Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fringe Season 1, a Review

It's no wonder that I love Fringe.  The show, created by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, is about a team of investigators that solve crimes using "fringe science."  I describe it as X-Files meets CSI meets LOST meets Twilight Zone.  It's gruesome, sometimes disturbing, nail-bitingly tense, and often graphic, but it's one of my favorite shows out there now.

Part of the appeal is the pervasive mystery that grows with each episode.  While LOST was built on questions without answers, Fringe is built on questions with answers.  Each episode follows a typical pattern, starting with an off-POV that ends up with somebody dead.  The rest of the show deals with the investigators trying to solve the case.  However, since the cases are things that aren't generally in the realm of possibility, special investigators do the work.

FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) works with the infamous scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) to understand better what's going on and stop any more deaths.  Walter is one of the most famous scientists in the world, and the show begins with him sitting inside St. Claire's Asylum, where he's been prisoner for seventeen years after the accidental death of his lab assistant.  His work in the fringe science field has him released in lieu of his cooperation with the newly created Fringe Division.

What sort of crimes are we talking about here that fall within Fringe Division?  Crimes that are related to something called the Pattern.  For example, the pilot episode begins with an international flight landing in Boston and everyone on board dead, decayed and rotted away into foul looking blobs of flesh and blood.  Or maybe people crystallizing.  Or turning into monsters.  Whatever the case, the crimes are unnatural, a particular predilection of Walter's.

And even though the mysteries of the Pattern and its webs are highly entertaining and interesting, the even greater joy of Fringe is the characters.  Walter Bishop is hilarious.  He's crazy and says the most random things at the most random times, and his ability to think (ir)rationally--often aloud--makes for many memorable quotes.  Also, the relationship between Peter and his father is strained and awkward, perfect fodder for a television drama, and I enjoy watching it change and grow.  Dunham, arguably the shows protagonist, is also an interesting character, though she sometimes comes across as shallow and lacking.

While most episodes fall neatly into a predictable formula, the show is still an absolute blast to watch.  What's more is that Keisha has even fallen in love with the show, and I daresay she enjoys it as much as I.  We'll laugh at something Walter's said or muse at what's going to happen next.  It's great having another show to watch together like this.  Fringe is not LOST, even if Michael Giacchino* wants you to think it is, but it's similar enough that fans of the Island's mysteries would likely enjoy the show, and haters of the Island's lack of answers would be satisfied, too.

If you're looking for something to throw on your DVD queue (or ask your public library to purchase), then I recommend Fringe.  It's been delightfully freaky and amusingly tense, hitting all the right notes at the right times. 

*There's quite a bit of very similar sounding music making up the score for both shows, and some re-use, even.


Anonymous said...

enjoyed this review.

we started to watch this show, but drifted away. May have to try it again this summer with all the shows we watch now reaching finale, and with our getting almost caught up with House.

~L (omphaloskepsis)

David Wagner said...

I couldn't get through the pilot. I guess I'm too squeamish. The guy with the translucent skin was freaky... then he was healed and became normal again? Umm... yeah...

I liked the old dude, though. He's a good character...

logankstewart said...

@L: Thanks! Enjoy the show if you get back into it.

@Dave: The show doesn't hold back on blood & guts, that's for sure. And yes, the "old dude" is an excellent character. ;)

Anonymous said...

Just finished watching season 1 what a great show!

logankstewart said...

@Anony: Oh yes it is. It's in its fifth and final season now, and the show is just awesome. Keep on watching!