In this weird TV season, Fringe has been one of the few shows to get any buzz — partially because of the talent involved, partially because it leaked online, and partially because it's one of the only pilots critics got to see. With the 95-minute first episode out of the way, I can't wait to hear what you all made of it. Is it the next great sci-fi show — or a ripoff of The X-Files and all others that came before it?
A couple of nonspoilery thoughts first: I think Fringe would have been fine with a regular hour-long pilot. Parts of this supersized episode dragged for me — though, granted, the draggy parts were sandwiched between a strong opening and a ridiculously action-packed ending. Also, if there's a hero of the episode for me, it's Joshua Jackson. His character, Peter, is a genius with a gambling problem, daddy issues, and a sarcastic attitude. And he's also a total badass! He takes down a key suspect by punching him in the face, then elicits a confession by crushing the dude's hand with a coffee mug. He's the most fun character to watch so far.
Now, to talk about the mysteries of Fringe, just read more.
So, here's what (I think) we know so far: There's this thing called The Pattern, a bunch of incidents happening worldwide that involve various bits of fringe science: chemical compounds that dissolve flesh; people coming out of comas and suddenly writing down top-secret codes; children disappearing then reappearing years later without having aged a day. The flight from Hamburg to Boston that kicks off the episode is one of them, and that's how Olivia Dunham gets herself roped into the story — but her boyfriend and partner was already somehow involved, and that will be one of our mysteries going forward. There's also a possibly evil corporation (Massive Dynamic) that may be responsible for some of these scientific developments, and its leader once shared a lab with Dr. Bishop, providing the link that ties everyone together.
A few things that jumped out at me:
- Maybe it was intentional, but Dr. Bishop seemed to veer between being harmlessly daffy and completely off his rocker. Did practicing science help restore his sanity? Because the guy who peed his pants and had a scalpel-shoving outburst seemed wildly different from the one who cheerfully watched Spongebob Squarepants while eating Chinese food with a cow.
- Regardless, he's good comic relief in addition to being a mad scientist. "The only thing better than a cow is a human. Unless you need milk. Then you really need a cow."
- Olivia, on the other hand, gets some really cringey lines. "I just want to go back to before"? Ugh.
- After Joshua Jackson, my second-favorite actor/character so far is Blair Brown as Nina Sharp. She's completely chilling — I get shivers when I think about her saying "question him" — and she's got one of the coolest robotic arms I've seen in a while (I guess that's what a $10 million pilot budget will buy you). The Massive Dynamic plot line in general is a big draw for me; I do love a good global conspiracy.
- Another breakout star: Jean the cow. Heh.
- How do you think that big budget panned out special effects-wise? The translucent skin looked pretty fake to me, but the stuff on the plane was more realistically gory. On the low-tech end, I loved the old-school look of Bishop's Harvard lab. Were those Bunsen burners and beakers I spotted?
- I know Fringe is a series we're not supposed to overthink, but what's with the leaf/frog/apple icons?
Did Fringe do enough to hook you? Or did it seem too much like something you'd seen before?
Photos courtesy of Fox