Out of character writing

There is an episode of Star Trek – The Next Generation that really boggles my mind. An Insectoid race of aliens infected/posessed a number of high up members of star fleet and were organizing behind destroying humanity and well… for those of you who watched it, you probably felt that something was odd.

It wasn’t easy to relate to the characters, but I recently burned through FlashForward, with similar feelings. About 8 episodes in the show lost momentum for me, became less interesting and even my wife was having problems nailing down what the problem was. When I watched Lost, every episode after the first season left me feeling like I had lost something, something much more interesting than an hour of my life.

Over the last year or so I have watched a number of episodes of Enterprise, and by and large I’ve not got a good idea of who these characters really are, and once season 2 began, it has been all downhill. The characters are established in the first season and their roles on the ship are well defined, then everything goes to the shitter.

I think the issue is that the characters change their fundamentals, and it becomes a real mess when they try to justify the changes. Archer, turns into a pirate to advance the story, but really doesn’t look back on it after the fact, except to say it occurs and sulk; Trip becomes a douche every once and a while, completely over the top and aggressive, primarily when Florida gets mentioned. I don’t think this is definitive by any means, but it is an issue I have with most every piece of writing coming out of Hollywood these days.

When I was taking my screenwriting course everything I wrote was torn apart and a trend throughout the class was writing out of character. When it occurs it is typically out of boredom or frustration and even in the best of circumstances it is used as a method of story advancement.

I understand its purpose but it is still tough to see fall into place.