Friday, October 17, 2008

Are You On The Fringe?

Well, I'm still dealing with LOST withdrawals, but thankfully JJ Abrams has provided a temporary fix in his new show FRINGE. It's not as addictive as LOST, but I've been hooked since the first episode. (By the way, does JJ Abrams ever sleep? I swear the man is constantly developing either a movie or TV show. But I'm not complaining. I love his stuff.)

The FRINGE story centers around FBI Liaison Olivia Dunham who investigates strange cases for Homeland Security Special Agent Phillip Broyles. Dunham was brought onto Broyles elite special team when she discovered her former agent was a traitor. Also on the team is Dr. Walter Bishop, formerly sprung from the psych ward. Dr. Bishop worked extensively in "fringe science" in the 70's and his expertise comes in handy with the strange cases they investigate. The good doctor couldn't be released unless he was under the care of a family member, which leads us to Peter Bishop, habitual gambler, high-IQ, and witty. Each week, the threesome solves a strange case, usually caused by some type of fringe science (telekenesis, re-animation, mental transference, etc.)

Each episode stands on it's own, yet there is an overarching plotline, that deals with "the pattern". Broyles tells Olivia that these strange experiments or incidents are part of a much bigger "pattern" that they have been following and documenting for years. He says it's as if someone is using the whole world as one giant experiment. This is the bigger goal of the show - to uncover what is behind the pattern.

In short, it's like the X-Files meets LOST. Sounds fun, huh?

So, I haven't really done individual posts to discuss each show, and I'm not sure if I'll start doing that. I might just leave those types of posts for LOST. But I thought it might be fun to check in with everyone who is watching it, and have a little discussion. If you haven't watched the show, and plan to get caught up on it or watch it at some point, then you'd better stop reading here... just a little spoiler warning.

So, let's discuss. What do you think of the show? I don't mind the formula they are using, of solving one new case per each episode (instead of it being more of a continuing storyline) all the while alluding to the bigger mystery of the pattern and it all being connected. I do wish they'd let us in on more of that over-arching plot line, but I suspect they are laying a lot of groundwork first. If I know JJ Abrams, nothing is trivial, and some of this stuff that may seem inconsequential may all be pulled in later and reveal the massive spiderweb of his intricate plot development. So I'm willing to be patient. I have a feeling this show may kick us in the teeth when we aren't looking. That doesn't mean that I still don't wish he'd throw us a little tidbit more often than they have. Are they revealing enough to keep you interested?

What do you think of the whole idea of fringe science? Is the idea too hokey for you? Or maybe it's too gory for you? So far we've had a plane full of melted people, a transclucent body, the dead talking, a bus full of embalmed people, grotesque pregnancies, aliens (?), reanimated hearts, ghost networks and a dude who reminded me of Stephen King's Carrie, who couldn't control his own electric personality. (ha!) I dig this type of dark supernatural stuff, so it hasn't turned me off at all.

Bottom line, I'm really enjoying it, and I'm willing to stick around, to see what kind of ride JJ Abrams has in store for us. He hasn't let me down so far...

Here are some questions that are gnawing away at me about the show. What is your theory on them? Leave me a comment and let me know.

1. Who is The Observer? My vote is for alien. Whatever he is, I think he's a cool character and will look forward to him popping up from time to time.

2. What's up with Massive Dynamics and the Secret Board Meeting? I want to know more about this sinister corporation and why Nina Sharpe is so interested in hiring Olivia. Especially when it seems like Massive Dynamics is already controlling Olivia and her team through Broyles, when they revealed that brief scene of the secret board meeting. Who is on that board and what are they up to? Does the Hanso Foundation own Dharma AND Massive Dynamics? ha ha I find it interesting that back in the day, the villians used to be Nazis or Commies, and now our modern day villains are corporations... an interesting commentary on the world we live in. But I digress...

3. Can Broyles be trusted? I want to know more about Broyles. I liked the tension between him and Olivia in the pilot episode. It made their relationship interesting. I think they've lost some of that. And maybe LOST is just making me paranoid, but I don't think Broyles can be trusted. He's an Other! I hope they develop his character more, and let us know more about his past and what makes him tick, and what his relationship is to that secret board meeting.

4. What is up with Agent Scott? Is he dead or re-animated or psychicly linked to Olivia or what? His appearances are sufficiently freaky, and I can't really decide if it's in Olivia's head or if he's a ghost or what.

5. What is the Pattern? And what is up with all the fringe scientists they keep arresting? I have a feeling we won't know the answer to this until the final episode. Hopefully, FRINGE will have a nice multi-season run like LOST and we can take our time finding out.

For more information, check out Fringe-pedia.

Here's an interesting article from someone who isn't liking FRINGE as much as me, and has a few interesting suggestions.

And lastly, for episode re-caps of the first three shows, check out my dear husband's fun posts on Pop Critics. He did a great job with them.

Episode 1 - Pilot
Episode 2 - The Same Old Story
Episode 3 - Ghost Network


Laura said...

I didn't read all your spoilers because I remembered I haven't watched "Power Hungry" yet... I'll do that right now!

Have I mentioned lately that I love my DVR?

Laura said...

Ok, we watched it. I really like all the ideas that are X-Files-ish and I've been pleased with every show so far. Many of the questions you have weren't even on the show this week (not much on the Pattern and I don't remember any reference to Massive Dynamics, but maybe their name was on something in the background?)

I agree The Observer is a very intriguing character. Did you see him get off the elevator just before the receptionist Bethany got on and then they crashed? Coincidence? Since he doesn't seem to age, I'm wondering if he is like Richard Alpert on LOST. Hmm...

I'm claiming Walter as my favorite character so far. "Zap!... wool socks". That was so fantastic.

D.L. White said...

I know, I had noticed that too. They didn't talk about the pattern at all this week.

Both Shawn and I yelled out and pointed at the TV when the Observer got off the elevator. What a surprise and a fun TV-viewing moment.

Walter definitely has some of the funniest lines. Do you think he's faking some of his "crazy moments" or is he really unhinged? I can't help but wonder if it's a defense mechanism for him.

I think for now Peter is my favorite... but I'd like them to develop his character a little more.

mikeo75 said...

Yeah, I had to rewind for my wife to see The Observer, she missed him the first time :)

I like the show a's definitely just above average for me I think. I mean, it's cool, great to look at...John Noble is very good as Bishop...but there is something missing. Maybe MORE character development. I'd like to see more of Olivia's life outside of these cases.

Lost is so good because you really get to know the characters. X-Files was awesome, because you learned so much about Mulder and Scully's lives and who they were.

Maybe this will eventually come...but I'd like to see a bit more of it now. Like what's up with Joshua Jackson's past? Let's find out more about that.

D.L. White said...

Thanks for your comments Mike. I concur. All the supernatural stuff is interesting, but developing the characters is what gets the viewer invested and makes them really care about what's happening.

Just a little aside... I love the flying letters when they are identifying a location. :P

Laura said...

Cindy McCain told Gretta Van Susstren she has three seasons of the X-Files on her ipod!

D.L. White said...

How cool is that!!! :D

D.L. White said...

Check this out... I went to FRINGEpedia and the Observer has been in EVERY episode!!! (Although they haven't posted yet where he appeared in this week's show.)

"Apparently appearing at most incidents believed to be connected to The Pattern, the Observer doesn't seem to be involved in the direct cause of the events, but simply observing them. Although formally introduced in The Arrival, he has appeared in every episode since the Pilot:
* He walks past the Massive Dynamic building, in the Pilot.
* He stands at the hospital desk where the aging man lies dead, in The Same Old Story.
* He is passed by Olivia at South Station bus terminal, in The Ghost Network.
* He exits the doomed elevator seconds before it crashes, in Power Hungry.