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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fringe: Surrounded by Madness

After returning from Honduras, I wanted to fill in the gaps of my pop culture. So far, Fringe and Orphan Black are the two programs I've found worth watching.

A while back, I reviewed Fringe's science book without having seen the program (I did hunt down the pilot). I rather like the program. It has a quirky combination of unlikely science, real science, SF, fantasy, mystery, suspense, horror, and humor.

It has a thing for madness, too. Whenever our protag experiences something paranormal, she has to tell her boss and friends that she's not crazy but... The kind of thing likely to get you committed in real life. Instead, they reassure her what a good agent she is.

Most intriguingly is how it pits mad scientists vs. mad scientists, making the good ones a little bad (Walter) and the bad ones questionable and sometimes helpful (evil? corporate Massive Dynamics vs. nebulous opponents to Massive Dynamics). Each week they shuffle the baddies to keep viewers uncertain.

They do and don't glorify science of dubious merit: Do: The imagery and ideas are outlandishly cool. Don't: They assess and reassess the damage scientists have wrecked on others--usually unwilling victims.

There is some outrageously bad science, too. One episode had the common-cold virus become a gigantic slug that zips along the floor. The problem is that viruses don't move and require cells to reproduce. So if you're a product, say, a million times larger than your warehouse, how do you build and release it? How does the thing coordinate itself and give itself a large protective covering? If you're a virus, doesn't it make sense to stay where the cells are, then release when there's a bunch of you?

I'm still watching it, so the bad science hasn't impaired my enjoyment of the program.

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