DC Trawler

Treacher on culture: Fringe / Hobo with a Shotgun

I don’t know about you guys, but I was so happy about Osama Bin Laden’s starring role in Feeding Nemo that I spent an entire weekend not thinking about politics. In other words, I sat around watching TV all weekend, and now I’m going to try to get a blog post out of it. If you don’t care, the scrollbar is over there on the right, and the URL field at the top of your screen also works.

I am now completely obsessed with trying to figure out what happened on the season finale of Fringe. If you haven’t seen it because you have better things to do on a Friday night, SPOILERS AHOY:

In the final moments of season 3, they finally paid off on the “mysterious machine that’s hundreds of millions of years old, yet responds only to one modern-day person’s DNA” storyline. Via an incredibly convoluted series of events involving parallel universes, genetic chemistry, time travel, astral time travel, and loads of other nerdy crap, series protagonist Peter Bishop finally managed to… I don’t even know. This crazy machine that looked like a futuristic torture rack projected his mind 15 years into the future, where he did a ridealong inside his older self’s head as he investigated a series of terrorist bombings masterminded by his genetic father, who’s from another universe that was destroyed because…

[Takes two aspirin, rubs bridge of nose between thumb and forefinger for full minute]

Okay, see, 25 years ago this little kid named Peter Bishop was kidnapped from another universe because he was dying of an incurable disease, and the version of his dad from “our” universe was the only one who had the cure. Peter survived and grew up in “our” universe, but passing between universes broke the laws of nature or something, and it messed everything up and threatened to destroy both universes. Peter traveled to the future, figured out a way to prevent the end of the world(s), and then came back and did so. Then he disappeared into thin air. Because he never existed.

I can’t afford to hire a team of MIT researchers to figure out the plot, which is why I’m glad John Noble, AKA Peter’s father Walter Bishop, AKA The Maddest Scientist Ever, is the best actor on television. For three full seasons now, he’s portrayed a literally brain-damaged polymath genius with a taste for processed sugar and hallicinogens, solving weird crimes and twitching all over the place and basically being a wreck. He commands every scene he’s in, and most episodes he’s in every other scene. Without his grounding in reality, his ability to plumb the depths and soar the heights of Walter Bishop’s shattered psyche, the show would fly off the rails and nobody would care about the pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo and soap-opera trappings.

He’s really good, is my point. In this latest episode, he played four different versions of the same character, each one completely distinct and memorable. I’ve never seen anything like it.

So yeah, Fringe is well worth catching up on if you’ve never seen it. It’s kind of like The X-Files, if The X-Files got better the longer you watched it. And it’s kind of like Lost, except they seem to have some idea where things are going. Even if the rest of us don’t.

I also watched Hobo with a Shotgun, which is available on iTunes and Video On Demand before it hits theaters this week. It’s the best movie about a hobo with a shotgun since Ol’ Porkchop’s Mossberg (Ray Milland, American International Pictures, 1973). Director Jason Eisener based it on a fake trailer that he created for a Grindhouse contest a few years back, which you can watch here. (WARNING: ONCE SEEN, CANNOT BE UNSEEN. BLOODY ULTRAVIOLENCE, UNADULTERATED FILTHMOUTH, AND MANBOOBS.) The fake two-minute trailer is a celebration of pure garbage, and a guilty pleasure for anybody who thought they were above the idea of guilty pleasures. I have watched it at least 30 times.

There’s no way anyone could sustain that tone of delirious, blood-splattered shock-comedy for 85 minutes, which is why it’s a good thing Eisener snagged Rutger Hauer to play the nameless hobo. Hauer gets to deliver most of the best lines from the fake trailer, and he throws himself into psycho mode like Blade Runner was only yesterday, but he also captures the world-weariness of a tired old fella who stumbles into a dead-end town and just tries to make tomorrow a better place for its children. By, um, killing all the bad guys. With a shotgun.

More importantly, it’s the funniest of any of the “fake grindhouse” movies by far. Which isn’t saying much, considering how Grindhouse and Machete turned out, but still. I never thought I’d laugh out loud at a line like, “We’re gonna kill the rest of your children!” You had to be there, maybe. Well, you should go there.

Here’s the formula, in case you want to make one of your own:

John Carpenter + Dario Argento + the old Batman TV show + 500 gallons of fake blood + Rutger F***ing Hauer + a shotgun = Hobo with a Shotgun

Thanks for reading all the way to the end of my disjointed blog post about the dumb schlock I wasted my time on this weekend.