Operator? What do you need?
May 22, 2015 11:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm in pre-production revolving around the idea of an operator - the one you see in movies and TV who relays information back to the units on the ground or hacks into systems and opens/unlocks doors, codes etc (examples such as The Matrix and Ocean's 11). I know there are hundreds of shows/movies that features them but can you give suggest specific movies and if a series, the specific episode? I'm trying to find and analyse a collection of cool sequences or representations. Bonus points for linking the specific scenes in Youtube! Many thanks!
posted by SRMorris to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Of course, forgot to mention Hackers movie
posted by SRMorris at 11:31 AM on May 22, 2015

The proto-cyberpunk TV station in the original Max Headroom made-for-TV movie ("20 Minutes Into the Future") was loaded with this stuff.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:33 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

The entire Leverage TV show is filled with this.
posted by lorimt at 11:34 AM on May 22, 2015

You get low tech versions of this guy (secret buzzers, phone calls, etc) in The Sting.
posted by phunniemee at 11:39 AM on May 22, 2015

TV Tropes:

The Cracker

The Playful Hacker
posted by bluecore at 11:42 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

The DJ from The Warriors (1979) might be an interesting alternative take on this. She's trying to organize the Bad Guys to attack our heroes as they struggle to escape.
posted by monotreme at 11:48 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Alec Hardison in Leverage is a fun example. This wiki page lists some "notable episodes" for his character.

Ash Morgan from Hustle, an excellent long con grifter series, is also great for this. He's less of a computer geek character and more of an all around resourceful guy. He's also older, which is nice to see.

As a sidenote, I take a weird pleasure in scenes where someone in the operator role you describe answers the phone "operations" or "ops." I don't know why this is, but there's something very crisp about it.
posted by zachlipton at 11:57 AM on May 22, 2015

Wiseguy, a pretty great late 80's cop show, had a guy in a wheelchair as the operator. (I thought the wheel chair angle was a pretty good idea, as a device to help explain his role as an operator.).

Kinda pre-digital, so no hacking or anything. He was an ongoing, integral character, so I can't point to a single episode.
posted by Bron at 12:07 PM on May 22, 2015

The 12-issue comics series Global Frequency is all about a worldwide network of 1,000 unique and unusual specialists linked together by advanced smart phones (which were still technically science fiction at the time in 2002), who solve various action-movie-style crises through quick thinking and clever cooperative applications of their various talents. Field ops are overseen by Aleph, a plucky girl hacker acting as "operator" from an undisclosed location. It was adapted into a sorta-okay TV pilot in the mid-2000s, which you can find on a number of video sites if you look around.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:09 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Other relevant TVTropes entries: Voice with an Internet Connection, Mission Control
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:17 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Die Hard
posted by AugustWest at 12:18 PM on May 22, 2015

Sneakers had several scenes like this.

Leap of Faith, while perhaps not the greatest film, has some excellent examples.
posted by duffell at 12:21 PM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

posted by Jacen at 12:32 PM on May 22, 2015

the opening heist in Femme Fatale
posted by j_curiouser at 1:00 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Emilio Estevez and John Voight did this in the first Mission Impossible film, but then it became Ving Rhames, and now it's Simon Pegg.
posted by valkane at 1:53 PM on May 22, 2015

Oh, and in the MI tv show, it was usually Greg Morris.
posted by valkane at 1:56 PM on May 22, 2015

I can't really point you to specific episodes, but Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds does something along these lines almost every episode.
posted by limeonaire at 6:26 PM on May 22, 2015

Oh, also, the "chompers" bit in Galaxy Quest is excellent.
posted by duffell at 8:29 PM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Pretty common in a lot of current shows like The Arrow/The Flash.

It's also pretty much the central premise of Person of Interest, which started out with Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) recruiting Reese (Jim Caviezel) to act as his agent. Of course, Harold's tipped off to people in jeopardy by another source. And sometimes they cut out the middleman.
posted by Pryde at 10:58 PM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

After getting back into watching Arrow in the last few days, I came here to suggest that show as well. There's another geek girl on there who does lots of that kind of thing.
posted by limeonaire at 7:21 PM on May 25, 2015

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