Tag Archives: Fringe

Top 10 Episodes of 2010: “White Tulip” (Fringe)

“White Tulip”

Aired: April 15th, 2010

[Cultural Learnings’ Top 10 Episodes of 2010 are in no particular order, and are purely subjective – for more information, and the complete list as it goes up, click here.]

Fringe did not end up making my series list, a fact which I attribute to two things.

One is that the list was made while Fringe was still amidst its third season experimentation (deadlines and all that), and I think I was concerned (without cause, really) that it couldn’t stick the landing – I knew the show had been much improved this year versus last, but without knowing how they intended to strike that balance it made selecting the show as one of the top 15 (in what has been an overall strong year for television) more challenging than choosing already complete seasons.

The other, however, is that “White Tulip” has been stuck in my head since it aired in April, an episode emblematic of the series’ improvements to the point that I knew it would end up on this list (and thus recognize the show for its improvements). Amidst growing complexities relating to Peter’s true origins, and Walter’s growing sense of grief over the truth he’s held from his quasi-son for over twenty years. “White Tulip” by all appearances prepares to tell a normal story at a time when the “other side” is growing more prominent within the narrative. And yet the resulting “stand alone” episode is evocative, powerful, and resonant in ways that – going back to yesterday’s focus on The Good Wife’s “Heart” – most praise of the show glosses over in favor of its more serialized elements (which have been in fine form this year as well).

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Handicapping the 2010 Emmys: Drama Acting

Handicapping the 2010 Emmys: Drama Acting

June 3rd, 2010

On the drama side of things, there’s fewer trends that we can follow through to the nominees than there are in comedy. There, we can look at Glee and Modern Family and see some logical directions the awards could take, but in Drama there’s really only one new contender (The Good Wife), and the other variables are much more up in the air in terms of what’s going to connect with viewers. Lost could see a resurgence with voters in its final season, or it could be left in the dust; Mad Men could pick up more acting nominations now that its dynasty is secure, or it could remain underrepresented; Breaking Bad could stick to Cranston/Paul, or it could branch out into the rest of the stellar cast.

That unpredictability isn’t going to make for a shocking set of nominations, but I do think it leaves a lot of room open for voters to engage with a number of series to a degree that we may not have, so it’s an interesting set of races where I’m likely going out on some limbs.

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Upfronts Analysis: Fox 2009-2010 Fall Schedule

UpfrontsFOX2

Fox 2009-2010 Fall Schedule

May 18th, 2009

FOX has always performed well in the Spring, but this year they managed to do something they hadn’t in the past: they were smart with their scheduling in the Fall, used House as a lead-in as opposed to a lead-out, and managed to put together two shows (fall debut Fringe and midseason Lie to Me) that were stable enough to earn a spot on their 2009-2010 schedule. They did it with the help of both House and American Idol as lead-ins, of course, but they were intelligent in the way they used those spots, and their Fall Schedule feels more stable as a result.

The question now, of course, is whether they can maintain that momentum, which they will try to do with a highly aggressive schedule that demonstrates that FOX is willing to compete in the Fall…at the risk of running one of its franchises into the ground, throwing one of its new shows out into the wild on its own, and holding its new offerings until midseason.

So even when you think they’ve got the hang of things, FOX has to go and shake things up to prove that, no matter how consistent they may seem at times, they’re always going to pull out a new trick or two.

The full schedule, with my analysis, after the jump – if you’re looking for all the official images and press releases plus plenty of analysis, I suggest you head over to Televisionary where Jace has it all covered.

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Seriously, FOX? Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse to air on Fridays

dollhouse

I don’t normally post news, but I figure this is frustrating enough to enjoy a bit more analysis outside of my Twitter feed. Ironically, it was through Twitter that the news was revealed to me. From FOXBroadcasting’s new twitter feed came the following:

Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse launches Friday, February 13th

My immediate response: seriously, FOX? Are we going to go through this again? After Whedon’s last FOX show, Firefly, was destroyed by mismanagement by FOX, fans of the creator have already had reason to be slightly concerned about the show’s trajectory. Now, with the creative side seemingly together, comes the next blow – that even when it does air, its opportunity for success has shrunk dramatically.

The thing is, a lot more could have been done: FOX could have premiered the show behind an episode of American Idol, something that is increasingly common and that their other new drama, Lie to Me, is likely getting on January 21st. Nothing about this move seems even remotely like a network that is fully behind this show: and would premiering it a week early and avoiding the ominousness of Friday the 13th really have killed them?

I’m excited for Dollhouse, even as someone who outside of Firefly and Dr. Horrible is woefully behind on my Whedonverse viewing, but these signs keep popping up that this show is cursed. I don’t want to be a harbinger of ill-will towards the series’ fate, and I would love to feel more optimistic, but considering that repeats of NCIS and other crime procedurals are the shows performing best on Fridays something tells me that FOX’s attempt to rekindle The X-Files’ success in the timeslot a decade ago isn’t going to work…and if this means that Whedon’s fans are going to have to pick up FOX’s slack at promoting one of his series AGAIN, I don’t think this is the kind of deja vu the show is trying to discuss.

Below the jump, though, let’s take a look at what the rest of FOX’s January schedule brings us – to be honest, it’s quite reasonable, if frustrating for fans of the network’s science fiction dramas.

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What’s Cultural Learnings Watching?: The New Shows of Fall 2008

To be honest, I’m in over my head answering the question of what shows I’ll be covering this fall. Not only am I extremely busy at the moment (Hence why I’m behind on Mad Men, Burn Notice, Greek, etc.), but we know extremely little about what’s to come. With a rushed pilot season, we have less information and fewer options, a combination that has me going blind. When you bundle this with the “relaunch” phenomenon I’ll discuss later this week, you have a sense that new shows aren’t going to be dominating our television viewing schedule.

But, there’s a few that are on my radar for varying reasons, and ones that I’ll be covering in some detail – others will probably be watched once, and could join the lineup in time.

Fringe (Fox, Tuesday September 9th, 8pm)

I previewed the 90-minute pilot earlier in the summer, and I think the same of it now: this is the fall show that feels most like something I’d want to watch every week, to get wrapped up in and think about long after I’ve watched it. While I love Lost and Alias’ pilots, I find this creation to be Abrams’ most recognizably serial: the setup is less personal and more situational, which could definitely benefit its long term stability compared to Alias’ eventual departure from the rails. Abrams’ shows all seem to be about characters intertwined in something bigger than them, but this group is yet another in the long list of people who we want to see go through these trials.

90210 (The CW, Tuesday September 2nd, 8pm)

Yes, it isn’t being screened for critics, and there are certainly questions about its quality, but I can’t help but think that The CW’s great hope is something to watch this fall. Ignoring the subject matter, which I admittedly enjoy as a guilty pleasure, it stars Tristan Wilds (Michael from ‘The Wire’) and Jessica Walter (Lucille from ‘Arrested Development’); this kind of pedigree can’t go unnoticed. I’m a bit too young to have been sucked into the phenomenon on which the show is based, but there still is room for a show like this should The CW pull it off.

The Ex List (CBS, Friday October 3rd, 9pm)

After doing some really great work on Grey’s Anatomy (as trauma victim and facial reconstruction patient Eva) before her character was sent to crazy town towards the end of the fourth season, Elizabeth Reaser has earned at least some of my loyalty. Combine with Diane Ruggierio, late of Veronica Mars, and you have a potentially engaging combination for a more light-hearted romantic comedy option. The show, which follows a woman who is told that she has already met her true love and must sort through her ex-boyfriends in search of the individual, is the kind of series that could be smart enough to overcome its sappy concept. I am hoping for appeal similar to Samantha Who?, a show that is carried by its star and some strong supporting work.

Life on Mars (ABC, Thursday October 9th, 10pm)

For those following the history of this American adaptation of the hit British series, there’s like ten reasons to be concerned: David E. Kelley fights battle with studio while pilot is shot, new showrunners step in and dump most of the cast, and an entirely new cast is just recently completing a new pilot, with a whole new direction from the one ABC originally greenlit. It could work out in quite an intriguing fashion, though – while the showrunners from October Road bring little experience, they have brought a cast featuring Harvey Keitel and Michael Impirioli. For that reason, and for the potential in the story, I’m tuning in for now.

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Cultural Reflections on Comic Con 2008

While I’m genuinely addicted to Twitter most of the time, being away over the weekend and thus mostly away from my Twitter account was a good thing. Many of the people I follow, most of which I’ve met through some great times at the /Filmcast, were lucky enough to be out in San Diego, California for the biggest event in geekdom: Comic Con. My jealousy knows no bounds, as it sounds like an extremely exciting event that covers the gamut of entertainment.

Once mostly a haven for comic book adaptations and the like, the convention has taken on new life as pretty much “Any show that has fans on the internet or any kind of fantastical elements” when it comes to television presence. So this includes a show like The Big Bang Theory, which embraces its geek sensibilities on a regular basis, and a show like Prison Break that is really just there treating it as a fan convention in general terms. I won’t attempt to make an argument for the exclusion of such shows, though, because for the most part the convention has taken on a life of its own…and that life has brought a lot of new TV news to our attention.

Heroes

NBC’s highest rated drama series came to Comic Con with a devoted fan base to satisfy and a lot to prove to critical people like me who thought the second season was almost completely garbage. Perhaps realizing this task, they decided to placate both crowds and actually show the entire Season Three premiere. Now, some have commented that a show like Lost didn’t do anything similar (I’ll get to them in a minute), but Heroes has the added bonus of having started filming Season Three extremely early after NBC cut the second season short, so they’re in a unique position.

While I’m not reading the detailed recaps like Adam Quigley’s over at /Film or Dave3’s over at GeeksofDoom to avoid spoilers, there’s been positive word of mouth that this is, at least, better than last season’s entry (And perhaps better than the show’s pilot, which was kind of weak). I remain skeptical of Kring as a showrunner, though, and what I read of Adam’s review tends to indicate that the annoying dialogue and the tendency to delve into pointless subplots have not disappeared even as the quality elsewhere ramps up. Still, it’s a smart move to please both fans and critics alike, and once the pilot hits in September I’ll judge for myself whether they’ve got the quality to back it up.

Lost

While the lack of real Season Five footage (It doesn’t premiere for another 7 months, realistically) is certainly a bit of a downer, what Lost brings to the table is its usual blend of intrigue and mystery. While they weren’t there with new footage, they did have a new Orientation style video that seems a bit different. Although the YouTube link below is off a screen, it still seems to be higher quality than what we’ve used to. After the jump, I’ll go into some discussion on why this video has a LOT of ramifications (And is infinitely more interesting than an episode of Heroes).

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Pilot Preview – FOX’s “Fringe”

“Fringe”

Fall 2008 Pilot Preview

[As per pilot screener regulations, this is a preview and not a review. The content of the series may change between now and the show’s official airing, so all thoughts are of a preliminary nature pending said changes. For a full review, tune in for the show’s September premiere.]

When Fringe debuts in September, there are going to be a lot of comparisons made: to the past work of producer J.J. Abrams, to television’s last prominent science fiction procedural, and also to the rest of the pilots coming to the networks this fall. In all three cases, the show will play well – in its current form, Fringe is a tight series with a compelling cast, a winning premise and (most of all) the mythological underpinnings that drive any great piece of Abrams drama.

[Warning: The review will not feature any major spoilers, but there could be a few light ones as I make some comparisons to other series, so tread lightly if you’re worried about learning a single piece of the show’s plot.]

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