Fringe: Season 2, Episode 20

Brown Betty (29 Apr. 2010)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 1,255 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 3 critic

While Walter deals with some very upsetting news, he tells Olivia's niece, Ella, a fairy tale that includes musical performances by Olivia and Agent Broyles.

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Title: Brown Betty (29 Apr 2010)

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Episode complete credited cast:
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September / Gemini
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Rachel / Kelsie
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Candus Churchill ...
Dead Singer / Corpse #3
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Nurse (as Sarah Ann Hayward)
Tom Pickett ...
Dead Singer / Corpse #1
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Dead Singer / Corpse #2
Erica Van Briel ...
Assistant
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Storyline

While Walter deals with some very upsetting news, he tells Olivia's niece, Ella, a fairy tale that includes musical performances by Olivia and Agent Broyles. Written by FOX Publicity

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29 April 2010 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Interestingly, during this musical episode, the two regular cast members of Fringe (2008) who have the most Broadway musical experience do not ever sing. Blair Brown (Nina) has had singing roles in Broadway productions of "The Threepenny Opera" and "Cabaret." And Michael Cerveris (The Observer/September) is better-known as a Broadway leading man than as a television or film actor; he has had lead roles in Broadway musicals such as "The Who's Tommy," "Titanic," "Assassins," "Sweeney Todd," and "Lovemusik;" was nominated for Tonys for all but one of these; and won a Tony for "Assassins." See more »

Goofs

When Peter and Olivia go to see Walter in the lab, the matchstick in Peter's mouth switches from left to right and back again between shots. See more »

Quotes

Peter Bishop: [as Miles Davis' Freddie the Freeloader plays... ] Do you like jazz?
Olivia Dunham: Jazz?
Peter Bishop: Miles, Duke, Louie, John Coltrane. You can tell a lot about a person by the music they listen to. And whether or not they dance.
Olivia Dunham: Jazz- not so much, but dancing? Sure.
Peter Bishop: Well, I guess we're opposites. I hate to dance.
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Connections

References Top Secret! (1984) See more »

Soundtracks

The Candy Man
(uncredited)
Written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley
Performed by John Noble, Tom Pickett, John Prowse and Candus Churchill
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User Reviews

Disastrous "cutesy" episode, for Fringe apologists only
30 April 2010 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

I watch Fringe every week, and am surprised at the variable qualities of the show. Recently the White Tulip segment starring Peter Weller was a universally treasured outing, and I concurred -truly memorable. Back in January there was an out-of-sequence episode Unearthed (bringing back Nick Acevedo's cop who had been deleted from the series previously) that was an insult to loyal viewers, as it contradicted the progressing story arc. And now we have the "fun" diversion of Brown Betty, a creative train wreck.

Yes, it is always tempting to try a film noir pastiche, but it takes some talent. For interested Brown Betty viewers, I suggest the George Segal film The Black Bird, which was a big failure back in the '70s trying to comically imitate The Maltese Falcon (replete with roles for original '40s cast members); I enjoyed that light movie but it was much hated at the time and is now forgotten. I also loved the Steve Martin super-production of Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, the ultimate film noir send up, and also a famous flop.

But under the direction of hack Seith Mann (check out his credits -episodes of random recent TV shows, strictly a traffic cop grinding out filler), Brown Betty is embarrassing. Sure, we get to see the cast out of context, getting to sing and generally do wink-wink over the top performances. For the retarded TV writers out there, series regulars ARE talented actors who can do drastically different roles than their constrained weekly duties, so proving it is silly and insulting. After a few seconds of seeing Jasika Nicole and Lance Reddick hamming it up, the novelty wears off.

Low point for me was the corpses singing Sammy Davis Jr.'s old hit Candyman. (Punsters would have enjoyed some Clive Barker and Tony Todd riffs, but that was beyond the memory and knowledge of Fringe's team.) Again, this must have wowed 'em at a story conference, but as executed it was atrocious, reminding me of the comic relief included in New Jersey soft porn horror garbage being ground out on videos (as we speak) by companies like Seduction Cinema, only without the nudity. If this is the direction Fringe's creators want to take, why don't they transfer the show to cable and turn it into a Skinemax lesbian soft-porn parody series?

Film noir by definition should be in black & white, but even with a framing story in color (Noble telling the cute kid bedtime tales), the network didn't have the guts to do the lion's share of Brown Betty in b&w. The sets, lighting and costumes evoke none of the intended noir genre low-key look; hairdos and makeup to evoke pseudo-'40s styles were amateurish, and the inclusion of modern devices like cell phones in the period milieu (completely extraneous to Noble's tale) instantly destroys the mood.

I can't wait for the endless apologies in the voice-over commentary on the Year Two DVD compilation to explain away the shortcomings of this disastrous episode. Check that, I don't want to hear any ramblings from Seith Mann -he should turn in his Director's Guild card after handing in this rubbish, and move to New Jersey where starlet Darian Caine awaits his gentle touch: it's time for a no-budget, shot on video Iron Man 2 parody. Who can we get to lampoon Mickey Rourke? Maybe....Mickey Rourke? Nope, with a zero budget we'll have to settle for Robert Z'Dar, when he finishes work on the new movie Salvador's Deli (no, I didn't make up that pun, it's actually in IMDb!).


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