Friday, November 18, 2011

Why Fringe Rocks

Vince Hase
November 6, 2011

Look, I’ll be frank (even though that’s not my name); Fox’s Fringe rocks.

I spend my television hours guessing the endings of most procedural dramas. Frankly, if I can’t guess the ending of a procedural drama, it’s because it’s jumped the shark to try to fool people, making for a ridiculous ending. It seems television writers are so busy banging out CSIs, Law & Orders and Castles (yes, plot-wise I dump Castle into the bad category, even though I do like the show) that they are painting by the numbers when it comes to plot.

I can’t guess Fringe. Sure I can see some general directions, but I can’t guess it at all. J. J. Abrams and crew are willing to do pretty much anything; kill important characters, change reality, make good guy’s bad, change reality, erase character’s entire existence, change reality, seemingly throw giant monkey-wrenches in the plot that you think you’ve figured out – and change reality.

Not only did the original cast wind up playing themselves as evil (or well-meaning) opposites within a second universe, which is possibly one of the most over-used plot-lines in science-fiction, not only did they manage to do it with style and panache, but now they went and changed the reality of both of these universes, changing the histories and relationships of all the characters in both places – basically giving the actors the net result of playing FOUR versions of themselves: the old universe’s realities, and now, the new reality of the current shows.

It keeps evolving into a new series, and yet it is playing out a singular story-arc.

Fringe always gets compared to The X-Files, but I have to say that ultimately, it’s Rod Serling-caliber. I don’t just mean Twilight-Zone caliber, but more than that, Rod Serling himself. It’s the type of television that Rod spoke of when he was interviewed about what he saw for the future of television way back when Zone started – something that brought art to the masses, not Kardashians and tattoo shows and people bidding on crap in a storage-locker – truly thoughtful television.

I urge you to check out the previous episodes and catch up. Watching Fringe has become my favorite pastime, and, frankly, one of my favorite TV shows ever. There is NO sitting in front of the television and sapping your brain dry with Fringe – I am constanly challenged, surprised, and delighted with the stories, plots and performances. What other television series literally changes the opening credits depending on which universe (or time) in which the story is taking place? Right now all the credits are a color that they’ve never been before – and I’ll leave it to you to figure out why.

Fox has been gracious, allowing Fringe to continue with less than stellar overall ratings, due to a strong fan-base, and (I hope) a realization that it’s just darn-good television. This is something that will make all related parties quite a bit of money in it’s afterlife of DVD sales and syndication. I only hope that they know when to truly end the show, giving it a satisfying farewell. I don’t want it to run forever, taking up space, but coming to a strong conclusion, which is very difficult in the ratings-driven world of network television.

In any case, I’ll enjoy the ride as long as it lasts.

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