Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Still Cringing

I did not foresee Fringe having a full season when I first saw the pilot back in September due to the fact that it sucked, was stupid and it sucked. I watched it from time to time and discussed it briefly a couple weeks ago and my opinion has modified a bit. It still sucks but not enough to say it sucks twice in the same sentence.

Fringe is the story of FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham who is assigned to work for the Department of Fringe Science. Fringe Science, if I properly understand the show's plot, is real science made really weird and gross by evil guys for pointless purposes. There's some sort of huge conspiracy to accomplish some vague goal and, to accomplish said goal, they do things like, and this is true, create a substance that causes extra skin to grow so quickly that it covers your nose and mouth so you suffocate. Most of the time, we're told that the terrorist organization behind all this, ZFT, did it just to show us they could. This, of course, guarantees that the government that previously couldn't give a crap about ZFT's existence now devotes a massive amount of time and resources to taking them down. So, they're smart enough to literally rip open holes in the space-time continuum yet dumb enough to let the government know that not only can they do it but also that they intend to use it for evil purposes.

Olivia Dunham, in addition to having the job of running into terrorist controlled buildings by herself cause gosh darn it they just can't wait for backup, is also the handler of Dr. Walter Bishop, a super genius whose work was the basis for a lot of the science fictional advancements made in the show but he's also loopy as the day is long and spent the last 17 years in a mental institution. Therefore, Olivia needs Walter's somewhat criminal and slightly less brilliant son Peter to help out. This "Dream Team" is great at the Jack Bauer Method of Crime Fighting, that being to figure everything out five minutes after the bad guys completed their objectives and made a clean getaway.

In last week's season finale, semi-regular character Nina Sharpe, COO of the fictional Massive Dynamics Corporation which may or may not be connected to ZFT, was attacked and nearly killed by ZFT operatives, one of whom has been made extremely ill by using a teleportation device. It turns out they wanted what looks like a Double-A battery that was hidden in her mechanical arm they needed to operate a device that would open a hole to a parallel universe.

That is one of the least weird plots of Fringe. You'd have to toss in a few monstrous creatures and a godawful virus that causes you to grow an extra head which then eats you to make it a more typical episode.

Anyway, why did ZFT want to enter a parallel universe? The details and motives, as usual, are vague. Apparently, a mysterious and heretofore unseen character named William Bell has escaped there and they want to go and do something to him. Fortunately, twenty years ago Walter Bishop anticipated that someone would try to break through to a parallel universe for nefarious though ill-defined purposes so he created and hid a Parallel Universe Portal Closing Doohickey (which looks mysteriously like a television remote control circa 1987) which was used to stop the bad guys just before they managed to fulfill their pointless goals.

I honestly don't see the appeal of Fringe. Oh, it's not the worst show on television but the only reason I can see for its high ratings is that it follows American Idol. I wonder if next season Fox will move it to Friday, its science fiction graveyard. We'll see what if it passes the ratings test then. Until then, the writers have the whole summer to come up with new ways to melt skin, create man-sized badgers and enter alternate universes where hamburgers are healthy and nobody Twitters. I, for one, can't wait.

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