Sep 23 2011 12:00pm

Why You Should Be Watching Fringe

Fringe starts up again tonight, and if you haven’t been watching it, you should start. Well, first you should go buy all three seasons that have already happened, then you should watch tonight. Everyone I know who has heeded this advice has become a convert, because Fringe isn’t just amazing scifi television — it’s one of the absolute best things on TV right now.

You might think you have a vague idea of the plot: X-Files-y, right? FBI agent, mad scientist, hot son for FBI agent to hook up with. And maybe for a few episodes towards the beginning, that was a fair description. The pilot was great, a movie, and fascinating, but then it relaxed a little, got quiet so it could build up soft melodies and leitmotifs that could become the crashing symphony it is now.

I don’t want to give too much away. But yes, Anna Torv is FBI agent Olivia Dunham. There was some criticism of her when the show started — people said she felt lost in the role, but that’s because Olivia herself was lost. Olivia is a very walled-off character. Subtle. And Anna Torv plays that subtlety with a sort of genius I find very rare in actors today. Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but the changes she has to make for what the script requires are brilliant. She expresses these differences with a real intelligence, and demonstrates how well thought out her character is, how defined and careful every look is. Anna Torv deserves an Emmy for what she’s been doing. The rest of the cast, likewise, is amazing — I don’t want to spend too much time describing the cast, but all of them are so perfectly in tune with their characters that, despite the crazy science fiction world that they live in, the people never stop being people. Their situation may be extraordinary, bizarre, but they are always human beings, just trying to survive. It’s what keeps the show from becoming a soap opera.

And that world they live in — wow. The writers on Fringe are brilliant because they do bring everything together, they make what might seem ridiculous or cheesy in other writers hands seem quietly brilliant (and sometimes loudly brilliant). I confess, there have been a few occasions where I’ve read a spoiler or something has happened at the end of an episode and I have thought to myself oh hell, this is a bad idea, this is going to screw everything up but every time I’ve thought that, I’ve been proven wrong. Which I think demonstrates the writers’ talents — they can take what seem like bad ideas, or clichés and make them fresh and smart and leave me wondering how I ever could have doubted them.

I’m working really hard to not give anything away, you may have noticed, so let me end with this: the word I always use to describe Fringe is audacity. An odd one, to be sure. But no other show I’ve seen has the nerve to do what Fringe is doing — things that I would never have thought any sensible show would dare to do, in terms of plot, in terms of their actors, their characters — there’s a lot of chutzpah happening, and they always pull it off, which I think is the more impressive thing.

I watch a lot of TV. Way too much of it. But if I could only keep watching one show, it would be Fringe. It is hands down the best thing on television right now. And you should tune in tonight.


Lev AC Rosen is the author of All Men of Genius, his debut novel, out now.

Chris Palmer
1. cmpalmer

When Fringe started, I didn't expect it to last. Non SF-fans seemed to think it was too weird. Many SF-fans thought it was going to be all "woo woo" pseudoscience (I was afraid I was going to be in the camp).

I won't claim that it's all good science fiction and grounded in reality, but once the entire backstory started being told and the grand unification for all (or most) of the weirdness was revealed and the characters gelled, the show got great really quickly.

It's currently my only "must see" network TV show.
2. sofrina
loved season 1, but then it was put up against "supernatural" and that was the dealbreaker.
3. nancym
My favorite show, for sure, since it started. Yes, you do have to suspend a certain amount of disbelief- but really, stay for the ride and you won't be disappointed.

Anna Torv was considered by many as "wooden" in the beginning, but as the series progresses you will see the reason for that. And why she and John Noble as Walter haven't won a wallfull of Emmys by now, I can't imagine.
A.J. Bobo
4. Daedylus
Couldn't agree more about everything. I watched the first couple of episodes of season 1 and thought they were X-Files Reheated. So I quit. Then a friend got me to watch the premiere of season 2. I've been hooked since. There's a story going on here. Even episodes that seem like one-offs have something to do with the big picture. It's awesome.

I couldn't stand Olivia for a long time. I thought that Anna Torv was the worst actress on TV. I kept watching though (mostly because Peter and Walter are great). Then the writers gave Torv some new things to work with at the end of season 2 (and then bigger and better twists in 3) and I now think she's one of the best actresses on TV.
5. Seamus1602
Don't want to spoil anyone either, but this show jumped from 'better than it should be' in seasons 1 and 2 to 'flat-out amazing' in season 3. Whether its the acting of Torv or John Noble, the entire concept itself, the appearance of Leonard Nimoy in just about any form you can imagine (and at least one you can't), or the exectution of a story and ideas beyond anything else seen on TV, this show is simply great. Best show on TV (honarable mention to GoT).
Evan Langlinais
6. Skwid
Agreed on all counts. If you're not watching this show, you're not watching some of the most entertaining, well acted, well written, and insightful SF in years.
Natasa Charlotte
7. Natasa
Fringe has been on my to-watch list for a while but this post has convinced me to seriously get started on it. I'll still have my reservations going in to it, though. The reason is that the ratings started strong but regressed from a strong 9 mil in the beginning to a dishearteningly low 3 mil towards the end. More than half the audience lost! Is this due to the sci-fi aspect going too crazy for the average viewer, or that the storyline was too repetitive (think recycled kind of style)?
George Brell
8. gbrell
Fringe is, in some ways, like Lost. It is a show that can't "gain" viewers because its episodic nature is absolutely secondary to its overarching plotline.

I second (third, fourth, number) what everyone has said. Best show on television. Amazing acting by John Noble and Anna Torv. Deep characters with great relationships. Fun mysteries/monsters of the week. Great sense of humor (watch Brown Betty again and realize how much the writers were punking the audience) and great one-off bits (any of Astrid's nicknames).

Best show on television.
9. coryj
No. Fringe sucks. It COULD HAVE BEEN THE GREATEST SCI-FI show in several decades, but because the suits at FOX demanded that most of the episodes standalone so that it could be marketed for syndication, they ruined the season-long story arcs. Fringe simply did not have the budget to match it's ambitions. For example, the first half of season 3 was wonderful, then it went down the toilet because they were ordered to do all these irrelevant standalone episodes no one gave a crap about and then they realized they needed to wrap up the season and a lot of the cool action occured of screen and they had to dump cool storylines like the "First People". The end of season 3 was a complete mess and retroactively ruined the entire series.

You just cannot trust FOX with science fiction series. They will f*** them up some way, some how.

FOX is so untrustworthy it's really not worth even watching the TERRA NOVA pilot.
Irene Gallo
10. Irene
I agree the standalone stories are terrible. But i hold out a little more faith. I gave up in season 2.....And then Huricane Irene was coming so I rented all of season 3 to brace against potentional home-boundness. Glad I did -- I'm re-hooked -- but they really do need to stick to the over all story.
Larry Scroggins
11. LeisureSuitLarry
Fringe is awesome! I can't figure out any reason why Anna Torv wasn't even nominated for an Emmy this year. She played three distinct characters over a multi-episode arc and she was 100% believable as each one of them. I like Julianna Margulies just fine, but what she did on the Good Wife doesn't even compare to what Anna did on Fringe.
12. nlowery71
One word: vagenda.
13. redheadedfemme

Huh? That's a loaded comment to say the least. What exactly do you mean by that?
14. KaranR
Those who want to get into fringe and have no patience for the typical monster-of-the-week episodes should take a look at
Thomas Simeroth
16. a smart guy
Fox just agreed to a Fifth and final season of Fringe. It will be 13 episodes long, and all the plotlines should hopefully be wrapped up. Just thought you should know.
Steven Halter
17. stevenhalter
@16:Yeah, that should give them time to come to a nice conclusion.
Nancy Madore
18. nmadore
I'm watching it on Netflix and I am really enjoying the series.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment