Okay … I tried another episode of Emergence, the new ABC sci-fi procedural.
And … well …
What we have so far is a police chief who finds a young girl at the site of a wrecked plane, and takes her in and protects her from the big bad organization that wants to recapture her. And I think I’ve figured this all out.
Not bad for two episodes of a series that’s supposed to have a long-stretching arc.
The girl, Piper, may have been genetically engineered as some sort of super-soldier or biomechanical weapon, someone who can control the forces of magnetism and electricity. But somehow she escaped, and her powers become uncontrollable when she gets scared or frightened. And the big bad organization is coming to get her, and the police chief – who has to juggle her job, her family and trying to find out more about this mysterious pre-teen – has to protect her.
And again, I’m watching this show and thinking of several other television programs from the past.
Biomechanical weapon? Dark Angel, that show on Fox from about 20+ years ago. Maybe 30 years ago to the first edition of V, with the Star-Child arc.
Nefarious secret organization with weird high-tech doodads? The X-Files sounds familiar, maybe even The Lone Gunmen if we stretch it a bit.
The storyline that peppers clues and hidden meanings throughout the episode, with the hopes it will pay off ten episodes from now? Alias, Fringe, half of J.J. Abrams’ televised output.
Heck, all we need is the Dharma Initiative and a character from Lost to make this complete.
About the only thing that’s keeping me tuned into this show is actress Alison Tolman. She’s not some one-dimensional jut-jawed police chief / mother / Bechtel Scale failure, she’s actually very emotive and supportive and protective of both her family and the mysterious girl.
But yeah, inbetween that we get a ton of lights exploding and magnetic things flying and other electronic static moments to contend with.
Oh, and now for a small bit of nit-picking. I’m allowed to nit-pick, I do this all the time when I review a TV series.
Last week’s episode featured an electromagnetic pulse of an alarm clock, as the LCD lights on the clock face flashed on and off in a random sequence. Lights don’t operate that way in alarm clocks, the LCD’s aren’t independent of each other, if they flashed at all they would flash the numbers one would see when looking at the clock and telling the time. I made this mistake a long time ago when I wrote a fiction story involving a broken alarm clock; someone pointed out that the clock would not have ALL its LCD lights flashing at once, because the circuits are independent of one another. You can see that in the first minute of the premier episode clip, which I’ve embedded below.
This also happened in last night’s episode – Piper the kid is trapped in a closet, and some nefarious dude from the nefarious organization is in the house and is tracking her whereabouts. She gets scared, and suddenly anything with metal starts vibrating and bouncing – including the metal ball bearings used in a Hungry Hungry Hippos game. Wait, Hungry Hungry Hippos has metal ball bearings? And someone’s still making a Hungry Hungry Hippos game? I guess that would distract me from the 1970’s-era SIMON game that’s also in the closet – and is also flashing weird color patterns WITHOUT the buzzing tone or noise, which … yeah … it makes for a cool visual, but it’s totally incorrect for the moment.
Yep, I found that clip as well.
And I think that’s what still bugs me about Emergence. This show has the potential to be a super-weird, super-frightening show, but the special effects are just borderline cheezy. And don’t even get me started on a scene from last night’s episode involving an electromagnetically charged car that selectively becomes magnetic and non-magnetic at the same time.
Besides, anything involving a magnetically-charged vehicle was – you know it – done by another TV show years ago. And yes, I found the clip.
Am I going to keep watching Emergence? Yeah, I guess so. Because somewhere along the line, I need this show to break out of the “I’ve seen this before” pattern and come up with something new. I shouldn’t be able to predict what’s going to happen based on it happening that same way with a dozen other genre programs.
And please don’t bring in any characters from Lost. Okay?