Saturday, November 06, 2010


Thursday nights at the Infernal Desire Machine Household are packed with TV.  Our poor DVR can barely handle the load, to be quite honest.  I'm not sure why Thursdays are the days most of the good shows are on, but it's kind of annoying.

Yes, Sundays are bad, too.  But it's Thursday that causes the most blockage in our viewing schedule.

I mean, we've got The Office, Parks and Recreation (when it returns), It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, Fringe, and my guilty pleasure, The Mentalist The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack was on Thursdays, but I'm afraid it was too weird for kids to latch on to, and is now gone.  I hope I'm wrong about that, though.

Thursdays are also home to Nikita, a show I sampled and found to be okay, but so lacking in personality and innovation that it was just boring.  And I haven't been even remotely tempted to try The Vampire Diaries.

Please don't mention Big Bang Theory, 30 Rock, or Community to me at this point.  I've tried them and they never even made me chuckle.  I just don't think they're funny.  And if you mention Survivor, then you're dead to me.

But, as you can see, there's a plethora of stuff just begging for attention on Thursdays.

Anyway, after catching up with this week's Thursday night crop, I wanted to mention one of my absolute all-time favorite television characters: Dr. Walter Bishop from Fringe.

Warning: There are Spoilers Ahead!

Dr. Walter Bishop is a character who was introduced in the first episode of Fringe, as a madman who'd been locked up in an asylum for 17 years after a lab accident resulted in manslaughter charges being filed against him.  In those opening moments, despite his horrible fake beard, John Noble portrayed Walter as a completely fragmented character, barely able to hold a conversation.  He would switch from utter despair (over the horrible pudding served on Tuesdays) to childlike glee.

He was mesmerizing, to be quite honest.  Noble's performance and Walter's character combined to form the most refreshing and interesting character on television.  Particularly once we discovered that many of the world-threatening technological monstrosities that Fringe Division was tasked with stopping were based on his own past research.

But he wasn't only Dr. Frankenstein.  He was also a total freak.

May I present, the moment I fell in love with Dr. Walter Bishop:

He's also the most open character on Network Television about his own illicit drug use, as seen here:

But don't think I only love Walter because he's a druggy. That's only part of it.

He's also the creepiest and scariest mad scientist on television. At least, when he's got all the parts of his brain in place.  You see, when he was younger, his son was dying.  But Walter had discovered the existence of an alternate reality existing alongside our own.  In that reality, his alter-ego, dubbed "Walternate," stumbled across the cure for their sons, but missed it.  It was only Walter's spying that allowed him to synthesize the cure.

Unfortunately, it was too late for his own son.

So Walter, like any grieving father would, decided to bust down the walls between dimensions, travel to the other side and cure Walternate's son.  And, on impulse, steal him.

That jaunt across dimensions started a chain reaction of disasters in the alternate world that are slowly destroying the very fabric of their reality.  And Walternate, the current Secretary of Defense over there, is obsessed with destroying our world to save his.  He's a cold-hearted bastard and will stop at nothing.

And the only thing different about our Walter is that our Walter had parts of his own brain removed in order to keep himself from becoming like Walternate.  That's pretty much why he ended up in the institution instead of jail.  He made himself mad rather than become a monster.

He's done horrible things, but this new Walter is doing everything in his power to make things right.  And he's doing them with a childlike enthusiasm that is a joy to watch.  At the same time, that innocence about him makes it all the more heartbreaking when things don't go well, as when his son, Peter, discovered he was really the Peter from the Other Side and Walter wasn't really his father.

Watching Noble play that pain and anguish was amazing.  He can make you cry with just a look, when he wants to.  But luckily, the character is more about joy than about sorrow.

In a TV landscape that seems to revel in darkness, with characters who are intensely driven to torture and kill (for all our safety, of course) or who are tortured themselves by the evil things they've seen (nearly every cop show on TV, for example), it's just nice to watch a show about horrifying events where the main character can still enjoy himself and have fun.

Every week Walter says or does something that makes me happy.

1 comment:

  1. it's just nice to watch a show about horrifying events where the main character can still enjoy himself and have fun.

    >koff!< Doctor Who >koff!<

    While the good Doctor is off oour screens, Walter makes a fine substitute.