Opening scene of nervous passengers on a plane? Check. Creepy music? Check. Unexplained phenomena? Check.
Wait, was I watching Lost? Not at all. Fringe is just the latest creation from the mind of J.J. Abrams. Some may call it recycling, but if it works on one show, why not transfer it to another?
That being said, Fringe is no Lost. While the pilot episode had me intrigued and willing to tune in next week, it didn’t amaze me the way the Lost pilot did four years ago. Read on for my assessment of the pilot.
(I’ve tried to keep things spoiler free, so if you’re trying to decide whether or not to watch the show, it should be safe to continue reading.)
Things to Love
- The X-Files vibe – There has been a large hole in the television landscape since Mulder and Scully ran off into the sunset. Lost only partially fills this hole, but Fringe has the potential to follow proudly in the footsteps of my favorite sci-fi show. The X-Files dealt more with other worldly mysteries, so Fringe’s investigations into the outer limits of science and technology is somewhat different. However, the tone is still the same: unsettling, fascinating, sometimes gory and horrific. (Does anyone remember that X-Files episode about the human-sized parasite that lived in the sewers and attacked people? Yikes!)
- The Opening Scene – This aspect of the show really did borrow heavily from Lost, but with a very different end result. These airplane passengers didn’t have it so good as the Losties who crash landed on a mysterious island. Instead, a supposed insulin injection pen and one very nervous passenger set off a lightning fast epidemic that was both frightening and disgusting (the special effects were very realistic).
- Pacey is back! – Oh, I’m sorry. I mean Joshua Jackson. It’s just that I’ve only known him as Pacey Witter, best friend to Dawson and boyfriend to Joey, on Dawson’s Creek. Pacey would feel right at home on this show, aside from the strange happenings. In fact, Jackson’s character, Peter Bishop, could be an all grown up Pacey, with his fast, smooth talking ways. The only difference is Peter has a genius IQ, whereas Pacey was always a little intellectually-challenged. Anyway, I like Peter Bishop, and Jackson is great for the part. (Does anyone else think that Jackson is like a 20-something version of George Clooney?)
- The Mad Scientist – That would be Dr. Walter Bishop, played convincingly by John Noble. Fans of 24 may remember him best as Anatoly Markov, the Russian president in Season 6. Here he is great as the sometimes brilliantly lucid, sometimes mad as a hatter, father of Peter Bishop who has been institutionalized for over 15 years. It will be interesting to learn more about why he was institutionalized, but for now his main purpose is to assist Olivia Dunham in her investigations. He also provides a certain amount of comic relief – his strange requests included ginger ale and a cow. I liked the moment where he and his new lab assistant, Astrid, were sitting with the cow, eating Chinese food. I like that he has a basement lab, too. Seems appropriate.
- The Surprises – I suspected that things were “too good to be true” for Olivia and her secret FBI lover John, so I wasn’t surprised when he was injured and exposed to unknown toxic substances. But I was surprised by several things about this storyline after that, most notably his appearance and things not being what they seemed. There were other unexpected moments as well. The chase of the suspect was almost Matrix-esque, with all the leaping over buildings and such.
- The Creative Moments – I like the way certain scenes were filmed. When Olivia was injured in the blast at the storage facility, the screen went white, and we experienced what she experienced, as she went in and out of consciousness, to flashes of light and muddled voices. Also interesting and different was the scene in which Olivia “makes contact” with John from her drug-induced consciousness awakening in the water tank.
The Verdict Is Still Out
- Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham – She seems to be rather new on the tv scene, and since I am familiar with most of the other actors on the show, she is starting off with a disadvantage. I like her and her character okay, but need to see more to form a better opinion.
- The Love Connection – I don’t think this is the kind of show that needs to create a romantic angle to its lead characters. I’m talking about the long, lingering looks between Olivia and Peter. First of all, Olivia has just had her love life shattered by a series of unsettling revelations. Second of all, they have some important work to do! I don’t think there’s time for the distraction of an office romance.
- The Conspiracy – I was always able to overlook the problems with the X-Files conspiracy theories, because the show itself was so intriguing. Fringe has the potential to do the same, but it may also be capable of creating a conspiracy that makes sense, since its grounded in the pseudo-realities of science and technology. The trail of clues seems to begin at Massive Dynamic, with creepy mechanical arm lady, Nina Sharp. Massive Dynamic is another similarity to Lost (the Dharma Initiative) even down to the ad that followed the show. I’m willing to run with it, for now.
So, all in all, Fringe is a show with an intriguing premise and the potential to keep viewers mesmerized. What did those of you who watched the pilot think of it?