Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Lost or the X-Files, it ain't. I've been watching JJ Abrams latest series, Fringe, which airs Tuesdays at 9:00 on Fox, and four episodes in, I feel like I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. To put it as simply as possible, Fringe is Abrams take on the X-Files, replete with FBI agents, government experiments, and a mysterious connection of unexplained paranormal and technologically related occurrences known as "the pattern."

Thus far, the show has been enjoyable, but hardly what I'd call "must see tv." For one, the pace of the mystery is maddeningly slow, as each episode has piled on more questions without giving any answers. Mystery and the unexplained are fine, but the premise of the show, what we've been told from day one, is that these random, seemingly unconnected events are all connected to the mysterious "pattern," and we've yet to be given even any inkling of what the big picture actually is.

And perhaps more importantly, as my wife has pointed out, the show seems to lack the heart and soul of Lost and the strong characters of the X-Files. The only character of any real substance is John Noble (Denethor in Return of the King) as Dr. Walter Bishop, a former research scientist who had spent the last 17 years of his life in a mental institution. Joshua Jackson plays Walter's son, Peter, and the father-son pairing has some great chemistry, but the rest of the characters fall flat. In particular, Olivia Dunham (played by Anna Torv) is unconvincing as the female lead- not that she doesn't seem like an FBI agent, though, because she does. The problem is she comes across as more of a real FBI agent than a lead character in a fictional show.

The X-Files succeeded from the start because of the immediately identifiable chemistry between Mulder and Scully and Lost did the same because of it's large and compelling cast of characters, but Fringe struggles to make those sort of connections with the audience. It is still early in the run, but without compelling characters and relationships, the mystery of Fringe can only propel the show so far.


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