Archive for Fringe

Fringe(S01E05): “Power Hungry”

Posted in Fringe, TV with tags , , , , on October 18, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: B

The thing that sets Fringe apart from most mystery-of-the-week series is its stricter adherence to ongoing plots and a continued attention to building up a unique mythology for the show, centered mostly around the fictional mega-corporation, Massive Dynamic. However, this could be a weakness as well, if Fringe veered too far from its cases and sunk in too deep with conspiracy theories and gasp-worthy twists. This episode attempts to ease any fears of this scenario by presenting a Massive Dynamic free hour, but ends up falling into the old predictability trap I thought it had strayed from. That said, the case is interesting and the characters are still growing more likable every week, so all-in-all it’s another solid episode for any fans of the show, but probably not good enough to woo many new ones.

My biggest gripe at the moment, and one I felt had been assuaged by last week’s episode, is the too-formulaic setup of the standalone cases. The show is all about something called The Pattern–a string of mysterious and unexplainable phenomena happening all over the world–but there’s another very obvious pattern developing as well. This pattern goes as follows: An incident occurs, which Walter reveals could be based on old ideas he had studied, but that have been taken and perfected in the years since, and he then has a theory that Olivia pursues relentlessly until she reveals what she knows to her boss, who then reveals to her he’s known more than he let on all along and shares new, key information that advances the scenario into its final legs. Most episodes have contained some or all of these parts, and while it doesn’t make the value of the mysteries any less, it does take some of the fun out when you can see a blueprint of what’s to come without even trying.

The case this week is one that might have the Heroe’s writer’s jealous they lost all their creativity long ago, with a man whose brain has been altered so that he can cause electromagnetic disturbances. The whole kerfuffle gets started after this guy accidentally causes an elevator to plummet 20 some stories, killing everyone inside except himself. But he’s not a bad guy, just a guy with some semi-stalkerish tendencies who’s having a bad day and just happens to have powers he doesn’t understand and isn’t able to control. When he gets emotional, he doesn’t write angry poetry, but makes sparks fly and pacemakers die–which is how his own mother ends up dead. It’s nice to see the people Olivia and co. are chasing aren’t always plain bad guy, like the prostitute killer and this guy, but victims of ambitious, shadowy figures. One of those steps onto the scene tonight, performing inhumane tests to advance whatever agenda he has, and is clearly the one to direct any anger toward.

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Fringe (S01E04): “The Arrival”

Posted in Fringe, TV with tags , , , , , on October 1, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: A

Never mind what I said about last week, because this is the best episode of Fringe so far. With my few, minor doubts squashed for the moment and the growing momentum this show is building, Fringe is easily the best show I’ve seen out of the crop of new series this Fall. “The Arrival” is not only a good stand alone episode, but a fascinating window into the world Abrams and Co. are working to construct, with new mysteries and characters stepping in to thicken the plot, as they say.

This hour definitely switches the formula up a bit, which eases the fears I’d versed last week of this show falling into a predictable rut. There’s no bad guy disguised as a seemingly innocent lead in the case, and Walter does have links to the strange going ons, but it’s in a different way than it has been so far. Instead, the bad guy is pure bad from go, even if he and his leftover prop gun from Star Trek fall on the cheesy side, and Walter only knows what he does because his brain is being fed information, which he describes as feeling “like a letter opening for the very first time with instructions on what to do inside”.

This week’s case has the closest ties to the overarching mythology this show is building, with the introduction of strange, space-age looking cylinder and a very bald man known only as The Observer, whose connection to everything has my interest piqued. We meet The Observer, who is not only bald but eyebrow-less as well, in a diner, ordering up a sandwich to season his bottle of pepper, hot sauce, and eleven jalapenos. He eats what would probably decimate the average human’s taste buds while living up to his name and observing a construction site through some high-tech binoculars. An explosion and simultaneous earthquake send everyone but him running for cover. From this first scene through the end of the episode, the mystery surrounding The Observer only grows. He doesn’t seem necessarily good or evil, but strictly neutral. He’s a hands-off kind of guy that knows what you’re thinking as fast as you know it yourself. He’s super creepy, but doesn’t seem dangerous. And, my first impression is that his presence is a welcome layer of depth to this show.

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Fringe (S01E03): “The Ghost Network”

Posted in Fringe, TV with tags , , , on September 24, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: A

It appears that my love for Fringe’s Pilot was not shared by the majority of television viewing America, but as this show finds its stride I’m finding that people are starting to come around and embrace it. So while I may disagree with many over the first couple of hours, I can agree that this show is getting better, and the third episode finds the right balance between all the elements introduced thus far.

With that said, there are a couple of potential areas that could be a problem in the future if they are continually relied on as much as they have been. The first is the formula “Walter + Past = Results”. Don’t get me wrong, John Noble is playing the part of kooky Dr. Walter Bishop to perfection and steals pretty much any scene he graces, but so far every episode has found him delving into his past to discover something key to the case and then sending the agents out on a fetch quest for some device he helped create years ago. I think it’s more the device aspect that could grow old–how he has a secret weapon of sorts to deal with everything they’ve come across. Really though this is a small complaint and since this show is following a certain formula, I suppose some repetitive tricks should be expected.

The only other negative I wanted to address is the formula of “Early lead + 2 nice 2 be true = person behind it all”. In episode two, Dr. Penrose was really the only person our agents ran into in their search for information, and he ended up being the bad guy. In Ghost Network, Olivia again only speaks with one guy and he turns out to be the bad guy again. It’s just making it too easy to pinpoint who’s good and who’s not, not because of bad acting or writing, but just because I’ve uncovered the formula and go from there. Since this show doesn’t revolve around “whodunnit” so much, this doesn’t effect the enjoyment of an episode, but it would be nice if there was more than one lead thrown in from time to time to keep us guessing at who’s behind it.

But those few concerns aside, this is an awesome hour. The actors are all finding their groove, and Jackson’s Peter was charming again, with no trace of whatever annoying factors were present the last episode. If anyone is a weak link it might be series lead, Ann Torv and her character Olivia. She hasn’t shown a very wide range of what she’s capable of and seems perpetually stone-faced and unhappy. I mean, I guess she does have reason to be, and it was nice to see her smile one time (that I can remember) in this episode. She’s definitely no Sydney Bristow from Alias, which Fringe reminds me of on occasion in a way I can’t quite pinpoint, aside from the obvious fact that they both came from Abrams.

So what exactly happened in this episode? Read on to find out.

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Fringe (S01E02): “The Same Old Story”

Posted in Fringe, TV with tags , on September 24, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: B+

Fringe cooled down a few degrees for it’s third hour and began settling comfortably into its episodic format, but still offered enough continuity and signature J.J. Abram mythology to make it stand apart from the X-Files. But that’s not going to stop everyone, including myself, from thinking it still feels a little bit like that cult favorite, and already fans of Scully and Mulder are comparing Fringe’s plotlines with similar, and therefore better, ones done on X-Files. Similarities aside, this episode was not as good as the pilot, but it was still thoroughly entertaining and allowed the actors to feel out their characters further and, for the most part, they’re growing on me even more.

The Pattern is investigated a little more here, but essentially it seems like a background plot element to drive forward the case-by-case nature of this show. But it is interesting that the writers are attempting to connect everything early on, rather than have everything just be a random series of bizarre scenarios. While this episode had some slow parts and was not as gripping as the first, I still felt satisfied with this bizarre, if not wholly original, story of a parent casting aside his morals and ethics to protect their child. By the end, I felt for the villains of this story, and I always admire stories that don’t stick in the realm of black and white.

So let’s dig in.

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Fringe (S01E01): Pilot

Posted in Fringe, TV with tags , , on September 10, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: A

The most-hyped series premiere of the new TV season is upon us, but with months and months of build up was the latest from J.J. “He’s So Hot Right Now” Abrams (And fellow LOST producer Bryan Burk as well asĀ  a handful of others) able to live up to lofty expectations? Yes, yes, and YES.

I still remember watching the pilot for LOST several years back and being pretty underwhelmed. It was good, but not great. The intricacies of the plot and the depth of the characters hadn’t been established in the pilot and it felt like, more or less, a high-budget action movie for the television screen. Obviously it didn’t stay that way, and my interest grew as the show went on.

Fringe’s first hour started at a hundred miles per hour and ended at two hundred, asking enough questions to intrigue me and answering enough not to leave me frustrated, and managed in that timeframe to set the basis for a group of characters I can already see myself getting very much wrapped up in. I don’t know what this show will become, but the pilot of Fringe was one of the best first hours of a show I have seen in some time. The acting was top-notch, the music was as good as a big Hollywood movie, the dialogue was charming, hilarious (Joshua Jackson has a lot of great one-liners), and at times heart-wrenching. Fringe just has a little bit of everything–supsense, mystery, comedy, drama–and I can see this being a major hit for FOX.

The setup for the plot could easily be a standalone movie, yet the premise surrounding this show leaves so much room for this series to have some long legs. It’s really reminding me of a more sophisticated, more character driven X-Files, with that signature J.J. Abrams touch. We can expect plenty of plot twists as this show goes on, I’m sure. I can see this being a case-by-case show, but with a main plot continuing on in the background.

A detailed, SPOILER-FILLED summary of the plot is below the cut.

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