Fringe at Two Episodes

Somehow, we’ve found ourselves watching a lot of shows on Fox this fall. And two out of three are returning, so we can be confident that they’ll actually finish out the season. The third is Fringe, and I’m still trying to decide whether I want to keep up with it.

So far it basically seems to be The X-Files as done by J.J. Abrams, with a corporate conspiracy replacing the government conspiracy. Which is fine, except I wasn’t particularly interested in The X-Files. I think I saw about 5 episodes plus the first movie.

One thing I’m not thrilled about is the implication that everything they investigate is going to be part of “The Pattern.” It seems awfully convenient that all the weirdness stems from one lab’s experiments back in the 1970s, with (presumably) one partner causing and the other investigating the weirdness. I’d actually prefer it if they sometimes ran into things that were weird and bizarre, but came from other people’s work.

They also seem to be big on body horror, which is not my favorite topic to watch on a weekly basis. Though that could just be the first two episodes.

The most interesting character so far is the mad scientist Dr. Bishop, played by John Noble. Oddly enough, I didn’t recognize the actor until the second episode.

The pilot episode actually got to a point about 2/3 of the way through where I wanted it to end. I found myself thinking, “Okay, the story’s done, you can wrap up the episode now.” Kind of like The Talented Mr. Ripley, it just kept going. Still, it was a pilot, and it was trying to do setup, so they get a pass.

Something I’ve noticed is that it’s easier for me to suspend my disbelief on things that are completely and totally “out there” than things that are just a little bit past normal. For instance, to bring up some spoilers from episode 2:
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SPOILERS for the first two episodes:

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I’ll go with the idea of someone with an insanely accelerated metabolism, who can grow old and die in a matter of hours or minutes without treatment. I’ll go with the idea that he needs a substance found only in the human body to be able to keep it in check (though it kept sounding like they were describing human growth hormone, in which case he could have just set up an email account and had hundreds of offers pouring in.) I can even go with telepathy via sensory deprivation, hallucinogens, and linked EEGs.

But the old saw about how the last thing someone sees is imprinted on their retina? Took me right out of it. Same with the guy’s hair turning gray without growing out (originally a catch by Katie).

The show also seems to suffer a lot from fridge logic. Things like “Why didn’t they check to see who had rented those storage units?” (aeryncrichton’s catch) or “Wait, where’d the baby get the nutrients and energy to grow that quickly?” Or the many ways one could obtain growth hormone other than by killing people. It’s especially frustrating, because Fringe seems to be aimed at the audience most likely to notice things like that.

I’ll give it a few more episodes, at least.

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