Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 4/22/09

This is definitely one of those seasons on AMERICAN IDOL where just about everyone sitting at home claiming, “I could sing better than that,” is most likely right. I’ll bet even you rabid IDOL fans would admit to yourselves, in secret, that there is no Kelly Clarkson or David Cook in the competition this year. This is just like that season when what’s-his-name won. Yeah, that season. My jaw hit the floor when I heard Randy wax poetic about the top-to-bottom quality of the group of seven. Does he really have such a low opinion of all the previous seasons? The proof was in the karaoke: Take screechy Adam, who followed the old rule “If you can’t be good, be loud.” It was sad to watch Randy trying to convince his “dawg” that he would step right to the top of the charts. At least voice-of-reason Simon was on hand to slap down Anoop and co.

FRINGE actually took advantage of its New York City production location this week. Instead of trying to make the Big Apple look like Boston, the creepy series got to use Grand Central Terminal as Grand Central for a story set there. The story was written and directed by Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind), and it got off to a bit of a rough start. Olivia was remotely viewing murders in her dreams, and when she told her boss, Broyles actually growled, “You know how this sounds?” Dude! What has your office been doing all season? Why does your entire section exist? To investigate stuff that sounds really frakkin’ weird, like the Pattern! Why did you recruit Liv? To look into strange phenomena! In Goldsman’s defense, effective sci-fi writing is an art — but I had hoped he worked out the kinks after his horrible screenplay for the 1998 theatrical version of Lost in Space. Turned out Goldsman just needed a little time to build up momentum. In short order, we got scenes in which Peter gained a little insight into his father’s experience with madness. We also got another piece of the puzzle that is Olivia’s background, when it was revealed that this week’s killer, Nick Jane, was part of the Cortexiphan drug experiments on children in Liv’s hometown of Jacksonville, Fla. In fact, Nick was partnered with little “Olive” for the experiments, so his mind was calling out to her as an adult, allowing her to view his crimes in he dreams. Nick lost control of his abilities to make others feel his emotions — abilities honed by the recruitment training connected to the ZFT Manifesto. Which Walter wrote! See how it’s all coming together? The final rooftop sequence was harrowing, with Nick’s mind-controlled slaves perched limply at the edge, waiting for Nick to mentally push them to their deaths (which he did to one woman!). I like that Olivia actually shot Nick in order to stop him instead of trying to wrestle him into submission. The episode ended with Walter digging out an old videotape of one of the Cortexiphan experiments, in which a frightened young Olive can be seen sitting in the corner of what appears to be a burned-out room. Interestingly, the voice of the legendary Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, can clearly be heard as William Bell! Nimoy is rumored to appear onscreen in the very last scene of the season finale on May 12. But what I really want to know is, did the Cortexiphan treatments give Liv a power?

RESCUE ME presented another side of Tommy this week. Of course he would have no problem with his daughter sleeping with another member of his fire crew — but Tommy flipped out at the idea that the couple is putting off sex until they get married! Turned out Tommy didn’t want his daughter getting hitched at a young age like her mother, so Tommy was in the unusual position of trying to talk his daughter into having premarital sex in hopes of souring the relationship and forestalling the nuptials. Also controversial: Franco continued to spout his 9/11 conspiracy theories; however, Mike got in his face and told him to stop because his suspicions cast the fallen heroes of 9/11 as dupes. Mike revealed that he became a fireman because he wanted to fight the bad guys and become a real-life superhero, and if Franco is right, Mike’s decision was based on lies. That’s a lot to think about. On a much lighter note, Garrity and Franco went to female doctors to receive hilariously “unorthodox” treatments for back pain that I can’t even hint at in this blog. And Lou mentioned his post-9/11 poetry to Genevieve, the French writer. That was a nice callback to season one.

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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