So when I heard that J.J. Abrams was coming out with a new show that was supposed to be like the X-Files, I of course was thrilled and couldn’t wait. I am in the habit of obsessing over the shows that I like and have often “inhaled” whole series extremely fast (eg. all 7 seasons of Buffy in about 2 months).
I was first introduced to J.J. Abrams’ work with the show Alias. I was an avid fan until I felt that the Season 3 finale completely destroyed everything the show had built up and trivialized months of my life. I subsequently stopped watching the show. After Alias was LOST. I decided to give Abrams a second chance to redeem himself and he managed to get back in my good graces with a show that developed a complex web of relationships among its cast members along with an incredibly detailed universe that managed to feed its ever growing fan base.
And now comes Fringe, a show that is like X-Files mixed with Alias. The show centers around 3 main characters. Anna Torv plays Olivia Dunham, an agent of the DHS who is assigned to investigate cases that exhibit extraordinary conditions similar to “x-files”. John Noble plays Dr. Walter Bishop, an eccentric scientist who specialized in “fringe” science before being locked up in a mental institution for decades. Joshua Jackson plays Peter Bishop, Walter’s estranged son who is called upon to be his father’s guardian while Walter helps the DHS. I feel like the best interactions in the show are between the father and son Bishops. They have a certain on-screen synergy which complements each other perfectly. Sometimes the dialogue can be a little weak, but honestly if you want dialogue go watch a Joss Whedon show. The role of Olivia Dunham seems weakly thought out at best. I think they need to re-examine her role in the show and decide who the real focus of the show is.
Fringe does have a main story arc currently (in Season 1) which has captured my interest thus far. While it may not be as epic as the X-Files main story arc, maybe this one will actually have some answers for us. I think the secret behind the X-Files cult popularity was more than just the paranormal activity that the writers used to drive the plot. It was the dynamic between Mulder and Scully. They had an onscreen chemistry whose ebb and tide you could feel throughout the episodes through the television (or computer screen in my case). Until Fringe can bring Agent Dunham’s character into a more cohesive role in the show, I think it’s pretty much doomed to low ratings and a “fringe” audience comprised of people like me who are just cult fans of sci-fi shows. Give it a shot though and let me know what you think.