Thursday, September 24, 2009

The pitter patter of tunneling feet

Fringe – 2nd season – “Night of Desirable Objects”


After a great first episode, the new season stumbles a bit with its second show, a middling X-Files also-ran about a series of disappearances and He Who Walks Beneath, or Actually Burrows Under, The Rows.

It’s nice to see X-Files vet Charles Martin Smith as a Pennsylvania sheriff, but he’s not given much to do. The beats in this ep are just so familiar to Mulder and Scully’s old adventures from the opening abduction scene, down to the exhumation of remains to find - horror of horrors - things are NOT what they seem. John Savage, a water pump operator whose wife and kid died years ago, is taken into custody for questioning. It turns out Savage’s dead kid isn’t dead, and he’s more than he seems. Savage was a doctor skilled enough to splice scorpion DNA into his baby while he was still in his wife’s womb; she had lupus, which usually terminates a pregnancy, so this was the only way he could think for her to successfully carry a child to term. But seriously, scorpion DNA? What, was there no cockroach DNA handy? Do NONE of these mad scientists/doctors EVER watch mad scientist movies. I mean there have been only 17,029 Frankenstein movie made, he must have seen at least one of them.
As the team investigates these disappearances, Olivia is still recovering from her visit to the alternate universe. She has to walk with a cane after her auto accident, but more intriguing, her hearing has become super-acute, so she gets to play Daredevil or Superman and hear the neighbors talking next door, the beating of a flys wings and the popping of each bubble in her bubble bath.

The A story ends with Olivia and Peter looking for Mr. Creepy T. Burrower in John Savage’s basement. When Olivia turns away from peering into a bricked up cave, guess who pops up to bite her on the shoulder and drag her into his lair. It was more funny than scary to be honest.

The continuing “mythology” story involving the alternate reality and Charlie is of course more interesting, but it was hardly touched on this time, with just a pair of scenes of Charlie typing on the old Selectric typewriter set in front of the magic mirror. Olivia is also sent by Nina Sharp to a Mr. Miyagi type at a bowling alley who will help her cope with her trip through the looking glass.
The main story involving splicing animal DNA into a human was so unoriginal, I am shocked they went that direction. That's like the oldest "fringe science" idea in the books - H.G. Wells used it in his novel The Island of Dr. Moreau published in 1896! I don't know why they didn't give it some new twist, like they did with Mr. Jones' teleportation last season. Also the design of Scorpy-boy looked just like a mean gray alien. (The writers apparently chose a scopion because they wanted their victims paralyzed and a scopion sting fight that bill.)

It’s episodes like this that make me wish the networks would grow some serious balls and put a finite date on more series. Fringe is not a show that should run for seven seasons, which seems to be the magic network number (most actors TV contracts are for seven years). Ideally I’d like to see it run three or four years, really concentrating on the whole alternate universe and the tech war to come, and less on flat, uninspired episodes like this one.
Star Trek image copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios Inc. No infringement of those rights is intended. Screencap from

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