Thursday, January 10, 2008


Shtick: (from the Compact Oxford English Dictionary) an attention-getting or theatrical routine, gimmick, or talent.

Lots of shows use shtick. A great case in point was the opening season of NBC's Crossing Jordan, starring Jill Hennessy. Here's how it worked. Our intrepid coroner, Dr. Jordan Cavanaugh, played by Hennessy, would invariably hit some totally baffling set of clues in her case. Things simply didn't make sense, couldn't make sense, would not make any sense whatsoever, totally unsolvable, headed for Lilly Rush's troupe over at Cold Case twenty years in the future, except that even they, even then, wouldn't be able to solve it. Yada yada yada. Total dead end.

But then comes the shtick. Jordan decides to role play the crime! Brilliant! Jordan and one of her cronies begin to relive the events, and, and... it's like they begin to channel stuff from the scene of the crime! They are literally flooded with insights, and in no time at all the previously unsolvable is completely worked out and solved, arrest warrants soon to be served, everyone wiser and full of job satisfaction, except for the bad taste left in your mouth from proximity to heinous crime, a screwed up personal life, and working in a morgue.

Once the show was on a while, they quit role playing every week. I think they call this a show finding it's stride. Anyway, they dropped that part of the shtick and went on to become whatever the show is now. But for a while, the shtick was de rigeur.

We do that in church as well. When we say, "you have to do it this way," but this way is arbitrary, then you're fooling around with shtick. Moses was fooling around with shtick when he took up the stick and hit the rock for the second time, even though God said to speak to the rock this time around. Water gushed forth; the shtick is powerful, but for the wrong reasons.

Let us be wary of shtick.

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