Trying to watch TV: Fringe

When I was young, I watched a lot of TV. Every night after dinner, my younger sister and I would retire to the den to watch a black and white TV pretty much until it was time to go to bed.  For a good while after that I had a TV in my room. I watched it after school while I played with my Cape Canaveral set.  I kept watching a lot of TV until partway through college.  Then I stopped.  I didn't have a TV for a while, and kind of lost the habit.

TV shows really are much better now. If you don't believe me, watch an episode of Gilligan's Island or F Troop, staples of my youth.  And they now have way more sex in them, which would have been a big plus for me as an adolescent.

All my fellow writers watch a lot more TV than I do. I feel left out, particularly as I've never much liked SF TV shows.  I've discussed this before.

But I'm willing to keep trying. Since I'm writing a book that involves alternate universes, several people have recommended Fringe.  But there are three gigantic seasons of the thing. I didn't feel like digging through all of it.

Fortunately, a writer and editor named Jennifer Heddle came to the rescue, with a guide to what episodes to watch in the first seasons. I can't emphasize how much this kind of thing helps. I can be up to speed quickly, and not waste a lot of time on filler material. If you actually enjoy watching TV, as an activity, filler material is fine, even necessary. I'm just trying to get a basic knowledge, so I can fake it. I'm using leverage, and Ms. Heddle is providing the capital.  Thank you!

Did you ever think you would need Cliff's Notes for television shows?

So far, Fringe is OK. It has the problem I find inherent to SF TV shows (and most written SF, truth be told): it's always about what it's about. The characters know what the story is, and they do what they need to in order to move it along. Employees of evil megacorporations spend their time kidnapping people and plotting world domination rather than clockwatching and attending project update meetings. Everyone feels obliged to follow the dictates of a typewritten manifesto from decades ago. And Olivia, the main character, God love her, has the sense of humor of a cement mixer. Of course, she is slowly discovering that she was the victim of unauthorized experiments on her in childhood, which could ruin anyone's day.

And why does the ravishing Astrid get to do nothing but turn things on and examine bodies? I'm worried she'll start sending out her resume, looking for a sidekick job where she actually gets to say mordant and amusing things and occasionally kick someone's butt. Is that too much to ask?

Nice ending episode, with some cute mysteries set up.  If I'd had to watch the entire season to get there, I would have felt underrewarded, but as it is, I'm looking forward to zipping through Season 2!