Debris: Pilot
March 2, 2021 8:16 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

I only ever watched the pilot of 'Fringe', but I know it had a devoted following. I didn't find the characters in this pilot particularly compelling, but I'll probably keep watching to see where it goes.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:33 PM on March 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

So ... It's Roadside Picnic, but without the bleakness?
posted by Mr. Excellent at 11:01 PM on March 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

I found this to be pretty blandly written, and I'm surprised the two leads made it through a chemistry test during casting.
posted by bcwinters at 5:47 AM on March 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

And why is there not an NTSB engineer as a regular character?
posted by sammyo at 6:32 AM on March 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

And *SPOILERS* it's probably debris from the Resident Alien ship.
posted by sammyo at 6:42 AM on March 3, 2021 [3 favorites]

It was one of Euron Greyjoy's ships. Which explains a lot, actually.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:40 PM on March 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

iirc, the characters in 'Fringe' weren't immediately sympathetic, but they were strange enough to be interesting/ intriguing; and character development (especially given the conceit of the show) ended up really driving the show.

In 'The X-files' there was conflict established between the protagonists and within themselves (Spooky outcast, skeptic assigned to a blackball dept) from the get go.

Nothing like that here, and low charisma.

Yes, rather 'Roadside Picnic'/ 'STALKER'/ 'The Lost Room.'

The "science" and the responses/ procedures to the phenomena aren't convincing at all. Near 'Prometheus' level of "why are you touching that!?"

Given the geographic distribution shown so far, these phenomena must be occurring in other parts of the world instead of just in a limited geospatial location(s).

I really want to like this (if just for something new to watch), but maybe I'll rewatch 'Fringe,' it has been long enough.
posted by porpoise at 4:23 PM on March 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

I've decided to continue watching it for a little bit longer, but the lack of quarantine protocol almost made me throw something at the tv.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:46 PM on March 3, 2021

I'm giving it a bit of leeway because it felt very Pilot-y (and, I mean, look at the title), and the theme is interesting even if the protags are a little low-chem. I don't know that I'd rate this worse than Fringe out of the gate, that presented as a very different show in the first few seasons before it turned into the Walter-verse.

On the other hand in modern TV production, I give it maybe even odds it'll have every episode aired before they just give up and dump it on streaming.
posted by Kyol at 9:38 AM on March 4, 2021

When that 777 engine dropped parts all over a Denver suburb, every news spot reiterated not to touch the parts.
posted by sammyo at 11:31 AM on March 4, 2021

Im immediately suspicious of NBC dramas/sci-fi things as they have a real, real low batting average.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:42 AM on March 5, 2021

Im immediately suspicious of NBC dramas/sci-fi things as they have a real, real low batting average.

They're almost uniformly blandly bad but that means you go into them knowing more or less what you're going to get.

I grew up watching crappy network TV scifi dramas and I am always up for at least starting a new one. They're all mediocre in different ways, some of them manage to be actively bad. I liked the single season Surface had. Zero Hour managed to be so bad it was good (it lasted less than a season). Zoo was also notably godawful, and got more than one season(!).

My opinions of Fringe all come from pirating seasons at a time at college so I have no idea what impression it would have made upon just watching the pilot.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:10 PM on March 5, 2021

Fringe existed entirely so that Jon Noble could tear up scenery with his deliciously over-acted mad scientist character, and I loved every minute of it. It also evolved over the seasons into a complex sci-fi show about multiple universes.

This show is interesting, and I'm enjoying the sci-fi so far, but it really needs at least one non-generic character.

I have to agree with BungaDunga, though, I've missed this sort of definitely-flawed-but-we-haven't found-the-flaw-yet mystery box drama, and I'm enjoying the incredibly unrealistic aspect that it seems to take place in a COVID-free world.
posted by mmoncur at 2:40 AM on March 7, 2021 [3 favorites]

Fringe was one of my pandemic rewatches. I hadn't watched it since it aired and I really enjoyed seeing for as second time.I t does start off pretty clunky but hits a nice groove quickly, and has enough layered mysteries and fun characters to keep your attention during the rough start.

I've watched both aired episodes of Debris and - man, I don't know. Mostly it's so muted. It's flat-lining. No charisma, no humor, needs more people on the field team to add interest, and the last episode has some truly terrible plot blips. I hope the show tightens up and starts displaying some life soon.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 6:40 AM on March 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

I haven't watched it yet, but the very similar premise is giving me vibes from the early 2000s science fiction series Threshold, which had Carla Gugino as the lead, supported by Brent Spiner and Peter Dinklage and some others as a team investigating various alien crystal/meteorite thingies. I remember it being pretty good. It lasted one season. This post got me to check Amazon to see if a DVD boxset was ever released-- yes, and it's only $17. I just ordered it. Thanks, Fanfare!
posted by seasparrow at 5:31 PM on March 14, 2021

I expect this to go into the huge pile of science fiction series that never last long enough to provide real answers.

Somebody should start an online project (website? podcast? YouTube channel?) that looks up orphaned science fiction series that never panned out and try to get the writers/showrunners/creators to respond with answers. And if they don't/can't, then the answers are written by the project owner or crowd-sourced or voted on by followers, and declared canon. No, not by me. I'm getting too old for this shit.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:14 PM on March 17, 2021 [4 favorites]

So... Yeah, after 3 episodes there's sort of the barest hint of some interesting stuff going on behind the scenes, but the up-front stuff is all family drama and ... somehow on the one hand we've only been doing this for 6 months and yet we already know all kinds of stuff about about the debris but only just now stood up a proper multinational taskforce - it's still like just some dudes and pop-up- tents. And, like, procedurally - here's an invisible alien artifact that may or may not make your genitals radioactive, maybe put down some warning tape or flags or _something_ to make sure people don't just stumble into it? All of which sort of feels like the writers don't actually care about the nerdy scifi stuff, they're just using it as window dressing for a mystery.
posted by Kyol at 1:02 PM on March 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

Another couple of episodes in and... Maybe? I can kind of see an interesting something or other coming out of this? It's still just ridiculously sloppy and if you're paying even the slightest bit of critical attention you'll have plenty of chances to go "wait, _what_?", but at least they've laid enough groundwork that I kind of want to know what the "bad guys" are doing?

The two leads still have ridiculously bad chemistry though. It's not even turning out like "hey yeah we're strangers from opposite sides of a problem being forced to work together on something" or anything it's just... Low-charisma-town.
posted by Kyol at 9:25 AM on April 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've watched through episode 5. Although I am very irked by the woman character being the compassionate, humane one, and the man being the "rational" one, I have to say at this point I only care about Fiona. The male lead, who is so boring and low energy I can't remember his character name, could drop into a debris wormhole and I probably wouldn't notice that he was gone. I don't care about the angry bearded boss or his family probs either.

I'm actually very confused as to how a TV show this slow, nonsensical, and somniferous even gets made in today's TV landscape. Haven't TV creators cracked the algorithms yet for pacing, world-buildig, casting, and emotional hooks?

Does the public at large know about the debris - this has been bugging the shit out of me since the first episode. There's no way you could keep all this stuff falling to Earth secret, yet everyone is acting like the debris is super hush hush.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 11:04 AM on April 6, 2021

Yeah, I'm kind of curious about Fiona's father and Scroobius Pip's group and what might be going on between them. I get that they're trying to make Generic Oatmeal Male Lead and the American boss' weird family issues as a counter to the more interesting UK behind-the-scenes stuff, but... It's not working.

It hasn't quite descended to the level of a hate watch yet, at least.
posted by Kyol at 1:31 PM on April 6, 2021

This show is ridiculously bad, and I'm convinced there won't be a season 2, but I will continue to watch, if only because it's so much fun to say "Scroobius Pip".
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:30 PM on April 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

This definitely reminds me of the first season of Fringe.
posted by fullerine at 5:36 AM on May 4, 2021

Yeah, nine episodes in and it sort of feels like some of the stuff that was maybe poorly handled in the first four or five episodes was maybe poorly handled because it ultimately didn't matter? I'm not gonna say it's redeeming itself yet and _lord_ there's some goddamn stupid stuff that there's no reason for, but I'm still here for the doofy Vangelis-clone atmospheric music and vaguely menacing plotting.
posted by Kyol at 7:19 AM on May 4, 2021

I have to say, the time loop two-parter has to be in the very basement of time loop episodes. Boy, that was boring.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:28 PM on May 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I mean I sort of enjoyed the looping and the different pairings of agents, but almost every single thing to do with George and understanding how the debris might be working and auggggggggh. And what was the point of the last scene with dude Orbital? That we're not back in the original timeline where he had that discussion with his wife?
posted by Kyol at 2:17 PM on May 6, 2021

Yeah - I think we're supposed to understand that we are now in a slightly different parallel universe in which he never confronts his wife in the restaurant. Not sure why we should care since these are all fictional universes and we have no idea how the original one was going to end so being in a slightly different one has no stakes that we know of now that the leads are back together. My best guess is that they aren't going to do anything with that. It feels like a throwaway tease, just to make the point that messing with this stuff has consequences.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:53 AM on May 7, 2021

I'm also not sure why we should care because that bearded guy is boring and his domestic situation is boring.

I enjoyed the first half of the time loop two-parter but found the second part really dull and hand-wavey on details, and I don't know why anyone thought it would be great to end the episode with beard guy and a tiny moment of Scroobius Pip being sinister. If this show has anything going for it (let's be real, it mostly doesn't) it is the developing partnership between Bryan and Finola. The time loop could've been an effective single episode, with a lot of the filler cut out.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 3:04 PM on May 10, 2021

I thought for sure they'd end the episode with Beard Guy coming home to his happy marriage and mentally healthy son. (As I recall his son suffered some kind of accident, and maybe we're in a timeline where that didn't happen.) That would have been interesting. But no...
posted by mmoncur at 5:07 AM on May 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

If we're gonna treat this as a whole-season due to lack of interest (works for me, frankly), that's sort of what got me about the change - it's so damn inconsequential seeming. Oh no, his wife planned the divorce in private instead of Beard Dude finding out about it from the reservation, SURELY THIS.

And yeah, the growing relationship between Bryan and Finola, the moody-as-frig Vangelis-y atmospheric music, Scroobius Pip being sinister but maybe sort of ambiguously on the right side of things? Or not, maybe that was just a plot point that they were trying to promote for whatever his group was called, that they're for democratizing the technologies in the debris maybe? That's all kindasorta interesting, or could be the basis for a more interesting show than they've written. As it is, I dunno, they keep kind of wanting to make the science make sense when there's no way it could, and instead of shrugging like Fringe did and leaning into the campier aspects of the monster of the week, they're committing to the straightforward explanations which are _so boring_.
posted by Kyol at 2:15 PM on May 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Holy fake beard, Batman!

I'm not sure why I'm so hooked on nitpicking this show! I guess I see elements of something watchable, but am frustrated by how poorly its constructed.

This latest episode was all didactic A plot and as it ground to the inevitable conclusion (the girl gets fridged!) I was left wondering if maybe Sebastian Roché and Scroobius Pip had run off in their RV full of faceless clones to a different show that understands the value of fun.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 7:10 AM on May 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

Well, the last episode was kind of fun with those boxes throwing themselves through the portal. But when they decided that "reversing the polarity" was the solution it officially jumped the "less believable than Doctor Who" shark...
posted by mmoncur at 7:18 AM on May 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

So now that the season is over: *sigh* WTF. I'm sorta leaning towards the Influx dudes being semi-aliens or their debris-related activity has altered them? But what's up with Roché? And boy they dug deep for why Bryan didn't get brain zapped. And I'm still not sure why I care about Maddox's kid other than as an excuse for him to not be everything he seems to be on the surface? It's not good like OOH OOH DANG DUDE, but it's not _bad_ either? Like I guess if I had a complaint it's that it's a half-season season - given another dozen episodes and we went from here to the next part of the story in a week or two, it might be redeemable. But with these newer, tighter, 13 episode seasons, it's not unreasonable to expect things to be, y'know, tight and compelling.

Nice use of the local improv class for the chesspeople though. OK EVERYBODY LAUGH *taps pen* AND NOW CRY *takes notes* OK BLANKLY STARE FORWARD

(Also, yes, that was a terrible fake beard. The wig wasn't much better either..)
posted by Kyol at 8:47 AM on May 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

I've seen Maddox secretly give Bryan injections at least 3 times before so I think the "Why Bryan didn't get zapped?" thing is something they actually did right.

Also, weren't we talking about John Noble earlier? Speak of the devil. And watch him be a way better actor than most of the regulars...

I guess they answered the questions about Maddox collaborating with Russians. He just wanted to get a Magic Alien Thingy that would help his kid. That's sweet, but we haven't really been exposed to his family enough to care.

I had no idea this was the season finale, it didn't seem any more momentous than any other episode...

All in all this was watchable, but I think I only had high expectations of it because whoever made the credits did an excellent job and reminded me of "The Expanse". I assume there's no Season 2 coming...
posted by mmoncur at 9:00 PM on May 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

And watch him be a way better actor than most of the regulars...

He just charisma blasts everyone else right off the screen. If they get renewed, I hope John Noble stays in the mix.

I guess George being part of Influx was supposed to be a big surprise? I can't say I predicted it, but I didn't warm to him and I didn't trust him after Bryan and Finola rescued him. He seemed so cold and uninformative, and he was repeatedly wrong about the solution for the time loop two-parter. When we saw a different timeline (or flashback, can't recall) George, that George seemed a lot more likeable.

I will watch if there's a season two, because I am weak!
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 1:51 PM on May 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

"NBC won’t be picking up any more Debris: The hard sci-fi drama has been..."

Hard sci-fi?!
posted by porpoise at 4:26 PM on May 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

"Hard" as in "difficult."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:15 PM on May 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

Did anyone else get serious "Enigma of Amigara Fault" vibes from the opening of the finale?
posted by Tabitha Someday at 7:09 PM on May 28, 2021

Using that AWACs plane as a command center instead of some moodily-lit basement or whatever was inventive, I guess. Otherwise, meh.
posted by emelenjr at 11:40 AM on August 30, 2021

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