Fox's new show "Fringe"

tendrini

Padawan Learner
I am embarrassed to say that I have enjoyed this series (my teenaged daughter got me started - not my idea!) The first few episodes were weak and very violent, but as soon as the main story arc emerged, it began to get a lot better. There are lots of mysteries as to how things came to be and part of the fun is putting the clues together.

The key character is played by John Noble, who also played Denethor in LOTR, ironically exploring another flawed father-son relationship. The story hinges on the terrible consequences that resulted from an act that the father committed to save his dying son and the theme of the series appears to be very Biblical - temptation, sin, sacrifice, forgiveness, all brought into play by the power of grief over the death of a child. As a parent, it seems very powerful to me.

I've also enjoyed John Noble's acting - he is amazingly believable as alternately crazed, brilliant, sad, or arrogant , and there's a wonderful little squabble between his character and another old man played by Leonard Nemoy.

The reference to aliens being the agent of mankind's loss of psychic abilities caught me by surprise. The show is also surprisingly "moral", and makes a point to contrast self-serving behavior with that which serves others, and to make a point that life is complicated and that "no man is an island".

Definitely improved over time.
 

Zadius Sky

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Re: Fringe

I watched the entire series, from first to fourth seasons when aired with the fifth season on rented DVD just recently. The series finale was aired in January of 2013. I'd like to give my thoughts on this show but this will contain some spoilers for those who haven't watched it.

Overall, the show was "enjoyable" to watch in a way of the story, strictly as an entertainment, but not very good, in my opinion. To say that this show has an originality is premature and almost nonexistent.

The show was conceived from several sources, including The X-Files, The Twilight Zone, Law & Order, and somewhat Lost. They tried to make this show very much like Lost in terms of serialization. They combined these shows' ideas along with ideas from several science fiction novels. It was quite bizarre, actually. Several episodes that I've watched in the first and second seasons were ridiculously similar to some episodes of The X-Files, in terms of a number of strange cases that the characters were investigating (they seemed like exaggerated copies). The only major difference was the ending aspect: instead of saying a case is still unsolved (X-Files), the cases were solved (Fringe). Of other sources being taken, one example being the third season's episode, "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide," which can be seen as taken mostly from A Scanner Darkly and Inception.

Last month, as a way to celebrate its 20th anniversary last month, I watched the re-runs of The X-Files - a show that I excitedly watched when it first came out in 1993 and never missed a show since until its finale. I enjoyed that show very much, and now I found it to be quite a mess, plot-wise, narrative structure, among other things. Out of all the Sci-Fi shows that I've watched, Babylon 5 was a groundbreaking show for its most detailed and consistent mythology, The X-Files was a mess, and Fringe is outright chaotic.

However, the show was primary focusing on the high-charged emotional aspects of family (son-father relationship), love (Peter-Olivia), and some intellectual inquiry (Dr. Bishop) rather than the whole story (which is inconsistent). It felt strictly one-sided.

The first season was flat, lacking conviction, and full of horrific and gruesome scenes (I had to skip many of these). This season was easing us into the mythology of "The Pattern" and the cases that were relating to it. It introduces us to FBI Agent Olivia Dunham, Dr. Walter Bishop, and his son Peter Bishop. Together, they basically investigated a number of cases and we were beginning to discover that these events were orchestrated by the rogue scientists known as ZFT, whom are preparing for a doomsday event. Their backgrounds were also being revealed along the way. During this season, we first see the "Observers," whom we would see popping up throughout the series.

The second season continued the cases as well going into the aspects of the parallel universes, where several locations are considered to be "soft spots" - weakened points of the fabric between worlds where vortexes can occur. All of this were happening due to Dr. Bishop's single action in the past. Peter's origins are revealed and the battles with shape-shifters were endured.

The third season focused on the two worlds, starting with two "Olivia's" being switched in the previous season finale. This season was considered to be a war between two worlds, with Walter's counterpart (Walternate) trying to destroy the "original" world. It finalized with Peter creating a bridge between worlds in order for both worlds to work together to solve their problems and he finally disappeared, with a "connected universe" being created and a timeline was changed.

The fourth and fifth seasons are focused on a new "timeline" where Peter is nonexistent (where one of the Observers failed to save Peter in 1985) and the past was changed for the principal characters of both worlds. Peter having to return later in the season with no one having remembered him, and he is forced to live out his life in this timeline (after several futile attempts to try to return to his original timeline). The latter season focused on the war with the Observers.

Out of all seasons of this show, I particularly enjoyed the third season because of its alternating episodes, where odd-numbered episodes took place in the parallel universe and even-numbered episodes took place in the "prime" universe (which is kinda cool). It was interesting to see one episode dealing with problems in one universe while other episode dealing with problems in other universe - all with same characters. It was fascinating to see one character in one universe have an established past and living out a life as it led up to it while that same character in other universe have an established past with crucial differences, living out a different life. It also deals with duality. I thought that was an intriguing concept having been worked with in this season where writers were exploring a number of "what-ifs" moments (but not useful in some respects).

For example, in the alternate universe, a 20-dollar bill has Martin Luther King, Jr. instead of Andrew Jackson (with Dr. King being the first black president of USA). John F. Kennedy is said to be alive as an ambassador to the United Nations. The World Trade Center is still standing while only the White House and The Pentagon were attacked. Richard Nixon is on the silver dollar. Eric Stoltz stars in Back to the Future instead of Michael J. Fox. The Sherlock Holmes books were never written. The states of North and South Carolina being the single "Carolina" (while Texas is broken into two states). The Statue of Liberty is bronze instead of copper. The Fringe Division is popular and well-respected by the public (reports to the Department of Defense, but FBI ceased to exist), and not a secret department as depicted in the "prime" universe. The technology is more advanced: a kind of earring is a cell phone that everyone wears, a "Show-Me" card is a mandatory universal ID (very Big-Brothery). All this reminds me of the Philip K. Dick novels.

I personally think that the finale of the third season ("The Day We Died") should be the series finale, as it was an appropriate ending. The fourth and fifth seasons are inconsistent, sloppy, and felt like the writers were making the stories up from that point on.

The whole story is centered around Walter Bishop and his son, Peter. In the second season ("Peter" episode), it was revealed that both Peters in both world (1985) were dying of a genetic disease. Walter was watching Walternate working in a lab through a dimensional window (via device), and it was only after that Walter's Peter died that he noticed the cure was achieved by Walternate, who got distracted by a nearby Observer. Upon seeing this, Walter crossed over to the parallel universe, resulting in a first "hole," and took Walternate's son back to his universe to be cured. That's when the lie began. Walter avoided grieving for the death of his son and continued to live the lie and soon became a madman while Walternate was building up his anger and became a Secretary of Defense. The latter believe that the war began with the kidnapping of his son and proclaimed as such.

I thought John Noble did an excellent job with his acting both as a madman (who's bend on LSD trips) and as an evil politician ("doing what it takes" behind the scenes).

Peter himself is somewhat a "special" case for the Observers because a machine that was bonded only to him, and for him to affect the universes. It turned out that the machine was created by "future" Walter who sent it back in time, in order to change the timeline "for the better." Peter seemed to be a "core" for the whole story: protected by Walter, searched by Walternate, both of whose actions affecting the whole. Because of Walter's action of kidnapping Peter, the timeline of his universe was changed by Peter's harmless actions (butterfly effects) and the timeline of other universe was changed by Peter's absence and being fueled by Walternate's anger/revenge.

When Peter created a "bridge" between two universes and prompted the characters of both worlds to work together, Peter himself disappeared and having "served his purpose." The result became a "new timeline" with all actions done by Peter became undone. I thought that was very symbolic of sacrifice=bridging. The name "Peter Bishop" is also appropriate where the name of "Peter" is rock or stone and "Bishop" is an overseer of sorts. His action of creating a bridge between worlds indicates his purpose with the building of foundation. His last words before disappearing were "I understand now" can be applied to his "purpose." That's why I think the season three's finale should be an appropriate ending for the whole show and leave it there. The rest of the seasons is unnecessary. That's just my take.

The group of The Observers is interesting but not new, to my mind, because they seemed to have been similar to the "observers" as discussed in Dunne's An Experiment with Time (how they see "time" is similar). They are said to have only appear before any significant events in history, so they can "observe" them. They are also master of the cause-effect dynamic (reminds me of a blind Pathfinder in the film Ink, where he set off a chain reaction to a desired effect that he wanted). It was later said that the Observers were scientists from the distant future (at least, one of possible futures). I thought they shot themselves in a foot when they started appearing and changing the timelines where these timelines didn't affect themselves in any significant way.

I've been thinking about this show as being a vehicle for dissemination of information to the public and noticed a few obvious things overall:

1) A "shock and awe" tactic - where a large number of strong gruesome and violent scenes, fear-inducing sounds, can take hold of the viewers' mind in order to make the show as emotionally-charged as possible and as real as possible.

2) The relationship between Peter and Walter is very emotional with the latter's guilt driving him to do strange, unethical things. The "lesson" being here is one man's fear and acting on that fear have consequences on a wider scale and over time. Walter's struggles are quite evident and one can easily be identified with him. On the other side of this coin, Walternate is being driven by revenge and desires to destroy the other universe because of what happened to his son. This aspect seemed to be very powerful for the viewers.

3) For first three seasons, an idea of "beings" outside of time can observe people and events in 3D and have an ability to affect any timeline (hints of "corruption" of a timeline). The later seasons contradict this idea with them being "from the future" (even though they have the "technology"), trying to set things "right" that went wrong and thus, creating paradoxes. The very idea of "correcting" mistakes is highly evident here when learning from them isn't ("correcting"/erasing mistakes neglect learning growth).

4) "The End of the world" or "Doomsday" thinking is evident.

5) The first season expressed the idea of "The Pattern" where all strange yet unrelated events can be added up to explain a single conclusion. In some respects, this is true but not in all cases. (I just thought it was funny that Dr. Bishop drew a line with "ghosts").

6) The very first imagery of Twin Towers in the parallel universe (with an appearance of legendary Leonard Nimoy) seemed to be a powerful emotional-charged aspect in the final episode of season one for the viewers and being lulled into a fantasy reality of "what-ifs" for further seasons.

7) This show is definitely NOT encouraging the viewers to be "in the present." The first three seasons are situated in one timeline and the last two seasons are operating on a different timeline. A temptation to change or "reset" any timeline "for the better" is strong, likely to drive one to be more STS.

8) An basic idea of alternate universe in Fringe can demonstrate how making certain choices can dictate our identities and lives - side by side (ie, ying and yang).

9) Any "new" timeline being created was done with "good" intentions. :rolleyes:
 

SummerLite

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Bringing up a rather old thread, I'm almost finished with Fringe with 2 shows to go. Thought I'd see what's been said about it.

Definitely agree with whats been said here back in 2010. I watched the first few episodes and thought they where pretty crappy. Poor acting, violent and gory. And I found the trans humanistic theme running through revolting, which I thought was being promoted, so stopped watching. Maybe 6 months ago a friend highly recommended this show when I said I loved the XFiles, very similar she said, so I gave it another try. I've got to say, at some point I really started to enjoy this show. The characters and relationships became much more developed and believable, and I love Walter Bishop, (I thought he was so hokey at first). The similarities to the X-Files is definitely there with the bizarre storylines. But the overall plot, aside from the few "odd" stories, is well developed, and well done I think. Actually, there are 2 plots. One, interaction with the parallel universe and second, skipping into the future of 2036, where hybrid humans (the Watchers) rule the world who have come to the past from the future. One character "Nina" describes them as reptilian. Some of the scenes and acting by the Watchers is fascinating and surprising towards the end. A little off the wall humor and a few gems in originality.

A few shows had unexpected, animated clips that where also very well done. I believe both times where when Walter took LSD :shock:.

I've definitely enjoyed this sci-fi show. It takes awhile to get going but really takes off after awhile.

For entertainment purposes only :D.
 
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