Monday, March 21, 2011

Watched Lately: Fringe

  • Back when Fringe first started, my wife and I decided to try it. A J.J. Abrams take on The X-Files-style weirdness sounded like a good time. Unfortunately, we gave up after four or five episodes because the show failed to hook us. Of course, within a couple weeks we started hearing about how the show had suddenly become really good, but we couldn't go back. We had already missed too much. So after we burned through the most recent season of Supernatural, my wife picked up the first two seasons of Fringe on DVD so that we could see what we missed. We have not been disappointed.

  • Fringe is a classic slow burn. The show juggles so many concepts and plots that it needs time to lay the proper groundwork. The problem is that, no matter how much it is necessary, you end up hiding the best part of your show until everyone is ready for it. A few hours of set up would be fine in a book where that is a hundred pages or in a video game where that is the first couple of levels. For a television show, you are talking about several weeks before you get to the good stuff! That is why the show lost us until we could sit down with a full DVD season set and enjoy it as God intended.

  • (While I'm on the subject, I now believe that all episodic content is an abomination. Television, like comic books, are best enjoyed as a collection. I put up with them in small doses because I have no other choice.)

  • It helps to have the right frame of mind when watching a show like this. If you know what the creators are trying to accomplish, you will have a great chance to connect with the work. Despite all of the detective procedural trappings, Fringe is a mad scientist story like out of the old pulps. Actually, the show wears that distinction out in the open, but it is still nice to see such an old genre find its way back into today's fiction.

  • While all of the high minded plot stuff is the centerpiece of the show, it is great that the small details work as well. John Noble as the mad scientist, Walter Bishop, does an amazing job at portraying all of the conflicting emotions that Walter goes through. From imperious superiority to jovial glee to sad bewilderment, his complexity is a shining part of the show. As well, Joshua Jackson is great as his charmingly roguish son, Peter. If Star Wars were being cast today, he would be on my short list to reprise Harrison Ford's role.

  • After finishing the first season, we took a short break but are already on to the second. Once it got going, Fringe has been well worth the build up. As long as you can get over that initial bump, you won't want to stop either.

© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. Fringe is amazing. I have to say, after being taken on that thoroughly confusing and frustrating mind trip by LOST, I was kinda loath to try anything else on TV that JJ Abrams might be involved with. But in the end, I gave in. Like you, it was the X-Files style of weirdness that first drew me to it, and the first season, despite having a slowish start, ended up blowing me away. I jumped into the second season right away, and again was just floored by the finale.

    I'm quite behind on Season 3 now, but I think what you're saying is just the way with me too -- I can't seem to keep up with anything running on TV. DVD collection is the way I'm going to go as well.

  2. I need to get back to Fringe. For a while I was watching online and enjoying it quite a bit. I'm also right there with you on episodic content. I pretty much only watch shows I can stream online or via DVD now.