Thursday, August 26, 2004

Hello, and welcome to another installment of My Patented Guide To Minor Spelling And Grammar Errors That Make People Look More Ignorant Than They Are, or MPGTMSAGETMPLMITTA.

Today I'd like to talk about the word "trilogy." I hear the word misused often enough that I think we should stop and clarify. To wit: phrases like "The Indiana Jones Trilogy," which is not, in fact, a trilogy.

First, let's look at some things that ARE trilogies. Lord of the Rings is, perhaps, the best known example, followed by Star Wars (the "holy trilogy" to most geeks), and to a lesser extent, the Matrix and Back to the Future.

Why do those qualify? Because, more than just being sets of three, they are in fact ONE story told across THREE installments. 1) Hobbit acquires ring. 2) Hobbit travels with ring. 3) Hobbit disposes of ring. 1) Doc Brown and Marty have an adventure with the time machine. 2) Time machine creates complications for Doc Brown and Marty. 3) Doc Brown and Marty wrap up adventures and destroy time machine. And so on.

(And yes, I know BTTF 2 and 3 were written long after the first one, but they still fit together seamlessly, so quit being anal.)

The Indiana Jones movies, brilliant as they are (well, except for Last Crusade), are not a trilogy. Why? Because each one can be watched independently of the others with no diminishment of enjoyment. The second movie, in fact, takes place three years BEFORE the first. They are not ONE story, they are three separate stories featuring the same lead character.

The Scream series also fails to meet these criteria, for another reason: to be a trilogy, the second installment has to lead into the third. If the series had ended at Scream 2 (and many will argue that it should have), the story would not have felt unfinished.

I urge you to remember these rules before you go throwing the word trilogy around willy-nilly. And to commit grievous acts of violence against those who pronounce it "tri-ology." Ghod, I hate that.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

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