Fringe Review: “Bad Dreams”

It’s been awhile since we’ve done a full-fledged review of the fledgling twenty-first century take on X-Files.

Title: “Bad Dreams”

Cast and Crew

Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham
Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop
John Noble as Dr. Walter Bishop
Jaskika Nicole as Astrid Farnsworth
Ari Graynor as Rachel Dunham
David Call as Nick Lane
Lilly Pilyblad as Ella
Michael Cerveris as the Observer

Synopsis

Agent Dunham dreams of committing horrible crimes, and learns that the crimes have happened in real life.

High Points

1. The opening scene relies on stock techniques– ominous music, eeriness mixed with childhood imagery– but it sets a terrific tone, and made me want to watch the episode.

2. The episode has an interesting premise, and the potential mass-suicide at the conclusion worked well.

Low Points

1.

“Seems a little too coincidental to be coincidence.”

I really dislike when genre does this sort of thing. The entire series revels in far-fetched coincidences and improbabilities. Suddenly, however, real-world rules apply, and we’re supposed to see that this particular far-fetched coincidence reveals something.

2. Having the mad scientist’s son interrupt his infodump scene doesn’t improve the scene, nor does it disguise the fact that we’re listening to infodump. It also didn’t really add to our understanding of character.

The Scores

Originality: 3/6. The concept has been used elsewhere before, though Fringe certainly adds a number of twists.

Effects: 5/6. Simple and effective filmcraft– and those annoying comic-book location titles.

Story: 4/6. The convoluted backstory would have worked better if Olivia had been established or even hired because of her Special Abilities. Revealing them now, with reference to this one case, as the result of a hitherto undisclosed experiment, seems a credulity stretch, even for a show that loves stretching credulity.

Acting: 4/6. This episode relies heavily on the actor, and they’ve hung it on Torv who, while improved, still does not consistently rise to the occasion. Her faux lesbian scene was just embarrassing.

Production: 5/6.

Emotional response: 4/6. Uneven acting and writing results in an uneven response.

Overall: 4/6. This is better than many of the earlier episodes, but not as good as last week’s, and still not enough to keep me watching.

“Bad Dreams” receives 29/42.

Where’s Waldo?

Our bald Observer passes by quickly as Olivia heads for the jump site.

4 replies on “Fringe Review: “Bad Dreams””

  1. Damien says:

    I’d have been ok with the new revelations if they had even slightly hinted at her not remembering part of her past.. which she still hasn’t commented on despite lots of blatant evidence to suggest it. I can kind-of give Walter some slack for not remembering her as, well, he does seem to have a pretty messed up brain and may simply have not have remembered her.

  2. sjaskow says:

    I’m guessing that Olivia’s power on their drug were so uncontrollable that they 1) removed the drug and 2) wiped her memory of taking them.

    The convoluted backstory would have worked better if Olivia had been established or even hired because of her Special Abilities – How do we know that Oliva didn’t gravitate toward the investigation of the spooky/unexplained on an unconscious level because of the experiments in her past. After all, I don’t think they explain just how she ended up doing the investigations she does.

    • Fozzy_Bear says:

      sjaskow says:
      I’m guessing that Olivia’s power on their drug were so uncontrollable that they 1) removed the drug and 2) wiped her memory of taking them.

      I had considered that, but I bet you’ll agree that it’s more likely that they just supressed memory of how to use it. That way she would be ready at a moments notice in the “” war to come. “”

      just my 2 cents.

  3. Fez says:

    The convoluted backstory would have worked better if Olivia had been established or even hired because of her Special Abilities.

    Except that adds to the mystery: Just what else did they do to her that not only made her forget, but also made her not notice the missing time.

    Revealing them now, with reference to this one case, as the result of a hitherto undisclosed experiment, seems a credulity stretch, even for a show that loves stretching credulity.

    Except they did lead into this a few episodes back. I believe it was when she was “abducted” and those people confirmed that she had been experimented on with Cortexiphan (or however that is spelled), but she still didn’t know what had been done, or when.

    Given who her partner was, and how she became involved in all of this, it’s quite possible that she was recruited due to her history and background. There’s no telling just how far back this all goes.

    Parts of this have turned up in other J.J. Abrams shows. Alias: Sydney was tested as a child, bred into the job even if she didn’t know it. There is a similar theme in Lost where Locke was also tested as a child (and presumably others).

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