On the “Fringe”

An off-topic post tonight in my frustration:

So one of the pilots I’m working on is a sort of ultra high-tech police procedural with the requisite serialized arc and paranoia mythology. It has a different sort of meta-theme, something I’ve not seen on television with any sort of regularity and something that I’ve come to believe is vital in this day and age; something I’ve watched vanish from this country and something I think we need in large doses.

Completely separate from this, I wondered about J.J. Abrams’ new show coming this fall called FRINGE, which sounded a lot like this project I’m working on. I didn’t want to be accused of plagarism, so I worked some contacts and got an advance screener of the pilot.

I’m frustrated. There are too many similarities there for me to ignore.

The pilot is stunningly gorgeous, edited to a fare-thee-well, and has shots in the opening few minutes so horrifying I’d be surprised if they managed to make it to network television.

The problem is in the character work. The woman at the center of this plot is doing all the right things, and doing them brilliantly, for all the wrong reasons. Fringe science, which is the gimmick that this show exploits, is not magic. There is an internal logic and a workable science, even in the most lunatic cases, that supports believability. Fringe science is also rife with misfires, failures, dead ends and false leads; the little research I know of personally has taken years and years to produce miniscule results. It’s almost a guarantee that if a fringe science solution becomes a life-or-death solution, somebody’s gonna die. But it isn’t the fringe science that drove me the furthest up the wall; the problem is her motivation. You’re telling me a plane lands with a thing on it so horrifyingly awful that it that represents probably the most serious national security issue since 9/11, and this woman’s main motivation is to find the answers to save her boyfriend?! Criminey, she’s the one to cast about aspersions on everyone else’s motivations, but she’s the one who’s giving them reason to doubt her. (If a man had done what she’d done in order to save his girlfriend, he’d be working a desk in the Agency’s Outer Slobovia bureau.)

And of course I’m not just saying this because my show has some of the same elements. Ohhhh, no. I’m far more noble and mature than that. Seriously. Would I lie to you?

Anyway, a more personal note tonight because I’m frustrated and itchy after seeing the show. I don’t know if the show is going to do well or not; the main character is also the weakest. The writing is the first thing that makes me genuinely fear for the well-being of the Star Trek movie next May. (Same writers.) I think the best thing to do at this point is to shelve the cop thing, even though I loved it, and work on the straight-up non-genre drama.

Prayer list goes up tomorrow.

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~ by WriterRand on June 14, 2008.

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