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Erin Watches: Fringe, Continuum, Warehouse 13, Leverage, Scandal, Black Butler March 13, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches.
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Various things I’ve Netflixed or streamed over the past…oh, year or so.

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Fringe. Got all the way through to the end! Continued to mostly like it. I love that we got case-of-the-week episodes in the alt!verse, humanizing the characters and giving us a sense of what their normal life is like. The whole mytharc was really well-thought-out in the early seasons.

Needed more Astrid-centric episodes, and the later seasons should’ve developed Olivia’s powers rather than forgetting about them. The last season was kind of a mess (the ending, in particular, expected you to just not notice that one of the characters ended up in entirely the wrong universe). I’m glad it was short, so the storyline was contained. And when they did do callbacks to earlier continuity (the various fringe events, everything about the opening), it was great.

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Continuum. Early episodes were so promising. A cop from the corporate-fascist-controlled future gets accidentally flung back to our present, where she meets the teenage version of the genius who developed her tech, and they team up to track down time-traveling terrorists. Our heroine starts out thinking her corporate fascist overlords are great, so while you sympathize with her whole “keep the terrorists from blowing anything up” mission, you’re waiting to see her start to rethink her whole worldview.

Well-done time travel is my catnip, and there’s a lot of it here. The twist at the end of the first season seems to foreshadow a whole lot more of it.

And then the show stops engaging with the worldview dilemmas, and then a couple of characters jump into an alternate timestream, ripping up everything they had been building up about the rules of time travel. They try to pull a whole “which is the Good Double and which is the Evil Double” dilemma…on two copies of a character who have identical experiences except for the past week.

Fringe managed to keep my investment through a pan-multiverse retcon. Continuum, not so much. It’s been renewed for one more season, and maybe it’ll get great reviews, but for now it’s off my to-watch list.

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Warehouse 13. Early episodes were not promising. This one was on the verge of losing me early on, but I asked FFA for advice (particularly “I hear the characters named Myka and HG Wells are super gay together, when does that start?”), and ended up skipping forward to watch all of s2 and s3.

Some of it was good. The Escher Room was fantastic. The team dynamics got more tolerable. Claudia was neat. A lot of it, though, fell oddly flat, and I can’t put my finger on why Fringe grabbed me and this didn’t.

I do have enough backstory now to read HG/Myka fic when it gets recced, so that’s something.

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Leverage. Funny, smart, and if you have any kind of competence kink, this will blow you out of the water. Seriously, this has spoiled me for all lesser shows with heists, cons, schemes, and/or secret plans, because the setups have so much forethought and detail. If there are plot holes, they’re not on the “but, but, code does not work that way” level — not obvious enough to throw me out of the story.

I’m into the canon ships, and the fandom’s favorite OT3. The romance arcs work; they don’t bog down the substance of the story.

And it’s such a feel-good show. The villains are IRL no-goodniks, usually corporate operatives screwing people over to make money. Our heroes have their missteps and their uncertain moments, but they always win; the pleasure is in seeing how they win, not being afraid for their safety. And they’re always fundamentally the good guys. You never have to worry about them approaching the Evil Line for the sake of drama. Unlike in, say….

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Scandal. Another one that started off looking amazing. The premise is Leverage meets West Wing: a group of freelance do-gooder lawyers hanging out in Washington DC. Everyone talks a mile a minute. The lead is an incredible, hyper-competent black woman who holds the admiration and loyalty of everyone on her team. Bad guys hate her. Good guys whose philosophies clash with hers will still grudgingly admit that she’s amazing.

And over the course of a few seasons, the show slowly destroys the likability of every single character. It’s kind of impressive how thorough it is. (There are team members who literally torture each other!)

Not going to watch the current season, and not even going to start How To Get Away With Murder, because from what I can tell it has exactly the same problem.

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Black Butler. I don’t understand why nobody made me watch this show ten years ago. Or at any time during the span when I was squarely in the target audience, and actively flailing about Hellsing.

As with Leverage, every character is hyper-competent, in a way that is incredibly satisfying to watch. And they cut trim figures in nice suits while doing it. And there’s a supernaturally-reinforced master/servant contract, heaped with loyalty and obedience. Ciel in the English dub even sounds like Integra.

I’m going to look up the manga in the local library system. I liked the series so much I would consider outright buying it — but it’s 20 volumes and counting, and I don’t have $200 to drop on reading material these days. (I haven’t even bought the Madoka manga, or the Kodansha Sailor Moon release.)

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Also, some things I tried but ended up dropping after a few episodes: White Collar, The 100, The 4400, Eureka, Life Unexpected, Farscape, Bob’s Burgers, Parks & Recreation. (If any of these is your fave, feel free to try to sell me on it again using any spoilers you want, and/or by saying “start at episode¬†n, that’s when it gets good.”)

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Comments»

1. Phammy - April 7, 2015

Parks & Rec season 1 is meh. Jump to season 2. You will probably love the father-daughter dynamic of Poehler and Offerman. I love how they never make fun of the characters for having values, but rather when they take those values too far or misfire on bad info. Ron Swanson is the guy you want as your uncle, while Leslie is the crazy best friend who brightens your day. Aubrey Plaza is also amazing. So much to love.


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