Thursday, March 1, 2012

TV's Long Island

I have lived on Long Island since I was four years old. I have worked in a number of towns here. And there are very few parts of the Island that I've never been to. But among those places I've never been are the parts of Long Island being depicted on TV shows.

For example, on How I Met Your Mother, Marshall and Lily have recently inherited a house in East Meadow. As depicted, the house could easily be in a neighborhood there. Its proximity to a Long Island Railroad station, on the other hand, is a problem. East Meadow sits midway between the two main lines of the LIRR with the nearest station a ten-minute drive away, yet the characters walk in and out as if the station was around the corner. In the most recent episode, Marshall and Lily run out to catch a train that leaves in nine minutes; since I don't recall them being shown having a car, it seems unlikely they would have any chance of getting to the station in time.

Another recent episode had Barney and Ted riding the "drunk train," the last train of the night to Long Island on which all the drunken revellers wend their way home from the city. Well, there really isn't any "last train" because the LIRR doesn't shut down for the night. Service is less frequent in the wee hours, with most trains about 90 minutes apart, but it isn't as if you're doomed to spend the entire night in Penn Station if you miss your train. And "the city that never sleeps" has plenty of places open in which to spend the time waiting for the next one.

As for the train car itself, we'll chalk it up to their using a generic Hollywood set because it didn't look like any LIRR train I've ever ridden on.


Much further east on the Island is the location for Revenge. The show takes place in "the Hamptons," though which one (West, South, East or even Hampton Bay) is not identified. As with How I Met Your Mother, the homes portrayed -- in this case, beachfront estates -- fit the area. But again, they seem to play fast and loose with geography. A recent episode had a character staying in a motel in Riverhead and various people zipped back and forth as if it was a mile away. In fact, depending on which Hampton we're supposed to be in, Riverhead is between twenty and thirty miles away. At least these people all have cars.

This week's episode sets the stage for a murder trial, which presumably will take place in the County Courthouse in Riverhead. The judge, pronouncing that the defendant is a flight risk because of his family's financial fortune, remands him to be held without bail. Okay, that makes some sense.

But then she says that he is to be held in the "maximum security prison" on Riker's Island, which is just ridiculous.  First of all, the complex on Riker's Island is just a jail and not a "maximum security prison." Second, it is in New York City. It seems unlikely that a judge could order a defendant to be sent to a jail some 75 miles away when the Suffolk County Jail is less than a mile from the courthouse.

Unless, of course, the only prison set they have available is the one they use on Alcatraz. In which case the best TV lawyer in the world won't get that ruling reversed.

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