TV Detail: Fringe review. Episode 3—The Ghost Network
Fox has paired its new show Fringe on Tuesday nights with House, and each show's best character is a somewhat misanthropic doctor. Both are played by foreign actors—Dr. House by Englishman Hugh Laurie and Dr. Bishop by Australian John Noble. Laurie's character is among the surliest anti-heroes on TV since E.R.'s Dr. Rocket Romano was abusing everyone he came in contact with. His bedside manner can best be summed up by words like "mocking," "cruel" and "uncaring." But even he never implanted human test subjects' blood with a metallic compound that would years later intercept transmissions through a biological communications network.
But that was exactly what led to a Boston architect's mysterious visions of terrorism in last night's episode that helped the Fringe team make their biggest breakthrough yet towards discovering who's responsible for The Pattern. No matter how big a genius Dr. Bishop is, I'd rather put my fate in the hands of House—at least he'd be more focused on saving my life than learning from my ailments. But I'd probably rather watch Bishop. Noble, who played Denethor in The Lord of the Rings, is a superb actor, and his version of a mad scientist is mesmerizing. He's a terrible father and an unconscionable researcher, always more interested in finding truth than say, not harming his subjects. His rudeness stems from a general preoccupation with life's grander mysteries, but after being in a mental institution for 17 years, is fascinated by the ass-warmer in his son's car. And for all of that, he still comes across as your gentle grandfather. He's likeable—not like House can seem likeable because an ascerbic wit, but actually likeable. And that goes a long way towards overcoming the show's continued shortcuts.
The show's main story arc is still just creeping along, though the final scene in "The Ghost Network" hinted at unexpected alliances. Three episodes in, and there are still few clues to who the bad guys are or why they're creating such carnage.
Fringe episode 1.4 "The Arrival" review
Fringe episode 1.2 "Same Old Story" review
Fringe episode 1.1 Searies pilot review