Not software related, but I think there are plenty of sci-fi fans around these parts.
I watched the first episode of the new series Fringe
last night. This has been mega-hyped, being the latest product from J.J. Abrams, co-creator of Lost
(his company is the "Bad Robot" at the end of each episode). I'm a big fan of Lost. Much of it has become implausible, but I'm the characters are compelling, the writing is smart, and I'm willing to suspend disbelief over whatever "the island" is, as long as they get basic ideas right.
So with Fringe
, I really wanted to like it. But in the end, having lost count of the number of times I had to exclaim out loud "that's just not how that works", I've got to give it a thumbs down.
I’m not talking about computer stuff, which Hollywood gets wrong universally -- there wasn't actually any of that. Nor am I talking about their premise of "fringe science". A quick list of butchered topics that anyone with a casual acquaintance with would recognize:
- Biology, especially pathology, psychology and neuroscience
- Criminal justice, especially anything to do with the 4th amendment (and I don't mean torture, they got that part right)
- A few instances of basic common sense
It's not that I claim to be expert in those areas. My point is that any well-educated lay person ought to recognize these things as wholly implausible.
Nor did I find the characters compelling, and this was the big sell of the series. Yet there was no depth at all. It was claimed that JJ Abrams would do the same thing with Fringe
in this respect as he did with Lost
. But no one in the new show even hints at having the depth of Sawyer or even Hugo.
- Main character is a woman who hasn't been successful in her love life, fighting to save the (presumably) true love she's just found. Cliche?
- Her sidekick assistant, whose name I didn't even catch
- A brilliant scientist framed for the gov't research he was doing, checked out of a mental institution. Initially twitching and babbling about the bad pudding on Tuesdays, but very quickly becomes the guy who knows absolutely everything
- Mad scientist's son, a cliche of brilliant 190 IQ but lack of positive motivators lets him get into trouble
The one thing I found compelling was the ambiguity of the bad guy. At the end, we don’t know if the evil people are big corporations, a rogue government agency, or some more complex conspiracy.