September 13th, 2008

Earth from space

When the writing lets you down

Like many people who read spec fic, I'm also a fan of a lot of spec fic TV and movie franchises. The new Fox show Fringe sounded it like it was an attempt to update a really excellent, well-written show The X-Files, so I watched the pilot.

It had some good things going for it. The actor who played the crazy scientist was very good, and that character is very intriguing. The guy who plays his son is pretty good, too, and their family dynamic added some interest to the plot. I was ambivalent about the office romance; it seemed a pretty tired trope to me. Likewise the seemingly nasty boss who might not be so bad after all. But in the end I felt totally let down by the writing. The first hint was the plane landing by itself because there is now (somehow) an automated system that can safely land a jet airplane at its intended destination once the pilot flicks a single switch. Excuse me? If you want to set the series 30 years in the future I might buy that, but this show appears to be very now. There's a lot of talk about how things are different because of the Department of Homeland Security. So that was one strike against the writers—lazy writing! They wanted everyone on the plane dead, so they just made up a spiffy new invention that can let a plane full of dead people land at Logan, an airport that's on the edge of major city and very near the water.

Turns out that was just the beginning. If you want to see the show but you missed the pilot, don't click the link below because it's hiding a total spoiler.

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It's writing like this that gives science fiction a bad name. The X-Files it ain't.

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