Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Small Fringe Rant

I've been meaning to write about this show for a while, especially since the recent revelation that the Earth is being invaded by human-like creatures from an alternate universe. What an incredibly speculative fiction thing to do, and how daring to try to bring it to network television. I was enjoying the show before this disclosure, especially because of the character of Walter Bishop (played by John Noble), but this turn of plot really hits me in the SF bone. I may do a longer blog, perhaps at the end of the season.

But for now, I have to give a small rant about the repeated writing flaw that haunts this show, in almost every episode. The episode from 14 April is a great example. Agent Olivia Dunham (played by Anna Torv) is on the trail of "transgenic" creature, one that appears to have been put together from many different animals. Bodies are piling up around her, one with what appears to be a stinger in one of the many wounds on the victim's body. There is a report of a sighting of the creature and she races to meet her best friend and fellow agent Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) at the location. She gets there to find that Francis has been attacked, but has survived with relatively minor wounds. Bishop pulls a stinger from one of Francis's wounds. Bishop and Dunham go back to their lab and are working on figuring out what's going on with the aid of the other members of the team, when one of the dead bodies starts to move. They open the bodybag to find larvae pouring out of the chest of the corpse, and Bishop realizes the larvae are the young of the creature they are hunting. Then he makes the intuitive leap that this was also the only body from which a stinger was retrieved and that the creature uses the stinger to lay its eggs. Dunham realizes that Francis has had eggs laid in him as well.

What would you do in Dunham's situation?

Dunham (did I mention best friend and fellow agent of Francis?) DRIVES TO HIS HOUSE. Apparently all phone traffic in the area was completely disrupted because lord knows you wouldn't call someone who has hundreds of transgenic eggs in their body and tell them to get to the lab immediately. You DRIVE TO THEIR HOUSE and tell them in person. Come on. Really? This show is based on cutting edge technology, and the protagonist doesn't bother to use a phone?

And this is just the latest example of how poorly this character is sometimes written. In nearly episode, despite being a member of the FBI and part of high-end task force, Dunham races off to crime scenes and begins poking around all by herself, usually with no indication that the antagonists have left the scene. And sometimes, she goes off on a hunch without telling anyone where she is going. This just drives me nuts, and Mrs. Speculator watches me rant at the TV: making smart characters do things that are incredibly stupid in order to advance the plot. And almost without fail, when she is by herself at a scene, something happens, and she is running for her life or getting kidnapped.

This is such a smart, witty show, and yet this happens over and over. It's not going to make me stop watching Fringe but I'm clearly going to have to learn the art of Zen television viewing if I keep watching. It remains better than a lot of SF on TV right now, and I wholeheartedly recommend it, especially for the upcoming guest appearance on the season finale….

1 comment:

  1. I really like this show as well, and there have been several hints in earlier episodes that the weird things are in preparation for a battle. I have to wonder though, how you watch any drama show. In every show, the protagonist visits some place alone, or does something alone that leaves you thinking, why aren't you there with the entire US Army!? I just let this slide. Castle is another well written show that we enjoy watching, but again, they show up at some killers apartment, just the 2 of them. Anyway, the last thought I have is, Fringe is not a show to sit and watch while having a snack. Gross!