Bad Sci Fi

Just a quick note this mornin’. For a while I’ve been hearing about two relatively new TV shows: Life on Mars and Fringe. I know that LOM is based on a British show of the same name, and I know the basic premise. I know that Fringe is a procedural about a cop of some sort investigating fringe-science stuff, sort of an X-Files scented beast. That’s about it. Some folks have told me good things about them.

So the other night I watched my first episode of Fringe, and it sucked. Now, like a lot of TV shows, it didn’t suck in execution: It was tightly directed, well acted, the dialogue had some zing, and the overall look was quality. The story, however, was terrible. A computer virus that liquefies peoples brains, unleashed upon the world by a disgruntled programmer, targeting the loved ones of people who’d wronged him.

A computer virus. That liquefies brains. This was a bad idea 20 years ago, and it remains a bad idea now.

Was this just a bad example? Maybe. Maybe other episodes rock and I’d be cheering the show on. I will not, however, find out anytime soon, because 1 hour of my life is all any show gets to impress me.

I haven’t seen an ep of LOM yet. I hadn’t any plans to watch; it seemed like I got the premise and wasn’t very interested in it: Cop gets shot, is in coma, is either actually transported to 1973 or is just imagining it in his comatose state, it all wraps up in with a deep mystery and whether or not anything is real. Not a bad idea, of course, but just didn’t excite me.

Then, this morning, I saw this on IO9. Now that’s something I didn’t expect from what I knew about the show, which is apparently: Nothing. That might get me to watch. My god, if the network had promoted tiny robots seeking proof of the human soul in its advertising, I’d have been there on day 1, because that ain’t typical broadcast SF fare.

This underscores the way mainstream SF is being sold nowadays: All the ads for this show make it look like a zany cop show with one single bizarre twist (2008 cop sent back to 1973). There is almost nothing else in the ads that would make this show SFnal.

Of course, I’ll finally tune inĀ  to LOM one of these days and I’ll probably get the episode where he encounters a computer virus from the future that liquefies brains. Dammit.


  1. DK

    What about robot ninjas on a hovertrain? That could be good, especially if the train had a wisecracking AI with Bruce Campbell’s voice.

  2. jsomers (Post author)


    Goes without saying that anything with Bruce Campbell is at least watchable. I’d even watch an episode of “Bruce Campbell, PI” that involved a virus that turned people’s brains to putty.


  3. DK

    That case would require at least an hour’s worth of big-chinned sleuthing to crack. You should call Bruce’s agent and pitch this. It can’t be worse than Farscape, right?

  4. Craig

    Fringe and Life on Mars are two of my favorite new shows. Fringe has a broad storyline as well as the “X Files” incident of the week to keep things moving. Although I wasn’t an X-Files fan, I do dig Fringe. It’s the characters and situations… plus the big conspiracy stuff working. I hope that the writers now where they are heading cuz so far I’m enjoying the trip.

    Life on Mars grows on me with each new episode, and I liked it from the start. Perhaps it’s because I’m old enough to remember the 70’s.

  5. jsomers (Post author)


    I guess it was a bad episode, but it’ll be hard for me to get past the *PC virus that melts brains* thing. Although, I admit that The X-Files had its share of lame-brained episodes, and I watched every. single. episode of that show.

    I’m gonna give LOM a chance. The tiny robots did it.


  6. Dan Krokos

    As a fan of Fringe, I will admit that last episode was garbage. Don’t blame you for not wanting to try it again.

  7. David Ellis

    It wasn’t just bad luck in your selection of a Fringe episode. They’re pretty much all like that. The show sucks….despite having characters I like. Which made me watch about 3 more episodes after the premiere before deciding it wasn’t worth bothering with.

    LOM, though, has been very good. You should give it a try. A hard show to walk into the middle of though. You really need to see it from the start.

  8. Algai 'd' Aman

    Awww, Fringe is actually pretty good. You cant just jump into the middle of a series like that tsk tsk tsk.

    I agree with Dan. The liquefied brain episode was one of the lamer ones.

    I still haven’t seen LOM though.

  9. jsomers (Post author)

    I’ll take your word on Fringe, but that ep was sooooo bad it’ll take some doing to get me back to it, in all honesty. I mean, my complaints have nothing to do with the over-arching mythology or background storyline – I acknowledge that you can’t catch a midstream episode and judge that.

    Someday, perhaps, I’ll tackle it again.


  10. akabrady

    I stopped watching Fringe after about 3 episodes. I think the characters are overdone, the wacky scientist, the has to be hot and female agent, and of course the sidekicks, who provide some sort of love interest, or an excuse to over-explain things a monkey would already know.

    I tried watching the British LOM, but I missed the first 2 episodes, so it never gelled together.

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