Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The cult hits of the 1990s, The X-Files, Millennium, that Jessica Alba show, and Buffy specifically, and The X-Files even more specifically, led the way for nerdy television viewership. It led me to see the shadow around every turn, the monster under every bed, and the conspiracy in every cereal box.
Now, a new show in a long line of recent one-word-one-title shows, Fringe, has come to occupy the hyped world of Nerd HD. Avoiding the heated discussions of the producer's shaky camerawork in an earlier work, Andy and I caught the first episode, a roaring hour and 35 minutes (with commercial breaks punctuated by x-ray shots proclaiming how many seconds each break would be, which was useful while also trying to watch a tied-up Cubs game--if they keep this feature, scratch any criticisms of this show, ever. I mean, I can TIME my bathroom breaks... INC! POTTY!).
The premise is highly new millennium: terror is alive in this world, and Homeland Security is working to save us all from telekinesis. Anna Torv plays a wonderful new character who is certainly NOT Scully. She is adorable and the protagonist. Denethor (John Noble) makes his debut as a madcap scientist, Dr. Bishop. The man has got old, mad, and estranged from a son right. Pacey from Capeside--AKA a Creek named after another guy, a guy named Dawson--AKA Joshua Jackson--plays the estranged son. He is in Iraq when we first meet him and seems dumb as a rock until he starts spouting various scientific things two-thirds of the way through. The head of ever-*cough*mysterious Homeland Security makes an appearance and gave me Assistant Director Kersh vibes. As the episode went on though, it became obvious he was just been stolen from another, more recent show. And we can't forget Agent Whatshisname who may or may not be a plot point. Did I mention this had spoilers?
The show invites former X-Philes (Ex-Philes), nay, it challenges them to get in the seat and compare and contrast. It's a middle school essay contest, only with less ESP and more writing on arms.
Compare: A disease that reminds us all of the first movie, gelatinous skin and everything? And also "The Pine Bluff Variant," if you happen to REALLY need the nerdy and gory details of the atmosphere. Former M-S shippers already are lining up with their bookies. Oh, and the text announcing each location!
Actually this text invites a contrast. The text is added into the scene. I repeat: it is added into the scene. I really don't know how to explain that any more. It is a 3-D, metallic text that looks diegetic (in the scene, damn it!), but it is not actually there. People walk through, planes fly through, and squirrels bury nuts in the Os without ever noticing. It seems like a desperate cry out to contrast with The X-Files, CSI, and all other investigation shows.
All in all though, this feels like The X-Files, only with a heavier heart from years of the War on Terror, and with less chemistry from its main actors. However, it plays on one nice twist to The Great X-Files Two-Agent Conspiracy-Hunting Formula: they USE the ESP, teleportation, reincarnation, and other paranormal phenomena. And that might keep my interest until 9/8c next Tuesday.
But for now: Byers!