Know Your Show: Fringe #AtoZChallenge

by - April 07, 2016


This post is part of my #A2ZChallenge for April 2016 where my theme is TV Sitcoms.
For the letter F, I choose Fringe.
Writing about 'FRIENDS' would have been too easy. I chose to go with a show that was brilliant and a hit with both critics and fans alike. It isn't an easy show to sell however owing to its complex nature... which is why I felt the need to show you why it's worth investing in.

Premise:

The unlikely trio of a young female FBI agent, a former scientific genius now considered mad and his estranged son investigate cases, solving unnatural cases using questionable scientific techniques... Fringe Science.   


10 reasons to watch Fringe:


1) This show is X-Files (paranormal) meets Homeland (national security) meets the Matrix (alternate realities). I do no justice with this description and yet that is the easiest way to put it to entice you, the new viewer.

2) Creator/Director/Producer/Screenwriter is J.J.Abrams.
For those who need to ask, this is the director of Mission Impossible 3; the man who reanimated the Star Trek franchise from the dead with his two movies, the director & screenwriter of 2015's successful continuation of Star Wars and the man who successfully emulated Steven Spielberg with Super 8. For sci-fi fans, he is legend.
On the small screen, he is the creator/director/writer behind three other iconic shows - Lost, Person of Interest & Alias. And FRINGE scores highest among all 4 of these successful TV shows. 

3) This was the best sci-fi TV show in decades as far as concepts and execution went. The idea of fringe science - science which seems to work though it has no proven basis - opened the doors for various interesting concepts like mind control, artificial intelligence, dark matter, astral projection, teleportation and entering into one's dreams.

Just an amazingly mysterious scene to start Season 2. No Major spoilers.

4) This was NOT a 'leave your brains at home' kind of show.
That became obvious to the casual viewer much later in the show. So much was going on in front of us and we did not realize it. One of the only shows where the background was as relevant as the foreground.

The Glyph Code


  • The Glyph Code: Prior to each commercial break, a random image would be shown for a second. No one thought much of it until a few people decided to make a proper note of it. A few cryptology sequences later, it was identified to be part of a regular hidden message. The images appearing before the breaks corresponded to letters which spelled out a key concept of the episode (Mother, Ghosts etc) The thing itself (seahorse, apple) would be significant in its own way in the ultimate storyline.

Note the mysterious 'Man in Black' in the background.
Like Alfred Hitchcock in his own movies, the Observer would be present 
in every episode
  • The Observers: Midway through the first season, we are introduced to a bald man in a black suit and briefcase who just sits and takes notes of random things. It was only when fans watched reruns of the season that they realized that this man was actually there in every episode of the show, hidden from plain view but present nonetheless. The significance would be revealed much later.   

5) A huge part of this show's lore dealt with two themes:

  • Butterfly Effect - where even a small innocuous action caused by one person could have far reaching changes in another part of the world. A poor choice made by one man years ago in a moment of love and weakness results in literally world changing events here.
  • Multiverses(as opposed to our concept of a single universe): a parallel world where we all existed but different from how we were here. Where most shows move back and forth in time via flashbacks, Fringe moved back and forth between two Earths as the series progressed. And yes, you always knew which world you were in thanks to the unique graphics, the personality changes and even the title track of the episode (which changed colour from blue to red to let you know which world you were in!).


6) FOX network loved the show to the end but often griped about the high budget which cut into their profits. What that means is simply this - brilliant special effects that were way beyond anything else on TV at the time.

7) No science fiction show can succeed unless it has heart. Graphics will only get you so far. Fringe was as emotionally captivating as it was conceptually brilliant, mixing brilliant graphics with good action, tense moments and twists with strong character moments.  There is probably no father in TV history who has gone to greater lengths for his son's sake. As good as the graphics are, I stayed because I genuinely loved the trio of Walter, Peter and Olivia.

8) As the theory of multi-verses got developed, it required some pretty good acting from the stars too as they had to play two different characters each, one for each world.
Rookie actor Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham was an inspired casting choice as the FBI Special Agent who initially ropes in a babbling Walter 'Dr Frankenstein' Bishop from the mental asylum for a single case but slowly realizes how deeply he is connected to all the events unfolding all around her.
Joshua Jackson as Walter's estranged son is forced to help out initially but slowly grows to realize how valuable these two mean to him as his world changes.



9) John Noble (Denethor from the Lord of the Rings trilogy) as Walter Bishop.
This is one of the most heartwarming and yet heartbreaking characters ever written for TV.
A scientific genius who believed in futuristic concepts but stuck to cold practicality which included experimenting on children, a single personal decision he makes out of love for his son results in literally universe-shattering consequences.
The man you meet has spent nearly 17 years in a mental asylum. He has had a sliver of his brain tissue removed. He is childish. He is vulnerable. He is hilarious. He is unstable. And through it all, he holds the key to explaining what is going on and how to save the world with his fringe science.

10)  Personal opinion:

  • Sci-fi is not everyone's cup of tea. I get that. And yet, Fringe was so much more. I agree with @MrScreenAddict who ended his article by simply stating what so many of us already know: that 'Fringe is one of the most criminally underrated series of our time.'
  • Yes, there are pacing issues in Season 1 as the show sought to find its true voice, but you have gifts I did not have - a completed series (100 episodes) and the knowledge that this show went on to be a huge hit with both critics and audiences who watched it. 
  • I have always felt that one of TV's biggest crimes was not awarding John Noble a Best Actor award for his portrayal as the lovable but broken Walter Bishop.




If aliens were to judge us based solely upon this show:

Are you kidding me? They wouldn't know which Earth they were in! We can make them go round and round asking directions for ages.

Trivia:


  • J.J. Abrams did a less-than-crowd-pleasing job with the finale of LOST. With Fringe, he nailed the ending having both critics and audiences applauding.
  • Every episode had a tendency to give you a hint of the next episode, even if the two cases were unrelated. You would not be able to guess while seeing the first episode but once you see the second and rewatch the first episode, the hidden clue foreshadowing the next episode would be present in plain sight. 
P.S. Oh ya. I never even got to tell you that Star Trek legend, the late Leonard Nimoy (Spock) had a major role throughout the show.


To see all the shows  I have talked about till date, please CLICK HERE.

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36 comments

  1. This one sounds very interesting Doc. That description is enough to figure this show on torrent ;)

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    1. This is one show that will start slow. But have faith... even without you realizing it, they are laying the foundation for a much bigger better storyline.

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  2. Why is mystery and paranormal so addictive?

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    1. The paranormal always opens your mind a little to something beyond the regular concepts we see in every day life. It showcases creativity of the writers too

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  3. This one seems one of the most mentally stimulating shows going by your post> I am impressed by their themes of Universal connectivity which I fully believe in and Parallel universes is so interesting n hard to fathom....

    Sunila just wrote...
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    1. Oh, this truly explores the concept of parallel universes better than any show ever on TV.

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  4. I guessed you would go with Fringe for 'F"
    I remember watching and discussing this show with you about 8 years ago when it first came out. One of my fav shows in the X Files genre. Wish they would do something similar again. The X files revival was exiting as a fanboy and brought back many memories of us in school discussing each episode the next day but somehow I feel they need something a lot more updated to keep audiences captivated.

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    1. Oh, I still remember you messaging me on Nimoy's first appearance in Season 1.
      The X-files revival: I actually liked the 'monster of the week' episodes better than Chris Carter's overarching theme... which is sad. The cliffhanger ending did not help matters.

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  5. Sci-fi has never been my cup of tea but since you mentioned that there is so much more to this one, I might as well give it a try. I'm more of a Castle person. Kind of biased like that :|

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    1. No, this is quite a bit more complex and needs some investment :)

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  6. Hi Roshan, I haven't seen this one...but of course one of my kids does! I am informed its not for me....meaning I am not intelligent enough to understand it. But after reading this, I am tempted....I'll throw some terms around that I picked up from here...casually knowledgeable! ;)
    @KalaRavi16 from
    Relax-N-Rave

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    1. Definitely :) That's the best way for them to think their mom is super cool... terms like astral projection and telekinesis should do the trick :)

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  7. I LOVE Fringe! Absolutely madly in love with it, AND Joshua Jackson too! I adore the trio of Walter, Peter and Olivia. What a balance between them. I agree with it being underrated. Few know the true value of this show. Now you've got me hooked to your site. :D
    [@samantha_rjsdr] from
    Whimsical Compass

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    1. Exactly why I chose it over many more popular shows starting with the letter F. This deserved more awareness.

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  8. WOW THIS I need to watch... I gotta watch!! sounds amazing! How did I ever miss it. Atleast now I will look out for the mysterious man.

    A Whimsical Medley
    Twinkle Eyed Traveller

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    1. You have the benefit I didnt have.. I ahd to go back after hearing of it online nearly at the end of season1

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  9. Loved the review.
    All excited to watch it 😃😃now


    @dixita011 from
    Cafenined words

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  10. That's intriguing... Have not heard of this show before...

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  11. X-Files meets Homeland meets the Matrix! Enough said.

    *Adds to torrent list* Which is only growing, thanks to you!

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    1. If I knew I could hook you all with that first line, I wouldn't have struggled so much with the pics and trivia! :D

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  12. Hmmm haven't seen this one. It seems complicated. Maybe I need to catch an episode or two to figure it out.

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  13. Good one Doc. Never came across such one! But like I said before, I will note it

    F -Playing with Fire

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    1. It is definitely a show worth following up on

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  14. This would get me hooked. Esp cos' of the description you gave (point1) :)
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    1. It takes awhile to get going but after that its quite a smart show with some brilliant concepts

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  15. I think I used to watch fringe! I just realized that's the girl from Suits ha. a to z// www.xoxomake.com

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    1. Yes... she did go on to play the lead love interest in Suits :)

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  16. Sounds interesting, Roshan. Will be checking out all the ones in the series. Especially keen on the SF ones.

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    1. If its sci-fi you crave, nothing better than this.

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  17. Aha!! I was so hoping you'd write on FRIENDS but love this one that seems to be a kick ass show as you nailed it with your writing.

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    1. Friends seemed the easiest option... didn't want to make it that simple for myself :)

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So what do you think ?