It was almost exactly a year ago when we talked about whether it’s important for a movie to be shot in the place where it’s set. This was inspired by Knowing, which had just opened, and which was set in part in New York City but was shot in Melbourne, and it showed. The comments there ended up noting lots of bad examples of movie and TV places that weren’t what they were supposed to be.
Now that a full year of movies and TV have passed, it’s time to revisit the issue. This time it’s prompted by last week’s episode of Castle, which is set in New York City but — surprise! — is shot in Los Angeles. This often results in the kind of absurdities that are very typical of anything that’s supposed to be NYC but isn’t. Castle’s apartment, for instance, is huge even by rich-New Yorker standards, but at least he is a very rich bestselling author. In last week’s episode, however, we see Beckett’s apartment, which is so ridiculous I laughed out loud: even if she were at the top of the NYPD pay grades, she could be given over her entire paycheck to rent and still not cover that place. That she is living like that would have to be evidence, in the real New York, that she’s on the take somewhere.
But even that isn’t what made me say, “I have got to write about this.” Last week’s Castle (the story of which continues tonight) opens with a dead body in Grand Central Station… except that wasn’t Grand Central Station that Beckett and Castle turned up at. (Was it L.A.’s Union Station? I think so, but I don’t know my L.A. train stations that well.) It’s one thing to pretend that Beckett lives in an apartment that no middle-class New Yorker could ever afford, because most non-New Yorkers already have unrealistic ideas about how New Yorkers live thanks to movies and especially TV. But surely everyone knows what Grand Central Station looks like, it’s been featured in movies so often.
Anyway: What’s the most egregious fake movie or TV location you’ve seen recently?
Feel free to note locations that actually work surprisingly well, too: I was struck by how right Remember Me gets how New Yorkers live: even the rich people have small spaces, for instance.
(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)