Friday, October 8, 2010

Finding Inspiration in Unexpected Places

Have you been watching the most awesome and excellent television show Fringe?  It truly is an amazing show.  I am so glad that Fox, in a slightly uncharacteristic move for my old nemesis, has been so supportive of this show that it has managed to get to its third season.  The current season, only three episodes in, has been just pushing the bar for quality scifi on television higher and higher each week. 

Last night's episode was quite solid--and it had the delightful side effect of kick-starting my brain in the direction of a potential new story. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, it involves a team of government agents and a wacky scientist (I don't say this to suggest that the show itself is wacky, though it does have its moments, but the scientist truly is off his rocker in the most delightful way) who solve and try to prevent crimes perpetrated using "fringe" science.  Examples of this fringe science include telekinesis, shape-shifters, teleportation, and things of that ilk.  This alone is a pretty solid basis for a series, BUT, there is an overarching story element that takes this show to the next level.  Parallel universes.  One of the key elements of the show is that our world exists alongside/on top of a parallel universe that is very similar to but not quite like our own.  And those two universes are at war.  And they are at war because they are colliding with one another--something that will destroy both universes if not stopped.  Only a handful of people on either side are aware of this war, and even fewer know what caused the collision process in the first place.  Following in the footsteps of the Many Worlds theory, there are versions of our characters in each universe--mostly alike, but still very different.  This season of Fringe sees one of the main characters from "our" universe stuck in the other universe, while her doppelganger has infiltrated her group on our side of things.  Let me tell you, it has made for some very compelling storytelling.

Watching the show last night, it struck me that, yes, technically we know who is at fault for this whole mess, but when it comes down to it, neither main group in the two universes is at fault.  They are just soldiers in a war they have no control over.  Ideally, the switching of the two Olivias would give them a chance to realize that there aren't any actual "bad guys" in this scenario, and they would find a way to reconcile their differences and coincide peacefully.  BUT, that can't happen here.  I hope I'm wrong, but the show has been leading us to the conclusion that either both universes will be destroyed, or one must be sacrificed to save the other. 

This got me thinking.  Could I write something like this?  Two opposing factions where there isn't a clearly bad guy--but where one side must destroy the other in order for either to survive.  That's a challenge.  Imagine how difficult it must be to make characters on both sides compelling and sympathetic to the audience.  With Fringe, despite the likability of some of the alternate versions of our characters, we're still going to be rooting for the "original" versions because we've known them longer and we know their stories, and they're from "our" world after all.  But what if we were to introduce both groups at the same time?  How would one bring that story to a conclusion without taking the easy-out solution of reconciliation?  What sort of external cause for the war could I come up with that would leave neither side to blame?  I must say, the gears are turning.  My brain is doing all kinds of calisthenics and training to see if it is up to meeting this challenge. 

I just love when something as simple as a television show can get me excited and thinking about some other aspect of my life.  All it had to do was make me think, and now I'm off and running. 

Looking at the clock, I see it's about time for my afternoon walk to Sonic with my daughter, and when we get home she'll head off to nap time and I'll attempt to finish Dragon Age:  Origins.  I am 1/3 to 1/2 way done with the final battle, so I've got my fingers crossed that I can finish it before it's time to leave to meet my friends for dinner.  Once I do finish it, I will definitely have a (hopefully mostly spoiler free) overview of it for you. 

I will leave you with a few random tidbits.  I saw that Ridley Scott is thinking about making a film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel The Man in the High Castle.  That just tickled me pink.  It's the only book by Dick I've actually read but I enjoyed it immensely.  It may be the first alternative history I ever read, and I have grown to LOVE that genre. 

Also, it's Friday, so you should totally swing by and check out the new Gronk up today. I mean, come on, how can you resist that cute little green face?

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