TV Series Review: FRINGE – Season 1 (2008)
J. J. Abrams is a smart guy. I mean at a time when Reality Shows dominated, starting with SURVIVOR, Abrams took the exact same concept of people being stranded on an island, and fictionalized it into the hit TV series LOST. He did the same by reinventing a tired monster movie genre and showing it from the perspective of handy cam footage, by blending both BLAIR WITCH and GODZILLA, into the unique CLOVERDALE. He even did a decent 3rd MISSION IMPOSSIBLE film.
So when he again takes a recognized concept of an FBI team investigating strange supernatural cases… it works brilliantly.
J. J. Abrams, known now as the awesome director who re-invented STAR TREK for a new generation, also gives us one of the greatest TV shows on television right now, in the form of FRINGE. Imagine a show that has inspiration deep rooted in THE X-FILES mixed with ALIAS and you get a mind bending concept of science fiction television show.
Starring almost unknowns, besides Joshua Jackson, ( who will be known for his critically acclaimed performance as Pacey in DAWSON’S CREEK. *cringe* ) FRINGE boasts of an old idea, and spins it with a great original take, with some technologically advanced tidbits.
A strange case of terrorism gets FBI liaison Olivia Dunham involved when her partner and lover falls victim to a strange disease. Tracing the roots of the phenomenon, she realizes the only person to help her is a former scientist, incarcerated in mental institution, here’s the kicker, who can only be released to next of kin.
Introduce Joshua Jackson’s Peter Bishop, who is a very well educated con man boasting of genius level IQ. Add to that the fact that his father and the resident expert of all things weird, Dr. Walter Bishop, has been driven mad by being in the mental institution all these years. Irony. It’s a bitch.
Basically the character of Walter Bishop is a scientist who dabbled in weird, experimental science in the 70’s. And strangely, the terrorist activities and cases that take place in FRINGE, are somewhat related to his previous work.
So we’ve got an emotionally invested FBI Agent, a senile, genius modern day Dr. Frankenstein with a con man son/babysitter… toss all that together and you’ve got an AWESOME show.
Elements of the FRINGE are taken right from THE X-FILES, but expands on the technological progress that’s been made in science fiction in the last 20 years. All cases and sci-fi elements are explained with a realistic basis, outrageous as it may be.
Season 1 deals with the establishing of strange events and acts of terrorism, dubbed ‘The Pattern’ by the FBI, and how these 3 characters are recruited for their willingness and expertise in solving these cases, into a unit. The title of the show stems from the area of science that isn’t considered be completely defunct and groundless… basically all the stuff great Sci Fi shows/movies/book are made of. Paranormal activity, telepathy, teleportation, etc… also known as ‘Fringe Science’.
FRINGE follows a formulaic, procedural show format. Meaning that each episode deals with a specific conflict which is resolved by the episode’s end. In Season 1, there is only a slightly loose long-arcing storyline that spans the whole season. However, with a specific recap in the beginning of those special episodes, a viewer can jump right in without missing much of a beat. The show has been created not to become too overly complicated for a new viewer, as exposition within the dialogue recaps things for a new audience as well.
The long running arc of Season 1 is the fact that a mysterious group of people are using the world as a lab for their crazy ass insane experiments, which through no coincidence, Dr. Bishop has a lot of familiarity with. No. 1 suspect is William Bell, former colleague and now tech billionaire.
FRINGE works as a wicked science fiction show dealing with some great elements that haven’t been tackled too widely in TV shows. Sure a lot of movies depict alternate realities and all, and some episodes of long running sci-fi shows have been dedicated to that idea. But an entire show with that concept at its core, hasn’t been done too much. Oh no, I’ve said too much.
J. J. Abrams, along with writers Orci and Kurtzman do a great job at keeping each episode wildly fast paced. I don’t think there’s any episode of FRINGE that can be described as ‘slow’.
FRINGE is an awesome show with some great performances by unknowns and revitalizes the genre for a whole new generation. Any fan of X-FILES or THE TWILIGHT ZONE has to be into FRINGE.