Monday, February 13, 2012

Fringe - The TV show

I started watching J.J. Abrams show "Fringe" back when it first aired. Some of my friends did too. After a while some of them lost touch with it, lost interest because it got, well, weird. And for a show that was supposed to be weird, even being considered a distant descendant of the old "X Files" TV show, which we loved, that's saying something. This isn't a review, and I'm not critiquing the show here. I just wanted to point out a few things I find fascinating about the show now and where it is headed.

First let me point out that I'm not always a fan of shows that take weird directions or try to confuse the viewer. I did not like "Lost" from the first episode and didn't watch it. I liked the first version of "Lost" a lot better when I was a kid and they called it "Gilligan's Island". I could not get into "Prison Break", especially once they broke out and kept going.

But I'm liking the direction that "Fringe" is going. It has now settled down and morphed into, an interesting exercise in characterization. One of my friends stopped watching it because they were getting confused, there were too many "alternate" or "parallel" universes to deal with. I was getting frustrated myself a while back. I was wondering if the show's producers and writers even had a handle on what the Hell they were doing.

But now I see, that's the point. Things have, or are, finally coalescing into something tangible.

This show has now got to be a kind of actor's paradise. What you have now are multiple universes, with the same characters in each one, but with different personalities and varying histories. The theory being that other universes close to the primary (one we started with), are almost exactly the same as the primary, and as you get further from it you have greater variations. It should also be easier to get to one more closely aligned with the primary than one more distant.

The theory being, as a decision is made you branch out into another universe. Whether you agree with how they are doing this, or what theory they are using, they are doing it, making it work, and serving up a story that entertains. Just don't get too caught up in the theory over the entertainment value or you will lose out on what they are doing.

Once you get into sync with it, it's really kind of amazing to watch and follow. If you have ever watched a show and wished a character would have this or that kind of attitude about something different than what they are doing, now is your chance. It is a different way to watch a show with reoccurring characters. And it's kind of fascinating. It has to be interesting from the show's writers, too.

In writing a character on a show, you have to strictly adhere to the character's path. But here there are multiple paths and ways to play out their decisions in the show. You get to stretch your acting, or writing (or producing) "muscles" in different directions. This has to either be killing people on that show (and it probably is some of them) or they will never want to leave a show like this and couldn't be happier. I'm talking the format of the show, not how people are being treated as employees on a set. If your producer is a nightmare, well, that's a different consideration.

But from a viewer's perspective, I'm enjoying what they are doing and I hope they can keep it up for a while. It just took my getting over the transition period from the intial orientation of the show to where they have not arrived. Although, I'm still really not sure where that is. And for once on a TV show, it's not irritating me.

In closing, I'll offer this:

Tomorrow morning I will have a St. Valentine's Day blog about my first short story to go online for sale on an epublishing site and how it is free through St. Valentine's Day on Smashwords. Cheers!

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