As fans of Sci-Fi and fantasy stories, we have all developed the skill of suspending our disbelief in some of the more fantastical elements of the stories we enjoy. We read a fantasy story and don't ask why the spell works when you say funny words. When we read a Sci-Fi story, we don't ask how a ship can be powered by a black hole. For some TV shows, we don't ask why people want to live in a town that has an enormous fatality rate (R.E. Sunnydale, Eureka, or any place that Jessica Fletcher lives.) We either accept or intentionally overlook these strange elements so that we can enjoy the stories.
But there comes a time, even in the the best of our favorite stories, where some event or explanation smacks your suspension of disbelief into a wall and you are hit with an "OH, COME ON! What are you thinking?" moment (I'll call it the "OCO!" moment to save space). The moment can take you out of the scene and turn a serious story into a parody. In the worst cases, it is called "Nuking the Fridge".
This moment hit me recently on an episode of Eureka. I am okay with a small town populated with geniuses, where the town mayor is a former Shuttle engineer, astrophysist, biologist, coroner, and has enough free time to make electronic, invisible biomasks for dozens of people. I'm okay with a computer that was created 20 years before being smart enough make a living clone computer from the stray cells of one of the people who created a ship that can travel near the speed of light. But my "OCO!" came in an episode when people were drowning in strange places. The reason? "Artificial Water." OCO! Water, the molecule that is made of two Hydrogen and one Oxygen atom can have an artificial source? You can mix Hydrogen and Oxygen gases and add a spark, and you'll get "Artificial" water. And guess what? IT'S STILL WATER. If what you have isn't H2O, then it isn't water! It won't act like water, it won't contract with special radiation, it isn't water.
Excuse me, I have to enter my quiet place for a moment to calm down and de-rant.
I'm better now.
Anyway, it got me thinking, what is it that will take a person out of the story and give then an "OCO!" moment? It is something that will be different for each person. Based on our experiences and backgrounds, each of us will look at the same story with different eyes. We respond to the story elements we know are wrong or are logically inconsistent. Most doctors can spot problems in medical shows, most military people can spot problems with how military personnel act, and you will probably find that many professionals don't care for shows that supposedly are about their profession. Sometime these "OCO!" moments are due to the writers' lack of familiarity with the subject (even if there are technical advisers on the show). Other times it's just something about us. But that doesn't mean that everyone else can't enjoy the show, and many people do. Even when you can spot serious problems with a story, you can still suspend your disbelief to enjoy the rest of the show. And sometimes we laugh at those moments, and that makes the show more fun. A friend of mine reads and watches a lot of Sci-Fi and Fantasy stories. With all of that, he hates the movies Excaliber and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He says that he can't buy anything about those stories; they're too weird for him. But I love both of those movies and I can't pin down what is weirder about those stories compared to the other stories that he reads.
So, take a moment and share your favorite "OCO!" moment and why it broke the story for you in the talkback.