I’ve been watching Warehouse 13, and I’ve noticed a trend; artifacts kill people in exceedingly gruesome ways, and the more gruesome the method the greater chance there is that the body will conveniently shatter or dust or disintegrate. Which sort of bothers me, because I get all grossed out about the way the person is being killed (the idea of how gross it will be) and it almost never measures up.
Hell, the agents’ reactions almost never measure up. In one episode, an artifact caused two guys simultaneously sharing one space to…sort of…explode. All Pete did was grimace in a vaguely sarcastic way. There is a fundamental difference between a show that goes, “Ok, the ‘bad guys’ of the episode just exploded due to their own ill-advised meddling with things of which they know not. Next?” and one that goes, “Holy crap some guys just exploded in the shower of my hotel room! What the fuck do I do now!?”
I think the latter type of show would be much more interesting. But then that might run into problems, because we wouldn’t want to give people ideas of how to clean up their bathrooms after dismembering people. Oh, who’m I kidding? Dexter’s already got that covered.
Edit: I’m reading Carnival by Elizabeth Bear, which is set in a way future where humanity has colonized the stars and Old Earth is combating overpopulation problems with occasional culling of its populace. One of the main characters has nightmares of the time his mother was selected for culling; “–and she falls apart. She makes no sound. She doesn’t show pain or even squeak; the Governors are programmed to be humane. But one moment she is whole and alive and letting out a held breath and taking in another one to speak to him, and the next she pitches forward, boneless, her central nervous system disassembled. Within moments, the thing that was Angel’s Mama is a crumpling dune in the middle of a broad white empty floor…”
And somehow, that seems magnitudes more horrific than if there was a body left lying there.