Thursday, October 08, 2009

"Fringe," you've won me back, and I promise never to leave you again!

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?


Nancy said...

I feel exactly the same. I was very much on the fence about the show at the beginning of last season. I only kept watching because my son liked it but at some point it became must see tv for me. This season is even better!

Jean said...

After enjoying the last half of season 1, I was eager to see what season 2 would bring to the table. And I haven't been disappointed. Fringe is definitely on my must-see list! Although it's on the DVR, cuz I have to watch Supernatural live! I tape Grey's Anatomy, too, but I'm thinking of breaking up with Meredith and Co.

Jen said...

Don't forget Blair Brown as Creepy Nina Sharp and her bionic arm.

That said if Fringe ever gets canceled - I'd be first in line to watch The Odd Couple staring Walter & Peter!

sean said...

it was definitely a grower, but after the first 3 or 4 episodes it seems like they found their stride. now it's a can't miss. and you forgot to mention leonard nimoy!

crone51 said...

I fell in love with Walter all over again last night- something about the way he offered a strawberry to Olivia after she drank the worms.....

Adam said...


I just finished season 1 via Netflix. I'm glad I bombed through season 1 all at once because I doubt I would have stuck with it over the course of a year. The show got better once the "John Scott is in Olivia's head" storyline was exorcised.

I think adding Rachel and Ella humanized Olivia. Adding a four-year-old cast member gives us a visual reminder of how old Olivia was when Bell was experimenting on her. Opening this door in Olivia's past is the best part of the season. About to start season 2. Can't wait!

Adam said...

Two more quick thoughts that I didn't think until after I submitted my other comment. (This one is Spoiler free)

I completely concur with Liz about John Noble's portrayal of Walter Bishop. He's amazing. However, it takes about half a season not to think of Denethor, the Steward of Gondor when you hear him talk.

Also, it was not until the penultimate episode of season one that I realized the hand print in the opening titles has six digits.

cl said...

I'll have to check it out. I watched the first few episodes, but I just couldn't bother to continue. My main problem was Olivia--the dullest character ever (and her accent is unconvincing, which usually wouldn't bother me but did this time).

I did really like Walter, so it wasn't complete hate for the show.

I'll have to give it another shot.