Thursday, December 24, 2009

There's only one thing more annoying than psuedo science

Sloppy sloppy writing. UGH.

I have just finished watching the only two seasons of Dead Like Me, which, being an absolutely brilliant, innovative and well-written show, was cancelled within a year. It's rare that a television show makes me even smile inwardly, let alone laugh out loud; even rarer where I feel for the characters at all. There's a genuine tear jerker episode near the end of season two.

After exhausting the entertainment of first round viewing of both this and The Dresden Files (not quite so brilliant, but then again, only a single season) I went on a brief search to find my next set of background noise.

(I tend to listen to t.v. shows while drawing on the computer or photo editing, listen to music while writing.)

Enter 'Fringe'. J.J. Abrams has gotten so much positive press that it's even reached the rock under which I live, no mean feat. Plus, the 'cover copy' as it were, implies that the show is more or less 'X-Files: Take 2', which I also enjoyed(at least the earlier seasons).

Not even close. Beyond some of the leaps of logic taken by the 'brilliant' scientist, beyond even some of the head-bleeding psuedo-science that (beyond making no sense) are shot off in such a way as to induce pure what the fuckery, beyond even alternately making the characters rogue geniuses in one scene and making them Too Stupid To Live in the next for sake of forwarding the plot...


I've watched one episode, and the beginning of another, and the stumbling is enough to pull me right out of the narrative and rant at my computer like a querulous old man.

To wit - a 14 year old boy is going on an (understandable) crime spree with the help of drug induced mind control powers. Fair enough. When the TSTL characters get into his computer, they find he's been searching 20 year old car wrecks, to see if his mother actually died in them, as he was told.

What-wait a second. 20 year old car wrecks? This woman somehow birthed a child SIX YEARS AFTER HER DEATH? Let's hear it for zombie ovum.

Next issue in the 'drove me bonkers' category - to stop the kid's mind powers, the genius scientist finds a toy from the MC's childhood, which emits a recording of a mother's heartbeat from the womb. This sound is suspected to nullify the kid's power - that part is fair enough. What drives me completely mad, is that over and over, the recording is referred to as 'white noise'.

That is NOT white noise. Not even a little. White noise is a signal with a flat power output within the auditory bandwidth, i.e. un-eq'd static. The very act of hearing the heart beat negates the sound EVER being white noise. If the character were half as clever as he were supposed to be, he'd know that.

There were plenty of other 'gimme a break' moments within the episode, but both of those could have easily been avoided by having a clue, or doing one second of research/proof reading.

Another throwaway bit - the business head of a huge tech firm is writing an email or letter at the end of the show to someone...on an APPLE II. Little green screen and everything. If the show were created in 1985, I could let it slide. I honestly couldn't tell you what she was writing or to whom if quizzed; I was far too busy ranting about the six inch monochrome screen.

Within two minutes of watching the next episode, I wanted to hit someone in the head, preferably whomever chose this prop...

So there's this alien observer dude, watching people in the park with folding opera glasses. They also sell these at sporting events; you can buy them online in a plastic version new, or with a bit of looking around, in a metal case used. They run between five and fifteen dollars in most cases.

A veteran comes up to alien dude, saying 'I've never seen something like those before.'

Alien dude replies. 'that's because they're from somewhere else.'

REALLY?? C'MON. Talk about insulting your audience. I find it hard to believe a vet with a white beard has never been to any sort of show or sporting event, watched enough movies, or seen enough things in passing to recognize something like that.

'From somewhere else'???? You mean the stadium down the street? Or maybe the concessions stand at the Met? I'm not sure who to blame for this one, but someone thinks the viewing public is mentally impaired.

Furthermore (and this might have made me the craziest) it's pretty easy to tell what someone is viewing by looking at the direction of their head. This guy is not bird watching. You're telling me that a veteran soldier isn't in any way suspicious of what some bizarre looking dude is watching?

As a whole, the performances themselves in this show are stellar, the editing is slick, and what caught my attention in the first episode I watched were the elegant supertitles - cool at first, but I see the gimmick wearing thin quickly.


  1. Just out of curiosity, I checked Ebay for folding opera glasses. Currently, the going price is between a penny, and five bucks.

  2. Fringe was and is a waste of time...yes, they tried to market it here as "The X-files V.2" and the problem with that is that the X-files, for all of it's attempts to use science, rarely ever actually used science because what was happening was to out there...they used the "it could be this..." and go running off to chase camera or flashlight in sight! Loved that show....but Fringe....ewww...just a major FAIL for trying to duplicate and fail on the replicate....

  3. Very true. The difference is, the science that was used was both current and accurate.

    It's unfortunate, because I think the performances and production of the show are pretty solid.