The Time Criminal Minds Insulted All Of St. Paul

The genesis for this post began a year ago during an episode of Criminal Minds featuring some inconsistencies that only an #avgeek would probably spot. Like most of my blog ideas, it fell by the wayside. Then another one popped up during last fall’s premiere of Supergirl (CBS) and this post got real.

It’s a beast putting a 42-minute drama together. Such a chore that they can only shoot about 7 minutes of show per day. In one of my posts on the Warner Bros. VIP studio tour I described how laborious it can be to shoot a simple exchange of dialogue between two characters, and it helps understand why shooting goes so slow. With all that work it’s easy to see how little things like what I’m about to show slip by.

So don’t mistake this post as criticism. What follows are a couple of things I’ve noticed that are completely inconsequential but amusing. At least to me.

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Supergirl saves an airplane…

…that probably couldn’t fly anyway. The first thing to get out of the way here is that I do understand this is a scene involving a flying woman, which is impossible according to the current understandings of any number of scientific disciplines. But it’s hard to consider that a goof when she’s the main character.

What got me here is what’s highlighted in the screencap below. This single-level quad-jet (most analogous to the Airbus A340) has its horizontal stabilizers mounted to the fuselage (lower arrow). Pretty common for aircraft with wing-mounted engines.

Now look to the upper arrow. The stabilizers there are mounted on the tail fin.
That’s what we call a T-tail, for obvious reasons. T-tails are typically found on planes with engines mounted on the rear of the fuselage.“You’re losing me, airplane nerd.” Here’s the thing: Planes have a T-tail or a stabilizer mounted on the fuselage, not both. Both would be…weird…and seriously screw with the aerodynamics of an aircraft. That’s why they don’t exist.

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Criminal Minds insults all of St. Paul

In Season 8, Episode 17 of Criminal Minds the BAU took a case that brought it to the Minneapolis suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. St. Paul has its own skyline (which I think is better than that of Minneapolis, for what it’s worth), but you’d never know it according to this piece of art hanging in the St. Paul Police Department.

St. Paul is known for having a delicate ego, so we would caution its residents to not get too bent out of shape about this. The folks at Criminal Minds have to make a new police department set every seven days so let’s cut them some slack.

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Okobohgeez, X-Files

I was just settling into the X-Files in Season 1, Episode 4 when Mulder and Scully followed a case to the northwest Iowa town of Okoboji. I’m pretty familiar with Okoboji, or “the lakes” as we call it back home. It’s a chain of towns and lakes about half an hour from where I grew up. Okoboji sits in a flat land, the nearest hill of any kind is the Ocheyedan Mound, which towers 1,650 feet above sea level. Here’s a photo.

So imagine my bemusement when the agents’ car rolls past the sign for Lake Okobogee. Or when tall mountains blanketed with coniferous trees loom behind them. The filming location was actual Buntzen Lake in British Columbia, where X-Files filmed.

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Let’s overlook the fact that the episode was about a young boy named Kevin who was having government transmissions beamed into his brain. In northwest Iowa.

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Criminal Minds drives #avgeeks crazy

I saved the inspiration behind this post for last, and I’m going to brag about it. You read this far, bear with me. The episode opens outside a 747 that’s supposed to be halfway between Pittsburgh and Phoenix, which it wouldn’t be because no airline is going to fly a 747 between those domestic markets (airlines don’t fly scheduled 747 service on any domestic routes). Because it’s mid-flight, the plane is supposed to be at its cruising altitude, but the video they show is of a plane shortly after takeoff. Its landing gear are retracting in the first few frames – a dead giveaway that the plane is not at 37,000 feet. You can also see the flaps extended, as they might to help get the 747 in the air.

The second #avgeek goof comes from the interior shots. The 747 is a twin-aisle aircraft, but the interior shots are shot on a single-aisle set. Oooh, that’s a big goof! #eyeroll

Last one, I promise. When Dr. Reid hangs the aircraft blueprint on the wall it clearly says 727 Structural Schematic. The 727 and 747 are vastly different planes. The most striking difference would be the 727’s lack of the distinctive hump the 747 is known for. Another obvious unsimilarity would be that the 747 has four wing-mounted engines while the 727 has two engines mounted on the rear fuselage and one in the tail.

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