Now that the first season is over and done with, how did Fox’s attempt at a contemporary X-Files fare? Better than I expected. Coming from the men behind the new (and in my opinion, best) Star Trek movie, Fringe shares more than a passing similarity to Fox’s previous sci-fi procedural.
There’s the FBI and there’s wild and crazy shit happening. What separates Fringe of Files, though, is its underlying serialized nature. Sure, X-Files had the whole Mulder’s sister being abducted story but it meandered over nine seasons and never really resolved. Here you can tell Abrams, Orci and Kurtzman have a very specific idea they want to hit and these seemingly random ‘cases of the week’ all add up to something bigger, and even crazier than Abrams other batshit crazy series, Lost. If you haven’t seen the ending, or the show, yet I’ll be getting into spoilers…..now.
Fringe has a dense mythology. Not too shabby for what started off as a monster of the week type of fare. In fact, I almost stopped watching early on because it didn’t seem to be leading anywhere. Just random shit happening every week and the heroes come in a solve the case. Pretty much a sci-fi CSI and nothing more.
But then at around episode nine or ten, you realize that almost everything that’s happened mattered! You realize these strange events are being set up by a shady organization preparing to battle some sort of extra-dimensional war. That children had been doped with drugs to become soldiers in this war. That the grotesqueries happening in the Boston region was all a giant power grab by a disgruntled scientist.
Once the show revealed its hand, I was pretty much hooked. It helps that the show also has one of the better casts on TV. Anna Torv as Special Agent (are all FBI agents special?) Dunham is convincing, though she did have a slow start. It’s nice watching Torv grow into the role. Joshua Jackson is surprisingly fun to watch as Peter Bishop. Snarky, nihilistic and sarcastic. He just might erase his constant tag as “that guy from Dawson’s Creek” yet! Most notable, though, is John Noble as the crazy, forgetful and in a weird way adorable Walter Bishop. Some may find his constant non-sequiturs and irrelevant comments off putting, but I ate it up. He brings a lightness to every scene without being cheesy.
While the best new show on TV, it’s not without its flaws. For one, it seems almost every case is solved with Walter remembering some obscure past experiment he had tinkered with. Takes away investigative ingenuity when you have a walking deus ex machina. There’s also some very questionable plot points. The fact that Leonard Nimoy’s William Bell is currently inhabiting an entirely different dimension is a relatively tough pill to swallow. Even the X-Files didn’t get this crazy. Not even Lost’s time travelling is this crazy. I’m not quite sure if this is a good crazy or a jumping the shark crazy yet.
Still, it’s a great show, and seeing that Fox has already greenlit a full second season new viewers can go in knowing the story will be continuing, while those who were around since the beginning like me feel fulfilled and can eagerly anticipate the fall.