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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Five Reasons: Fringe

By Tim Surette -

J.J. Abrams' new Fox drama is being hyped like a breakout hit, but should it stay on the fringe? Five reason to watch and not to watch inside!

In Five Reasons, takes an early look at upcoming episodes of shows and scoops what's good and bad about the program we just watched. We're not telling you to watch it or telling you to avoid it; we're just offering up our two cents as a helpful guide.

"Let's make some LSD!!"--Walter Bishop, Fringe

Joshua Jackson has left the creek!

Joshua Jackson has left the creek!

Hey guys! Have you heard about this show called Fringe? Chances are that if you've seen a billboard, a bus, or opened your eyes in the last month, you've seen Fox's ridiculously massive hype machine for Fringe in action. You probably don't have a good idea what it's about, because the adverts do little but tell you to watch, so let's cover that.

Fringe stars Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, and John Noble as an unlikely trio that investigates unusual phenomena for the FBI. Yeah, that should sound familiar. However, unlike The X-Files' Scully and Mulder running after aliens and ghosts, these guys are chasing phenomena that are real! Well, almost real.

That's how Fringe gets it name: from "fringe science," or the fields of technology and science that are on the verge of breakthroughs. Stuff so almost real that it's just around the corner and coming soon to a Wal-Mart near you. So here you go: five reasons why you should and shouldn't watch Fringe (even though we know you are going to watch anyway).

Five reasons why you should watch Fringe:

Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham.

Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham.

1. It's J.J. Abrams!
This reason is a no-brainer. Our pal J.J.'s recent track record is hit-hit-hit, and no one combines genre shows with great character stories like Mr. Abrams. Also, J.J. gave me a cupcake in New York City and put up with our shenanigans at Comic-Con, so I have to give him some dap.

2. Movie-like production values
The 90-minute pilot is basically a movie; Fox didn't shy away from pouring buckets of cash into the program. Sweeping crane shots, quality special effects, and some great sets make Fringe watchable even if it's unwatchable. And the best part? 3D title cards!

3. Walter Bishop
Everyone loves an insane old man, it's comedy gold! John Noble plays what is easily Fringe's most likable character: a loony old bat who likes ginger ale and LSD. Walter spouts the show's best lines, and is destined to be a nerd favorite. Plus, Lance Reddick (Lost, The Wire) plays a stern boss better than anyone. Also, Anna Torv--regardless of what others say--does a fine job as the female lead.

4. Humor
Fringe has some surprisingly funny moments, which will catch viewers off guard. The sci-fi drama should be all business, but we couldn't help but LOL at Walter's bizarre requests.

5. You might learn a thing or two
The premise for each "case" is supposedly ripped from the headlines of science and tech magazines and journals. Astral projection, teleportation, invisibility... "Fringe science" won't be on the fringe for our grandchildren. Watch Fringe today so you know what to be deathly afraid of tomorrow!

Five reasons why you shouldn't watch Fringe:

Walter is a wacko; Peter is kind of a jerk.

Walter is a wacko; Peter is kind of a jerk.

1. Just doesn't grab
Fringe's pilot lacks some bite; it'll likely underwhelm those expecting pure awesome. Lots and lots of time is spent setting up the premise...a little too much time. Let's get to the cool stuff! We hope the rest of the episodes don't have the same problem.

2. Questions, questions, questions
It's another one of those shows with the big important questions that hang over everything. Twists, turns, and conspiracies abound...opening up more questions. Why must watching television be so difficult?!

3. Macho stand-offs
These characters aren't that nice to each other. Doesn't anyone teach manners anymore? If Joshua Jackson called me "sweetheart," I'd break his friggin' nose.

4. Pacing
Kind of already covered in reason number one, but needs to be reiterated. We get it--the trio has compatibility issues here. Yeah, Peter Bishop has some concerns about his father. Okay, Olivia wants to prove that she belongs. But halfway through the pilot and we still know nothing about the case?

5. Believability
Okay, we understand that Fringe is based around "fringe science," but there are some serious wacko things that happen. In trying to make things so plausible, they kind of become implausible. I know what LSD does, and it doesn't do what Fringe's writers think it does. Now mushrooms, on the other hand...

Fringe premieres Tuesday, September 9 at 8 p.m. on Fox.