Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Good, The Bad and the Silly

Today I focus on two struggling science fiction shows that either face cancellation or have already received their death sentences.

Flash Forward, the show in which everyone in the world were given visions of their future, deserves to go but is currently slated to get at least one more chance. I try to like this show, I really do, but every time it makes me think it's going to be something special they do something supremely silly. I mean silly on an epic scale. The previous episode in which an American doctor searches for a Japanese girl he met in his flash forward was pretty good and had a genuine surprise at the end. This made me look forward to the next episode or, as I now refer to it, the episode that kicked me in the crotch.

The latest episode, titled "A561984", showed us FBI agents Mark Benford and Demetri Noh heading to Hong Kong to track down a woman who told Demetri he was destined to die next March. They did this even though their superior, Stanford Wedeck, told them not to and they ignore him when he tells them to come home. Thus, Wedeck gets to join the large pantheon of high ranking law enforcement officers who have to deal with loners who sometimes have to break the rules to get the job done. Anyway, Benford and Noh track down the Persian woman at a Hong Kong restaurant and manage to get some information out of her, specifically that Noh will die because Benford shoots him. After that she says, "I can't tell you any more." Why was she able to tell them that but not any more? Shut up, that's why. Benford then does what any of us would do. He pulls his gun while she's surrounded by armed guards and tries to take her...well, who knows where the fuck he was going to take her in a city run by the Chinese. Oh, I bet you didn't know American FBI agents were allowed to carry guns in Communist China. I didn't either but if Flash Forward says they can I guess it must be true. As Benford put very little thought into this major felony, he didn't figure that one of the advantages of being an authoritarian police state is that the police show up very quickly when a maniac is holding someone at gun point in the middle of the street. But hey, it's not the Chinese who show up but rather a CIA tactical squad. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the Chinese allow the CIA free reign in the streets of Hong Kong, another thing I now know thanks to Flash Forward. After this, Wedeck gets to do another thing that many high ranking law enforcement officers in movies and television have done. He orders Benford to turn in his badge and his gun.

To sum up: an experienced FBI agent thought it was a good idea to defy his boss, kidnap someone in public in the middle of China only to have the whole plan thwarted by American agents IN CHINA. When Flash Forward first came on, I mentioned how worried I was that this brainchild of Brannon Braga would be stupid and I was right. I hear that Flash Forward is being retooled and won't be back until March. I can't see it getting any better unless they bring Graham Chapman back from the dead so he can put on his colonel's uniform and loudly announce whenever things get too silly.

Moving on to show number two: Dollhouse. I was not a fan of Dollhouse's first season. It was amazing to me that I didn't like a show made by Joss Whedon but I just couldn't be entertained by the idea of these people being used as slaves and prostitutes. I only watched season two because of the season one finale with Alan Tudyk as a rogue Doll called Alpha and an unaired episode on the season one DVD showed some promise. Season two did have some improvements but not enough to draw in new viewers and Fox has already announced its cancellation. I wouldn't have cared too much except that this week's episode was good. I mean really, really good. One of the things that always made Joss Whedon's shows entertaining was the quality of the villains. People (or possibly creatures) like Spike, Darla, the Mayor and the First were worthy protagonists to Buffy and were fully fleshed out characters who kept us coming back. Dollhouse had a little of this with Alpha which is why I watched season two. It wasn't until this week, though, that Dollhouse really came into its own thanks to a new villain.

Summer Glau was introduced this week as Bennett Halverson. After the corporation that runs the Dollhouse captured Eliza Dushku's Echo, they brought her to see Bennett Halverson, a brilliant programmer who apparently has a history with Echo's original personality, enough of a history that she starts torturing Echo. She is interrupted by Echo's main programmer, Topher Brink, and that's where it gets interesting. Topher and Bennett are instantly attracted to each other and we see Bennett and Topher nervously and genuinely flirt with each other while simultaneously working against each other. Bennett is revealed as funny and nerdy as she is malevolent and sadistic and is the kind of character who would make me watch this show every week. That is, if Fox hadn't already canceled it. They did say they were going to make sure the storyline was wrapped up so at least we'll have that. I'm not sure whose fault it is that it took the better part of a year for this show to find its legs though I'm betting the guilty party's name rhymes with Cox Cetwork.

So, the show I like goes down the tubes while the dumb show gets to go on and on. The good news is that Joss Whedon will now have time to make more Doctor Horrible films while Brannon Braga will now be too busy to attempt the same thing. That's something, I suppose.

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