If I only watch one new show this fall, it’ll have to be J.J. Abram’s Fringe. Last night’s premiere just happened to be my first glimpse into the new fall season and judging from Fringe‘s debut this season should be a good one.
Fox’s new series reminded me of an updated X-Files with a dash of Alias‘ science, Lost‘s intrigue and 24‘s terrorists. And like the X-files, fans will find that the “truth is out there” and I for one am looking for to the adventure to find it.
But unlike our friends Scully and Mulder, this team isn’t looking for aliens. Instead they are looking for those behind “The Pattern” – a series of mysterious events that are a result of experiments by ethically challenged scientists dabbling in “fringe” science – science dealing with topics on the fringe of science like genetic mutation, reanimation, mind control, invisibility teleportation and astral projection.
In the opening episode, we see just one of these events when all the passengers and flight crew of Glatterflug Flight 627 (so glad they didn’t use Oceanic, but what is it that Abrams has against planes) mysteriously die after a bioterrorism agent is released leaving nothing more than skeletons and piles of body fluids and tissues. (yes, it was a little gruesome to watch.)
In the search for the scientist responsible for releasing the toxin, FBI agent Olivia Dunham’s partner and lover John Scott (Mark Valley) is exposed to the raw ingredients of the toxin in an explosion leaving him to a slowed version of the same fate dealt to the Flight 627 passengers.
Now Olivia (Anna Torv) must not only solve the mystery behind Flight 627, she must find a cure for John. Her research leads her to Walter Bishop (John Noble), a brilliant scientist who did research in fringe science for the government in the 70s and 80s. In fact, his work turns out to be the basis for the contagion used in Flight 627.
But Walter isn’t a suspect. For the last 17 years he has been incarcerated in a mental hospital following the death of one of his lab assistants and speculation that he was conducting tests on humans. Now he is allowed no visitors outside of family.
Since Walter might hold the key to not only Flight 627, but treatment for John, Olivia seeks out Walter’s only son, Peter (Joshua Jackson), to gain access to Walter. A genius in his own right, Peter has refused to follow in the footsteps of the “mad scientist” father he’s separated himself from for so many years, choosing instead to wander from job to job and place to place getting himself into his own trouble in the process.
Together the trio – Olivia, Walter and Peter – work to solve the case and save John from the toxin. But what they discover changes their perspectives forever. The threesome then signs up to work for Homeland Security Agent Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick, The Wire and Lost) to investigate The Pattern.
I originally tuned in because I like J.J. Abrams and I’m a big Pacey – I mean Joshua Jackson – fan, but I’ll be returning for the intrigue. There were a few predictable moments like how the team came to work for Broyles, but for the most part, I was on the edge of my seat throughout the show.
The show is also laced with a nice blend of humor. The cow in the first episode was my favorite especially when they are all eating lunch with it.
Joshua Jackson does a great job of showing his character’s conflict between his interest (and knack) for the science with his distrust of his father. Peter acts as Walter’s conscious preventing him from becoming Dr. Frankenstein. As Olivia says, Peter is the only one who can “speak Walter.”
It’s also easy to see that there will be some chemistry between Peter and Olivia in future episodes. For being such a loner, Peter really seems to care about people.
I’m also very intrigued by the mysterious Massive Dynamics and the yet-unseen William Bell, who just happened to be Walter’s former lab partner. It’ll be no mystery to learn that Massive Dynamics is behind The Pattern. What will be surprising is to learn why and how far Bell and company have gone with the technology.
Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) – and her robotic arm – is very creepy as the Massive Dynamics Chief Operating Officer who warns Olivia that science has already gone too far to be controlled.
I, for one, am looking forward to the next episode. This show has definitely earned a spot on the DVR this season. Let’s just hope Fox doesn’t screw it up.
If you missed the premiere episode, Fox is re-airing it on Sunday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. or you can watch it online at Fox.com.
Anyone else catch this premiere? What did you think? Does the show have potential? What was your favorite part?