Monday, September 21, 2015

Dr. Smith and Character Arc.

Last weekend was great. I finished a second draft of "Rebel Shifter." I was feeling excited, but then the second week of school started for my kids and since then I haven't been able to get back to it. I hate getting pulled out of story for several days because I have to re-read a few chapters (at the very least) to get back into it.  


A few days ago, I read an article about character arc. This got me thinking about Dr. Smith from Lost in Space. I know this is outdated and don’t laugh, but I’ve always been disappointed in the movie. All I wanted the movie to be was a redo of the original first few episodes with modern special effects, better acting and more realistic personalities. Instead, the 
movie turned out to be some sort of convoluted thing about fathers not spending enough time with their sons. 

The character arc article reminded me of Dr. Smith because his character arc was never completed. On the original show, he started out evil and then turned into a bungling idiot/coward that at times had some soft moments, but continued to be evil. In the movie, he was evil and eccentric, which I thought was an interesting way to play him, but in both cases his character arc was never finished. 

Ideally, he should have been shoved out of an airlock, but the excuse was Professor Robinson didn’t want his family to see him as a murder. But why not? Isn’t it worse to leave your family in danger? Realistically, anyone would’ve killed him. Robinson could have done it when they weren’t looking and blame it on an accident. If Major West would’ve killed him, I feel that would’ve added an interesting dimension to his character.

There was another option. Since Dr. Smith was not killed, he could’ve been played as more of an anti-hero. There may have been a hint of that in a few episodes, but usually he reverted to his old ways despite learning lesson after lesson, he STILL got messed up in some evil plan and was allowed to live in an endless loop. It would’ve been much more interesting going into his background to find out why he went wrong and then slowly have him change from villain to hero. Instead, they relied on Smith to be the source of conflict, which was the lazy thing to do and the series dissolved into more of a comedy.

Anyway, it’s an interesting example of character arc not being completed. To some extent Loki from the Thor movies has this problem too. It will be interesting to see what happens to him.

Meanwhile, stop by Good Book Alert and check out the cover reveal for P.T. Dilloway’s latest release "Justice For All" now available for pre-order.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never thought about it, but you're right his character never advanced to a place that felt like a conclusion.
Guess we'll find out about Loki in the next movie. He might change, or he might remain the scorpion - you know what he is and that will never change.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I was VERY disappointed in the movie version of Lost In Space. It was terrible. I agree with your thoughts on Mr. Smith's character arc.

Pat Dilloway said...

The only thing I remember about the movie is it finally bumped Titanic from#1 at the box office. Thanks for featuring my book!

Crystal Collier said...

For me, the story is all about the character arc. If the character doesn't change, I don't like the story. Period.