Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oooookay.... day two of my three day challenge, and I'm still hanging in there. (although not all that easily)

I guess that Hurricane Ike is on its way to the Texas coastline. Although I don't really want to see my neighbors get pounded down on the coast, it sure would be nice for Central Texas to get some decent rainfall so that we could recharge the aquifer and replenish our lakes and rivers.

Last night I watched the series premiere of a new Fox show called Fringe. It's an action/suspense show about an FBI agent who's investigating a series of bizarre occurrences (known as "the pattern") which have led investigators to conclude that someone is engaging in unorthodox experiments, often using an unwitting human population as guinea pigs. The science used in these experiments is the kind of stuff not normally accepted by the wider scientific community (thus the "fringe science" label- get it?), and we're led to believe that includes subject matter ranging from ESP and telekinesis to genetic manipulation and bioweapons.
Anyway, the show definitely has a bit of an X-Files type of feel to it, although perhaps a bit less melodramatic and ominous (there were definitely some creepy/scary scenes on Fringe, but it didn't have the same overall atmosphere of melancholy seriousness that the X-Files always seemed to project).
It's not really fair to draw too many conclusions about a show after only watching its first episode or pilot (I think the writers and directors have too much exposition and character establishment type stuff to do during a first episode to accurately be able to tell how the pacing and flow of the series is going to go as it progresses), but nonetheless, I think Fringe is going to end up feeling a bit formulaic for my taste. It seems like our protagonist, the main character FBI agent Olivia Dunham, has assembled her Scooby Doo-style investigation team, including a mildly insane former government scientist, his brilliant, but not formally educated son, and her tough as nails on the outside, softie on the inside boss (from Homeland Security). There's going to be some kind of creepy mystery each week that's not easily explained by modern science, and apparently there's some giant conspiracy in the works, which we will eventually undoubtedly learn extends into the highest possible levels of government and corporate America.
The first episode had me sort of bored when I was only halfway through it (I fought off the urge to abandon the show, but I'm not sure why), and unless the show takes some major right hand turns or quickly produces some unexpected plot developments, I don't think I'll be watching it very long (although I may still take in another episode, given my "don't judge a series by the first episode" rule).
I will say that I thought Anna Torv did a pretty good job and was fairly likable as the lead character, Agent Dunham. Unfortuantely, we've just seen these types of characters too many times before (the plucky, hard driven cop/agent who will take on any comers, including her own superiors, in order to solve the mystery, get her man, and prove, once again, that any job a man can do, a woman can do better). Torv is facing a major uphill battle if she's going to keep her character interesting.
Well, maybe Fringe will get better. We'll see.

In other news, there have been reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is sick, possibly having suffered a stroke. The North Korean government initially denied these reports, claiming that any stories relating to health problems were nothing more than lies perpetuated as part of an anti-North Korean conspiracy. More recently, however, South Korean intelligence experts have reported that although Jong-il suffered a cerebral hemorrhage last month, the leader's condition is "manageable", and that he is in a stable condition, supposedly conscious and lucid, but not really able to walk around. The condition of Kim Jong-il has become a matter of international concern, since North Korea is a powerful military force in Asia and since it's been in negotiations with the west to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for being taken off the list of nations who sponsor terrorist activities. Anyway, Jong-il has some sons (I think 3, if memory serves), but apparently they haven't really been trained or groomed to assume the mantle of leadership if Jong-il steps down. A power vacuum is likely to occur if Jong-il is incapacitated, and many spectators fear that forces within the North Korean military would gain control of the country if the current leader is forced to step down. This possibility has many concerned, as the hard-line military has been traditionally hostile toward South Korea and the West- a sort of disturbing potentiality given the size of the North Korean army and the fact that North Korea may or may not have been developing nuclear weapons.
It's kind of like the old pre-war situation that we had in Iraq with Saddam Hussein- Kim Jong-il is a pretty crappy leader, but at least he's fairly predictable and he's shown some ability to keep the country stable (he may be starving some of his own people to do this, but at least he's not launching attacks against other nations). Sometimes you're better off with the devil that you know....

Well, I guess that's it for now. Hope you guys are having a good hump day.


Anonymous said...

Missed the pilot of Fringe last night. It's by JJ Abrams from Lost, right?? Are you a Lostie? I like Lost, although it can be a very slow reveal......builds tension for the viewer initially, then frustration when things move along at a snail's pace. I almost gave up on Lost mid Season 2, but went back once the show was available on HD webcast. There are some brilliant moments on Lost, but I think sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees.....I wonder if Fringe will have the same issues?

Wife and I started re-watching the X-files, starting with the pilot. I had forgotten how good that show was, and the great chemistry between Duchovny and Anderson, even in the pilot. I gave up once Mulder was off the show, so I can't comment on the final 2 or 3 seasons. But that was a solid show. Home? Josie Chung's From Outer Space? Squeeze? Ice??

I could also ask: what's the point of watching TV with commercials when you can Netflix things 6 months later or watch on the HD Interwebs, as my wife now does for The Closer???
But then I might come across as verbose.

Meredith said...

Day 2 down, only one more to go. And I have to admit, I like to read your political banter but also like to read what else is in your head. You surviving over there??? I am going to have to get back to political talk on my blog soon. Today I just downloaded a bunch of junk on my mind on the post. That's never good....

Anonymous said...

Stopped reading as soon as you talked about Fringe, because it's still on my TiVo and I don't want any spoilers, but...

Can you just tell me whether or not I should bother watching it? Thumbs up/thumbs down so far (and I realize it's difficult to grade just a pilot).

J.S. said...

Jamie, my feeling about Fringe, keeping in mind that it's really not good to judge a show by its pilot, is that the show might have a bit of creepiness and be interesting in that regard, but it doesn't seem to be very original or offer much that's new. I reserve an absolute thumbs up or down until I've seen one or two more episodes.

Anonymous said...

As they constantly and annoyingly tell us in Houston on the highway billboards: "Hurricane season is here. Keep your gas tanks full."

A full tank of gas will not save or comfort me. Instead, I'm getting prepared with a liquor store run. Hurricane mix seems a bit obvious, so provisions for the Dark and Stormy (dark rum, ginger beer, and lime in a high ball glass filled with ice) are in order. The Dark and Stormy was my official drink of the 2008 summer. Cures what ails you. Probably gin rickeys for the Mrs.


Anonymous said...

If the gin gimlet is good enough for Raymond Chandler, then, dammit, it's good enought for me.

Hendrick's gin from Scotland is the way to go. A port in any storm.

Had dinner with Sean Dailey last night, who was in town for a business trip. Same ol' Sean Dailey.