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LAX (2004–2005)
LAX lacked ER's writing and talent...
27 November 2004
Earlier, a pilot suggested LAX was flawed by a lack of technical accuracy. ER has been a runaway hit for a decade or more, and isn't a particularly accurate portrayal of emergency medicine. They do attempt a certain level of accuracy, but my friends who work in hospitals find it hilarious. I'm also a pilot, while my niece is a flight attendant. We don't speak the same language. Pilots and controllers use one set of terms, airlines another, and airport operations a third. "Niner", "Air Force One" and other terms were invented in response to incidents where pilots and controllers miscommunicated. An Emergency Room deals with hundreds of people per day from every walk of life. An airport deals with hundreds of thousands of people per day, from every nation in the world. LAX had a lot more potential than ER. That being said, it was generally wasted. Thanks to TiVo, I saw a few episodes - and a few of the plot lines I knew to have been actual incidents.

I think the focus on the main actors and not the plot lines was probably the undoing of the show. In reality, the techical life of a pilot is *supposed* to be boring. It only gets exciting when someone makes a mistake. Nearly all the interesting stories are not about the aircrews, but about the passengers. Long flights and free liquor lead to interesting stories. Alcohol is amplified by altitude, as are most medical conditions. Add confined space and being disconnected from the outside world and you get "Cheers", "ER", "Melrose Place", "Big Brother" and a bit of "Survivor" all in one. I think there is no better proof than the fact that "LAX" is in the trash bin, while the documentary series "Airport" is a hit (for cable, anyway). As for my comrade, the days of pilots being romantic heroes died in the seventies. Astronauts are boring to most people - our lives are TOO technical and detail oriented. They also want the feeling that nothing will happen, ever, when they board the aircraft. We haven't been interesting since Roger, Over, and Unger were in the cockpit. So let Frank Abignale get the glory, and the union the drama. I still get a little rush when the wheels leave the ground, and the sim keeps me humble enough to feel a small sense of satisfaction when they are all back on the ground again. As the prayer goes, let me demonstrate my superior judgment rather than my superior skills. Besides, even the interesting stories make us look bad. How many pilots does it take to screw in a light bulb?
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Kids LOVED this movie, and it's extrordinary that it looks so ordinary...
5 November 2004
Coming out of the theater, kids were absolutely charged after seeing this movie. My group of 50's, 30's and kids all had a good time. The plot is solid tale of the Disney genre focused more on the moral lesson of self-esteem than being particularly original. Craig Nelson and Holly Hunter give decent voice performances, but the rest of the cast (in my opinion) far eclipse them. The film is entertaining, has a good amount of humor, but holds very few surprises. I think the disappointment some expressed in the animation fails to appreciate that the dialog, direction, visual style and backdrops are all appropriate to the particular time period a given scene is set in. The animation is secondary to the artistic effects. The film is shot primarily as if traditional live-action cameras were used, with very few artificial perspectives. I think if you look to what are now animation classics, like "The Lion King" - you'll find that it is the attention to the background detail that gives the film such visual appeal. "The Incredibles" is very focused on that same idea. It is for that reason that I rate it very highly - it's a fun evening out with the kids, and the creative attention to setting and detail that make it stand out.
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