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Fringe is Chicken Soup for Your Sci-fi Soul October 12, 2008

Posted by Ted in : Fringe, Reviews, Sci-Fi, The X-Files , trackback

 

 

The recipe for Fringe is familiar but comforting. First you take an FBI agent, a mad scientist, and a sardonic sidekick. Put them together in an old laboratory at Harvard, and have them solve various paranormal mysteries which are somehow connected into a larger phenomenon referred to by people in the know as “the pattern”. Their progress is sometimes helped and sometimes impeded by a shadowy megacorporation called Massive Dynamic that seems to already have some of the answers our team is searching for.

Walter Bishop, the eccentric scientist, was sprung from a mental institution by agent Olivia Dunham to aid in an investigation. In addition to working in his lab late at night, he also plays piano and hangs out with a cow and a bald guy who resembles Gary Numan. OK, you got me, he only did that once. Walter reminds me of a certain ex-boss of mine, except that the Fringe character is crazy in an endearing way instead of a mean and psychotic way. Walter’s son, the wisecracking Peter Bishop, acts as his father’s guardian and interpreter, which is a useful skill when the scientist rambles on incoherently about various subjects. Peter is played by Joshua Jackson who you remember from Dawson’s Creek. (Insert your own Katie Holmes joke here. Scientology is a perfectly valid and acceptable lifestyle choice, so don’t come looking for me, guys.)

FBI agent Olivia Dunham plays the straight lady to the Bishops’ father and son comedy routine. She was enticed into the realm of the paranormal after a mysterious disease put her boyfriend into a coma and gave him the complexion of an overripe banana. Dunham was consequently encouraged by her FBI boss to form as ongoing investigative team. I detect a potential love interest between her and Peter. There is some definite Scully-Mulder chemistry going on there.

Another similarity to the Files is that Fringe gets a little gory at times and makes you squirm around in your chair. The second episode was a particularly merciless assault on the squeamish among us. Let’s just say it dealt with the subject of pregnancy gone wrong, and it just got worse from there. I had taped the show on my VCR, and I felt compelled to stop the tape during one scene and fast forward through it. I’ve never been a fan of human suffering, or any other kind for that matter. Seems like one of the writers from the first season of Millennium might have taken over the show for what will hopefully be just one episode.

In spite of Fringe’s cringe factor, the show’s positives vastly outweigh its negatives. In addition to being intelligently written, humorous, and thought provoking, it has the one element necessary for a TV show’s survival: realistic, likable characters. In short, Fringe gets it right, and will hopefully elude the fate of other recent attempts at shows about paranormal investigators, such as the short lived Freaky Links, Miracles, and the blasphemous, unnecessary remake of The Night Stalker.


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Comments»

1. NICKNo Gravatar - October 18, 2008

Fringe is a FANTASTIC show. I must admit, I just started watching The X-Files (I’m on Season 2 Disc 2), but I can totally see why X-Philes are diggin’ Fringe.

Fringe is hands down the best new show on television.

http://thelittlestwinslow.wordpress.com

2. DubeNo Gravatar - November 9, 2008

I’m loving Fringe. Walter is my favorite character. I’m always looking forward to what crazy things he’s going to do or say next.


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