Aside from picking through disastrous political interviews, I also enjoy science fiction. Here’s American Scenester Matt Feeney on why the new sci-fi show “Fringe” sucks:
But “Fringe” is even flatter in its approach than “Lost” is, in Peter’s characterization. “Fringe” is not only not interested in “why,” it’s not really interested in “how” either. That leaves “what.” Despite the exotic realities it deals in, “Fringe” offers very little in the way of explanation. Instead, it takes its flakey fringe science and simply throws it at the audience. There are some lab procedures, along with some gratuitous CSI-style scalpeling (it’s one of those vivisectional shows where the gore is joined not to violence on live people but to policework on dead ones), but they occur in an explanatory vacuum. I get a kick out of the sort of sci fi in which the alternate reality is close enough to our own reality that the explanation has a buzz of its own, where there’s a little sci with the fi, and you’re thinking, “If only….” “Fringe,” though, operates according to an epistemology that can be summed up as: “Don’t bother.”
Then what are all the lab procedures for, if not discovery, explanation? They provide a sort of the outer form of investigation and discovery, a mime of science. It’s like watching someone clatter away at a keyboard that you know isn’t hooked up to a computer.
Wasting Lance Reddick – better known as Lieutenant Cedric Daniels of “Wire” fame – on a lame TV show should be a capital offense. But this post also reminds me of why I prefer science fiction that strives for a certain level of realism. “Fringe” seems dopey precisely because it sacrifices credibility and consistency for the sake of atmospherics. In the short-term, this may be a favorable trade-off, but over the long-run it hurts the show’s believability.
Of course, “realism” is basically shorthand for science fiction that follows (or at least tries to follow) a set of readily identifiable guidelines. “Battlestar Galactica,” for example, is a great science fiction show because it doesn’t compromise the writers’ coherent vision of Colonial society. Sure, the show’s characters have the ability to pilot spaceships traveling faster than light, but their actions are still constrained by certain hard-and-fast technological limitations. Creating a stable set of “rules” for an alternate universe does a lot to enhance a show’s dramatic qualities because it forces the plot to advance through character development, not random dei ex machinis.
Which brings me to this (totally awesome) entry on Imperial tactics in “The Empire Strikes Back”:
Via Robert Farly, Raoul Vega asks why the Empire failed to run combat air patrols (CAP) while in orbit over Tatooine (and later, Hoth):
My guess is that this is a product of sheer imperial arrogance. Remember; prior to the destruction of the first Death Star, the Rebel Alliance wasn’t in a position to do anything other than raid lighly defended imperial installations, and harass cargo ships. With the Alliance’s dearth of equipment, manpower, and leadership (throughout the entire series, we only see a handful of political and military leaders*), a direct assault on something as formidable as a Star Destroyer would – even if successful – be a heavy blow to the Rebellion’s ability to act as an effective resistance. If you recall, only a handful of pilots survived the attack on the Death Star (an attack which was carried out because of necessity, and not necessarily because there was a realistic chance at success). Indeed, if not for the last-minute intervention of Han Solo, there’s a fairly high chance that the attack would have failed.
Granted, arguing over Imperial tactics is pretty sweet, but I think this type of analysis misunderstands the nature of the “Star Wars” universe. Despite valiant post-facto attempts to flesh out the “Star Wars” mythos, it’s pretty clear from the movies’ dopey characters, pot-holed plots, and general all-around goofiness that Lucas never really envisioned a universe dictated by hard-and-fast rules. “Star Wars” is basically a fantasy setting that happens to include blasters, space ships, and Death Stars. Lucas gets away with it because the aesthetics are totally awesome, but when he tried to flesh out his universe with a series of prequels, the results were pretty disastrous. My advice: don’t try to analyze “Star Wars” – just enjoy it for what it is. Stick to BSG for all your amateur war-gaming needs.