First Impressions: Fringe

Last night was episode 2 of the highly anticipated new series, “Fringe.” I had been looking forward to Fringe for some time with only one reservation: I was hesitant to get into another serialized marathon like Lost or Heroes. But it was so compelling in its ads that I decided to give it a shot.

Last week’s pilot episode set up a great premise.  The “translucent” body effect and the mystical “Pattern,” complemented by stone cold Matthew Abadon Agent Broyles left me wanting more.  I suspect the second episode was much more indicative, however, of what this show will actually be.   Read more after the break.

Unfortunately, last night left me a little let down.  The plot was mostly interesting (Caution! Spoilers ahead): a series of murdered women leads us back to Dr Bishop’s ex-colleague’s experiments regarding rapid aging, and the only way to slow the rapid aging, we learn, appears to be pulling the pituitary gland from the brain of these women – apparently while they are awake and tranquilized, for some unknown reason, rather than simply anesthetized – and… doing something with it.  

It was the surrounding elements that left me unhappy.  First of all, the eccentricity of Bishop is overkill.  The way he speaks was overplayed, and Joshua Jackson, while believable as the boy genius, had lots of poor dialogue, such as “Can you just speak like… a person?”  Secondly, Bishop’s experience with… uh… everything seems stretched.  I was willing to suspend disbelief that many of these things are possible, but to suggest that he was able to do all of these things, in just the second episode, seems pushing it.   Thus far, he can interview the dead, he can grow a human and accelerate aging, and he can project thoughts on a monitor by pulling the electric impluses from a dead ocular nerve – I’m not making this up.   It’s just too far fetched.   

As far as the characters go, I like Anna Torv‘s Olivia Dunham.  But she’s no Dana Sculley, and I don’t know if she can carry the show.  As of now, she and Broyles are the only two main characters, as Joshua Jackson’s younger Bishop is merely “the babysitter” for his convict father, and his father is only available as long as he’s part of the picture.  While we all know they are part of the team, it’s yet to be firmly established that the characters are committed to investigating “The Pattern.”  

The problem here is that this show is poised to fill the same type role as “The X-Files,” but thus far, they have lacked when establishing character authority and credibility.  Franky, I’d rather follow Broyles and the “Massive Dynamic” secretary, as they both seem much more immersed in the mythology than our main characters.  

I’m inclined to stick with Fringe because I like the set-up, not because the second episode was so good.  I think many shows need some time to find their niche and this one may strengthen once the actors get used to their characters, give them some identity, and let them play out and evolve.  I fear that, like X-Files, much of “The Pattern” will never be properly explained and that we will be doomed to years of frustration and unanswered questions, rather than an arching story like Lost, where we expect to have much of the backstory revealed to us.  I suspect that four years from now, we’ll still understand very little about The Pattern except maybe a larger tie to the founder of Massive Dynamics.

So, for now, I will continue to watch, I’ll probably give it a season to hook me.    

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