Tag Archive | Fringe

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

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 episodeĀ n, that’s when it gets good.”)

Five happy things

1) Finally landed a Colbert Report reservation! I’ve only ever seen one taping, about seven years ago (!!), and was starting to worry I wouldn’t get to see it again before it disappears. Not so! I’ll be there October 14 — and getting a reservation this early meant I could get a Megabus round trip to NYC for under $10. Sweet deal all around.

2) This maple cookie recipe. Found it while looking up something to make for a book club where half the members are vegan, liked it so much I just used the leftover ingredients to make another batch, purely for personal snacking purposes.

3) The Mel Blanc Show, from 1946-1947, one of the vintage radio series provided by Don’t Touch That Dial. (Downloads available via The Internet Archive.) It has a great way of stacking one awkward circumstance on top of another to make solid comedy stories, plus good one-liners along the way, and they take full advantage of Mel’s vocal range — he plays the main character and one of the ensemble members, plus he keeps getting into situations where he has to be in disguise, new voice and all.

4) Mo’ne Davis. This cool kid. (Anyone out there who’s having trouble picturing Tamika Flynn, here’s an excellent 13-year-old to base your mental image on.)

5) The flashback episode of Fringe where they do a retro 1980s version of the opening credits. (Second one in this opening-sequence compilation.) Frankly, almost everything about Fringe is making me happy (the details deserve a post of their own), but speaking as someone who has watched a lot of sci-fi from a lot of decades, this OP was a special geek joy to watch.

Fringe thoughts

“It looks like both these computers downloaded a huge file. 657 megabytes.”

I’m watching Fringe, and it’s very good, but this episode is from 2008 and it’s already dating itself.

…Seriously, it’s really good. Olivia Dunham is awesome, and I love that she gets all these great action sequences, where she’s great at beating up attackers with weapons when she can and with fists when she has to. Not to mention her A+ bluffing skills and the way she keeps breaking out other random competencies. (Never forgets a face! Killer card-counting!)

And how did I manage not to hear that the majority of the show is set in Boston? They keep having to chase secret evil bioterrorists through places I recognize.

No idea yet if the overall mytharc is going to come together more coherently than the X-Files one, but so far it seems to be more tightly paced, and the hints don’t have that air of “speaking in vague yet menacing terms because the writers haven’t decided what we’re actually talking about.” All of which seems promising.

It’s weird that nobody’s written a Welcome to Night Vale crossover yet. We’ve already had at least one “Mulder and Scully come to Night Vale” fic. And Fringe has the built-in crossover hook that Astrid, like Dana, is played by Jasika Nicole.

Astrid hasn’t gotten much to do yet — she just hangs around the lab and does whatever helpful backup science the main characters need to round out their expertise (the “657 MB” line was hers) — but she seems cool in a general way. Hoping she’ll get some character-focus episodes as the series goes on.

In other fannish news, there’s now a His Dark Materials fanart group on dA! The only existing one I could find was set not to accept new members, so I made a new one.

Open to all related art, but with crossover daemon stuff relegated to its own folder, so the people who are pre-emptively wincing can avoid it.