Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fringe: Edgy, Compelling, Intriguing

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the season premier of Fox’s new show, Fringe. The show has continued to intrigue me, and right now it’s one of the few shows that I actually look forward to watching.

The latest episode, “The Arrival”, featured a odd looking bald man who is dubbed “The Observer” (Michael Cerveris) because he’s been photographed overlooking many events over many years, always looking the same, never aging. In this episode, he’s in a diner, eating food that he’s made so hot and spicy that most people would have gagged on it. But he’s really watching a construction site outside. When an explosion occurs and a construction crane collapses, he walks right into the area (after being considerate enough to leave money to cover his meal at the diner) and announces: "It has arrived." “It” turns out to be a metallic, 2-foot bullet-shaped object that rose out of the ground, exploding a gas main in the process.

But when Olivia (Anna Torv), Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and his father, Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) get involved, things get complicated. Dr. Bishop manages to convince them to get the object into his lab for testing. But, when it seems someone is killing people trying to track down and steal the object, Walter drugs his assistant Astrid (Jasika Nicole) and makes off with the object. His intent – to hide it where no one can find it.

But this being Fringe, a show dealing with “fringe science”, bad guy who is trying to get his hands on the object can basically pull its location out of someone’s head just by them thinking about it. But the person has to be connected to some sort of machine which inflicts horrible pain, causing the person to be forced to just “think” about the answer to the torturer’s question, such as the location of the object. And even though Walter never spoke the location to Peter, Peter knows where it’s located. You see, according to Walter, one doesn’t always need to speak to transmit information. It also seems that The Observer saved Walter and Peter’s life years ago when they were faced with certain death by drowning in freezing water. At that point, Walter made a mental connection with The Observer, and even years later, he knew exactly what he had to do to hide and therefore protect the object, which by the way, found itself sinking back into the ground – on schedule – just like it arrived.

Adding to the mix is that suddenly Olivia seems to be hearing a voice from the dead, when she gets a phone call and sees what seems like a vision of her former, now supposedly dead, partner and lover, Agent Scott (Mark Valley).

But the real star of this show, it seems, is John Noble. He plays the intense, quirky, impulsive, and sometimes nutty professor Walter Bishop . He annoys his son Peter with his need to talk out loud when Peter is trying to sleep. He also seems to have a mind of his own, but it’s also a brilliant mind that the Fringe team depends on to help bring understanding to the oddities they encounter. John’s facial expressions react perfectly to whatever “personality” is needed for Walter, whether it’s wonderment, curiosity, frustration, or annoyance. And since the series seems to have many opportunity for incredible things to happen which will test Walter’s knowledge, and along with it his patience, I am sure that we will only see more and more of John Noble’s acting range.

Otherwise, the cast is solid. Anna Torv portrays the perfect mix of detachment and intrigue that one expects in an agent. I admit I am still trying to warm up a little to Joshua Jackson (Peter). Lance Reddick, who is Olivia’s boss, Agent Broyles, plays his role in a cool, calm, and collected fashion, but with the proper air of mystery. And like some of J.J. Abrams other efforts like “Lost” and Alias”, we’re seeing a larger story unfold in every episode. What is better about Fringe that, unlike Lost and Alias, there isn’t so much detail thrown at viewers in each episode that it overwhelms.

A minor annoyance is the music in the background, which never seems to stop. It sounds almost identical to the music used for Lost and Alias, which I found overpowering for those shows. I almost wish Fringe had a sound all its own.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Fringe, it’s not too late. The show is not so complicated that one can’t pick up an episode and get the general idea of what’s going on. I encourage everyone to give it a look.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, here.

No comments: