Will Fringe Crash and Burn?
Szymon Ryzner | Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Like at least one other J.J. Abrams television program, this one’s pilot episode begins in a plane – a plane in a storm – a plane in a storm with lots screaming passengers. This other show, of course, is the spectacularly popular and consistently disappointing “Lost.” The plot for “Fringe” starts with a mysterious disease that has killed every single passenger on a transatlantic flight. The FBI and the CIA are sent to clear up the mess. Through this we are introduced to the main character, Olivia Dunham, portrayed by relative newcomer to American television, Anna Torv. Though she has mostly worked outside of America, she landed a lead role in the biggest show of Fox’s fall lineup. So there must be something about Anna Torv that J.J. Abrams liked. Some fans may remember other Abrams female leads such as Kerri Russell in “Felicity” and Jennifer Garner in a fairly popular show titled “Alias.” Another welcome addition to this cast is “Dawson’s Creek” alum Joshua Jackson, and the mad Steward of Gondor, John Noble, from “The Return of the King.” The three work well together and will most likely be what keeps the show afloat for the weaker portions of the first season.The first few minutes of the show were the most disappointing. The characters seem almost unaffected by the bizarre occurrences surrounding them and are more interested in exploring a love connection, a weak story line that for some reason was deemed necessary in this premier episode. Cliché upon cliché include mad geniuses, and their sarcastic, bitter, troubled, yet charming and lovable sons. Then we finally get into what the show intends to concentrate on, fringe science. That is the study of mind control, the existence of UFO’s, human resurrection, and various other strange events are planned to form the backbone of the series. It also appears that an overarching story featuring an evil corporation will take precedence every few episodes.Most of the series action will take place in Boston, though the pilot episode also traveled to Iraq and the depths of the human dream state. With ominous floating letters at every location, J.J. Abrams once again proclaimed his fascination with CGI block text. The savior of this premier episode was both the series potential, and the humor which was very welcome and thoroughly enjoyable. The quick-witted characters always had a wise crack about the strange events they were experiencing. The casting choices, albeit very traditional, seemed compelling and worth taking a risk on. The massive cast of “Lost” successfully developed chemistry and “Fringe” should be no different.Though delightfully creepy, and filled to the brink with fantastic potential, the inconsistent acting, sloppy fake beards, and oddly chosen effects might take away from the shows potential success and longevity. J.J. Abrams knows how to create a hit show and “Fringe” no doubt will be a new series to watch. Despite a weak $10,000,000 pilot, the show should return with a strong second episode. Fox has not been known for giving its shows a second chance, but through word of mouth and hopefully minor improvements, “Fringe” could be the “X-Files” for a new generation of those seeking the weird and the fantastical.