Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Just because I love it so much - some more Fringe


A long time ago, last Oct to be exact, I posted here about a tv show I had just discovered, called Fringe. Well, it's been 4 months, and how do I feel now? In one word, besotted. That's right, crazy in love with a tv show. Me! By now some of you, my Gentle Readers, know I have a weakness for science fiction on tv. But I'm really choosy about what I watch. So it's rare for me to rave about tv, though I'm beginning to realize that if I do, it's usually about science fiction shows! So, because of Carl's Sci Fi experience still going on, I thought I would add a few things about Fringe that I know now, and more reasons why it's the best science fiction show on TV.

We are 2/3 of the way through Season 2. So, is S2 any better than S1? In my opinion, yes. It's different - the show moved filming to Vancouver over the summer (yaay Canada!), and the lighting and colours have become much more muted and darker - and in some cases, distinctively British Columbia in some of the forest scenes. It thus still has echoes of X-Files as X-Files (is there anyone who doesn't know this?) was filmed in Vancouver also. But there the resemblence ends. Fringe has settled into it's own place, it's own mythology, it's own characters' lives. It is still bizarre, still nightmarish, still creepy and scary, and it's also gone deeper into the story of Olivia, and explored some of Peter's and Walter's history. This season has seen the three characters - and indeed Broyles who is still in charge of the Fringe division, and Astrid who is still assisting in the lab are also included in this - so, the five Fringe people, draw closer together - become a group of people who now care for each other. In particular is the deepening of the father-son relationship between Walter and Peter, which has been deeply moving, and the slowly growing awareness of attraction between Peter and Olivia.

The more Fringe goes to Olivia's drug experiment past when she was a child and shows how it affected her as a person today - and the last episode that aired, "Jacksonville", did just that - the more the reality of what experimenting on people really costs becomes apparent. This has been a theme all along in Fringe. There is a cost to experimenting in the scientific world, especially when it comes to experiments using people. In no way does Fringe frown on scientific work! It's more about how far people push the boundaries of knowledge, and what happens to everyone involved.

As a psychology show, it's an amazing. How Olivia is now as a person, is directly related to what happened to her when she was 3 and how she coped with what she experienced during the drug trial. Walter has shown flashes of his old self before he become insane, and so we can see the old Walter that Peter grew up with, and the new Walter, who is changed by his time in the mental hospital. The most character growth has been shown by Peter, who decided after Olivia almost dies in ep 1 of this season, that they are going to do more than react to things, and who has started to come into his own as the one who cares for and protects these two. This is a change from the first season when he had jokes and kept at an emotional distance, now he's involved in every case and emotionally connected to both Peter and Olivia. He's about to discover the big secret that Walter has carried since Peter was a boy, that Olivia just discovered last episode: he's not from our world.

And no, he's not an alien! This is a multi-universe drama, and before you shout "Lost!" at me, I will say, "Yes, same producer and creator - JJ Abrams - but no- not the same multiple storylines etc that Lost is using." Fringe has one alternate universe, that Walter opened the door to, and took what fans call "Alternate" Peter after the real Peter died as a young child. Olivia saw the glow around Peter at the end of the last episode, the glimmer of light that shows he is from the other world. He doesn't know. And that's where the series stands, as we have an 8 week hiatus (until April 1) until Fringe returns. Interested yet?



Mostly, Fringe is about people. People caught up in the search for knowledge, for power, who have seen into the future and want to protect it, and people searching to make up for past mistakes. There is almost always a family at the centre of things every episode, a family threatened by some scientific discovery or experiment gone wrong, or alternative health sources - the underworld of science, in a way. It's a freak show, with people who love eachother, and that love isn't always enough to save them from mistakes that most frequently have dire consequences. Sometimes, there are acts of redemption, that bring a kind of healing and balance back. At the center are always Olivia, Peter and Walter, exploring this dark side of the quest for knowledge.


For me, the writing is the best on tv. The dialogue is what you and I would say if we were caught in this world. The writing? Excellent. From foreshadowing to plots that echo the unfolding story arcs, there is so much attention paid to detail, to what's happened before and what's coming, that I can watch this show again and again and still find things to discover, or link up to later episodes. It's layered, and everything said matters on this show. I just find that it's a feast of extraordinary television. As it's under the guise of science fiction, I think it's that science fiction label that keeps it from really getting more recognitition - and probably viewers - than it does. It really is much more than a science fiction show - or, I should say, it's the best high-quality drama out there, that happens to be science fiction.

I jokingly call Fringe the show about 'science gone bad'. It's also about love, family, forgiveness, the past always having repercussions in the future, and , for the scientists among us, science is the grounding of every episode, in Walter's lab, and for the science fiction fan, the coming war with the alternate world. Even though it sounds like it has a lot, which it does, everything is balanced with storytelling that just pulls you along. It is rare - beyond rare! - for me to be able to watch a tv episode more than twice, if even that much. Fringe is one of a very few tv shows that I have watched four and five times, and I still get grossed out, I still jump, and every so often, I still cry. I can't get enough of these characters! and I really have to know what happens next. It's almost impossible to watch one episode at a time on the dvd. Thankfully for my sake, I have PVR'd Season 2, so now our PVR is filled with Fringe! I hate letting any episodes go!

It's on hiatus right now, so if you haven't caught it yet, the next episode "Peter" airs April 1, and it promises to be another crucial episode in the season and story arc. I'll be there. I should have all of Season 2 rewatched and "Jacksonville" memorized by then!

So now you know, my inner science fiction geekess is alive and well, watching Fringe. And reading science fiction for the challenge. Since it's only a few days before the end of February,
I probably won't post again about science fiction for the challenge. So I hope if you are looking for something new and entertaining in science fiction a try, you will give Fringe a try. And Carl's experience may only last until the end of February, but his list of things we have read and watched and entered on his site, stay up for years......

10 comments:

brideofthebookgod said...

This has been off air for so long I was beginning to despair, but back it comes at the beginning of March and I am so, so glad. I've missed it a lot.

Amy said...

We are kindred spirits!!! I love FRINGE so much and cannot wait for it to come back on. It fills the hole left by X-FILES all those years ago.

-Amy
Life by Candlelight

Susan said...

Bride: Oh, you haven't had any new episodes since Christmas? You have some good ones coming!! We're in the middle of our break and I totally understand your despair. Did you get the dvd of the first season yet?

Amy: I'm delighted you watch it too! we are kindred spirits, that gift exchange did help people find each other, didn't it? I loved the X-files too, but I'm finding Fringe is in a category all its own. Have you been watching the first season on dvd? What's your favorite episode?

StephanieD said...

When I was regularly watching t.v. I absolutely went bonkers for this show. I'll have to pick it up again - maybe sequester myself for a week with seasons 1 & 2 (once it comes out on DVD) .

Andrea said...

My parents LOVE this show. I watched a few episodes with my husband (from S1), but it "creeps him out." I was raised around sci-fi, my parents obviously enjoy it. :-) Anyway, once S2 started my mom raved about it and said it's one of those shows you like more and more as the seasons progress. One of these days I want to buy the DVDs to watch when hubby is out of town. :-)

Hazra said...

I love Fringe too! The layers in the story, the crisp stories and the acting make it one of the best shows around. Now that it's on hiatus, I started watching The Mentalist. It's a crime series, way different from Fringe, but it's interesting. Can't wait for Fringe to come back, though!

Susan said...

StephanieD: oh yes, because it's just as good in S2, if not better! Watching it in from beginning to end, I can see the series grow and deepen. Do give it a try, if you went bonkers once, you will again! I hope!!

Andrea: oh poor you! My husband likes it, but inevitably the music starts - opening scenes - and he's asleep!!! lol He really likes the Peter and Walter relationship. Me, I love Peter and Olivia, and well, you know, everything! I hope you get a chance to watch it - and watching in in sequence, like I said to Stephanie D, does mean that you get captured - I watched S1 this way, since I missed it all the first time. Let me know if you get a chance to sneak it in and what you think :-D

Hazra: I tried watching The Mentalist, but I find it is the same every episode - it's episodic, and I get bored with those easily. Fringe varies the content and the mystery enough that even when it's only MotW and not a story arc episode, it's fascinating and fun. It's funny, but both Mentalist and Bones have taken off with the potential pairing of the lead stars, which Fringe is also starting to do, so I live in hope it will get back into the top 10 shows per week like last year! Obviously a lot of craving for romance out there.....I'm so glad you love Fringe too!! April 1 is still a long way away, isn't it?

Carl V. said...

The 'experience' has officially ended, but in reality sci fi is something I continue to spend time with all year long. I am miserably far behind on Fringe right now and need to use this break to try to catch up.

Susan said...

Carl: oh, I hope you do catch up!! And like you, we live with sci fi year round. I like your challenge because it gives me a reason to try some new sci fi instead of watching and reading the same ones over and over.

teabird said...

The scene last week where Olivia gave her cross to her niece was exactly the same as when Scully gave her cross to her little girl...