‘WATCH IT’ is a new little segment I plan on trying out where I all but beg my fellow outlaws to check out a show that may be flying under the proverbial geek radar. That’s because I like nothing more than to share the things I find entertaining and force you to like what I like.
Kidding on that last part, but you better like it or I’m not gonna be your friend anymore, so THERE!
With that said, every once in a while (approximately two weeks) a TV show comes along that really earns my loyalty, but then seems to get axed quicker than you can say Firefly.
Luckily, Fox’s Friday night sci-fi masterpiece – my words – has managed to hang around the ‘Fringe’ of primetime television again and again, and again… and again.
That’s been music to my mind since it means there are at least a few others out there watching Fox’s Fringe; however, I’m not aware of any of them outside of my mom (and yes she counts as a separate viewing household Nielsen). Nevertheless, as few as we may be, us Fringe folk are a rabid bunch.
Thanks to our loyal grass roots mob mentality efforts, Fringe has been continually renewed – most recentlly for a fifth and final season – despite its low – mediocre ratings the past few years. To put it in perspective though, they weren’t considered horrible as the show has been airing in the always dreaded Friday prime-time slot, when only us hardcore nerds are watching our boob-flat screens. (Does anyone really watch on a tube TV anymore?)
More importantly, Fringe is one of those shows that Fox executives (reportedly) happen to love, thus the network – to their credit – knows a good thing when they see it… this time anyways.
For those outside of my Fringe inner circle, I will provide you with a brief synopsis. The lead of this sci-fi adventure is no-nonsense (but easy on the eyes) by-the-book Bostonian FBI special agent, Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv). Olivia’s world(s) are inevitably turned upside down when she becomes involved in unexplainable cases that will forever change her live(s).
And yes, I’m foreshadowing to events with the use of (s) for plural purposes.
Due to her close connection and can do attitude, she is literally forced to work as the lead agent in a new quasi-secret government division called Fringe. To help her with the scientific aspects of the oddball cases, she recruits the also crazy (she literally pulls him out of a psych ward), yet loveable scientific genius, Walter Bishop (John Noble of LOTR notoriety).
While the arc of the show eventually revolves around Olivia, the Fringe universe(s) work because of Walter. His child-like love of food – especially red licorice - at all times (even during autopsies), and eager attitude to test any new experimental drug on himself is too funny for words. Of course his soft heart and innocent ways make him easily the most likable character.
Of course, due to Walter not knowing how to interact with the rest of society – 17 years in the loony bin can do that to a guy – Olivia also convinces Walter’s estranged son Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) to help keep his dad in a state of sanity to help her solve cases. Although, if you’re a male of any coherent age that’s been approached by Olivia, you’d need as much convincing as Charlie Sheen at a Bachelor party to help ‘check out the talent’.
While it took a while for me to accept that a former Mighty Duck actor was playing a lead role in this series, I forgave Joshua for his sins and ended up taking a liking to the character of Peter after about a season.
(NOTE: I forgive, but I do not forget)
Another Fringe team assistant named Astrid (Jasika Nicole) is also added to the mix, although one can’t t help but determine she was originally added for comic interludes where Walter seems to call her everything but her actual name. Admittedly, it is quite funny, and she eventually grew on me as the series evolved and her part grew.
With the help of Fringe Division Agent Phillip Broyles (LOST semi-regular Lance Reddick) and a possibly evil but maybe not-so-evil corporation called Massive Dynamic, the Fringe team must deal with cases that seem out of this world. However, that is where the show has thus drawn the line.
All of the strange happenings that transpire on Fringe are based in what’s called Fringe science. Like how I bought that all together? The Fringe Wiki defines the science as a Pseudoscience with practices associated with the paranormal.
Per the standard wiki definition, Fringe science is, “a scientific inquiry in an established field of study that departs significantly from mainstream or orthodox theories, and is classified in the ‘fringes’ of a credible mainstream academic discipline.”
In laymen’s terms, if you want to see some weird crap go down, watch this show.
What’s more, Fringe creator J.J. Abrams stated that Fringe was partially inspired by the X-Files, thus the dark atmosphere/FBI special division tandem/weird sci-fi phenomenon theme that is prevalent throughout the series.
There have also been some LOST elements incorporated via the whole ‘lets give the audience a piece of information that raises more questions than it answers’ concept. Although for the most part, Fringe has done a fairly good job of balancing the way answers are distributed.
Fringe doesn’t always give you answers on a silver platter (at first anyway) as it’s definitely a thinking person’s show much the way LOST was.
That’s all I’ going to say about that though… to see what I mean you’ll have to watch it.
As with LOST and the X-Files though, Fringe works because first and foremost, it’s a show about it’s characters and the roles they play in the world(s) around them. The science of the show is fun, but it’s the ideas and concepts that the science presents to the characters that make the show truly addicting.
But no spoilers… you need to watch!
In spite of – in this outlaw’s opinion – a slow start during its first season, Fringe quickly grew on me like a mutated radioactive fungus in Walter’s lab and picked up speed at the end of its first year. Part of this had to do with the inclusion of the ‘is he bad or not’ sci-fi super-star special guest that was cast for the role of Massive Dynamic’s ‘logical’ CEO.
Again, I’m not saying anything more… just watch it!
While I’ve grown attached to all the characters, without a doubt John Noble IS Fringe. He literally steals every episode with at least two hilarious and memorable scenes. His comedic and dramatic portrayal of Walter Bishop raises Fringe up from good watchable fair to the best sci-fi show currently running in any universe.
However, don’t JUST take my word for it… PLEASE just go watch this show… NOW!
Some classic Walterisms, as if you needed further convincing…
(Fringe seasons 1, 2 and 3 are currently available on DVD & Blu-Ray. Season 4 is available on Amazon video on demand along with 1-3 and should be released on DVD during September 2012 before the final 13 episode run of season 5. WATCH IT!)