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Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


I'm up for this. I don't love this show, I just think it's okay. But I've also not watched it properly (seen about 70% or 80% of the show, so not an insignificant amount) and I'm interested if you goons can sway my opinion one way or the other.

To give some idea of what I think of the show:

What I like: some of the ideas; Anna Torv, John Noble, Jasika Nicole; Seasons 3 and 5; the music; the show's willingness to go weird.

Ambivalent: The (original) soundtrack; the show not being weird enough, often enough; the DVD covers.

What I dislike: Season 4; the many narrative dead ends; the show wasting its supporting cast.

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Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


HUGE SPACEKABLOOIE posted:

Who is it you think was wasted? Broyles, Nina Sharp?

Yeah, and Astrid and Charlie when they had him.

Most get moments in the spotlight eventually, but they're just moments. The show's not really that interested in them, for the most part.

I love the dynamic that Astrid shares with Walter, don't get me wrong. But she never really gets to do very much for herself, outside that one really great Season 4 episode.

Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


howe_sam posted:

Anna Torv deserves way more work than she's gotten post Fringe. Which has been, nothing?

She had an HBO pilot that fell through quite late into the negotiations process. But it was a Ryan Murphy show, so that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

She was in an episode of The Pacific too.

Joshua Jackon's a regular on The Affair, which is pretty drat great. Got a second season renewal as well.

Other than John Noble, who's also going to be in the upcoming Arkham game, no-one else has really got regular work.

Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


Yeah, I'm down for an episode or two a week. I just watched the pilot because I had no idea when this would be starting.

Cool .gifs from the episodes would be a good idea.

Possibly restrict talk about future episodes too? Just so there's some encouragement to talk about what's actually going on, instead of Season Five again.

Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


Through a bit of coercion, mostly achieved by me jumping up and down and insisting that everyone would like to watch the show, I managed to get Fringe included as part of my gang's weekly tv hang outs. Only four of us (out of the fifteen or so regulars) have ever seen it before, but it turns out most of them enjoyed the pilot, so we'll probably be doing this every week. I don't know if we'll be able to keep up with the thread, since we'll probably take a week or two off for Christmas, but I'll certainly keep the thread updated as to what we think of the show as we go (if people want to read that, of course).

* All the gay men in the room loved Olivia, all the girls love Joshua Jackson. No-one was a big fan of Walter, for some reason. They found him mostly unremarkable. (They'll learn). Gene was everyone's favourite character (for being a total cow), followed closely by Nina (for being a total loving boss, and for her pretty awesome shutdown on Olivia).
* It was pointed out, repeatedly, that Olivia's isolation tank dream looks like an expensive hair commercial; and that John Scott was probably covered in blueberry pudding.
* Uncomfortable realisation that John Scott was probably having a translucent boner during aforementioned expensive hair commercial.
* Debate over the true purpose of the Massive Dynamic building: secret modern art installation, or just a sex palace?
* Nobody liked the floating location signs (which are shown off in a big way here, in a way that was probably too expensive to do again). Friend pointed out that they weren't tracking too well with the camera in some scenes.
* Someone threw popcorn at the screen when they found out that the dead twin was sitting on flight 108 of the doomed flight. Might have been me.
* More popcorn was thrown at the screen during the final scene, which people found kinda corny.
* One girl was completely grossed out by the desiccating jaw, and spent the rest of the hour jumping behind her boyfriend whenever she was in danger of seeing a shaved ferret, blueberry pudding boyfriend, and, one time, the giant floating 'IRAQ' sign. Don't ask.

Generally people liked it though. People are kind of frustrated with the show's clearly JJ Abrahm's influence, but they find the characters generally quite likeable and charming.

Personally, it struck me on rewatch how much the Fringe pilot was probably intended to be a more strongly feminist show -- beyond having a female lead, I mean. Throughout the pilot Broyles (and Peter) keep calling her "honey" and are pretty patronising to her, and there's a confrontation between Olivia and her boss that's basically a paraphrased repeat of a conversation between Sydney and Vaughn back in Alias. Kinda glad they stopped being so strident about things, not the least because this pilot has Broyle's trying to defend a friend over what sounds like rape charges. He really comes across as an irredeemable arsehole, in that moment. (...)

I'd forgotten how good this pilot looks. JJ Abrams is really a director's writer, and his script has some really great set-pieces throughout. The cold open is great, as has already been mentioned, but I really, really love the set-piece where Scott and Dunham investigate the storage sheds. The romance stuff is cute and funny ("I love you too. Let's go check the trash together."), the snowy tunnels between the shipping containers are really beautiful and ominous, I love the spinning overhead shot where everything looks like a maze, and the symmetry with the flickering street lights is really clever. In short, it's a well-paced, atmospheric, self-contained little set-piece. Pretty sweet.

Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


Whoops, forgot to do this.

Watched it again with my mates this week, and they weren't that impressed with the episode. It held their attention for the first twenty-five minutes or so, but by the time the Doctor guy (Walter's old friend) turned up, they all seemed to tune out a bit. The episode doesn't have the strongest conclusion either, so they weren't that enraptured. They're still up to watch more though.

Personally speaking, I think it was maybe a bit much to call the episode 'The Same Old Story' when it was so blatantly the amalgam of three or four different X-Files. A supersoldier serial killer who eats pituitary glands to stop himself from rapidly ageing to death (and has magic killer sperm), who has to be tracked down using a camera that takes pictures of the last thing a dead person saw. I can see how most of those ideas work in my head, but the way the episode lays them out just sort of smooshes them together.

I'm also not a big fan of the opening, which is kinda uncomfortable and exploitative, but mostly because it's really irrelevant to the episode -- which is really only interested in tracking down the serial killer because he's into cutting open people's brains (why only women?). I get that thematically the episode's interested in the relationship between parents and children, but more specifically it's about the debt fathers owe their sons (and how they can't always fulfil that debt). I don't see how the poor, dead woman in the opening really prefigures into that. She's sort of just collateral damage.

It doesn't help that some of the dialogue in these scenes is nonsensical (Why does the hostess think the killer is hiding a mushroom pizza in what looks like a shaving case? Are we meant to think she's a really bad flirt?) and that the histrionics of the hospital staff is hilarious hammy.

Whatever, the show gets better.

Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


What they thought:

* Generally speaking, they liked it better than last week's, but still not as much as the pilot. I'm pretty sure they'll like next week's a bit more though, and I know they're hanging around to see Britta as a villain. Hopefully they'll be hooked by then.
* They loved the Time Gas (their word for the amber -- I managed to bargain it down to Time Jelly). It really doesn't turn up at all in this episode, beyond the first five minutes. Strange, for something that ends up being so prominent.
* They loved the moment when Charlie claimed he was Agent Scott's secret lover. Amazingly, the dude looks legit sad when Olivia laughs his claim off as a joke. Obviously not true, but that's still hilarious.
* Massive Dynamic is really bad at covering its tracks -- to the point where people were taking bets on whether it's be revealed that the scan of the Ghost Network Guy's brain would just have the MD Logo stamped on it.
* "Why would there be metal in her blood? That's not normal, is it?" Popcorn thrown at the screen. People don't like Astrid very much, but she's really gotten not that much to do, and she's been victim of some poor exposition so far.
* Some speculation as to how Massive Dynamic even got started as a company, and how "Massive Dynamic" is actually a terrible name for a two-man, garage-based start-up company.
* People missed Gene. Where was Gene? Was she inside the piano? Are Gene and the piano on a time-share contract?
* When Gene is not in a scene, people should be asking, "Where's Gene?"


My thunks:

My gut reaction is that this is a vaguely interesting episode looking for a stronger third act, where something bigger -- either emotionally, or pyrotechnically -- happens. The episode leans on Zac Orth's guest character to help give it structure, but his character arc ends about twenty minutes into the episode, where everything is explained to him. I think it's telling that, for the last half of the episode, he basically performs the function of human telephone. Our heroes use him to track down the bad guys, but the bad guys all kill each other without explaining very much. The end.

I guess shaggy dog stories are theoretically fine. This episode is, in many ways, an episode about characters brushing up against hidden systems that are far bigger than themselves. Olivia has blundered into an underground war between two mysterious organisations, Zac Orth has accidentally become attuned to the transmissions of that war, and Walter's research is somehow tied up in it all, but he can barely remember what he was originally working on before it was adulterated by powers unknown. The episode suggests -- certainly for Zac Orth's character, but to a lesser extent the others -- that this is akin to some kind of religious experience. But, to the episode's failing, there's no sense of the inexplicable, and there's no moment of transcendence. A prophetic image of a ghostly woman with stigmata is revealed to be a misinterpreted communique telling someone to cut open a woman's palm. It's all so prosaic.

On the other hand, I certainly enjoyed the dynamics the show is establishing here. Strange to think there was a time when Nina and Broyles shared a close relationship -- indeed the episode paints Broyles in quite a shady light -- and I continue to like Olivia and Walter. Peter's (slowly) growing on me in this rewatch, who's a character I've never much had time for prior to his arc in Season 5.

I think the amber is a fantastic image. I can't think of a better way science-fiction representation of a terrorist attack, in some sense. You've got these people who are walking around, living their lives, and then suddenly everything they are is completely erased. They've been stopped in an incredibly public and disturbing and embarrassing way, in the last seconds of their lives -- the one moment of their existence that's going to be scrutinised and speculated over for the longest period after everything else they represent has been forgotten, and is definitely going to be the most memorable and public representation of their lives. It's a moment that captures both the complacency of their lives before their deaths and the trauma of their passing. It's utterly horrific, and I loving love it.

Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


Do people feel like talking about The Arrival? I wanna talk about The Arrival.




(Hope Hard Clumping 'aint too mad with me for kickstarting this week's episode)

Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


What they thought:

* "What arrived?" "Lens flares."
* They weren't happy with the show calling it's "cylinder" a cylinder (and I agree, it's doesn't look anything like a cylinder), leading to this exchange:
"It's not a cylinder."
"No, it's more of a cone."
"Or an egg."
"Yeah, like it's designed to be slipped in and out of holes of some kind."
"Oh, God, and it vibrates. It's a giant vibrating rear end egg."
"I think I know where he hid it."
* No glyphs on the DVD copy of this episode. Strange.
* Some speculation as to what Robert Bishop has to do with anything. (As I recall, absolutely nothing, but this episode makes a big deal of out him for some reason).
* They loved (AKA, hated) the nostril wires. Lots of cringing from one or two of them.
* Strangely no reaction to the sandwich. Probably would have been more effective if that had been caught all in one shot, and we'd actually seen the poor actor put eleven jalapeņos and half a bottle of pepper in his mouth.
* They linked the sound gun to the magic egg (which I'd never considered before, but there's a link there). They also suggested that maybe the weapons being used by serial killer Stamper were more primitive versions of the Observer's abilities and technology... which is entirely possible, now I come to think of it.


What I thunk:

I don't think this episode benefits from coming so soon after 'The Ghost Network', given that they largely cover the same sort of material. In both episodes our cast gets embroiled in a conflict between two anonymous forces. Though our heroes are able to stymie the interests of one of these parties, nothing is resolved, and our heroes leave the episode with little more knowledge than when they came in. This is, by design, unsatisfying -- though it doesn't help that the episode's villain is shot in the back while trying to run away, despite his superior fire power (what exactly was his plan here?)

What works about this, and what didn't work about 'The Ghost Network', is that the episode is largely about Peter's increasing frustration with the wacky world of Fringe, and all the sci-fi mystery conflict is largely left to play out in the background (at least until the episode's climax). There's a few bits and pieces here I don't buy: Peter's mounting frustrations haven't been modulated particularly well over the last few episodes, so it's not clear why this week of all weeks would be the one where he'd be threatening to leave. Joshua Jackson makes the choice to play all his tension at the same level, so the moment that Walter insults Peter's mother doesn't hit home the way it should. The episode also has to grind its gears a little to have Peter wander off to the last place the cylinder was seen, when he knows that there's someone on the loose who's obsessed with the thing. He's supposed to be smarter than that.

But I do like the interactions we're privy to here. Anna Torv does good supporting work in the scene when she's trying to convince Peter to stay, and it's fun to see her run through various different tactics (flirting, flattery, emotional blackmail) in her play book. John Noble is fantastic, quick and mercurial in his emotional shifts in a way that's at once both endearing and dangerous. And I like that Astrid gets pretty fed up with Walter at the end of the episode, which is the first real character we get from her. (It probably would have been more effective if we'd have seen more from her earlier, but at this stage of the show I'll take what I can get).

Also separating this episode from 'The Ghost Network' is that 'The Arrival' is significantly weirder than anything else we've seen yet. Previous episode settled into a formula of mashing two different sci-fi concepts together to make an episode: sped up ageing and dead eyeball camera; goo bombs and magic dream tank; psychic network and amber bombs. This episode takes four or five concepts and makes the episode very much about them, instead of letting that weirdness pepper the margins of the episode. It goes a long way to recapturing the sense of inexplicable what-the-fuckery that characterised the oddest moments of the pilot.

It's largely low-fi episode to boot. Outside the opening crane destruction (a slightly ridiculous CGI spectacle that, regardless of its incongruence, is well done) all the effects in this episode are largely practical. The explosive effects of the pulse gun are achieved using stunt performers jumping out of the way, the cylinder is never seen to leave or arrive, and there's a cute moment where the serial killer of the week mimes pushing wires up an actor's nose (which are, nonetheless, still up there, and still gross). Of course, the episode's most spectacular effect is John Noble's ability to sell a monologue, which is just killer. He's got a fantastic Twilight Zone-esque timbre that helps sell the sixties- and seventies-inspired nature of the material, and a commanding stage-presence. He's magnificent.

Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


The Newbs:

* For some reason, when tv elevators fail their counters still work.
* Someone suggested that Astrid probably only exists so that Walter has someone to explain things to that isn't always Olivia or Peter (so the two can look competent).
* Ongoing debate over whether Charlie's gay or not, continues. For all that the group rags out Astrid for being useless, Charlie contributes far, far less to the narrative.
* They recognised Hoon Lee as Job from Banshee, proving they're got decent taste.
* Impressed by the arm gore (as was I).

The Me:

Honestly, it's hard to say very much about this episode. It's paced well, and there are a couple of decent shots (I love that someone seems to have dragged a camera up into the control cabin of a trashcompactor during the chase sequence), but the direction's nowhere near good enough to punch up a pretty workmanlike script.

Meagar, as has been pointed out, is a pretty unlikable character -- not for lack of intention. The character bounces from one notionally sympathetic encounter to another, but it's hard to feel like the character develops between each appearance. And I say, notionally sympathetic because these scenes, beyond the beleaguered underdog aesthetics, don't really portray the character in a remotely positive light. When the guy's overly belligerent boss chews Meagar out for failing to be a punctual worker, it's clear that the dude has perfectly decent reasons to be angry (and certainly doesn't deserve his subsequent hospitalisation).

More problematically, though Peter continues to sport bruises from last week's interrogation and capture, it seems as if the previous week's events have had absolutely no effect on Astrid and Walter's relationship. If the show wants us to take her seriously as a character, its got to provide some sort of integrity to her emotional states. Given all we've seen of her so far, it's hard to argue that she'll develop into a decent character -- as a friend put it, "she's not really a person. She's inventory."

Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


06. THE CURE

I'm coming to find you, if it takes me all night



Can't stand here like this any more



For always and ever is always for you



I want it to be perfect like before



I want to change it all, I want to change

Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


Hope no-one minds me taking over this, (though if Hard Clumping wants to reassert control, please go ahead :) )

This week's episode In Which We Meet Mr Jones was brought to you by:

Germany!


Piranha Plants! Heart Hugs!


This guy!

Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


...oh, Britta's in this one?

I completely blanked on this, but yes: The Equation.



Which I like, but I think it's a bit shallow. I don't think that Jacobs gives a very captivating performance as the villain of the week, and some of the stuff in at the mental hospital is a little contrived. But, on the other hand, the stuff with the kid and the music is creepy, and I like the idea of draining intellectuals for their skills.



I've a slight pet peeve with this episode is that it pales in contrast with Millennium's Room With No View, which has a very similar plot. (Both shows had Darin Morgan on staff too, so I wonder if the connection wasn't deliberate in some way?)

RWNV s a loving excellent episode of television, and I recommend anyone who likes Fringe to go track it down.


Jack Gladney posted:

Are we going to do the one with evil Britta this week? I can't do screen caps right now or else I would. I mostly have a lot of jokes about how that degree in psychology really caused more problems than anybody expected, but also some stuff about what exactly haunts Walter when he sees his put-together self in jail and how it's weird that Walter isn't going nuts about saving a son in danger and separated from his loving father--although I guess that might be tipping some cards early, especially when you consider how long they were going to wait to drop info on the other side and everything.

There's a few things in this episode which gave me pause, most notably the three-second shot of an Evil Walter figure at the hospital. Is this Walter thinking of Walternate, or just something else?

Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


I was thinking that we'd watch it during Season 2 , when it originally aired, to get the proper experience of this being a "rewatch". That's certainly how I'm intending to show it to my friends, since I'm interested in seeing their opinions about that episode order.

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Open Source Idiom
Jan 4, 2013


Episode Nine: The Dreamscape



I quite like this episode, and I reckon that it's probably the best standalone we get this season. The script remembers that John Scott and Charlie Francis exist, has some great set-pieces, and the entire thing is well paced, and shot nicely.* This is also a pretty good showcase for Anna Torv (and by extension Olivia) -- I'm particularly fond of that final confrontation with Nina Sharp, but the scene with the tank is pretty good too.



*Frederick Toye is one of those TV directors that never gets enough love, but his episodes (he's a New York based director who regularly works for Person Of Interest, The Good Wife, and directed a lot of first season Fringe) tend to be pretty great looking. He really knows how to pace drama, and how to pick his shots and edits. This episode's cold open is a good example of what I mean, even if it pales in comparison to Watchmen. Dude's solid.



The only thing that really drags, for me, is the Peter subplot where he hangs out with his ex-girlfriend. Does anyone particularly care for this arc? I remember that it's basically irrelevant, and doesn't really inform his character all that much.

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