alibi online
Free Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals
 V.17 No.39 | September 25 - October 1, 2008 

Idiot Box

Dropping Science

“Fringe” on FOX

Science used to be a good thing. Or at least a neutral thing. Now, thanks perhaps to eight years of demonization by the Bush administration, science is our newest go-to villain. High-falutin’ science is taking over the place formerly occupied by inscrutable Asians, creepy Russians and strangely dressed Middle Easterners. Thanks to a fall TV season marked by shows like “Primeval,” “Fringe” and the soon-to-debut “Eleventh Hour,” topics such as evolution, global warming, stem cell research and the like are downright eeee-vil.

“Fringe,” the new high-concept show by producer J.J. Abrams (“Alias,” “Lost”) and writers Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci (Mission: Impossible III, Transformers), takes the “science is bad” concept and runs away with it. Though the hour-long drama features a group of government scientists investigating various science-related crimes, our heroes are portrayed as a bunch of crazy wack-jobs who probably caused most of this trouble in the first place. Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is an emotionally troubled FBI agent. Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) is a gambling-addicted genius with a questionable background. Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) is a nutty mad scientist type with his own secret lab. For comic relief (such as it is), there’s a cow. Together, they look like ... well, they look pretty much like the cast of “Primeval” or “Torchwood” or any other other show that photocopied the “X-Files” blueprint.

Each week, somebody commits a crime, and the group is brought in to solve it using bizarre scientific methods. In this respect, “Fringe” steals shamelessly from a number of sources. Besides the obvious “X-Files” influence, movies like Dreamscape and Altered States are clear predecessors. (A second-episode twist concerning Peter’s past trod dangerously close to “The Venture Brothers” territory as well.) Wearing your influences on your sleeve isn’t much of a crime these days. But a show about cutting-edge science and technology could drop more current knowledge than LSD, floatation tanks and “eyeballs record the last image dead people saw.”

Oddly, the second episode scored nearly 50 percent more viewers (13.4 million) than the much-hyped pilot (9.1 million). Just as well. The second episode was better, fleshing out its characters more and moving at a quicker pace.

Still, the show’s overarching background conspiracy (which is apparently required scripting for all hour-long shows these days) feels like a tired trope. For reasons unknown, a corporation called Massive Dynamic may be behind “The Pattern,” an increasingly dangerous wave of science-related weirdness. That, and its CEO is a redheaded woman in black who has a cyborg arm and looks like the witch from some Disney cartoon. Hmm. I wonder if she’s eeee-vil?

The show scores points for its quality special effects and expensive-looking camera techniques-all courtesy of those big-time Hollywood creators. Viewers should expect the quality to drop precipitously after the first couple episodes, though, as budgets dry up and Abrams and crew move on to newer projects. After that, it’s all up to the writers. We’ll see who the geniuses are then.

“Fringe” airs every Tuesday at 8 p.m. on KASA-2.


Today's Events

Monday Night Film Club at Tractor Brewing Wells Park


The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.


PK at Rio Bravo Brewing Company


El lugar de las fresas at National Hispanic Cultural Center

More Recommended Events ››

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.
    Outdoor Cats & Birds
    Outdoor Cats & Birds4.6.2017