Fringe Review: “The Ghost Network”

–It’s got to be a relief, knowing there’s a rational explanation.
–With all due respect, this isn’t exactly rational.

Title: The Ghost Network

Cast and Crew

Director: Frederick E.O. Toye
Writers: David H. Goodman, J.R. Orci

Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham
Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop
John Noble as Dr. Walter Bishop
Kirk Acevedo as Charlie Francis
Blair Brown as Nina Sharp
Lance Reddick as Philip Broyles
Jaskika Nicole as Astrid Farnsworth
Zak Orth as Roy

Synopsis

Amber alert! Our unknown adversaries use an experimental weapon on a bus, and the clue to identifying the Black Hats lies in an artist taps into a psychic radio broadcast with his brain.

High Point

–Is this PoliSci 101?
–Not even remotely.

Someone knocks on the door in the middle of a delicate, critical operation by our resident mad scientist, who, apparently, holds a mad doctor degree. Agent Dunham actually answers. It’s a pair of frosh looking for their class.

In all seriousness, the brain surgery scene strikes a tone that could actually make this show work. We’re dealing with comic-bookish self-parody. The moderately witty banter and hyperbolic excess of the scene manage to be entertaining. Rather than just doing The X-Files badly, Fringe could be “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” every week. As a bonus, Dr. Bishop forgets Astrid’s name and identity again. Of course he does. Her character has absolutely no personality.

Low Point

…They need funnier actors, however, and better integration of the serious and scary sequences. Joss Whedon, perhaps, could make the balance work. At present, J.J. Abrams cannot.

The Scores

Originality: 4 out of 6. It’s still not entirely original, but the premise manages to be pretty off-the-wall.

Effects: 5/6.

Story: 3/6. Too many things don’t make sense, although the story arc approach means that they might eventually have an explanation. In order to steal one item, the Black Hats kill a busload of people using a method that’s going to get them investigated. The show both hints that the villains want to be noticed and indicates their methods have drawn down forseeable negative consequences on them. Homeland Security doesn’t bother telling the investigators that they know what the amber substance is? Well, turns out they’re testing their agent for, uh, something. Apparently, they couldn’t think of a better way to do this other than hamper the investigation by withholding critical information that would’ve moved things along and perhaps brought them closer to finding their enemies.

We end with, predictably, a twist. Massive Dynamic (or, at last, its head) and Homeland Security (or, at least, its representative) have been collaborating. Either Massive Dynamic isn’t the evil corporation we’ve been led to expect, or Homeland Security isn’t as good as the show has indicated. Either way, this development problematizes comments made by the show’s more ideologically-driven critics.

Acting: 4/6 Zak Orth does so well I wish he would become a regular. John Noble remains an interesting, well-played, and totally absurd character. The attempts to create sexual tension between Olivia and Josh, however, are both obvious and painful.

Production: 6/6

Emotional response: 4/6. See “High” and “Low” Points.

Overall: 4/6.

“Ghost Network” receives twenty-nine out of forty-two.

A World of Unprofessional Conduct?

Last week, a trained nurse screamed like the victim in a horror movie because she helped deliver a baby that wasn’t quite normal (an eventuality for which people working in delivery rooms are expressly prepared—never mind that medical people see much worse). This week, a Catholic priest leaks information he heard in the Confessional to the U.S. government.

WTF?

9 replies on “Fringe Review: “The Ghost Network””

  1. sjaskow says:

    Ghost Network?
    Was there actually a "psychic radio broadcast"? It looked to me like normal radios or cell phones modified to broadcast on a strange frequency instead. However, that doesn’t really explain how Roy saw the pictures of the incidents.

    I did find it cool that the bad guys were using Latin as their language.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: Ghost Network?

      Was there actually a "psychic radio broadcast"? It looked to me like normal radios or cell phones modified to broadcast on a strange frequency instead.

      They were broadcasting in some form that could be intercepted "psychically," so I’ll go with the term.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: Ghost Network?

      Was there actually a "psychic radio broadcast"? It looked to me like normal radios or cell phones modified to broadcast on a strange frequency instead.

      They were broadcasting in some form that could be intercepted "psychically," so I’ll go with the term. What, exactly, they were referring to is a little unclear.

    • sflory says:

      Re: Ghost Network?

      Was there actually a "psychic radio broadcast"? It looked to me like normal radios or cell phones modified to broadcast on a strange frequency instead. However, that doesn’t really explain how Roy saw the pictures of the incidents.

      My understanding is they were broadcasting via a "strange frequency". The "psychic" guy had been subject to prior experiments that let him pick it up. However he was picking it up in the wrong part of his brain. Thus his subconscious was expressing it in art. Thus the need to rewire his brain so he could hear the messages.

      On one hand I like that they didn’t make it psychic, but on the other it really didn’t make a lot of sense. How did the guy go from conversations at the planning stage to complex models, and drawnings. (Unless they were also transmitting pictures or other data, but this was never stated.)

      PS- Is everyone else disliking the fact that every one of these fringe tech just happens to be something their "Pet Mad Scientist" worked on. I was really happy when the jello of death wasn’t his, but then they let me down when the psychic friend network was. There better be one hell of a cool well thought out explanation for it this is true the whole season.

      • octa says:

        Re: Ghost Network?
        In the pilot they explain the doctor was working on a lot of the stuff they are seeing in "The Pattern."

        It’s obvious that Massive Dynamics has a lot to do with this, so with the founder having shared the same lab I’m sure it’ll come out that he stole a lot of this tech from the crazy doc.

        • sflory says:

          Re: Ghost Network?

          In the pilot they explain the doctor was working on a lot of the stuff they are seeing in "The Pattern."

          It’s obvious that Massive Dynamics has a lot to do with this, so with the founder having shared the same lab I’m sure it’ll come out that he stole a lot of this tech from the crazy doc.

          Yes, but how can one person be doing research in so many disciplines, and in what time? We are talking chemistry, neurology, physics… Assuming the guy is 60 and he somehow managed to get his phd done by age 20, and learn the 3 above fields. That’s ~23 years of research. Any of the projects shown in the 1st 3 shows are decades of worth research.

          I count 4 projects that would have required a good many years to develop. Crystallizing flesh, Dream machine, Quick Grow Soldiers, Ghost Network, and Neurostimulator. I’ll exclude the crystallizing flesh as it’s not clear if it was his project, or how far the project to produce the agent went. So that’s about 5 3/4 years for each of these projects. Maybe, but did the guy hit no dead ends? I’m about at my limit for suspending belief on this score.

          • Timeshredder says:

            Re: Ghost Network?

            Yes, but how can one person be doing research in so many disciplines, and in what time? We are talking chemistry, neurology, physics… Assuming the guy is 60 and he somehow managed to get his phd done by age 20, and learn the 3 above fields. That’s ~23 years of research. Any of the projects shown in the 1st 3 shows are decades of worth research.

            His thesis advisors were Dr. Sivana, Lex Luthor, and the Professor from Gilligan’s Island.

            That was my point exactly about the operation scene, though I draw a different conclusion. If this show went completely over the top, it might work. At present (among other problems), they cannot find a balance between the comic-book ludicrous aspects and the show’s serious elements.

            I guarantee if this thing continues, we’ll see yet another amazing Bishop research project pretty much every week.

  2. nedwidek says:

    Watched the first two…
    … and I’ve stopped watching. This show is just plain dumb.

  3. octa says:

    .
    There seemed to be some really bad editing in this episode. There wasn’t a clear indication of what the bad guys were doing to communicate on that frequency. Also I find it hard to believe they would ditch the communication method altogether, I mean how could they even know that they were being tapped into?

    The scene switches were really jarring at times, there didn’t seem to be any flow. Quite a different feeling from the pilot.

    I’m loving the mad scientist father character though.

Comments are closed.