The Olympics are currently dominating prime-time hours - but let’s be honest, we need something to break up the monotony of Michael Phelps winning all those medals. Now is the time to pick up a new show and marathon 4 seasons to prepare for the fall premier!
Fringe is for Everyone
Do you enjoy watching attractive people engage in action adventure situations? Are you drawn in by emotionally complex and compelling relationships? When you hear witty dialogue, does your heart skip a beat? Is it satisfying for you when a show answers the questions it raises?
Then Fringe is for you!
Do you generally have plans on Friday nights other than watching TV?
Well, we may have identified the reason you are not already a Fringe fan.
Fringe is sort of a modern day X-Files, but with a very different mythology, partner dynamic, and its own distinct themes. The show focuses on an FBI team investigating “fringe” events - cases that involve incidents inexplicable by mainstream scientific knowledge. The first two seasons consist almost entirely of procedural style episodes, but every one contains hints that lay the groundwork for the serialized elements of the later seasons.
After the heartrendingly shallow conclusion of the Lost finale, Fringe’s careful plotting and quick pacing comes as a relief. Instead of continually raising new perplexities and only giving the audience the occasional vague, cryptic explanation; Fringe began answering its own questions in the second season and then shifted from those reveals to even more intriguing mysteries. Walter Bishop’s (John Noble) connection, as the mad scientist whose obscure research in the 70s and 80s seems to have influenced the emerging pattern of “fringe events”, injects every case with a sense of personal investment for each of the central characters. Immediately establishing the existence of a pattern and Walter’s association to it has allowed a mythology to grow organically.
Following the first few episodes there is no question that strange, “other-worldly” occurrences are possible, (in the pilot episode the protagonist psychically communicates with her comatose partner); conflicts arise from how suspects implement these phenomena. For instance, if someone discovers a way to time travel, can that knowledge be used ethically? While the scenarios aren’t exactly ripped from the headlines the themes of terrorism, national security, and the relationship between scientific advancement and the evolution of ethical standards certainly resonate with current events.
Powerful character relationships elevate the show beyond standard sci-fi fare. Romantic entanglements are poignant and inventive. The writers have managed to maintain romantic tension without drawing out a forced will-they/won’t-they situation. Peter’s (Joshua Jackson) charming sincerity and Olivia’s (Anna Torv) introspective and cautious nature somehow overcome the cliche of partners falling in love. Seeing their relationship blossom is engaging, but Walter and Peter Bishop’s father/ son dynamic is the show’s true emotional core. Their family history is perhaps the most complicated on the current television landscape. Walter’s missing memories and Peter’s attempts to connect with his inscrutable father are somewhat analogous to losing a parent to Alzheimer’s disease. It is fascinating to watch the two struggle to build trust, even as they continuously uncover the damage Walter’s ego-maniacal research has caused.
Fringe has gained a strong cult following by cloaking its varied philosophical musings in a reliable procedural style. It’s thought provoking, humorous, heart-wrenching, and manages to deliver a few original twists for even the most cynical of television viewers. Give the Fringe team a chance and you’ll have something to root for when the London games end.
Fringe airs on FOX, Fridays at 9pm, returning September 29th