I’ve waited for the fall television season to start for many months now — I understand why the writers’ strike had to happen last season, but I was going out of my mind with re-runs.
The day of September 9, 2008, I started feeling impatient. My anxiety was caused by a brief ad I saw a few months ago on Fox. It was a doppelganger for X-Files. Was this a joke?
Had I accidentally switched from my 400th viewing ofWhen Harry Met Sally toSaturday Night Live?Then I saw J.J. Abrams’ name… my curiosity was piqued. Would this new show send my brain into a tailspin likeLost?Would there be a sense of fragile innocence that wrapped around the main characters like in Felicity? Would action sequences be present and be as taut as they were in Alias?
I rushed through my work that day, feverishly typing away. I banished the children to the living room — “Please let me Mommy work quietly, okay?” They looked at me and laughed suspiciously as they ran from my office. I slept with one eye open that night. 7.59 PM. I pushed my office chair away from the desk and tripped across school uniforms, railroad tracks, and a lonely stuffed squid.
I ran down our small hallway and plopped myself onto the sofa, clearing away toys and pillows. I yelled over to the husband, “It’s about to start!” I quieted the kids as they walked glumly into their room. I sat back, gripping the throw blanket in my fists. Was I going to regret wasting the next hour and a half of my life or was I going to joyfully succumb to another J.J. Abrams masterpiece?
Fringe was explosive from the beginning. A stormy night, an international flight out of Hamburg — you’re bound to elicit screams — deteriorating skin and vomitous (is this a word or did I just imagine it?) projectile.
Nice. Anna Torv, the Australian actress portraying protagonist and FBI agent Olivia Dunham, looks eerily like Cate Blanchett. I didn’t want to like her, but there was something, for lack of a better word, intriguing about her. There’s a desperation and imbalance that wraps around her and it’s… seductive.
I was surprised to see Pacey from Dawson’s Creek. I didn’t want to like Joshua Jackson and his Peter Bishop character either, and I thought my wish was coming true. He was abrupt, brash, and was given these one-liner’s that perhaps were meant to break-up the pace or tension in a scene, but it was getting downright annoying.
But he softened a little 3/4 of the way into the show. He’s matured quite a lot since his Dawson days. Handsome, brooding, gritty, speculative; the jury is still out on him, but I’m sure I’ll be won over after a few episodes.
Jack Deveraux from the ever corrupt world ofDays of Our Lives also makes a home onFringe. I was crushing on Mark Valley when he was on Days back in the mid and late 90s. Didn’t I see him in a trailer for Swingtown on CBS? Hmmm… anyway, he was mysterious on the premiere show and I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of him.
The return ofThe Days and Nights of Molly Dodd? I was excited to see the wonderful Blair Brown in the role of Nina Sharp, a powerful woman who may be on the dark side. I can’t wait to see what cards she holds in her hands.
The mesmerizing Lance Reddick from HBO’s The Wire portrays Phillip Broyles, a Homeland Security agent whose determination to figure out “The Pattern” causes him to choose Agent Dunham for his team. There’s something more to Agent Broyles than what I’ve seen in the first few episodes. What’s his relationship with Nina Sharp? Does he know more than he’s letting on?
The first episode was brimming with science, action, romance, deception. I was fighting the appeal, but just barely.
Since that first episode, the husband and I have eagerly awaited each new Fringe show. It’s definitely unique, although I can’t help run correlations to House at times with Fringe’s slew of medical mysteries. Of course, these mysteries are compounded by underlying perplexities that the audience catches a glimpse of in every episode. It’s difficult to ignore the intrigue.
Who is the man with no eyebrows? What is the mysterious missile-looking object that burrows itself into the ground? What is “the Pattern” that shows up in every episode?
I found John Noble’s pivotal character of Dr. Walter Bishop a bit unwieldy at first. There was too much to focus on — Dr. Bishop is a brilliant scientist, but his mind has fogged because of a 17-year stay in a mental institution following the death of an assistant.
Yet, throughout the first episode, we see an inkling of Dr. Bishop’s gifted mind. Each episode has been linked directly to Dr. Bishop’s past scientific experiments and it is this past that engages us.After a few episodes, Noble’s character is more concrete and I feel more comfortable watching him.
The show’s title is based on fringe science, science that is outside the mainstream and is highly speculative such as research and studies about ESP, mind-manipulation, and the power of prayer over sickness. Just like this definition, Fringe is outside the mainstream of any show that is currently on television right now.
I’ve been reeled in by the show’s intricate characters. I want to know everything about them — why are they the way they are now? What motivates them to find answers besides the obvious curiosity — is it for the recognition of an absent father, the agony of knowing that someone you loved has betrayed you in ways that you did not think possible? The characters all have an agenda, but to what end?
There are conspiracies at work within the show that weave the characters’ lives together. Watching Fringe is like laying in your bed at night and staring at your closet that is slightly ajar — is there actually something in there to frighten you or is it just a figment of your imagination?
CouldFringe be better than my belovedX-Files? Could I ever escape trying to find parallels between these shows? As I sit here contemplating these silly questions, I realize it doesn’t matter. You can feel Abram’s obvious influences from television shows of the past, butFringe is tantalizing and unique. It can stand on its own.
Touché, Abrams. Touché.
FRINGE, Tuesdays on FOX at 9PM
GRADE: B+ (this grade would be higher, but with Abrams’ past shows, the characters became more developed and the writing got even stronger as the season continued. I know Fringe will take this same path and I’ll probably give it an A+ by the end of the season).
Pic of the Day: Proudly and handsomely sporting his new tie