Wednesday, September 10, 2008

First Impressions: Fringe

Ok, let's just get this out of the way.

AHHHH! PACEY!!!!!! You're back!!1!!

Just needed to get that off my chest. It should not come as a surprise that I was a big Pacey fan, back when Joshua Jackson was making a splash as a loquacious teen on Dawson's Creek.

I had heard good rumblings about Fringe. After all it's from J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias) so you know it will be brilliant and somewhat effed up. And turns out, I was right and I really like it. Although I wasn't sure at first. The first 40 minutes were a little "meh," but once the whole cast was assembled and we saw some hints of an arc for the show (what's "the pattern?"), it really took off and I got interested.

Here's the official description:

When an international flight lands at Boston's Logan Airport with no signs of life, FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is called in to investigate as part of an inter-agency task force. After her partner, Special Agent John Scott (Mark Valley), is nearly killed during the investigation, a desperate Olivia searches frantically for someone to help, leading her to Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), our generation's Einstein. There's only one catch: he's been institutionalized for the last 17 years, and the only way to question him requires pulling his estranged son Peter (Joshua Jackson) in to help.

When Olivia's investigation leads to multi-billion dollar corporation Massive Dynamic and its manipulative corporate executive, Nina Sharp (Blair Brown), our unlikely trio, along with Department of Homeland Security Agent Phillip Boyles (Lance Reddick) and FBI Agents Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo) and Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole), will discover that what happened on Flight 627 is only a small piece of a larger, more shocking truth.

The lead character, Olivia, is played by a chick who could be Cate Blanchett's younger sister, and also resembles Jennifer Garner enough to make me think I am watching a slightly less complicated Alias. Other than that, she didn't make a huge impression. But of course it's good to see my man Pacey, er Joshua Jackson, again.

Pacey, I missed you! How is it you look exactly the same now as you did 10 years ago?

A big surprise for me was seeing John Noble playing Pacey's crazy father (you might remember him from The Lord of the Rings when he played an, um, crazy father). Noble lends a certain gravitas to the cast, and a touch of whimsy. He made my laugh when he noted that Spongebob Squarepants was "surprisingly profound for a narrative about a sponge." And since he's playing a guy who has been locked up in an asylum for 17 years, I'm willing to buy that he has certain eccentricities.

The pilot episode ended with a big twist, which I won't ruin here, but I will definitely be making this one a keeper. I have a feeling that the show will only improve when it settles into it's normal formula, where the team investigates/solves cases involving various aspects of "fringe" science.

Did I mention that there's a cow? Her name is Jean.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

So I just finished watching it - finally. And I have to say I agree that the pacing was a little off the first 30-35 mins but things started to pick up.

A couple additional thoughts... I've never seen it but I have to wonder: what is up with all the references to the movie Altered States (first in the 2-part House finale, which I recently rewatched) and now here?

I also agree that its nice to see Joshua Jackson back. Of the original Dawson's cast he was the one who changed the most and it is a credit to him as an actor. I haven't totally decided if I like him in this role yet or not but I'm glad to see him back!

And Keen Eddie!!!! Well... nuff said.

I was intrigued by the pedigree of this show. With JJ as a creator, and the writers of Transformers you knew it would be good but twisted. And the obvious comparisons to X-Files are inevitable. Only time will tell if it breaks from the mold. But what startled me most was the name of Alex Graves (ex-producer and director of the pilot), who I know almost entirely from his work with Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme on West Wing. Not quite the tenor of a show I expect from a director like that.

Have a nice vaca!