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......