content by

Lev Rosen

Why You Should Be Watching Fringe

Fringe starts up again tonight, and if you haven’t been watching it, you should start. Well, first you should go buy all three seasons that have already happened, then you should watch tonight. Everyone I know who has heeded this advice has become a convert, because Fringe isn’t just amazing scifi television—it’s one of the absolute best things on TV right now.

You might think you have a vague idea of the plot: X-Files-y, right? FBI agent, mad scientist, hot son for FBI agent to hook up with. And maybe for a few episodes towards the beginning, that was a fair description. The pilot was great, a movie, and fascinating, but then it relaxed a little, got quiet so it could build up soft melodies and leitmotifs that could become the crashing symphony it is now.

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But She’s Only a Dream: Laura

Laura (1944) is one of my absolute favorite movies. Often called a hybrid of noir and romance, it revolves around detective Mark McPherson’s (Dana Andrews) investigation of the murder of prominent advertising director Laura Hunt (the fabulous Gene Tierney). It also stars a young Vincent Price, as Laura’s philandering southern stud fiancé (which is sort of amazing and surreal to watch).

The romance of Laura isn’t just in the plotline, but also in the music and mood of the movie. Yes, it is distinctively noir, with extreme angles and dramatic lighting, but it’s also lush, and richly textured in a way usually associated with the melodramatic romance films of the 50s. This combination makes it even more striking, as the soft-focus flashback scenes contrast with the high visual suspense of the detective story. It also has a beautiful piece of music used as a theme throughout. I have it as my ringtone. Later, lyrics were added to the song, and it was covered by many, many different people. (Please note that many of those links also contain visuals from the movie which are spoilers, so listen as much as you want, but watch at your own discretion.)

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Series: Noir Week on

The Weird on TV: Green Wing

A woman builds a hand-powered machine so another woman can fly. People float away holding balloons. A missing and painfully embarrassing videotape is returned to its rightful owner by a Great Dane. A woman gives birth to a lion.

No, these aren’t the plots of short stories in a new anthology edited by Ekaterina Sedia and the Vandermeers. These are things that happen in the British television show Green Wing (2004-2006, and available on Hulu). You might think from this description that this is a strange surrealistic Twin Peaks-style television show or maybe modern adaptations of fables, but no. This is a comedy about a hospital. It’s an hour long, partially scripted, partially improvised, and though it’s certainly not the first thing anyone would go to as speculative television, it’s definitely one of the oddest and funniest shows I’ve ever seen.

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No One Thinks About Well Thought Out Worlds: Playing Dragon Age 2

Dragon Age: Origins was a fantastic game and first entry in this series, telling the story of a persecuted survivor attempting to hold back a literal horde of evil while uniting a country. The plot revolved around an epic war with a backstory of betrayal and intrigue, and though there were a few flaws, the story was exciting and well told.

The sophomore entry in the series is on a scale both grander and smaller: this time you play as a refugee from one of the first towns destroyed in Origins who flees with his or her family to the city-state of Kirkwall. The game takes place only in Kirkwall and the surrounding area over the course of a decade. City politics and intrigue are the backdrop here, and in many ways, Dragon Age 2 is a great success, but it can be incredibly frustrating at times, too, as your realize that many of your choices have very little effect on anything, and many of the characters aren’t so much people are they are ideas.

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