Monday, September 15, 2008

"Fringe" Review

Man, this show wants to be the "X-Files," like, SO BAD.

Em and I watched the rebroadcast of the pilot last night. I have mixed feelings.

The Good:

1) Certainly captures the "X-Files" vibe, with an FBI agent getting an excuse to investigate spooky phenomena with hints of a shadowy government conspiracy behind the scenes. Being set in Boston is also a cool plus

2) Very good chemistry between the main leads and an excellent supporting cast, headlined by the evil, bald black guy from "Lost"

3) Anna Torv, the female lead, looks an awful lot like a young Cate Blanchett (I know I've at least got Matt's attention now).

4) The first five minutes of the show featured someone's jaw melting off. Mega cool bonus points

5) One of the (possibly) shadowy evil organization members is a woman with a very cool looking robotic arm. Good villain potential there and the special effects on the arm were top-notch

The Bad:

1) One of the things that I loved about the X-Files is how much of the time it went out of it's way to provide scientific explanations for supernatural phenomena. This show disregards all science entirely openly embracing supernatural phenomena. Okay, fine, I love that sort of thing too.

But the real implausibility of the show is how they dealt with regular stuff. We're supposed to believe:

A) That an insane scientist, committed to an institution for 17 years for experimenting on human subjects, could be easily and casually released by a low level FBI agent and the scientist's son

B) That Harvard would actually keep the insane scientist's lab in mothballs for said 17 years rather than using the space for something else.

C) That the FBI has the power to purchase half a billion dollars worth of lab equipment and set up a lab within 24 hours, including buying a live cow to live on the premises (seriously)

D) That within the same time frame (after the lab is set up) the mad scientist is able to synthesize (not purchase) whatever compounds he needs for his insane experiments.

I know this is all simply set up for the show, but the implausibility of the real world stuff to me greatly took away from the supernatural/pseudoscience stuff. There just wasn't any contrast there.

2) The shadowy conspiracy plot is already sounding like a pale X-Files imitation and the whole show seems to be trying to make itself to be a "new and hip" X-Files - gorier, sexier and more action-oriented. Sometimes that can work well, but I'm not so sure it will here. Depends on how they develop the characters and the plot.

3) At the end of the episode, the camera focuses on a "leaf symbol" on a door inside one of the shadowy organization's main buildings. Two seconds later I get a text from Evan: "The Leaf Station?" Exactly what I was thinking. *sigh*

All-in-all I did enjoy the show for pure entertainment value and eye candy and I'll watch the next episode on Tuesday, but I'm certainly not hooked yet. Anyone else catch it? Thoughts?


Caroline said...

Totally agree with everything you said - down to and including the "young Cate Blanchett". I thought exactly the same thing.

I liked/enjoyed it but it certainly isn't another "Lost" for me - time will tell I suppose.

Caroline said...

Hey, on Lost news...

Sci-Fi has jumped in to help us all with the hiatus blues and announced it will begin airing 4 hour blocks of LOST every Monday at 7:00pm starting September 15. The episodes will run in order up to the season 4 finale.

I don't have the previous season's DVDs though I have rewatched epis online, I thought I would record these and watch once a week to refresh my memory :)

Capcom said...

Good post and thoughts, and I agree a lot. This will be a good substitute for me for the little bit of X-Files withdrawals that I still suffer from occassionally (and that the 2nd movie didn't satisfy).

I'm looking forward to future episodes. I too hope that they will explain the science a little more, but I'm sure that TPTB probably feel that they need to keep that to a minimum until they get enough regular viewers hooked. Dunham is a bit wooden (I'm still comparing her to Scully unfairly) but hopefully she'll fill out better.