So... I'm in the final stretch of a Chuck marathon (I'd forgotten how much I love the complete silliness of this show), and a pet peeve of mine popped up.

There's a cliche scene[1] where Morgan has to navigate a hallway with lasers. Using his ninja-like yoga skills, he's able to do it. While this is obviously played for laughs in Chuck, it's a staple of spy, heist, and SF movies and shows.

And it makes absolutely no sense!

If we're talking about a "realistic" setting (spy or heist) where the lasers trip an alarm, the way to do it is to create a box around the protected item: 4 planes creating a tetrahedral space in which the item resides. Each plane should be comprised of a grid in which the negative space is just smaller than the smallest dimension of the item being protected.

If we're talking about an SF situation where a hallway is protected by lasers that slice through you, it should be a simple grid with a 5cm interval. All the sweeping and random placement is stupid (as proven by the fact that someone always gets past it with sexy gymnastics).

This is closely related to the "Anti-Aircraft" scenarios in pretty much every SF movie/TV show ever. Way back in WWII, we figured out this amazing thing called "flak". To the best of my knowledge, it appears exactly *nowhere* in SF[2]. Why doesn't the Galactica have a system that pumps out a wall of marbles?


You have a wing of fighters coming in at high speed. That speed works against them. Trying to target individual fighters is stupid. Create a gun system that rides on a track from bow to stern. It pumps out a volley of marbles at high-velocity in a 50cm grid—like a giant, deadly dot-matrix printer.

Fire two volleys to clear out the majority of incoming fighters, then launch the vipers to clean up the stragglers. This just seems like common sense.


I spent over 20 years working in live theatre, so I fully understand the concept of "willing suspension of disbelief". I will happily accept machines that are indistinguishable from humans (except for the occasional glowing spine during sex). I have no problem with FTL, with instantly-transferred consciousness, or immortality through back-up bodies. I think the whole "We have been here before and we will be here again" theme was great.

But... completely ignoring 1940's "throw a bunch of rocks at them" defensive technology? That annoyed the hell out of me.


[1] Chuck is all about cliche scenes, so I'm not faulting this show. Rather, I'm complaining about the "realistic" shows that created the cliche in the first place.


[2] Well... almost. A game supplement I wrote for the Silent Death game specifically included "flack torpedoes".