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Cutting the Fringe


I have been married for many years. I dimly remember that one of the most difficult transitions for me in marriage was the act of surrendering the TV remote. Before, the remote often spent months lost in the couch, and it didn’t matter because the TV was always tuned to The History Channel, back when they actually broadcast shows about history. Marriage required me to find the remote, then surrender it, then suffer through at least three seasons of “Survivor” before she tired of it. Then it was “Project Runway.” Then it was “America’s Next Top Model.”

I didn’t watch any of it. Instead, I retreated into my books. I sit and keep her company in front of the TV, but I rarely watch anything she does. I read instead. It’s just mind-numbing, the drivel to which humans subject themselves. One of the reasons that this planet hasn’t been bulldozed is because it’s a nature preserve. Another reason is that the inhabitants are no threat to their neighbors, because their television programming keeps them stupid and harmless.

In my office, the DVR records less mind-numbing things, like “Fringe.” Sadly, I haven’t made time to watch “Fringe” since November. I had a dozen episodes stacked up, waiting for me, but I just couldn’t muster up the interest (or the time) to watch them, because the show has lost its way. Most shows with long story arcs like “Fringe” try to revisit the main arc at least every other episode, to keep people’s interest, but “Fringe” doesn’t do that. Instead, it tends to focus mostly on “one-off” episodes that don’t move the main “multiverse” story forward.

The best episode of the show, “White Tulip,” was just such a one-off episode, broadcast exactly two years ago. In it, Peter Weller (“Robocop”) played a scientist whose wife had been killed when a truck smashed her parked car. He devised a means to jump backwards in time, trying to reach her on the day she died. Every time he time-jumped, he drained the energy out of everything around him, including people’s lives, which drew the attention of the FBI, and the Fringe team began chasing him, always one step behind. Finally he managed to reach the day she died. He ran to her car, yanked open the passenger’s door, and climbed in. We thought he was trying to save her, but instead he simply hugged her tight as the truck plowed into them and killed them both. The whole time, he had never intended to save her, only to die with her. It was a beautifully sad story, beautifully told.

But since then, “Fringe” has wandered aimlessly, with the major story arcs only becoming more vague and confused. Removing one of the main characters (Peter) from the entire timeline wasn’t smart, either. I think that was the last straw, for me. I think perhaps I’m just losing patience with television in general, which coincides with the general decline in the quality of programming.

I deleted all those unwatched episodes of “Fringe” yesterday. Thank goodness for books.

One Comment
  1. 2012-04-21T14:01:45-04:00 14:01

    I’ve never watched it, but that story was very touching. Maybe I’ll order it some day on Netflix.


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