There was so much wrong with The Defenders that, frankly I could have picked any number of topics to highlight its lazy production values but, for today’s lesson I’ve decided to write about continuity; both in the traditional sense and in terms of editing…
Well, when I say write, I mean rant – these are just a few quick thoughts and observations about the hundreds of mistakes I saw in this first season, mainly due (but not limited to) horrendous editing.
Throughout The Defenders, fight scenes and set pieces saw edits that replayed half a second of action. A punch would be thrown, a useless hoodlum would go flying through the air and crash into a wall. Then, the angle would change and we’d see ten or fifteen frames of the same useless hoodlum flying into the wall he’d just hit.
I know a half or third of a second isn’t much, but it’s noticeable – especially to those that have done any editing… in the industry, we call this just plain wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. A thousand times wrong!
The human eye and brain are wonderous machines and they can spot missing or added frames. Your job is to edit seamlessly; in tandem with… the laws of physics, not go against them like planing wood against the grain.
From one of the first scenes, then time and again throughout the series, background artists (or ‘extras’) can be seen walking towards and passed our characters during street scene walk n’ talks.
We’d switch perspective, perhaps to a reverse shot, and the extras are suddenly back, level with our characters when a thirtieth of a second beforehand, they were already three paces behind them.
As the camera revolves around the dinner table in the Golden Dragon Chinese restaurant, one second there’s dim sum between Luke’s chopsticks, the next they are gone, then they’re back again.
While an actor should do their best to help with continuity (here, it was next to impossible) it’s really up to the continuity person to get this right. Continuity is traditionally a female role as the fairer sex have a better attention to detail than guys… but whoever it was, male or female – they didn’t here, not today.
In this case it’s a tiny morsel of food between two chopsticks, so Mike Colter and the continuity person can be forgiven. But the buck stops with the editor – who would definitely have seen this error and who’s job it is to cut around it.
One continuity error like this is a sin.
Two or three should be a capital offence within the television industry.
Cutting between a long and a medium shot of Luke at Colleen’s dojo, Luke miraculously uncrosses his arms in a thirtieth of a second (well, 29.97 frames) The editor would have seen this and there would have been a conversation about it, I guarantee it.
The thing is, I can almost guarantee someone in the edit suite said, “Don’t worry about it, no one will notice.”
Well, listen up chumps. I notice. Every time.
PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Here are two more mistakes in the growing list, unconnected to editing or continuity but that should never have happened.
Misty Knight inexplicably walks right at the camera for a full five seconds while the cameraman tries not to fall over her her impressive chest and she waits for her cue – another actor’s line. What the hell are you doing, editor? This is superfluous and needs to go on the cutting room floor.
A female cop – an Asian background artist loiters at a police precinct door, waiting for the director to shout “Action!” before very conspicuously beginning to act. Editor – again, this is your responsibility to see this mistake and get rid!
In a similarly depressing instance of physics-defying, as Jessica and Matt run to save Danny, the sweeping camera follows Matt in a crane shot as he leaps up over railings and it’s obvious to see that Krysten Ritter has been instructed to stop (when she’s obstructed, out of shot) and then start running in laughable slow-motion again so as not to outpace Daredevil.
NICE EARS… THEY’RE HORNS.
Like Matt and his horn, I may be being picky, but these small examples soon add up to demonstrate the level of care that’s been put into this show, i.e. none.
Continuity is just one example of how The Defenders was some of the laziest television I’ve seen… since Iron Fist and is emblematic of how far Marvel Televsion Studios has fallen since Daredevil.
I could talk for hours on what went wrong, but unlike the characters in the show, I’m done with talking for today. First time for everything!