When good shows disappoint

They are coming...and they are a total bummer.
They are coming…and they are a total bummer.

This is a tough post to write, because it’s a critique of two shows that I used to love. And while I still tune in to these shows, they just aren’t what they used to be.

First, Fringe. When Fringe started out, it was brilliant. In the tradition of The X-Files, Fringe was a clever mix of monster-of-the-week and recurring mythology. Even when the show made the leap of introducing an alternate universe, I was right there with it. And where many shows falter, it proved to be genius in bringing together its two main characters, Peter and Olivia.

But let’s face it, Fringe is the kind of show that doesn’t reach a wide audience. Although excellent, it is just too heavy for the mainstream viewer. So each year, I was surprised when it was renewed. And last year, I think the show’s creators were even a bit surprised, as the season finale would have made a perfect series ending.

Alas, the show was renewed, and my worst fears for it have come to pass. The one-off episode focused on the Observers from last year paved the way for this season. And instead of that brilliant mix of monster-of-the-week and mythology, it has become a bleak, dystopian mini-series. Each episode drags on, and the characters lack their original appeal. Frankly, if it weren’t in the final few episodes, I’m not sure I would continue watching.

I'm not drinking the Bones Kool-Aid.
I’m not drinking the Bones Kool-Aid.

Next, Bones. Now, you probably think I’m upset about Bones and Booth as a couple (the dreaded Moonlighting curse). But that’s not my gripe with the show. I do think the way Bones and Booth came together could have been handled better, but I’m over it. My real problem with the show is the lack of focus and the degradation of the characters. Bones basically comes across as a robot – with such lines (and I’m paraphrasing a bit here) as “He is upset because this is a dead child and he has a little boy” and “I get it, it’s funny because you wouldn’t put a murder in a children’s book.” Seriously? Bones is a novelist and a mother, and she seemingly has no emotional depth. In years past, she struggled with empathy, but she seemed to be on a path to discovering herself. She never seemed so wooden as she does now. And Booth is about as interesting as a yard tool at Sears.

This show was at its peak during the long-term story arc of the Gravedigger. Now, it just seems to meander from episode to episode with no real direction. And don’t even get me started on the 9/11 episode, which was so flawed on so many levels.

I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me on these points. And don’t get me wrong, I’m still tuning in, so there are obviously some redeeming qualities to Fringe and Bones. But I’d like to see them regain their former glory.

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3 thoughts on “When good shows disappoint

  1. Agreed on both. And you can add Glee to that list. The snarky humor and clever writing have been replaced by a parade of lifeless “new normal” stereotypes. The fun is gone.

  2. Agree on Fringe(do not watch the rest).
    I only keep watching for Anna Torv, she is brilliant and deserves so much better material.
    Fringe has made the huge mistake to write only for Walter and Peter , their backstories have been told to overkill and it is the only relationship they write for. Olivia has been reduced to Peters wife, thanks to politics behind the scenes.
    The most interesting relationship on Fringe could have been Olivia and Walter, they have a history going back to Olivia being 3, and telling that story would have given Olivia the character development she deserves and would have given Fringe real depth. Cortexiphan should have been an Olivia storyline, but was turned into a Walter storyline.
    Fringe is high on morals, except when it comes to Walter, he can do whatever he wants, including using and abusing children, for his socalled love for his son.
    Fringe proves to me that actors that are vocal and are favorites of the showrunners (Jackson and Noble) can dictate the storylines of a serie.

    • I agree — Olivia was always my favorite character on the show, and she has been reduced to a side character this season — sometimes it seems like she doesn’t have more than a few lines. The subplot with Peter turning into an Observer was annoying and distracting. The episode with Walter’s “pocket universe” was random and, again, distracting. I would also have loved to see Olivia’s abilities fleshed out more in the story.

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