The Hubris of Trying to Improve Upon God: A Look at "Fringe"

Since I’ve posted on “Lost” and “Once Upon a Time” in the past, I figured I should complete the geek trilogy of articles with my recent piece on the TV series “Fringe.” It’s got mostly a cult following, but it manages some good storytelling:

Thanks for the report. It was interesting. Someday, I’ll either get cable, or I’ll check the DVD out from the library.

I would hardly have included Fringe in your Greek trilogy. Moreover, I would not have put Once Upon a Time and Fringe in the same category with Lost.

If you really wanted to do a trilogy of Geekdom, I would have done Lost, Battlestar Galactica and either Firefly or Buffy.

But no matter, keep up the television commentary, there’s not enough of it in the Catholic media these days.

Good review Tony, thanks. FRINGE is one of my favorite shows.

Walter is explicitly shown to believe in God throughout the show, and his hubris and the results are one of the key themes of the show, John Noble is an amazing actor (many will remember him from THE RETURN OF THE KING in the Lord of the Rings series as Boromir and Faromir’s father, the unhinged Steward of Gondor) who deserves an Emmy for his performance.

Magister102 - Maybe I should have called it a J.J. Abrams trilogy since "Person of Interest" and "Fringe" were created by him, and "Once Upon a Time" from two "Lost" writers.

Arizona Mike - I think I remember Walter denying God's existence in Season 1, yet keeping a Bible handy. He seemed to be struggling with belief. This season appears to be acknowledging God more overtly in areas like forgiveness and scientific hubris.

Thanks for your comments.

Person of Interest was actually created by Jonathan Nolan and Abrams serves as Executive Producer (similar to his role on Alcatraz right now). You need to go back to “Alias” and “Felicity” to find two other Abrams-created shows.

I’ll give Kitsis and Horowitz credit, because they wrote a lot of good episodes for “Lost,” unlike Elizabeth Sarnoff, who wrote some of the absolute worst. Then again, Kitsis and Horowitz also wrote “Fire + Water” which is in the top 3 worst “Lost” episodes of all time.

I wanted to let you know I enjoyed your blog on the TV show Fringe. I have not encountered a more thought provoking TV show yet. I have heard alot about Lost and 24 and how these shows held their audience's attention in awe. I will at some time go back and watch all the episodes of Lost but haven't had the time yet. Fringe though really lets the viewer's imagination know no bounds when it comes storytelling. Thank you for the good review of Fringe.

I’ve lost a lot of interest in science fiction since returning to the church. Particularly shows like Fringe, and a lot of the Star Trek stuff. For some reason science fiction seems to believe that they must ignore God and religion. Perhaps that’s why it’s fiction? Some of it has to do with the fact that so many scientists feel as though they must ignore God and religion, or disregard it. I find it difficult to suspend belief and imagine worlds where fantastic stuff happens when it pretty much ignores the Gospels. And when it comes to ethics and morality in science fiction, it seems to be ignored in exchange for exploring fancy technology and gadgets that makes everything possible.

A short story by Orson Scott Card always sticks with me when it comes to the topic of clones and man ‘creating’ life. He wrote a story where man had the technology to ‘tape’ brain activity and memories, personality, etc. Then you could transfer that into a body that had been cloned and create a copy of the person. One man in particular abused that technology and would binge and gorge and live a gluttonous lifestyle. When his body became too fat or diseased or sickly he would come in and have his brain taped, and switched to a new body. Then he would go out and do it all over again.

Only, the man never considered what happened to his old ‘person’ in the fat/diseased body. The story follows one of these old clones as he’s made to slave in the hot sun and is tortured by an overseer on a farm. Eventually once that old clone lost all his weight and could function, he was sent to work in a nuclear reactor where he would die. But, it didn’t matter because he was ‘expendable’ as a clone.

That story has so much commentary and is very thought provoking on the subject of cloning. It takes all the shine and fancy technology aspect out of an issue that’s often shallowly treated by science fiction (particularly vehicles like star trek).

It’s science fiction/fantasy like that that I can get into. The flashy tv shallow plotline stuff I just can’t do any more.

Have you seen the movie Moon? I thought it was a fine movie that brought up the issues with expendable clones. I don’t want to give away more.

Yes I have, just recently. Very good movie, thank you.

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