The Same Old Story
The Ghost Network
In Which We Meet Mr Jones
The Road Not Taken
There’s More Than One of Everything
Fringe’s strength lies in its three protagonists and their complex relationships with one another that keeps the show appealing. The stories are fresh and exciting too and the tried and tested “monster of the week” formula Fringe adopts is twisted into something new and unique that deserves to be watched. Its smart sci-fi at its best and woven in its excellent story line are subplots and nuances that make it feel more like a modern day X-Files.
The plot follows three characters as they’re teamed together to investigate “Fringe” science, cases that can’t be explained through normal scientific channels. To help achieve this goal we have FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) who’s conflicted following an event that occurs early in the season that causes her to battle her inner demons. Teaming up with said FBI agent is Walter Bishop, a certified genius who’s fifteen year absence from the world cooped up in a mental institution has done nothing to help his memory that frequently fails him. Rounding out the three is Walter’s reluctant son Peter, who gets whisked up for the ride. The first season has several over-arching stories which become more important toward the end but mainly stay in the background to the episodic format of a different case every week.
The episodes themselves are really well paced and put together nicely. The individual episodes have some great, creative ideas that vary wildly from a hybrid monster, a man who controls electricity and teleportation criminals to name a few. This variation keeps the show feeling fresh and exciting as you’re never quite sure what’s coming next and makes each episode unique in its own right. The sub plots that snake through the series mean that missing one or two episodes could mean you’ll be playing catch up but this is where the series excels and keeps you watching – there’s absolutely no reason you’d want to miss an episode. There’s a mysterious bald man who shows up in every episode, a deadly bio-terrorist group, a traitor and a shady corporation all having their own unique story lines through Series 1.
At times it does feel like Fringe tries to cram as much content in its first season as it possibly can and consequently some the stories are stretched a little thinly or over a bit quick. This doesn’t detract from the enjoyment though and the quality of the show makes it a minor gripe. The only other humorous observation is the incessant need to end some episodes with a chase scene, either on foot or in a vehicle. The tension and excitement is there but it was still quite amusing, especially since I counted at least five episodes where this happens and after a while it is a little tedious.
The real charm here is the way these characters bounce off one another and how they change as the season progresses, which is one of the things it excels at over The X Files. Walter and Peter’s strained relationship is the stand out here and its a joy to watch their banter with one another. On the same note, all three main characters are excellent and near-faultless but Walter Bishop is outstanding. His portrayal of a mad scientist is stunning and really keeps the show together and makes it unique.
Overall though, Fringe is one of the best shows I’ve watched in a long time. The concept is excellent, the stories exciting every week and its central core of three characters are among the strongest I’ve seen. The show is a brilliant example of taking a tried and tested formula and twisting it into something new and different. Aside from the minor gripes about the busyness of the story at times and its multiple sub plots going on, Fringe is one of the best shows on TV and deserves to be watched.