If you don't behave as you believe, you will end by believing as you behave.” Fulton J. Sheen

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Creative Minority Reader

Of Alternate Universes And Zombies

There is something about sci-fi and the Catholic mind.

I have two TV shows that I really enjoy right now. I think Fringe is one of the best shows on TV. The other show, the Walking Dead, while it has some flaws still explores some really interesting territory.

Let me start with Fringe. Fringe is straight up sci-fi. Oh sure, there are some larger moral issues sometimes to be explored on the show and they have made for some of the best episodes. It was Walter's militant atheism and its consequent hubris that put two universes on a collision course and the first sparks of faith, still unformed, that have led him to try and repair the damage. But beyond that, it is sci-fi at its best. This may sound strange, but this show manages to have multiple universes, multiple timelines, and multiple versions of the same characters interacting with each other and it still all makes sense. That is no small feat.

The writers on the show are simply fantastic. I have never seen a show that mixes plot details and meta-narrative as seamlessly as this show does. Lost did this as well if not better than any show that came before. In my opinion, Fringe does this better. The writing is fantastic, but the acting is even better. Olivia and Faux-livia are two entirely different characters. Walter is simply amazing and Peter is terrific too. I love this show.

Ok. For those that watch it, let's get into some nitty gritty. Peter asked the Watcher "Who shot you?" and the Watcher dissembled. That is for one simple reason. Peter shot the Watcher, or rather Peter will shoot the Watcher. The only way for Peter to set the timeline straight is to kill the Watcher before he distracts Walter-nate from finding the cure. Eventually, Peter will realize this. This is why the Watcher did not answer.

What we don't know is why Peter is "important" and whether his baby to be is important too. But we do know that the Watcher wanted to witness his cure before he inadvertently messed it up. This is ultimately the point of the show. Why is Peter "important?"

Another thing I noticed, when the Watcher disappeared after he said "They're coming" the table nearby got knocked over. This has some significance, dunno what, but we will see this again.

Phew. Man, I love this show. I am still geeking out about it.

This brings me to The Walking Dead. The writing on this show is not nearly as strong as on Fringe but they still bring some interesting elements to the table. First let me talk about what they don't do well so I can finish with the positive. The writers never work the meta-narrative into the show at all. They finished with a great cliffhanger last season when the scientist whispered in Rick's ear. This was clearly significant. Rick is infected or not? Rick is a carrier or not? Rick's baby is a zombie or not? Big questions. They have not addressed or even hinted at a single one this season, they have been too busy with the other story line.

This is not how it should be done. Writers, please, we can follow more than one thing at a time. Fringe does this so well and it is the glaring deficiency of Walking Dead.

That said, the plot they have been working this year is really interesting, particularly to a Christian mind. In a nutshell, in a world gone to hell, does morality still matter? And how much does morality depend on hope?

These are big questions dealt with directly by the two main characters who come down on opposite sides of the issue. This is done really well and I really enjoy the show for it. But we shouldn't neglect the other elements altogether. This is a zombie show after all, we need zombies and some back story. I suspect that the back story will, when finally revealed, will provide the hope that the world so desperately needs. My guess is that Rick is both the source for the zombie outbreak and the source of its ultimate cure. But let's get to it, ok?

I love me some sci-fi and this is a good time to be a TV watcher. Good times.

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3 comments:

Viterbo Fangirl said...

Bravo, Patrick! I couldn't have listed the glories of Fringe any better! My best friend and I have been watching it religiously since a third of the way through the second season, and we typically launch into panegyrics at the end of every episode. And on that note... OH MY GOSH! I never thought of Peter shooting the Watcher!!

Tony Rossi said...

Great piece, Patrick. But if your "Fringe" prediction is correct, I will suspect that you are an "observer" from the future.

Brian Sullivan said...

Anna Torv plays both Olivias *and* played one of them doing a Leonard Nimoy impression (William Bell)last season without going over the top. Yet no Emmy nomination! Now that's crazy.

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