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Thursday, April 28, 2016

TV Show Writers Sometimes Do Poor Research

This is Steven Petrick posting.

There was one of those moments, among so many, that showed up recently on "Grimm" (and got us speaking at lunch about many similar scenes).

There is an accident involving a handgun. specifically a revolver of the type used by police back in the day.

Three young men are drinking and "doing a little weed," and one shows off one of his father's samurai swords. This prompts the kid whose house they are all in to go upstairs and get his grandfather's pistol. None of these kids (all teenagers, probably all at least 18) apparently know nothing of gun safety.

Having retrieved the gun from under his mother's bed to show his friends, one of them immediately grabs it, pulls the hammer back, and pulls the trigger.

Rule #1, Treat Every Firearm as if it is LOADED. Even if you personally observed someone unload a firearm before handing it to you: CHECK.

Okay, the pistol has discharged, but apparently that bullet went wide, i.e., no one was apparently hit.

However, this being "Grimm," one of the two kids NOT holding the handgun is a "Wesen," and the "startle response" from the gunshot causes him to reveal himself to his friends.

The startle response to his appearance causes the kid holding the pistol to drop it, whereupon it hits the floor and discharges a second time, killing the Wesen kid. Just bad luck.

Also, impossible.

Unless someone actually cocked the hammer (and even then it would be unlikely, although within the realm of possibility).

But if you drop a revolver on the floor with the hammer currently resting on a discharged cartridge, all the gun is going to do is make a big "thud" when it hits the floor. It cannot fire.

If it was an automatic, you might (MIGHT) make a case that the defined circumstance happened (because once an automatic fires, it automatically ejects the spent cartridge, loads a new cartridge (assuming a magazine with cartridges is loaded) and cocks the hammer. In such case an rather shot out (heavily used over a long time) automatic might have enough wear that the hammer will fall as a result of the drop.

But the situation is impossible with a revolver if no one has cycled the weapon (pulled the hammer back which would simultaneously rotate a new cylinder with an unfired cartridge into position to be fired).

The upshot is that when I saw the scene as it was described by the surviving kid (the other non-Wesen kid had been murdered, prompting the investigation) the one thing that went through my head was "he is lying, it cannot have happened that way.

Unfortunately, it was just another example of bad story telling, and when has that ever happened before on a TV show?