Excellent deployment of stereotypes

Readers of the blog may be aware that I’m a fan of NCIS. Predictably, this means that I would also watch an occasional episode of the show’s predecessor, JAG.

Such was the case last night, especially when I saw the synopsis for the particular episode: season 2, episode 6.

The son of a Navy officer is kidnapped in Northern Ireland and the evidence implicates the boy’s father, an IRA leader.

Oh dear. So it’s going to be US military personnel going undercover in Belfast, is it? Done by USian TV people?

This I gotta see.

To be fair to them, they did a lot right. They got many of the details right, but also many very, very wrong.

  • Street names. Yes, you could, conceivably, get a black taxi to the junction of York St and Broughan Street. But definitely not by saying to the driver “York and Broughan”. Kudos as well for heading to an IRA safe house in Millfield; nobody would think to hide there, no sirree.
  • The postboxes were red, yes, but of the style of them looked suspiciously American. And sure, if there was anywhere in Belfast in ’97 where the ‘Ra could walk about in broad daylight with AKs, the postboxes would be green.
  • The police had a choice of two vehicles: turreted versions of the Saracen and black taxis with blue lights on the roof. In 1997. Silly continuity people, it was all about the Saxon by then, with a side of Land Rovers. And the uniformed types used the finest of Mondeos.
  • OTT stereotype alert: a safe house ‘just outside Belfast’ was actually a farmhouse out of Far and Away. With actual tilly lamps. Yet it still happened to have a basement, because that’s the convention in USian television.
  • If you were pushed to come up with a suggestion for a bus in Belfast in ’97, what would you do? A Leopard, would be my suggestion. Not a bright red Routemaster, that’s for sure…
  • The US consulate had armed Marines standing outside it. And was in the city centre. Unlike the real one, where the armed marines tend not to hand around the University area…

In other words, I spend an hour laughing myself silly at something that was almost good enough to get away with it. But not quite. Kudos for trying, though. I suppose.

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