Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Fringe Finally Flies

The biggest problem with med school is that it wreaks havoc upon my tv watching. I’ve got weeks of Pushing Daisies and Terminator and How I Met Your Mother just sitting there, languishing in misuse. So I was pretty behind on my Fringe.

Fringe seemed perfectly designed for me. Take plot of the X-Files and combine it with the remarkable track record and vision of JJ Abrams. Throw in some actors from shows I like (The Wire, not so much The Mighty Ducks) and you’ve got some promise. Turns out, the first episode wasn’t so great.

Problems with the pilot:
1. The girl wasn’t hot enough. Shallow I know. But when you’re standing in line next to Jennifer Garner and Evangeline Lilly, almost anyone is going to have trouble.
2. The guy wasn’t funny enough. Is this equally as shallow? That’s a debate for another time. Suffice it to say the character was designed to be a wiseacre and instead was just a pest.
3. It cost too much. I have no idea how much it cost and don’t care to research it. All I know is it looked like they were trying to spend a ton of money to make things look cool, which is grating, and I’m pretty sure they can’t continue to spend that much money on every episode.
4. The mythology wasn’t immediately interesting. Lost was immediately a delicious mystery. Alias was immediately an action thriller. This didn’t stand out.
5. The world’s rules weren’t defined. Science fiction is tricky. You need to quickly establish what can and can’t be done in your world. True, the show is about weird stuff happening. But one particular scene (a woman pulls the skin off her arm to reveal a robotic hand) clashed too much with the vision of a pretty realistic 2008.

But it was good enough to watch episode 2. Episode 2 got better. We didn’t waste a bunch of time meeting everyone. Lead guy got much less annoying. There was only one problem: it was a pretty close copy of an X-Files episode (Tooms/Squeeze.) This is the problem Sliders had: every episode was a dumbed down version of a classic sci-fi movie. Heroes very nearly falls into this trap by so closely mimicking X-Men stories. I enjoyed the episode, but I’m not going to spend my precious free time watching a show that’s copying another show which has already earned my lifelong devotion. I’ll just go watch my X-Files dvds.

Episode 2 was good enough to get me to episode 3, which in turn got me to 4. Each was good enough to warrant another hour, but not much more. Until episode 4, last week’s episode. And really, this episode wasn’t monumental, but it started to get some very important things right. Not-Jennifer-Garner has become a smidge more interesting with each episode, and is now pretty watchable. Whiney lead guy looks to have stopped his whining. Cranky Old Genius looks like he’ll be more of a character and less of a caricature (thus far he’s by far the most interesting character.) And most importantly, the mystery is opening up. This episode introduced tasteless bald guy and mind-reading, sonic-pistol-wielding guy, who were both pretty awesome. The MacGuffins have become interesting and I am actually starting to formulate theories about what’s going on. If I can't be theorizing as I watch, a show like this isn't going to be worth watching.

It took you 4 episodes JJ, but you just earned me to the end of the season.

1 comment:

Erin said...

We are so related - I also immediately thought of the Tooms episode when watching the Fringe about super fast aging.

I agree about the show, too - it's slowly getting more interesting, and I might stick with it.