Saturday, July 30, 2011

Baker Street Saturday - Moffat-grams

     Did anyone watch White Collar last week? The one where Neal has to spend millions of dollars to attract the attention of the bad guy?

     Did anyone notice the use of the Moffat-grams? I swear I've heard the term before but cannot find it online. So my definition, a Moffat-gram is writing on the screen to pass information to the viewer in a passive way, neither disturbing nor disrupting the fourth wall.

     Steven Moffat's Sherlock did this in the first season. When a character received a text message, we see them looking at the phone and read the writing in the air next to them. We no longer need a close up of the phone and try to read its text.

     When Sherlock Holmes is quickly deducing one fact after another, all we see is him kneeling next to a body and looking. But the words floating next to him take us on a wild trip and we not only see how quickly his mind works but understand what he's seeing along with him. (And yet the brilliant detective still makes more deductions than we ever could.)

     White Collar did this when Neal was spending money. They showed products he was trying and buying and words floated next to it in thin air, telling us the name and dollar amount.

Not to end the comparison there:

     Then toward the end of the episode, every cell phone in one area bleeped with the exact same text message. It was very cool - and yet, somehow reminiscent of the first episode of Sherlock in which every cell phone bleeped with the exact same text message - which had writing floating in the air around each and every one. It was so well done.

     Obviously it was so well done or others wouldn't be adopting the suave new way of imparting information to us lucky viewers.

     So what about you? Have you seen the Moffat-grams? Do you like them? Do you have a problem with them? Do you think it’s a brilliant move that’ll change how episodes and movies are expressed to us?


Au and Target said...

I love playing with the fourth wall, in writing for print too. It's a good way to reach people if done well.

Live Out Loud said...

I totally agree. It's one of those things, if done well, you're a genius. If messed up - watch out for the criticism!

Anonymous said...

I liked it. I liked how quickly they could tell a part of the story and it added to the idea that they were rapidly spending money.

Live Out Loud said...

Cool, Dana! Thanks for visiting my Blog - come back lots!!