaturised people.

I’m guessing a lot of people missed the reference.

And whilst we’re asking for further Who-Sherlock transgressions to be taken into account it’s interesting to note that the high-profile nudity scene in A Scandal in Belgravia where Irene Adler, played by Lara Pulver, trying to unsettle Sherlock by confronting him naked before the UK viewing watershed sending many a disturbed child to bed with a destiny of animal-abusing malcontents laid out before them… Came a long, long time after the revelation of the nudity scene with River Song, played by Alex Kingston, which now exists as a much talked about deleted scene hidden in the BBC vaults.

I’m thinking that there’s enough foreknowledge for a plagiarism case and that that man Steven Moffat should take legal proceedings… Against himself?!?

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12 thoughts on “TV: One Plot, Two Different Series

  1. Have you seen Chronicle? That’s essentially Hollywood’s take on The Misfits!

    And they’re also adapting The Misfits for US audiences…!

    In any case great blog!

    All the best,

    Derek

  2. I haven’t seen Chronicle, but have heard the audio trailer on Spotify and now you say that it makes some sort of sense.

    I think Misfits went off after the height of their “Super-Villain” with the power to manipulate dairy products at the end of series 2 where they finished community service. After that they were just trying to put the genie back in the bottle. I don’t imagine that the American version will match it. Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. I adore coming up with how sherlock lived and before it ended how the doctor defeated death again. I guess it’s just one of those things we do, to pass the time before the next series is on.

    • It is, as you say, the things we do. I can sort-of see a way out of the Sherlock cliff-hanger, apart from the fact that the fall was mostly for the benefit of the sniper we’re supposed to believe was watching with a good view.

      I thought they were going to resolve the first series cliff-hanger by Sherlock hefting the bomb into the swimming pool and it sinking, before short-circuiting, and exploding, and them being washed away down the corridor. Still… It was a much cheaper resolution and one that introduced the “staying alive” notion.

      • I actualy forgot that they were in the pool at the end of the first series. Maybe we’ll never find out how he survived the jump…? Or mocked it up anyway. I thought it had something to do with why he went to see Molly Hooper.

  4. albertine on said:

    And where do you stand on the time-travelling plot of the excellent Bruce Willis film, ‘Looper’? Here the death that sorts everything out pre-dates the later murders, which thus will not be committed.

    • Sadly a film I haven’t seen. With cost and the state of new multi-plex cinemas I’ve had so much trouble on visits that I’ve not seen a film there in a long time. After Die Hard 4 I’ve also lost faith in Bruce Willis. And I’ve not had much faith in Hollywood for a long time. So I never saw Looper. If it’s good then I’ll look out for it. Thanks.

      • I would really watch Looper. Watching the two different performances, its as if Willis is a different man. In Looper hes switched on, engaged. In Die Hard 4, he may as well have been replaced by a dummy that looks similar too him for all the care he showed.

        I think hes become like Harrison Ford has, burned out on being famous for a few roles and never being allowed to move on, but needing to play those roles (or archetypes) to pay the bills. Apparently if you talk to Ford, he will brush you off if you talk about film, but the second you bring up carpentry he lights up.

        Funny old world.

    • Harrison Ford did a barge holiday in Wales a few years ago and it was quite a shock for the locals, but I think he got some really nice comments. I can imagine he’s fed up with film comments.

      The saddest thing I heard was that Disney bought Star Wars, and that they’re going to churn them out, and that instead of a new story set within the same universe they’re going to be about an aged Harrison Ford. After the last trilogy that ruined childhoods I think I’m going to be less forgiving.

      Although saying all that I am intrigued to see him again. It’s the Doctor Who fan in me that stakes a claim in actors portraying their roles forever.

  5. No wonder I don’t watch TV anymore. The plots are getting so ridiculous that they bore the socks off viewers. Maybe it’s time to launch the Washington Monument to the moon and load the cannons with macaroni. And what about that crispy bacon we had before the war, eh? Expiring minds need to know.

    • Well the Misfits computer game-playing villain was entertaining, but their plot of their dying to be resurrected storyline seems to have gone no-where and been forgotten. Possibly because of cast changes. The final series is coming out soon, so we’ll see. At least Doctor Who saw it through to reveal who did it and how it was done. Even if it was a confusing reveal of an episode.

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