Say the name J.J. Abrams, and you’re likely to receive a variety of reactions from those in various parts of geekdom. Some folks consider him the slayer of all that is good and holy in the Star Trek universe, and they are more than glad to tell you about it… (“The Butcher of Vulcan.” Really?) Others would probably carry him on his very own violet sedan chair, and they are called fanbois as a result of this level of unwavering devotion. Somewhere in between these two extremes are those who just love the work of his production company: The one and only–Bad Robot.
Why do the shows produced by this entertainment singularity draw such loyal and passionate audiences? Other than great casting, superb props and effects, phenomenal music, and compelling stories; it all boils down to the fact that these worlds are tailor-made for geeks. The detail level and continuity achieved with the stories and sets are touches that do not go unnoticed, and these aspects add to the replay value for the shows. For instance:
- A character who has been tortured in one episode isn’t going to magically be all right during the next one: Signs of injury are still in place.
- Mysteries are created, languages are developed, and characters come to life with cool quirks that a geek audience can identify with.
- Objects gain a special meaning for those who pay attention.
- One show will work in easter eggs from other Bad Robot shows.
- That background may have a reason to give it a closer look…
Here are some of the best of the “necessary extras,” that adds to the geek world-building value of four popular Bad Robot shows.
(Please note the potential for spoilers.)
(Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, and John Noble)
This is my all-time favorite television show, so I may be a bit biased; but there are so many things to geek over!
Glyphs – Symbols that display during breaks. There is a code that forms words for each episode. The forms also appear as hidden easter eggs during each episode.
Observers – Who would have thought that these bald, hairless watchers—seen at least once in the background of every episode—would end up being a pivotal aspect of the show? They even have their own written language that fans were able to cipher.
Red Vines – Walter Bishop’s snack of choice and the licorice shows up in many creative ways. Be prepared for a candy to make you cry.
Violet Sedan Chair – A band that was specially created for the show. There was even an actual vinyl album that was produced (it’s really good), and copies were hidden in record stores across the country. (Plus, the band’s keyboard player was played by Christopher Lloyd.)
White Tulip – This is THE most important reoccurring symbol in the show. You’ll see why, and you will never look at one of these flowers the same again. (To a lesser degree, the same could be said for dandelions.)
Clues - There will always be a clue hidden in each episode, that gives a hint about the plot of the next one.
Homages – Walter Bishop and his “Doctor Jacoby” glasses.
The entire alternate universe – I don’t want to give it all away, but trust me: The differences are fun and out of this world. “Over There,” The West Wing ran at least 12 seasons, and they have a Broadway musical called, “Dogs.”
(I am not even going to attempt to list this entire stellar ensemble cast.)
The Numbers – A sequence that shows up everywhere in this series. But it is really cool to find out what this sequence really means.
Apollo Bars – Nom. (You’ll also see these in Once Upon a Time, a show produced by Lost vets) There are tons of other fictional companies, too.
Dharma – Who are these people? Just wait until you find out…
Anagrams – Just like with numbers, it is fun to pay attention to slogans and names. They may spell out a clue, or just something cool.
Reversed audio – Yes, fans are that obsessive, and it pays off.
Connections – The ways that these people’s lives intersect is a wonderful puzzle that comes together. Bad Robot’s shows all deal with human connections, and the impact that we have on each other.
Person of Interest
(Michael Emerson and James Caviezel)
While this show has maintained less focus on a larger mythology, the elements have really built up over the past two seasons,
Nods to Fringe were found here, and there are some Lostisms dropped here and there. I’m sure that there will be more interesting tidbits when the show returns to CBS this fall for its third season.
(Billie Burke, Elizabeth Mitchell, Giancarlo Esposito, David Lyons, Tracy Spiridakos, and Zac Orth)
There are tons of nods to Stephen King’s “The Stand” and “The Dark Tower” series in NBC’s Revolution.
At first, there were references to the characters Stu Redman and Frannie. Then the name of one of the main antagonists was revealed to be Randall Fla… I mean Flynn. These references really hit full stride when the heroes had to locate a place referred to as “The Tower,” and an episode was actually named, “The Stand.” (Which totally makes me thrilled, as this is my favorite book.) A map revealed a part of the former U.S. known as “The Wastelands, and the term “Shawshanked” was used to describe what could happen in prison.
One can’t help but to think about the computers that were in Lost, as well.
On the Horizon
This fall, FOX will air Almost Human, and NBC has Believe lined up on its schedule. Both of these Bad Robot shows definitely appear to be worth checking out for some excellent geek entertainment.