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Silly Science and Mundane Multi-Episode Stories

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Out of all the things that Eureka does well, and there are several, multi-episode story arcs aren't  among them.  Season one was a disaster in terms of that, they seemed to have a vague idea from time to time about some sort of hidden long-term plot, but didn't go very far with it.  They improved upon that last year, but this year they came up with a whole new problem. 

While they certainly seemed to know where they were going the whole time, but the time they got there it was all rather disappointing.  They spent tonight, the season finale, exploring the season-long plot and, when it came right down to it, they could have done the whole thing in a single episode rather than dragging out the story over the course of umpteen episodes. 

The thing of it is, while that may sound distressing, it wouldn't have made for a bad season finale if it had been a self-contained episode.  It was only disappointing because they dragged it out over so many episodes to wind it up without having a serious punch.  Any story dragged over so many episodes ought to have been far more nefarious than what we were given tonight.

Now, as for Fringe, I just don't know what to tell you.  If you were watching show you almost certainly remember the diner scene just after the first commercial break.  Crazy Walter Bishop is sitting there with his son, Peter, who notes Dad putting powder into his iced tea.  Peter assumes that Walter has brought his own sweetener, but it turns out that Walter is just self-medicating with some homemade drugs.  Walter then lists the drugs he's dropped into the tea to Peter who remarks that they are all "psychotics."  And this guy, Peter, is supposed to be some kind of super genius.  Walter, who is also supposed to be a super genius, doesn't disagree with his boy (in fact the opposite happens, he agrees wholeheartedly). 

What then is the problem? 

Well, you see, those drugs Walter listed are not in fact psychotics (which isn't even a real group of drugs). As any medical student worth their salt could tell you, if you're going to group them all together they're best described as anti-psychotics.  Those would then in fact not be the same thing, but you probably don't need to be a super genius to figure that one out. 

The thing about the mistake is, that this is, purportedly a science-based show.  The title relates to science, two of the three main characters are scientists, the whole thing pretty much revolves around science.  But, they still messed this up… badly.  Anyone doing a modicum of fact-checking should have picked up on the error.  Clearly someone researched the drugs enough to be able to use their names and to make sure that they all went together.  So, research was done, but either it was done half-heartedly or was used half-heartedly.  Either way it doesn't make me feel good about the episode, which, I otherwise liked.  It was a creepy and weird and perfectly interesting case.  It's just too bad that they destroyed it for me before it the episode really got started. 

How does a science-based show mess this up?  Are they just assuming that we're all too foolish to figure it out?  There's nothing else to call the mistake except massively disappointing.  The producers are of course playing fast and loose with the "fringe" science, but they're staying in the audience's good graces with the frings stuff is at least partially dependent upon their correctly stating real science.  Otherwise it's like they're trying to build the fifth layer of a house of cards without bothering to do the first four.  It can't possibly work. 

And, consequently, I just don't know where that leaves me and the show.  Maybe I'll figure it out next week, but I'm not holding out much hope.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • NancyGail

    Fyi, Eureka was midseason finale. At least five episodes due in a couple of months.