Thinking the point was step on every crack

9 10 2013

I’ve been dilatory (cause: laziness) in continuing my reviews of Fringe.

That’s because (in addition to laziness) I did not continue watching Fringe.

There are basic leaps one needs to make whenever watching science fiction (or police/security procedurals), and for the most part I leap away. An FBI agent has a math genius brother who’s able to fulfill his teaching and research obligations to his university while also romancing his former grad student and chalking out formulae to help solve crimes? Okay. An FBI agent who partners with a socially awkward forensic anthropologist genius and her wacky pack o’ squints and their cool tools in order to solve crimes? Sure. An FBI agent whose sister was stolen by aliens when he was a boy paired with a rationalist medical doctor-slash-FBI agent to chase down oddities and supernaturalities in order to discover the truth out there? Sign me up. Hop hop hop.

An FBI agent who partners with a lobotomized genius who accidentally killed a lab assistant and whose been locked away in an asylum for 17 years as a result but now runs a lab in a spare basement room at Harvard in order to chase down oddities and cross-dimensionalities (while romancing that lobotomized genius’s son)? Wellll. . . .

I like the characters, I really do.  Olivia seemed like a real person, and I like(d) her relationship with Charlie and Philip. Nina Sharp is a fabulous cypher, and William Bell is, well, Leonard Nimoy, so, okay. Astrid, the FBI agent-turned-new-lab-assistant, is pleasant, but mostly a non-entity. Peter’s hinted-at background as a criminal matters not at all—and no, one doesn’t need to be a criminal to know dodgy-yet-conveniently-helpful small-timers—and his ambivalence about hanging around his head-chopped dad is meant to connote a kind of agony but shrinks into mere irritation. Still, one can hop along with these two.

The problem, really, is with Walter. He was apparently a real sonuvabitch pre-brain scoop, but while he retains his genius and enough of his memory, he’s mostly just pathetically creepy. He has a hankering for weed and candy, keeps a cow in his lab, and shuffles quite convincingly between his burbling beakers. He giggles at the thought of some of his experiments and appreciates the weirdness the Fringe Division throws his way, but coupled with his constant mispronunciations of Astrid’s name and his keening for his son’s love, his own weirdness comes off as less lovably eccentric than, well, pathetically creepy.

As I write that, I wonder if the show wouldn’t have done better to have pushed even further on the creepiness. The other characters periodically voice their concerns about his trustworthiness, but more because he’s pathetic than that he’s creepy. Had he retained some of those characteristics which made him such a piece of work before, Walter might have become something much more compelling than a quivering mass of goo in a sweater.

This is not a great leap (!) on my part: Alternate-universe Walter, who retains all parts of his brain, is an arrogant, vengeful leader out to destroy those who are destroying his world. He turned out to be far more complex than goo-Walter, and offered a far better character through which to consider how far one should go in order to defend oneself—and one’s world.

Still, as good as “Walternate” was, the extended stay in the alternate universe in season 3 leached away a lot of my enthusiasm for the show. I like dips into alternate universes (one of the best episodes of the terrible Star Trek: Enterprise was bad-ass Enterprise) and well as skips across the timeline (at which Star Trek: Voyager excelled), but I do not react well to permanent shifts in the time/storyline. At all.

I thoroughly enjoyed Eureka, but when they time-shifted the series in the fourth season, I stopped watching. When the fifth season hit Netflix, I did go back and rewatch the entire series, but that shift was something I had to get past. I did—Eureka‘s comedy-drama sensibility helped—but had the show not acknowledged, through the necessity of the characters themselves constantly managing that shift, that they had just messed with something good, I would have stayed gone.

Fringe was hampered in this shift-management insofar as Peter was the only one aware of the previous timeline. The other characters apparently come around (I did dip in and out of season 4), but, coupled with the cross-posting of “Fauxlivia” (yeeks) in the regular universe, I just thought, This shit is too much.

And the fifth season? Haven’t seen it, not least because the setting has been shifted once again, this time into the future, where our plucky gang has to save the world from, apparently, genocidal Observers. Whatever.

I’m not saying I won’t go back and finish it out. But that will only happen once I no longer care so much about those characters, and thus am no longer so bothered by the artless manipulation of them.


There is more than one of everything

3 08 2013

Two things.

1. I not only don’t mind spoilers, I kinda prefer them.

I don’t know when this happened, when I began to prefer to know how things work out rather than just waiting to find out, but now I do.

There’s more to this than that, but, for now, this’ll do.

2. I’ve been watching and more-or-less-enjoying Fringe.

I got interested in Fringe maybe a year ago, when I’d see teasers for the latest episode on Hulu. At first, I ignored it, then I thought, Huh, that might be interesting, as I flicked past, then thought, Huh, if that shows up on Netflix, I think I’ll give ‘er a go.

It showed up on Netflix.  I’m giving ‘er a go.

And while I did do a bit of skim-spoiling of the show on Wikipedia, I decided to, y’know, actually watch the show to find out what happens.

There are some things I like about it and some things which are quite ridiculous (even for the grim sci-fi/conspiracy subgenre in which it exists), but I mostly like it. I liked X-Files before it went off the rails, and Fringe clearly owes a great deal to pre-derailed X.

I also thought, prior to tonight, that while it is in many ways a more sophisticated show than X-Files, it is a lesser one.

And then the last scene of the episode. I was not expecting it. I think I stopped breathing for a moment or two.

I don’t know why, I can think of so many reasons why it shouldn’t have stopped me, but stop me it did.

I won’t spoil it for you; I was glad I hadn’t spoiled it for myself.

Do whatcha gonna do

14 07 2013

Late afternoon and all I could think of was how sticky I was. An ice cube where my cleavage should be wasn’t going to cut it.

Time again for the a/c.

The cats reacted predictably, giving me reproving looks along the lines of what took you so long, cheapskate? They’ll get theirs, tomorrow, when I turn off the air and open the windows and abandon them for my office.

Anyway, I finished watching Eureka last night and have moved on to Fringe. Eureka will likely make it into that round of shows which I re-watch because I like the characters and I like the dialogue and I’m having that kind of day or week in which I like knowing how things turn out.

This actually gets in the way, the liking knowing how things turn out: I re-watch old Bones and Numb3ers and Buffy and Waking The Dead and shy away from movies I’d probably like and shows which, once I’ve seen them, I’ll want to see them again.

I did, on dmf’s suggestion, watch Wallander, and I’ve seen a chunk of the first series of Luther, but too often I’m unwilling to stretch myself beyond the familiar. I’ve heard good things about The Bridge and Orange is the New Black, but will I bother with something that might catch me unawares?

That’s really it, isn’t it: I don’t like to be caught out, and that dislike has metastasized beyond defensive behavior and into defensive viewing. Which, to be frank, is silly.

Oh, I don’t have a problem deepening all kinds of bitsy issues, but, honestly, some days I do just need to get over myself. I fret about stagnating and changing my defaults and on and on and then I fret over watching a fucking television show.

Which, to be frank, is silly.

So I’ve watched the first episode of Fringe, and it’s sci-fi-y and police-procedural-y and it stars Joshua Jackson and Blair Brown and Kirk Acevedo who I like and Anna Torv who I don’t know but who has great eyes and—wait while I put my hand where my cleavage should be—Lance Reddick, who is always the most interesting man on the screen.

(He lives in Brooklyn. My chances of running into him are nil and my chances of making any kind of impression on him are less than nil but oh my. My oh my.)

Fringe and Lance Reddick and sarcastic cats in the conditioned air: it ain’t much, but in the bowels of July, it’s all right.