–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?