Rarely does a television viewer's patience get rewarded. More often than not, shows that start out weak end up weak. And a lot of times, shows that start out great take a nosedive by the end of the season. But sometimes, there's that rare show that falls down at the beginning, takes a moment to get up and dust itself off and then never looks back. "Fringe" is one of those shows, and this season, it's quickly become the one series I look forward to more than any other.
When "Fringe" debuted last fall, I eagerly tuned in because, hey, a new J.J. Abrams production. While the show had some intriguing ideas, a good cast and some nifty effects, it lacked heart and it lacked drive. It was like getting a beautifully wrapped gift and finding nothing inside. So I stopped watching about halfway through the season.
Just recently, the husband and I decided to try again, and we quickly Netflixed our way through the rest of season one. It was difficult not to be thoroughly impressed with just how good "Fringe" got by the end of that first year. Our heroine Olivia became interesting! From the beginning, I'd felt that the Olivia character was the weak link in the show. Such a stiff, she had nothing to do but get creeped out by the ghostly memories of her dead boyfriend. Granted, adding a sister and a niece didn't really do the trick either, but putting her front and center in the series' grand mystery and tying her more closely to the dark pasts of mad scientist Walter and his son Peter finally made the show take off. It's amazing what having an active protagonist can do!
And oh boy, did the show ever flesh out the Walter character. John Noble is, hands down, the main reason to watch "Fringe." His portrayal of Walter is so charming and so heartbreakingly...well...delicate, you can't help but be moved. And yes, I may have sniffled when Olivia gave him a smackdown at the end of season one -- sure, it was deserved but Walter can't help what he's done!
It's taken until the new season for Joshua Jackson's Peter character to really take off. Finally, he seems to be more of an active participant rather than just a snarky tag-along who looks really good in sweaters. I'm very much looking forward to finding out how a rather large discovery last season plays out for his character.
All of the peripheral characters are beginning to shine as well from Astrid, who's quickly becoming Walter's best friend and not just his reluctant caretaker, to Broyles, Olivia's FBI chief who definitely seems to have some sort of juicy past...yet who still scares me because he's played by Lance Reddick, who was so effectively creepy on "Lost."
And best of all, I love the fact that this show has embraced its "X-Files"-y nature. The little nods to the series this year shows me that "Fringe" has stopped trying to pretend it's not a rip-off (in the best possible way) of "X-Files" and instead just seems focused on avoiding all the mistakes that led to its predecessors downfall. For a show that just keeps getting better and better, I think there's a very good chance it'll do just that.
How about you? Are you enjoying the new season so far?