Thursday, September 18, 2008


OK, look, JJ Abrams is NOT the reincarnation of Chris Carter. Chris Carter isn't dead, for one thing. And it's not as if Abrams had a show that started off really cool and then strangled itself through the sheer number of conspiracies, mysteries and loose ends it created for itself...errr...oh, right. LOST.

Well, it's not as if he's got a show about strange and unexplained phenomena being investigated by the FBI...with a hot female playing the role of one of the agents... and sexual tension between the two leads...emmm...

Here's how things went down with Carter, as best I can recall. X-Files was an awesome and quirky series covering subject matter like deadly fungus, la chupacabra, and robot cockroach spies. But then it got all government conspiracy. Blah. Then Carter unveiled Millennium, which hit the ground running with Lance Henriksen as the lead, a great premise, and some great episodes. But then it got all government conspiracy. Carter, did you learn nothing??

Along comes JJ Abrams with LOST, and the country goes nutty. A book used as a prop in an episode jumped into the best sellers lists as a result. LOST hit the ground running with a great premise and some great episodes and then...yeah, you know what happened. Conspiracy and stupid convoluted plot twists to the point that I utterly LOST interest. It was a shame.

Last Sunday we caught the latest JJ Abrams series, Fringe. And you know what, it's not half bad! And Tuesday night the second episode aired, and also was not half bad! Which makes me nervous. The premise involves a possible big-picture pattern of unexplained phenomena, but the pattern I'm more concerned with is the X-Files/Millennium/LOST one described above.

The cast is solid, including John Noble (Denethor in The Return of the King) as the eccentric mad scientist. Granted, some of Fringe is cheesy (you HAVE to strip down to your underwear and get in the water to communicate telepathically with coma victims. Everyone knows that. It's science.) but for the most part, it was enjoyable and interesting, and used some cool animations and integrated location text.

You can see the premiere episode of Fringe on the official site. In the end, it's fine for the show to follow the general premise of X-Files (I liked the general premise of X-Files!), but can we just this once NOT ruin yet another good series by smothering it with a cheap synthetic pillow of plot twists and conspiracy? I'm a little uneasy about the threat of this that the mysterious Massive Dynamic corporation represents, but so far, that's being well-represented by Blair Brown in the role of Nina Sharp.

Oh, and my new Trek movie, Abrams, you better watch your step with that! Do a good job or as Heidi Klum and all the major league umpires like to say, "You're OUT!"


Cynic said...

That's an interesting take on X-files. Personally, I preferred the government conspiracy episodes over the unexplained phenomena episodes. I'm a sucker for spy stuff. But I would agree that at some point Carter had taken each thread of those conspiracies to such a ridiculous place that there was no way to resolve them and keep the dignity of the show intact. I think X-files was more a victim of its own success than anything else. It would be remembered as one of the best shows of its kind if it had ended in Season 5 or 6.

I didn't care for the pilot of Fringe. I felt like the show spent too much time focusing on the solution to the problem and not enough time on the nature of the problem. They built in an easy out with "Oh, the mad scientist knows what it is." And sure enough, he did. You have to hook me into caring about you fixing the problem before you fix it. Get me intrigued about it and wanting to know what the heck is going on. Instead, amazing-see-through-man was just a backdrop prop to character establishment. Meh.

John 'jaQ' said...

I stopped watching after they said the chick had to be naked in the tank and then she wasn't naked.