TV Detail: Fringe Review

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DHARMA Industry ’s got nothing on Massive Dynamic, whose slogans ominously proclaim, “What don’t we make?” and “Your world is our world.” In J.J. Abrams brand new series Fringe, a large mysterious corporation is again at the center of conspiracy, intrigue and just plain weird occurrences. Fringe is the X-Files without the aliens, subtlety or skepticism—and with a healthy dose of grandeur. In the first episode that aired on Fox last night, “the pattern” of events that have occurred in the last year include small plane emitting high frequency that was responsible for the tsunami that killed 80,000—the same rough number that died in 2004 in Southeast Asia. No little mysteries involving a widow’s voodoo curse or serial killers tucked away in Amish communities here. The series opens with the flesh dripping off an entire airplane full of passengers and isn’t shy about introducing “mind control, teleportation, genetic mutation, reanimation”—all on a vast scale, and it’s up to FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) to stop it, with the help of Peter Bishop (played by my namesake—grrrr) and his father Walter (John Noble).

Related Links:
Fringe episode 1.4 "The Arrival" review
Fringe episode 1.3 "The Ghost Network" review
Fringe episode 1.2 "Same Old Story" review

With that in mind, the pilot was surprisingly slow, particularly when compared to the dynamic opening scene of Lost. When Dunham is assigned to investigate the strange phenomenon on the plane after it lands in Boston, her partner (and love interest) is quickly affected by one of the compounds involved in deadly biological agent aboard the plane. To save him, she has to track down Good Will Hunting—I mean, a young, genius high-school dropout from Boston—to get access to his crazy scientist father whose experiments 17 years ago are starting to resurface around the world. The unlikely trio—with the help of a cow, some LSD and the full force of our men in blue flak jackets with yellow letters—must work fast to repair her beau’s now-transparent epidermis.

As someone who loves both The X-Files and Lost, my expectations may have been unfairly high. I was prepared to have my face melted, and had to settle for watching somebody else's face melt. Where the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 are still trying to get their heads around what exaclty is going on, the mysteries presented on Fringe were neatly wrapped up in a bow in less than two hours. Hopefully Abrams has much more up his sleeve. The mechanics are there for a great show, but the engine needs a little revving.

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