Our FBI heroine is sitting in one of the most improbable corporate offices ever! We see white walls with canted geometric bracing forming the corners. The room is the size of an airplane hanger, and completely bare except for a single desk and two chairs. The desk is formed of several huge white cubes balanced on their points with a sheet of glass on top. A women of about 50, dressed in black, is coolly explaining her long and loyal relationship with her employer to the FBI agent. Her employer we know is one of a two-man team that long ago was tasked with developing “fringe” science into applications. This scientist she says saved her life when she contracted cancer. As she explains, she removes the covering for her right arm and proceeds casually around the front of her desk. Her arm is a very sophisticated mechanical device that moves too fluidly to be anything available to present day science. This is creepy. It is to paraphrase Chandler like finding a tarantula on a wedding cake, meeting this character (this villainess) sitting at the center of a pure white office in full sunlight.
This scene occurs mid-way through the pilot for the new Fringe tv show, and is truly a Rotwang moment. The show was created by J.J. Abrams, who is very busy and popular I hear. I am unfamiliar with his other projects except through reputation and reviews.
I have read only one review for the Fringe pilot, and I strongly disagreed with it. The review repeatedly said that the show was written poorly. Examples of writing deficiencies sited were; the ideas are not new; the effects were not that special, and that some of the plotting to move characters around to meet one another was unlikely and didn’t ring true. These judgments are ridiculous.
Nothing is new, of course, when looked at piece by piece. The removing of the arm I mentioned, happened in two different Schwarzenegger Sci-Fi movies. And the premise of Fringe sounds very much like the Xfiles. But the writing is good. The dialog is very believable. The plotting of the pilot is going to serve to introduce new characters and can be forgiven a few economies. The special effects shouldn’t be too outrageous. This technology isn’t suppose to look like magic, merely a little better than what we know.
I really like the setup. Two scientists once worked together. One ends up in a mental hospital drooling on himself (the good one) the other creates a company that may have already taken over the world (the evil one). Samson and Goliath.
The 50 year-old women in black, our tarantula, reappeared at the end of the pilot obviously in-charge. I predict she is not working for the evil scientist, but is the evil scientist. Either that or she is the lab assistant who became injured back in the day. The guilt over that accident drove the good scientist into the mental hospital. In fact both parts of my prediction could be true. I may watch this show again.
* For the uninformed — Rotwang was the evil scientist in the Fritz Lang silent film Metropolis (1927). He brings to life an evil robot/replica of Maria. He learned to do this trick by experiments that cost him his own right arm.