Tag Archives: Fringe

Ready to Pull the Plug on Revolution

I can say that I honestly thought the computer at the end (spoiler!) was the best actor in the first episode of NBC’s new Revolution.

I hate to be the overcritical, Negative Nelsy, but seriously guys… this? I guess Journeyman was too complicated and verging on finding some real emotions, as was the more recently canned Awake. So, instead of trying to once again to find a family dynamic that works, they kill off the mom and dad right away, kidnap the brother to use him as the plot, and then throw in an uncle that the daughter/heroine has never met. So many emotional bonds to work with right off the bat! (yes, sarcasm)

Where do I go from there? I mean… Let’s see: The leader of the bad guys is black and the hunky guy who turns out to also be a bad guy is latino, but all the good guys are white. Or how about the pudgy computer geek who provides the necessary comic relief to break through all the tension that is built up? (more sarcasm) Or the obvious Katnissification of the heroine (in spite of the androgynous nickname “Charlie”) via sweet bowhunting skills? (Even if they came up with that somehow before Hunger Games, did no one think it was going to look very unoriginal [at best] or pandering [at worst]?)

Then there’s the risk taking – and lack there of. Lost took risks from the very first episode, raising all sorts of questions (that we all assumed would be answered at some point), but Revolution raised only one question: Why did everything turn off? (Okay, I guess it also, for me, raises the question of what could have turned off not just electricity, but also the batteries of cars and engines of airplanes? Perhaps I am actually too much of a geek to be able to suspend disbelief for that one – or maybe some physics geek can convince that it’s actually theoretically possible.) That question of “Why?” is a plot question, though, and I think that’s my main beef (and I realize this now that I’ve studied writing a bit). There’s no character questions. In Lost, you have plot questions about how the plane crash occurred (equivalent to the question of why the power went off), and also what the smoke monster was, but, through the ingenious/risky use of the flashback, it begged the question of what all the characters were doing on the plan and what their backstories were. In Revolution, I don’t care about any of the characters. I mean, sure I want Katniss Charlie to find her brother, but again, that’s really more of a plot device since the characters don’t really have any connection other than the assigned labels of brother and sister.

I guess I should have gone with the canceled shows part last because that’s probably I want to talk about next, but blog posts don’t have to be structured as well as fiction, right? Anyway, maybe this is just the jaded perspective of someone who refuses to get cable, but it seems like most of the shows that people watch these days are on cable. And I think they’ve started to figure it out… Let me start with an example: Breaking Bad has 13 episodes in its longest season. Perhaps more relevant to the “writing” of fiction in which I partake: Game of Thrones is only 10 episodes per season. If broadcast networks would shorten the required length of season for their serial series, then I feel like we could keep the best shows (cough*Fringe*cough) around longer. I know: syndication and all that. But seriously, 22-24 episodes is a lot. Especially once a show moves further away from an episode-by-episode arc to a season-long arc. Again, maybe it’s just the jaded perspective of a dedicated sci-fi geek, but it seems a lot harder to make shows with an individual episode plot for a sci-fi show. Fringe did a good job of this (but they basically copied The X-Files format for that), but then when you had to have actually seen the show in order to follow what was happening, the ratings wheels started falling off. (The show was just as good, they just lost a lot of viewers)

I have no real idea if it would work, but with the cable shows doing it, it seems like it has to be worth a try… It probably wouldn’t have made a difference for Revolution… but I think that overall it would/will make for better, tighter, more tense, more interesting shows (especially sci-fi) and maybe not force the networks to come up with new crap just to cancel it after half a season.

Fringe is Ending (The Good Way)

FOX was kind enough to give Fringe a renewal for a final 13 episode season. I’m not sure if JJ Abrams had to pay someone off to get that, but if he did, I appreciate it. I still have a couple episodes to catch up on before the final 3 of this season come out, but I’m very relieved to know that the writers (producers, actors, etc.) will be able to finish out the show in (what I imagine is) the way they want it to end. Much better than Firefly, which had to cram in 2 hours what was probably 3-4 seasons worth of material (or in Joss Whedon’s case maybe 8-9 more seasons).


Look, it’s the smaller final season of Fringe

Watching The Fringe on Hulu

or: WTFH

Email received on January 26th:

On the morning of January 26th, I watched about 15 minutes of Episode 9 of Season 4 of Fringe, entitled: Enemy of My Enemy on the El Train to work. After work, I returned home, excited to watch Fringe for the first time ever on my Roku.

But it had already been removed from Hulu Plus.

Did I missing something? Am I the only one affected by this? Perhaps I am because evidently Fringe’s ratings are so horrible that it will probably be canceled after this season. Maybe I really am the only person who watches it on Hulu.

Fringe Has Survived!

Thanks to Sci Fi Stuff UK on Twitter I have found out that Fringe has been renewed for a 4th season! (Confirmed by MSM news source SF Examiner)

Time to catch up now! I’ve got three episode on Hulu that I’m planning to watch today! I am looking forward to seeing the further development of Anna Torv’s acting skills (because come on, you have to admit, she struggles a bit with any sort of deep emotion. She certainly excels at being geek eye candy, though, right?). I am also interested in Joshua Jackson’s transformation into the new George Clooney (not my words! A friend – who is a girl – actually said that. I know, right? I mean, I have a total man crush on J-Jax, but Clooney? We’ll see…) You can tell I’m excited because of all the random parentheticals and use of pop culture blog like abbreviations!

Can Advertising Sponsors Save Fringe?

(Or, the technologist in me wonders, can Android and Sprint save Fringe?)

The answer, were I to answer the question, is of course: Yes. But then, if I were answering this particular question, I wouldn’t actually be asking this particular question, because the question of Fringe being canceled would not even exist. But the real answer? Well, despite the Friday Night Death Knell, I’ve noted a few little plugs (okay, maybe they’re more like hair plugs that you can’t really help but notice and just overlook because you know you’re not supposed to notice) in some recent episodes of Fringe.

Pictographic evidence:

(Thanks for the Qik Pix)

Obviously I hope that these little bits ‘o sponsorship from Sprint are bringing in enough money to continue production of Fringe, but the realist in me knows that it’s probably not. Fringe doesn’t strike me as a “cheap” show to make (what with all the special effects and large supporting cast). You would think at this point that JJ Abrams could pretty much do whatever he wants, but even a man with his record is constrained by the limits of the industry.

I would try to get involved in some sort of Save Fringe campaign (I’m sure there’s already at least one), but I’m not sure that’s ever actually worked (at least not for two of the best shows ever: Firefly and Arrested Development), so I’m going to devote my time instead to just blogging about lamenting it I guess.

3 Things Share

1. Three names I go by
Nels
Dallas
Lars

2. Three jobs I’ve had in my life
Computer Geek in C++
Computer Geek in SQL
Computer Geek in Java

3. Three fun places I’ve been
Val’s softball games
The Internet
Your Mom’s House

4. Three favorite drinks
Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino® Blended Crème
Sprite Zero
McFlurry

5. Three TV shows that I watch (or am looking forward to watching)
30 Rock/The Office/Parks & Recreation/Community
Terminator/Dollhouse/Fringe
Chuck

6. Three Chicago neighborhoods in which I’ve resided
Irving Park
The Villa (in Irving Park)
Independence Park (in Irving Park)

7. Three favorite cuisines
Pizza
BBQ
Thai food

8. Three ways I keep in shape
Try not to eat too much
Walking the dog
Walking other places

9. Three songs that I currently listen to

10. Three things I’m looking forward to
Fantasy Basketball Season
NBA Season
Basketbarcrawl 2010

TV Talk: Heroes … of the Future and the Ensemble Cast

Since I’m so sure everyone cares what I think about the TV shows I watch (or should I call them Laptop shows since I watch them all on Hulu?).

I almost gave up on Heroes last week. It probably seems like I only write about shows when I feel like quitting them, but there is evidence that refutes that.

Anyway – there’s two main reasons why I felt like (and still do feel like – perhaps moreso now) giving up on Heroes.

1. The Vision of the Future is Not Clear. If this were real life, then, duh, the future wouldn’t be clear, and that’s just the way it is. But this is a TV show where some characters can travel through time and others can paint the future. Season One worked because we had a clear idea of what was going to happen in the future: There was going to be a nuclear (note to Sarah Palin: it’s pronounced noo-klee-ur) bomb in New York City. Easy enough. Very clear.

Move on to Seasons Two and Three: I have no idea. Maybe I’m just dense. But I don’t know what the writers’ and/or producers’ vision of the future is in Heroesland. Clearly there is some Grave Threat in the form of people acquiring super powers, and maybe massacring each other… But so far, all I can remember seeing is Future Peter showing Present Day Peter that people can fly, and the only ones who seem to have a problem with it are Future Peter and Future Claire. Yeah, there’s also the part where Hiro goes into the future (when he is killed by Ando) and everyone is going crazy, but that was just a short little jaunt through time, and the future seems so fluid and malleable in the Heroverse, that it’s hard to know if that future is even still going to happen.

Now, I do get that some of this future we see is supposed to be shrouded in mystery, but I feel like the Grave Threat should be made very clear, even if (and perhaps explicitly because) we don’t know exactly how it started and/or how it got to be the Grave Threat that it is in the future. I think I’m also annoyed and/or confused at how they keep changing the nature of the Grave Threat. I suppose it’s more comic book-like to have a new danger every season, but when everyone keeps changing the future, it makes it hard to worry that a given future is actually going to happen.

This issue is crystallized (and made more upsetting) by the fact that on the same night (for those who actually watch live TV) you can watch Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (TSCC) which has a very clearly defined Grave Threat which doesn’t change. Even though the way in which it becomes the Grave Threat seems to change, we still have the same Grave Threat we’ve had since the opening scene of the first Terminator. Of course, the entire show, and really the entire point of everything Terminator-related, is based around the fact that we don’t know exactly how the future gets to be the future. (In the show, they are even growing turmoil within John Connor regarding the fact that no matter what he does, it seems that the future never changes)

It seems like Heroes is trying a similar tactic with its mystery by making the show center around trying to find out how and why the future ends up like it does, but in TSCC, it’s so much more clear why finding out is actually important.

2. Too many people. Here’s the list of characters from Heroes that I can name off the top of my head:
Parkman
Hiro & Ando
Peter
Nathan
Trish Strauss (Nikki’s sister)
Linderman
Noah Bennet
Claire Bennet
Sylar
Mohinder
Molly
Angela
Parkman’s Dad
The Haitian
Adam Monroe
Elle (who’s dead now… or is she?)
and now Arthur Petrelli

And the not so important, but maybe important, people:
Micah (even though he’s only been in one episode)
Claire’s Mom
Claire’s Biological Mom
Mya
Daphne
Knox
Peter’s girlfriend who got stuck in the future and we never hear about again
Trish & Nikkie’s sister (who we haven’t even met yet)

That’s at least 17 important people (taking out the “throw away” people) that you have to know about. LOST had close to that many important characters, but they were much more stratified in their levels of importance. You could not know much about a bunch of the people on LOST and still get by. But if you don’t know something about one of those main people on Heroes, your ability to keep up and be continually entertained will diminish rapidly.

For a quick comparison (again with TSCC):
Sarah Connor
John Connor
Derrick Reese
Cameron
Agent Ellison

And to compare to my other two shows, Chuck and Fringe:
Chuck
Sarah
Morgan
Casey
Ellie (?)
Captain Awesome
BuyMore employees who are mostly there for comic relief

I count four important people and maybe five if you cout Ellie.

Olivia
Peter
Walter
Olivia’s Dead-being-kept-alive-former-boyfriend
Agent Broyles (I guess JJ Abrams liked Lance Reddick in LOST)

Once again four to five important people (sorry Astrid, Agent Sidekick, and CEO Lady who reminds me way too much of Shirley Manson in TSCC).

There’s three shows with manageable cast sizes that leave me with enough Care for everyone involved. Heroes is not only stretching the Care a little thin, but the characters also sometimes make me not want to try to make it work.