modernwizard: (Default)
I just watched the episode, and it was the worst ep of Fringe I've ever seen. We've had eps without one of the three main characters before, but never eps as crappy as this.

This show succeeds on the strength of its triangle created by the three strong main characters, Olivia, Walter and Peter. They all love each other, and their love bridges universes and reaches through time and apparently makes anything possible. They play off each other in an entertaining manner and draw the audience's sympathy and interest. Removing one character temporarily from the triad show the importance of the triad all the more vividly [witness the Peterless eps at the beginning of this season], while removing two of them at the same time, the way Letters of Transit did, removes the show's dynamism and hook. I don't care how awesome John Noble is as an actor [though he is awesome]; Walter alone, as he was for all of about 5 seconds of this ep [until Peter showed up at the very end] cannot carry an ep of Fringe himself.

Having established that this ep was particularly stupid for removing Olivia and Peter for most of it, I would also like to say that it failed spectacularly by eliminating Olivia completely from this ep. [Somehow Anna Torv got top billing in this one, though she did nothing.] What the hell, Fringe?! Olivia is the mainest of main characters. She is the protagonist, the one we've grown attached to and invested in. The unspoken rule of narrative is that every single chapter has to involve your protagonist [prologues and epilogues excused]. This was neither a prologue nor an epilogue, and thus it constituted a completely Olivialess irrelevant tangent. I don't care how interesting an ep of Fringe is. If it doesn't have Olivia in it, it doesn't count. This glaring structural flaw of Letters of Transit left me feeling narratively cheated.

Also the characterization of the Observers as Nazi-like dictators with a lust for power and control contradicts everything we know about these passive, morally ambivalent, wise, yet also emotionally kind of clueless characters. If that's the direction the fifth season is going in, I have better things to watch. I was really hoping for a wrapup to all the plot threads about the shapeshifters and the machine and Peter's reappearance and why he's so important and the holes in the universes and Olivia's "recovering" memories and Walternate's capture of Olivia and how the hell David Robert Jones came back and where the Observers came from, etc., etc., etc., NOT the Fringe team struggling against some cheaply imagined dystopia.
modernwizard: (Default)
Hooray! I just found out today that one of my favorite TV shows, Fringe, will be renewed for a 5th season. This will be its final season, a truncated one with only 13 eps, but I think that will give the series plenty of time to address its many plot threads and arrive at a satisfying conclusion.

Wow...

Feb. 29th, 2012 07:50 am
modernwizard: (Default)
A first season ep of Fringe seems to have more characer development than a first season ep of Alcatraz. Also Fringe doesn't seem to be killing off its characters of color at the same rate.
modernwizard: (Default)
  • Bones. I'm rather worried for the start of this season, which is the last one. Now that Brennan is pregnant with Booth's child, I fear that the season might do away with all her character development and just show her as a mindlessly joyous mommy-to-be, in the way that the previous season was all about Angela and Hodgins having a baby, blech.
  • Fringe. Previously extolled.
  • Haven. In this summer SyFy series, FBI agent Mary Sue Audrey Parker investigates people with unusual powers, who all live in the small town of Haven, Maine. Helping her in her quest are police chief/ love interest Nathan Wuornos and the guy who just hangs around being a lovable scoundrel, Duke Crocker. Intriguing hints of an overall conspiracy or mythology rise above thoroughly mediocre acting and predicatable mysteries of the week.
  • Sanctuary. One of my friends turned me on to this Sy Fy show last year. It's about an immortal genius, Dr. Helen Magnus, who preserves, studies, rescues and allies herself with "abnormals," or paranormal, mythological, folkloric beings. Amanda Tapping, as the indefatigably capable Magnus, is an exemplar of feminist heroism, besides being really sexy. The constant time-traveling, season-end cliffhangers and whammy-like game-changing twists [Magnus' daughter dies! Her supposedly dead father comes back! There's a Hollow Earth inside this one! It's invading our Earth!] provide mindless entertainment. It's a silly series, but I keep coming back, even though Agam Darshi as Kate Freelander is a character so annoying and useless that she needs to go away.
  • Supernatural. Why do I even bother with this misogynist drivel? Must be my crush on Jensen Ackles, whose portrayal of the long-suffering Dean continues to attract my eyeballs. Since it burned out its universal apocalypse storyline at the end of season 5, this show has had nowhere else to go, instead just preferring to hang around into irrelevancy. I only watch occasionally.
  • Warehouse 13. This SyFy series concerns two Secret Service agents, Myka and Pete, who happen across a warehouse filled with magical, semi-historical artifacts. They join the quest to snag, bag and tag artifacts when the artifacts are wreaking havoc across the world. Repartee between the two agents, the silly Pete [played by Eddie McClintock] and the more tightly wound Myka [played by Joanne Kelly], provides chuckles, as does curmudgeonly leadership from Warehouse head Artie [played by a dry Saul Rubinek]. Add a computer genius in her 20s, Claudia [played by Allison Scagliotti, who is way hot], always ready with a slick phrase, and you have a low-key, good-natured series.
modernwizard: (Default)
Just saw the latest ep now. While, at first, I derided the show for being a rip-off of the X-Files and making a mess of the Boston area setting, I have now come to really enjoy it. The mythology of the show has slowly built over each successive season, creating a rich tapestry of "fringe" events, shapeshifters, Observers, alternate realities and a whole coherent system that we viewers still have much to learn about. The way in which the show builds tension and engagement with each following episode keeps me entertained, as does the vast collection of mythology that the show seems to have only suggestively scratched the surface of.

Anna Torv as Olivia and her other-world alternate shows nuances of talent playing two versions of the same character, both hardened in different ways. I used to think that Olivia had all the personality of cold tofu, but, as the show has gone on, I have realized that much of her character is repressed, but Torv plays the depths beyond that repression very well, with an American accent even.

Usually, I do not really care for main-character romances in TV shows, but I really like the slowly developing relationship between Anna Torv's Olivia and Joshua Jackson's Peter. I assume there must be a lot of underplayed angst because the characters have been thwarted by so many things -- not knowing if the other reciprocated, Peter having sex with Alternate Olivia instead of Real Olivia, Peter's erasure from the main timeline -- but the actors do a good job of downplaying their emotions so that their actions speak loudly than any maudlin score.

Speaking of Peter, I am very distressed that he hardly appeared in this ep, only as "the man in the mirror," and I hope that he becomes reintegrated in the cast soon. I really like the way that Olivia, Astrid, Walter and Peter work as a family-like unit and as a Fringe team, and I wish that Peter would be back to sustain that group chemistry.
modernwizard: (Default)
1. Joss Whedon. Just because he was behind a clever movie [BTVS], a generally awesome TV show [BTVS], two better-than-average TV shows [Angel and Firefly], an acceptable movie extension [Serenity] and an intermittently witty but mostly flaccid Web movie [Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog] does not mean that his latest outing, Dollhouse, is automatically wonderful.
  • In point of fact #1, his quality has been going downhill ever since BTVS.
  • In point of fact #2, Dollhouse so far is a silly TV show on par with Fringe in that both shows contain silly premises, unconvincing, murky universes and leads with all the acting ability of lukewarm tap water.
  • In point of fact #3, Dollhouse so far is actually worse than Fringe because it lacks the emotional warmth and accessibility that major players John Noble and Joshua Jackson bring to Fringe.
2. Alan Moore [and Zack Snyder]. V for Vendetta is overrated; for a comic book, it has art equivalent to the poorly mimeographed ads in the back of my childhood Archie serials that wanted me to send $1.25 to a PO box in New York so I could get a box of "hilarious" practical joke devices. Watchmen is overrated; for a story about a whole world on the brink of collapse, it conveniently disregards the female population, except insofar as they are defined by sexually abusive relationships with wankers. And both Alan Moore and Zack Snyder are overrated; both of them are too busy staring at the magnificence of their own egos to register the fact that the world contains individuals besides tragic, conflicted, chisel-jawed men.

The people who need to be notified of these not-God individuals -- namely, the Whedon wanks on Television Without Pity's Dollhouse forums parsing every moment of dialog looking for "Jossian greatness" and the Moore/Snyder posse who seriously believes that the Watchmen movie is on par with The Godfather trilogy [seriously?!] -- are not going to listen to me. However, if you happen to be of reasonable sanity and you wonder what all the spooge in a teacup is over these not-God individuals, rest assured that you are not missing anything in avoiding either Dollhouse or Watchmen. I'll keep you updated on the off chance that Dollhouse improves. Anyone associated with #2, however, is a lost cause.

To conclude, the following people are God.

1. David Bowie...or, more precisely, his Area. That is all.

modernwizard: (Default)
Watched the premiere of Dollhouse just now. I'm very curious about the concept of programmable people, but, so far, the show itself is rather dull because the trite script allows no development for sympathetic characters and also because Eliza Dushku has even less acting talent than Anna Torv on Fringe, which I didn't think was possible. [However, watching Anna Torv kick ass is ALWAYS entertaining.] Besides which, the show was much more interested in establishing that Eliza Dushku, in fact, does have boobs and less interested in delineating the rules and hierarchy of the programmable people project. As much as I think the backstory on Fringe is a steaming heap of vaguely crapped-out doo-doo, I find the characters' personalities and pasts entertaining enough to watch the show so that I can learn more about them. I do not give two shits about anyone in Dollhouse yet.
modernwizard: (Default)
I watch TV shows exclusively online because a) I'm not tied to a specific airing time and b) I can stream them in the background while working. Interestingly enough, I find that many TV shows work perfectly fine without the images as radio shows because the clearly differentiated voices and the overdetermining music provide enough clues as to what's going on so that actually seeing the screen isn't necessary. Forthwith, my current slate:

Bones. I watch this primarily for the great chemistry between David Boreanaz [Seeley] and Emily Deschanel [Bones]. After a flaccid, frankly  boring start to season 3, the quality has picked up, both in the writing and in the mysteries. Though I find the increased prominence of the earnest, lonely, overanalytical and geeky psychologist Sweets charming, I'm still bitter at the writers for dispensing with Zach at the end of Season 2. His out-of-character departure ruined the wonderful rapport between the "squints" on Bones' team.

The Colbert Report. Amusing mild parody. I enjoy watching how much fun Stephen Colbert has with his character.

The Daily Show. Amusing mild parody. Jon Stewart's straight-man mugging STILL hasn't gotten old for me.

Fringe. Painfully stupid, chronically incoherent and blitheringly underpsychologized, this simplistic show is one that I love to hate. I also like listening to it because it's so anvilicious that I don't even need to look at the pictures. Will never be forgiven for its mangling of the "Boston" setting.

Heroes. You know, back in season 1, I used to like this show. However, I think it hit its peak with the season 1 ep, "Company Man," focusing on Noah Bennet and family. Since then it has imploded on itself repeatedly, reformatting character development multiple times, introducing and dropping characters at alarming speed, creating plot holes so large that they could expand and engulf the universe and, msot criminally, turning all the characters into impetuous, stupid morons. Like Fringe, it requires no brains or even eyeballs to appreciate its schlockiness.

House. I actually really like this show, mostly because I really like watching Hugh Laurie act like an arrogant genius bastard. Brilliant comedy!

The Office. I watch this not for the plot or even the characters, but because its small moments accurately capture the combination of zealotry, awkwardness and puzzlement characterizing white-collar at-work interactions. The characters' strange antics aren't so amusing as the other characters' often deadpan reactions to said antics.

Psych. I'm conflicted about this show. It's a comic detective show about a guy who pretends to be a psychic for a police department. It would be a slight, silly diversion, except for the fact that the fake psychic's reluctant partner and best friend is a black dude who suffers slapstick indignities and gets ordered around by the fake psychic all the time. Very Stepin Fetchit. No new eps until January, by which time I will probably have conclusively determined that it's a racist cesspool and therefore left it alone.

Supernatural. Even though this show suffered a largely plotless third season and even though it suffers from such misogyny that it kills off all female characters or makes them disappear, I'm still a loyal fan of this show who will be watching it through the bitter end of season 5. Actually, it's more accurate to say that I will be watching JENSEN ACKLES AS DEAN WINCHESTER through the bitter end of season 5. Ackles and co-star Padalecki consistently use their nuanced portrayals of the brothers to turn the occasional mediocre script and hammy line into a sincere, layered portrayal of fraternal devotion. Also, in case you haven't noticed, I think Ackles is hot. With an angel charging Dean with aversion of the Apocalypse, there seems to be an interesting plot for season 4, so I'm excited about the show on a structural level again, which I haven't been since the end of season 1. Let's hope that the Apocalypse doesn't fizzle like the demon war that was supposed to happen after the Winchesters opened up the gate of Hell.
modernwizard: (Default)
The much-vaunted Fringe is an X-Files knock-off concerning FBI agent Olivia Dunham, mad scientist Walter Something-or-Other and his annoying genius caretaker son Peter. They run around Boston and environs investigating things like synthetic diseases that dissolve your skin and murderous psychopaths who feed on the pituitary glands of dead prostitutes. They get regular help from a band called Massive Attack company called Massive Dynamic and regular encouragements from their director, who thinks that these "fringe science" events are all part of a weird Pattern.

All the characters neglect to notice the most sinister evidence of the Patten. Namely, it has messed up the very fabric of the Boston metro area! Suddenly, Harvard allows mad genius' labs to a) take up the whole cellar of a building, b) remain untouched for 17 years and c) house Holsteins without special permits! Creepy ornate mental institutions appear on pastoral grounds in Essex County! The Fenway suddenly boasts an elevated highway! Stoughton apparently has a riverside or seaside warehouse section! And viewers across the state hurl their TVs or computers across the room in frustration!

Did I mention that I don't care about any of the characters and I don't know why they're so interested in this Pattern?

Verdict: It's a third-rate X-Files with no sense of place. May stave off boredom during really slow days at work, but don't expect anything truly interesting.

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