When The X-Files went off the air in 2002, I was a bit sad. It had been on the air for nine years, and it was my favorite show through every one of those years. Admittedly, it lasted a few years longer than it probably should have, but it was still my show.
At that time, I thought that I would never care about a show as much as I did about The X-Files. Boy, was I wrong!
A little over a year ago, I discovered this show called Fringe. As followers of this blog know, I’m a big fan of science fiction, especially in movies and television. Before I started watching Fringe, I had heard a bit about the show and it intrigued me. So I decided to give it a try and I requested the first season from our catalog. I was hooked from the very beginning.
Here is the basic premise of the show -- FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) needs the help of Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), an eccentric scientist. Dunham needs Bishop to save the life of her partner, John Scott (Mark Valley), who has been exposed to some unknown chemical agent in an explosion.
The problem is that Dr. Bishop has been in a mental institution for the past 17 years, after the accidental death of his lab assistant, and can only be released by the authorization of a relative. That relative would be Walter's wayward son, Peter (Joshua Jackson).
Olivia finds Peter in Iraq, trying to complete a "deal" with some Iraqi businessmen. She convinces him that he has to return with her, even though he has no desire to reunite with a father he hasn't seen in 17 years. Peter, unfortunately, has no choice (Olivia uses a bit of blackmail to convince him).
Olivia informs Peter that his father has been involved in an area of science known as "fringe" science since the 1970s, mostly working on projects for the U.S. government. (Peter, for his part, had always believed that Walter did research for a toothpaste company.)
The trio eventually becomes part of a team working for the FBI, investigating unexplained events that may or may not be related to something called the Pattern. As the story continues, relationships will form and secrets will be revealed. We will learn more about the Pattern and how it relates to Olivia, Walter, and Peter.
As much as I love the sci-fi and supernatural element of this show, what sets it apart from so many other shows are the characters. I agree with how Jeff Pinkner, one of the showrunners for most of its 5-year run, described the show: it's "very much like a family drama masquerading as a science fiction [show]." It's really all about family. These three people form the center of this family unit and the show explores how that family unit functions through these bizarre events happening around them.
While the writers have created a group of complex and believable characters, the actors have made them so very real. All the actors have done a remarkable job, but unfortunately, none of them have been recognized for their work. (Science fiction and other genre shows tend to get overlooked by the major awards shows.)
Coming from the creative team of J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Trek) and Bad Robot, Fringe debuted on Fox on September 9, 2008, to great fanfare. The pilot that aired that night was a big, expensive thriller -- reportedly made with a $10 million budget. Three months prior to the air date, the pilot was leaked on the internet (intentional or not, who knows). This, of course, created even more interest.
The original intent of the show was to be more episodic and less mythological than Abrams's big hit, Lost. And, while Fringe did introduce elements of a serialized storyline, it was definitely more episodic than Lost. Actually, it was rather like The X-Files, in the sense that most episodes were a freak-of-the-week type. The writers were slowly developing and revealing parts of the back stories of these characters, but "slowly" is the operative word. About halfway through that first season, they just decided to move away from episodic storytelling and have a more serialized storyline.
Unfortunately, the ratings did not remain high once the writers went in the new direction. But the fans they had stuck with them through it all. Through their first four seasons, Fringe was always on the brink of cancellation. But these fans (or "Fringies," as they like to call themselves) were a determined bunch, and were always coming up with new ways to show support for their show. Kevin Reilly, president of Fox Television, has admitted that he received 200 cases of Red Vines from fans in 2011. (Red Vines are the favorite snack of one of the characters on the show).
If you've noticed, I haven't said much more about what happens on the show after the pilot episode. That was intentional. If you want to see where the story goes over the five seasons it was on the air, you can check out many sites devoted to the show. But to truly appreciate the twists and turns and surprises that the wonderful group of writers came up with, you just need to watch it.
-- Request the first season of Fringe here
-- Request the second season of Fringe here
-- Request the third season of Fringe here
-- Request the fourth season of Fringe here
-- Post by Tracy