Jon Hamm

There's a total lack of telephone etiquette on screen. Nobody ever says "goodbye" when the conversation is over — they just hang up. Why? — Scott Kenward, Miami

So why do TV characters sign off without so much as a sayonara? According to Pen Densham, a Hollywood-based screenwriter (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) and author of the new script manual Riding the Alligator, proper farewells during scenes often end up on the cutting-room floor.

"A screen-writer may well have written in that final phone salutation," says Densham, but the polite adios frequently gets nixed in an effort to keep ADD-prone audiences engaged. "Producers are frighteningly aware of their viewers' impatience — the fear is that if a bare microsecond of boredom seeps in, the fingers will plunk the remote, so the storytellers are often desperately trying to move things along quickly," says Densham. "Every delay is snipped." In other words: If they say goodbye, so might you.

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