Weak Interactions
March 12, 2012 3:36 PM   Subscribe

Weak Interactions is a blog that looks at the science in Breaking Bad and the non-science in Fringe.
posted by reenum (59 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think one comenter here said it best: Fringe exists in a universe(s) where Fortean Times is an accredited journal and all junk science is real. You've kind of got to roll with that.
posted by Artw at 3:44 PM on March 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


Ah, it was The Whelk: I just assume it exists in the universe where the Fortean Times is a legit, peer reviewed journal. The Silver Age- ish take on science is one of the show's more charming elements.
posted by Artw at 4:00 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Astrolabe dear! Mark that entry as a favourite for me...
posted by Talkie Toaster at 4:04 PM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have a personal rule that every show is provided (at least) one free pass from the suspension of disbelief department. Fringe would otherwise drive me absolutely crazy with all the piles of horseshit they try to peddle in the name of science, but I just sigh and ignore it and find that I'm still able to enjoy the show. Clever shows use "magic exists" as their free pass, and in doing so they are allowed almost anything, because once you have magic then you can explain nearly anything. And I'm even willing to buy that, if that's your one thing. Buffy and Angel are two of my favorite shows, and I find myself almost never playing armchair reality lawyer and bitching about how it shouldn't be possible to X or Y.

What grinds my clock however is when a show doesn't play by the rules and expects too many passes. They want to base a show in reality but they also want to tell fantastical tales. Sorry, but you only get so many passes. Put them to good use.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:05 PM on March 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


They want to base a show in reality but they also want to tell fantastical tales

Look at you, crime scene investigation shows...
posted by Artw at 4:07 PM on March 12, 2012


My problem with Fringe is that it often gets its setting of Boston/New England horribly wrong. Northeastern forests are deciduous! All that pine is CLEARLY the Pacific Northeast. Takes me right out of the scene.


Although the one scene I've seen "from" my current Boston-area town looks *just enough* like the laundromat down the street that it creeps me out.
posted by maryr at 4:10 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I caught an episode of Fringe recently where Cedric Daniels had like a cocoon attached to his ear and he was talking to it? And then it cut to another character with the same affliction? And I realised that the writers got sick of having to write "Cedric takes out his phone to call Pacey" and decided to go with "Cedric talks into his own face." Who gave them these things, was it aliens?
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:25 PM on March 12, 2012


Re: CSI-shows...

All the agents dress like they're pulling in pre-bust banker salaries and then there's Gary Sinise doing SCIENCE with a fucking fully 3D tactile hologram scan of the victims body like he's living in TOM CRUISE'S MINORITY REPORT I mean, come on. If such a device really existed does anyone really think a U.S. law enforcement agency could afford to own it?

Also also that one wisecracking-sunglasses guy from CSI:Miami is apparently an idiot savant and can calculate things like the flight path of a body that has been pushed from the hotel roof and then is FREAKISHLY ACCIDENTALY SHOT BY FLARE GUN MID-FLIGHT and that somehow totally makes sense and is why the victim is impaled on a spike when his body could not have made it that far from a jump normally. Also his character is really awkward and strange (or is that David Caruso's acting style?!)

Maybe they change the name to "Rain Man:COP"
posted by Doleful Creature at 4:26 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh and I think I got an idea on how the new season opener for Breaking Bad is gonna go:

INT. HOUSE

JESSE SITS IN THE DARK CRYING FOR DAYS.

FIN.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:27 PM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Pacific Northeast"?
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:28 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


oh wait I get it now this is a suspension-of-disbelief thing for this thread
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:28 PM on March 12, 2012


All that pine is CLEARLY the Pacific Northeast

Oh man, I still haven't seen Fringe but one day I was walking down Granville and I guess they had been filming because the marquis on one of the old theatres they were advertising movies I thought I should know about but never heard of before. I was like "wow, Superman vs Batman? Wait, There's another Indiana Jones movie out? How did I not hear about this?"
posted by Hoopo at 4:32 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Pacific Northeast"?

psst..look at your keyboard. The "e" is right next to the "w"
posted by Hoopo at 4:33 PM on March 12, 2012


"Pacific Northeast"?

Red universe. Damn wormholes.
posted by Artw at 4:35 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


the marquis on one of the old theatres

Ha! I can totally see a theater with a nobleman on it. Regal Cinemas, indeed.
posted by Malor at 4:40 PM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


And of course Doctor Who is basically a fantasy show in which colored lights have magical properties, which I'm fine with, but I'd love to see them do more sciency science fiction stuff from time to time. Or at all, really.
posted by Artw at 4:43 PM on March 12, 2012


psst..look at your keyboard. The "e" is right next to the "w"

Yes, clearly she meant to write Pacific Northwast.
posted by axiom at 4:43 PM on March 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh and I think I got an idea on how the new season opener forĀ Breaking BadĀ is gonna go


MEGA SPOILER ALERT DO NOT CLICK
posted by Burhanistan at 4:57 PM on March 12, 2012


Of the many things to enrage me in all those CSI shows, one of the things that most enrages me is the women wearing ridiculous high heels and stiletto-heeled boots to crime scenes. I practically had a rage blackout when I caught a scene of CSI: Miami where the crime scene investigator was wearing bright white slacks and four-inch heels. Fringe wins about a million points from me for Olivia Dunham's sensible boots and unsexy but not unattractive civil servant clothes and practical ponytail.

Basically, Fringe can have all the terrible pseudoscience in the world and I will smile and nod because Olivia Dunham wears sensible boots while fighting monsters.
posted by yasaman at 5:02 PM on March 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


MEGA SPOILER ALERT DO NOT CLICK

I clicked on the link, Ray!
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:09 PM on March 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


I missed a few Fringe episodes and am thoroughly confused about who is who, who is NOT who, and why they are not enemies with the other whos. And I'm fine with that I hope it keeps going and I get more confused, it's fun, but...

PLEASE Please Please don't end the series with the bald guys turning out to be frigg'n Angels.
posted by sammyo at 5:30 PM on March 12, 2012


Maybe all this SCIENCE! will help Anna Torv learn how to act? Man, Olivia really drags that show down.
posted by Yowser at 5:32 PM on March 12, 2012


She needs those boots for when she occasionally has to kick someone in the face.

Seriously, her character got so much more fun when it was revealed that she's not just Dama Scully because she also does face kickings. Also other crazy stuff.
posted by Artw at 5:33 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maine isn't the Pine Tree State for nothin, maryr. Boston, not so much.
posted by mbatch at 5:53 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The show is currently juggling three active versions of Olivia right now, but there are really four versions of every main character except for Peter. There's original timeline Olivia; original timeline Fauxlivia; new timeline Olivia; and new timeline Fauxlivia. They all have different backstories and memories. The show was kind enough to give Fauxlivia red hair to Olivia's blonde, but the boundaries between original and new Olivia have been quite blurred. For reasons not entirely explained, original timeline Olivia has seeped into new timeline Olivia, to the point of pushing out some of her memories, which is why in recent episodes she and Peter were close to getting back together even though she had never met him until several months ago in story-time.

It's notoriously hard to handicap the chances of Fringe being renewed, as it has confounded all conventional logic for the last several renewals. At the end of this season they will have 87 episodes which I think is enough for stripped syndication, one of the main goals of extending the life of a show even though it's pulling in low numbers. It's been getting 1.1 ratings in the key 18-49 demo, which is pretty bad, but to be somewhat expected in a Friday slot. Honestly, I don't think they will renew and this will be our final season. I would like more, but it probably won't happen. A great finale would be enough for me.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:00 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe all this SCIENCE! will help Anna Torv learn how to act? Man, Olivia really drags that show down.

Really? I thought her Leonard Nimoy impression was pretty good.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:50 PM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


The show is currently juggling three active versions of Olivia right now, but there are really four versions of every main character except for Peter. There's original timeline Olivia; original timeline Fauxlivia; new timeline Olivia; and new timeline Fauxlivia. They all have different backstories and memories. The show was kind enough to give Fauxlivia red hair to Olivia's blonde, but the boundaries between original and new Olivia have been quite blurred.

Fringe is wonderful in part because of this. It's almost, but not quite, an updated, in-universe-consistent commedia dell'arte in which the characters are drawn from a truly bizarre set of stock roles that keep recurring in different iterations.

And the story is fantastic: imagine Miranda dying after Prospero's already drowned his books, and now has to live with the guilt of knowing that he could have saved her. Add the FBI and you have Fringe.
posted by gauche at 6:56 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Haven't had time to look @ the blog yet, but thanks for the link.

one day I was walking down Granville and I guess they had been filming because the marquis on one of the old theatres they were advertising movies I thought I should know about but never heard of before.

Ah, you wandered into the Red Universe. (Or Amber?)

Maybe all this SCIENCE! will help Anna Torv learn how to act?

Huh? IMHO Anna Torv just kills it a lot of the time. Watching her subtle changes as different Olivias is one of the main things keeping me watching. The show overall is starting to make me all Losty-exasperated.

And sammyo, I think "the bald guys" are from our future. Or that's what "August" or whoever implied.
posted by NorthernLite at 6:59 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


These wack-jobs claim to be the real life fringe http://www.howionic.com/ on the 3 hour version of http://www.achieveradio.com/cash-flow
posted by rough ashlar at 7:06 PM on March 12, 2012


I missed a few Fringe episodes and am thoroughly confused about who is who, who is NOT who, and why they are not enemies with the other whos. And I'm fine with that I hope it keeps going and I get more confused, it's fun, but...

PLEASE Please Please don't end the series with the bald guys turning out to be frigg'n Angels.


Yeah, there was kind of an odd reboot of everything which happened at the end of last season / beginning of this season. It's changed everything you know, and much of what you've already seen happen actually never happened. Actually, much of the characters which were established in one way now are completely different people, in both universes, so it's become this entire odd funhouse mirror situation, with reflections being distorted and basic knowledge no longer applying.

The bald guys Observers aren't Angels. You obviously missed the episode where who they are was explained. I won't spoil it for you, but it aired sometime in the past few weeks.

The show was kind enough to give Fauxlivia red hair to Olivia's blonde, but the boundaries between original and new Olivia have been quite blurred. For reasons not entirely explained, original timeline Olivia has seeped into new timeline Olivia, to the point of pushing out some of her memories, which is why in recent episodes she and Peter were close to getting back together even though she had never met him until several months ago in story-time.

this was all explained. It has to do with cortexifan (sp?), the drug that Olivia was administered while she was young to boost her mental powers, which was being given to her recently in the new timelines by people I am not going to mention here for the sake of SPOILERS!. Anyway, one of the effects of cortexifan is that it makes you mentally malleable and psychic with people with whom you have a strong emotional bond, or something. So Olivia in the new timeline was suffering the effects of the drug by picking up on Peter's hopes and memories about the old-timeline Olivia, and the effects were turning Newlivia into Oldlivia, or something.

And yeah, they seem to be building up to a series finale at the end of this season, although I do hope they'll get ONE more year out of it, because the original plan for the series was 7 years, but the producers said they could accomplish their story in 5 if required, and had designed an ending they could pull off anytime needed although less satisfyingly than if they had at least 5 seasons to work it.

Athough this has apparently changed now, and they say they won't be reaching any kind of endpoint with the end of Season 4, and that if they're cancelled they'll have to take the route of graphic novels or webisodes to do a final wrap-up of storylines.

With both Anna Torv and John Noble saying they hope it wraps after 5, I hope they get one more season out of it and make it a real humdinger. (Like it hasn't been a humdinger of a series since the latter 1/3 of Season 1?!?!?)
posted by hippybear at 7:37 PM on March 12, 2012


"Pacific Northeast"?

I liked Spock's goatee in that episode.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:09 PM on March 12, 2012


It's northeast if you're in Hawaii?

And I have been to Maine. What they are showing me is British Columbia or Oregon. It sure as hell ain't the Green Mountains.

Maybe all this SCIENCE! will help Anna Torv learn how to act? Man, Olivia really drags that show down.

Yeah, no, she bought my love forever with her Leonard Nimoy. She got the voice and the eyebrows and the shoulders and...so good.
posted by maryr at 9:01 PM on March 12, 2012


All US television shows are filmed in Vancouver using Australian actors. I thought everyone knew this.
posted by demiurge at 9:09 PM on March 12, 2012


Olivia really drags that show down

Walter is the weakest link, though it's hardly his fault, having the lion's share of all that awful pseudo-science dialog. Walternate makes up for it somewhat. And I feel bad for Cedric Daniels, reprising the Wooden Lieutenant from the Wire but without a life off the job. He doesn't even change from one universe or timeline to the next.
posted by BinGregory at 9:47 PM on March 12, 2012


MEGA SPOILER DO NOT CLICK

@ Burhistan: WTF/ Is that what I think it is and howTF did you find it?
posted by costanza at 9:59 PM on March 12, 2012


> WTF/ Is that what I think it is and howTF did you find it?

Heh. It was linked from the best subreddit. It seems to be legit, but probably an early draft that will be reworked somewhat before being in the can.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:02 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or it could be a troll. Time will tell.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:04 PM on March 12, 2012


Interestingly enough, I've just spent the past month watching every avbailable episode of both shows. Breaking Bad was the show lots of people told me was awesome, and I enjoyed but wasn't completely bowled over by. Fringe is the show that I had never heard of before, and is now one of my favorites.

I am a sucker for anything involving pseudoscience, fart jokes, alternate universes, hallucinogenics and Cedric Daniels. I have to disagree about Anna Torv being a lousy actress. She plays Olivia pretty wooden, but I think she shows some subtle acting chops in her transition to the more charming and dry witted Fauxlivia.

I was a bit disappointed when after two full seasons they started letting Aspirin out of the lab. I thought it would be really funny to have her character only appear in the lab for the entire series, only to reveal that she had been the astral projection of the cow al all along.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:13 PM on March 12, 2012


I love Walter - John Nobel does a great job there. 80s Walter is probably my favorite version, with fearful Amber Walter being the least.
posted by Artw at 10:55 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Breaking Bad was the show lots of people told me was awesome, and I enjoyed but wasn't completely bowled over by

I enjoyed the first season and half or so, you know, when Walt was all Evil Scientist all the time. Then it became long periods of dealing with his bitchy wife and it seemed like the science drained out.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:45 PM on March 12, 2012


There's original timeline Olivia; original timeline Fauxlivia; new timeline Olivia; and new timeline Fauxlivia

Ya forgot Wohlta and Uhlivya, mate!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:51 AM on March 13, 2012


3/07/2012 - TV Line Upgrades Fringe Season 5 to "Safe Bet"

They mention that Terra Nova's cancellation winnows Fox's pool of genre shows, though that hasn't stopped them from canceling other shows in the past. Also, I'd really like to see them bring Mark Valley back before they wrap the entire show.
posted by vhsiv at 1:39 AM on March 13, 2012


Such a great name for a blog!
posted by molecicco at 1:55 AM on March 13, 2012


Olivia in the new timeline was suffering the effects of the drug by picking up on Peter's hopes and memories about the old-timeline Olivia, and the effects were turning Newlivia into Oldlivia, or something.

That was the theory they came up with, but they also admitted that Olivia experienced memories that Peter would have had no way of knowing, which meant that there was something else at play.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:34 AM on March 13, 2012


Fauxlivia? Walternate? Gik.
posted by Splunge at 7:58 AM on March 13, 2012


Fringe apparently has huge DVR numbers, so it's viewership is larger than might at first seem.

Though this leads to me wonder if Generic Reality Show X has huge DVR numbers too.
posted by Artw at 9:16 AM on March 13, 2012


Nothing can make me un-love Fringe.

I actually thought Torv was weak at first, but I have to hand it to her, the subtle ways she juggles the characters (look at how much more Fauxlivia talks with her hands - also quicker, more impish) compared to Olivia. Her Nimoy was awesome.

And the animated episode, I thought, was fantastic.

But then, I just love the show because it pushes all my nerd buttons. So maybe it sucks and I just have bad taste.
posted by Thistledown at 9:30 AM on March 13, 2012


I think the character they gave her at first - mopey Scully, basically - was weak. As soon as they give her more fun stuff to do she's great.
posted by Artw at 9:42 AM on March 13, 2012


In the final episode, they should have Peter jump timelines one more time... he gets in the machine and things spin and lights go and BAM! he's animated! And he's become the third Venture Brother!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:13 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Breaking Bad Spoilers

...

...

So the Face Off post doesn't even discuss whether or not Gus could walk out of the room and adjust his glasses after half his face was blown off?

Oh well, I suppose the focus here is mostly chemistry, not "science" in its broadest sense, i.e. is that really how Jane would choke on her vomit, etc.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:30 AM on March 13, 2012


> So the Face Off post doesn't even discuss whether or not Gus could walk out of the room and adjust his glasses after half his face was blown off?

That's not what was being adjusted.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:34 AM on March 13, 2012


That's not what was being adjusted.

Good call. Tie.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:57 PM on March 13, 2012


My hope for the season is an Astrid episode. I was skeptical about how the show was going to work rebooting the Walter drama, but it's not bad.

I don't mind handwavium in science fiction as long as it's treated properly, mostly because pretensions to "hard science fiction" are often only slightly better on the science and significantly worse on the characters and conflict.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:55 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suspect Making Angel was it - which had some fantastic scenes with Astrid surrounding on of their weaker case-based storied.
posted by Artw at 2:00 PM on March 13, 2012


Oh good, I'm still several episodes behind.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:09 PM on March 13, 2012


oops. I wont spoil anything, but you'll know the one by the awesome precredits scene.
posted by Artw at 2:13 PM on March 13, 2012


(Also this season appears to have an even deeper trench of suck in the middle of it, but don't worry, they seem to be climbing out)
posted by Artw at 2:14 PM on March 13, 2012


Agreed, Walter has not yet spun through enough theories to really discover what is happening to Newlivia. And I really hope there's more to the Observers than we've just seen - I found that incredibly disappointing.
posted by maryr at 2:34 PM on March 13, 2012


I'd say that Fox isn't doing Fringe any favors by its on again, off again scheduling. Six episodes, then two months off, then seven episodes, then two months off, then back (presumably) with the remaining 6 for the season? It's hard to build a loyal audience who blocks out time for the show (even with DVRs) with that kind of scheduling, and difficult for the audience who is watching to maintain the complex continuity which is required by a show like Fringe.
posted by hippybear at 7:40 PM on March 14, 2012


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