Last night I watched the first episode of Alphas. It's a decent enough setup; there's potential there despite its heavy reliance on an Idiot Plot.

But there was this one scene -- okay, they're watching a video. And then it cuts out. And the autistic computer expert kid goes and fiddles with some stuff behind the TV and fixes it, and then explains "It was the VGA display port."

Okay, first of all: nobody computer-savvy, least of all somebody with autism, would use the phrase "VGA display port". Because while VGA is technically a port for a display, DisplayPort is the name of a completely different interface.

Second: How the fuck could it be a problem with the VGA port if the video was working fine and then cut out? Did somebody step on the cable and accidentally yank it out of the TV? If so, how the hell come we don't see that happen and nobody makes any reference to it?

Third: VGA is only video. If the VGA cable got unhooked, why did it cut off the audio, too?

(The one thing that is perfectly plausible: a room full of people who are so dumb that they need a computer genius to check whether a cable is unplugged. That, sadly, is perfectly true to life.)

It's a little thing, and not really important to the story. But it's just so damn weird. Why is it in there? And why is it nonsense? Why couldn't it have been something that actually made sense? "You changed the channel instead of turning up the volume; you have to switch it back to VGA In." Something like that. Easy.

Here's the thing: fact checker is an actual profession. There are dudes whose whole job is to make sure that the physics on Big Bang Theory or the biology on Bones is more-or-less plausible.

And yet Bones clearly straight-up does not give a fuck whether its computers behave plausibly.

Last year had an episode where the new Moriarty character booby-trapped a skeleton so that when Angela scanned it into her computer it would load a virus onto it and make it catch on fire. (In last week's episode, Angela could not even pronounce "parameterized" correctly.)

Now, I get that, for a variety of reasons, TV shows and movies may not want to actually show Mac or Windows interfaces, and instead do some kind of MofOS mockup. That's fine and understandable. My complaint isn't "That's a fictional computer interface", it's "That computer interface does not seem to operate on any kind of rules or logic." Indeed, it's entirely possible to design a fictional computer interface that looks and behaves more or less like a real computer should; my recollection of last season of Dexter is that they did a pretty solid job of this, with only a couple weird moments.

Another thing I don't get is how they still get away with this nonsense in an age where everyone has a computer.

It was one thing in the '80's and '90's when you could pretty much bullshit computers doing absolutely anything and most of your audience would be none the wiser. But in this day and age even your most out-of-touch viewer most likely owns a computer and has used Facebook.

And knows that when you look for a person, your computer does not say "SEARCHING ..." in a giant stupid angular font that takes up half the screen, then start cycling through black-and-white photos at a rate of several per second while making stupid deet-deet-deet noises until it finally finds the person you're looking for, then make more stupid beeps in time to the giant red flashing "MATCH FOUND" text across the screen, then pull up a page with white all-caps text in the Spider-Man font against a black background.

People own computers. They know what computers do and how they behave, at least on a basic, cursory level. So how come TV shows still depict computers as these flashy magic boxes?

I'd kinda like to write an episode of some TV show where a guy comes into one of these offices and then starts turning around with a quizzical look on his face every time a computer makes a stupid noise. And eventually starts asking people what the hell is wrong with their computers. "Why does it keep making that noise? Ugh, how can you stand being in a room with that all day? Jesus Christ, how can you read that all-caps, weirdly-spaced font?"