“Fringe” (2008)

Not just another X-Files knock-off. Really.

Before that damnable show went off the air 6 years ago, all of the major broadcast networks — NBC, ABC and CBS each tried to catch some of Chris Carter’s alt.conspiracy.ufo fire.

Fringe ‘s distinction is that the show is hard science-fiction, a rare event for network television — HARD science-fiction , is based on real science, not fantasy, not urban mythology and not old Saturday matinée fare. Though there are plenty of whiz-bang moments in there, most of the spectacle on Fringe is derived from current available technology.

One of Fringe ‘s few shortcomings is its superficial resemblance to the X-Files . During the pilot, Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Australian actress Anna Torv) and Special Agent John Scott (Mark Valley) of the FBI are called out to investigate the mysterious circumstances where a plane full of passengers is all evacuated by a flesh-melting virus.

After investigating the plane, the Agents are led to a storage unit rented by one of the passengers thought responsible for the downed plane. Scott is infected by the biological agent and Agent Dunham is required to enlist the assistance of noted ‘Fringe’-scientist, Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), who’s been locked-up in an asylum for the past 17 years.

That’s where the X-Files similarities end, because Fringe is not a Mulder/Scully ‘shipper show, but an ensemble show that rounds out with the son of Dr Noble, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick), and actors Kirk Acevedo and Blair Brown in supporting roles.

While the X-Files was content to meander into the occult, urban legends and UFO lore, Fringe remains firmly planted in the realm of viable, cutting-edge, so-called fringe-science While I can’t vouch for the ‘ Altered States ‘-like sensory-deprivation tank, the flesh-eating virus, the gas attacks and the genetically-engineered parasite of subsequent episodes are all currently viable technologies.

That said, Torv, Jackson and Noble are compelling character-actors who fill out an hour’s wort of television in interesting ways — Jackson and Noble have and ongoing Father-Son shtick, while Torv’s character has ongoing encounters with the bits of Scott’s personality that were left behind in her head after the aforementioned isolation-tank experience.

Let’s hope the show maintains it’s strong ratings when the show returns in January ’09.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

2 Responses to ““Fringe” (2008)”

  1. It looks like you can catch all the full episodes online for free if you miss the TV broadcast at http://www.fox.com/fringe/
    The thing is at least on the episode I watched there was the same truck commercial every 10 minutes.

  2. I gave Fringe my standard 3 hours I give to a new drama before I make a judgment (well, in this case 4 since the first ep. was 2 hours). Maybe it just got started too slowly but I wasn’t grabbed. The antagonistic relationship between Dunham and her boss was too ramped up; the science geek father professor just a little too whoo-whoo out there; the global conspiracy theory too much to swallow in an era of corporations that can’t even manage to make a profit and what seems like a 26hr news cycle churning constantly to give us the latest and greatest.

    That said, recent episodes have looked more intriguing so perhaps I’ll take another look.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment