Friday, September 12, 2008

Fringe: The Pilot

[no real spoilers for anyone who hasn't yet watched]:
Earlier this year, a colleague of mine whose book (on Lost!!) I am editing right now emailed me about a new show called Fringe. "This will become your new obsession," she wrote, and she'd already gotten the inside scoop from the producers of the show, whom she knows.

After the first episode, I can say, yep, you just might be right, my friend.

As a longtime fan of J.J. Abrams, I could see his earlier work in there, and that's what made the show seem instantly familiar to me. Michael Giacchino's score, complete with those strings that rise to that eerily high pitch and suddenly screech to a halt right before a commercial break, just on Lost. The tongue in cheek humour with the production, like where they show the names of the places in front of the actual place, and the camera moves through one of the letters like it's actually there and not digitally overlaid (ok, that's also borrowed from Heroes). The fast-paced twists and cliffhangers, like on Alias. The borrowing from the cast of Oz (hello, Alvarez!!) Oh, and Matthew Abaddon's here, too. And he's a real S.O.B.

The opening scene is gory and grotesque. I could handle it to a point, but when the bottom of the co-pilot's face fell off... well... I was a little worried my dinner would make an unexpected reappearance. However, that horrific jolt is needed to make the situation of Olivia's lover more tenuous throughout. The show had great moments of humour (when Charlie walks into the lab and says, not asks, "Is that a cow." his delivery made me laugh out loud).

I loved the effects when Olivia stepped into the dreamscape, and the colour throughout made it feel very other-worldly... a little X-Filesy in places, actually. I adore Joshua Jackson. I was never a Dawson's fan, but he was always the best part of the few episodes I saw, and I think he's fantastic in everything I've seen him in since, so it's great to have him back on television. The tension between he and Olivia is clearly going to be a focus of the show. The twists were fun, and I'm definitely looking forward to the next episode.

Spoiler (highlight to see): I knew the lover was going to die somehow, though, because he needed to be out of the way so that we could have that sexual tension between Olivia and Pacey, but I really didn't see the WAY he died coming. Kinda sucks, though, doesn't it? That you somehow survive your skin becoming translucent and your body liquefying, and then die a few hours later in a stinkin' car crash. THAT would be annoying. My major objection to this episode would be his very fast recovery from what had happened to him. From what we saw on the place, people liquefied and died within seconds, yet he survives, becomes translucent, and a simple blood transfusion restores him to almost perfect health, with the exception of a few veins on his face? A little too hokey. But hey, I'm still in.

If you haven't yet watched it, the pilot will re-air this weekend. If you did, what did you think?


Anonymous said...

I wont write much, because I could go on and on about it...but I loved it.

Also, I know JJ said that they would explore things in the show that are theoretically possible right now, and I didn't really buy that until reading an article in this month's Discover magazine about cyborgs, and it reminded me of that bitchy boss woman with the robot hand. Incredible

Anonymous said...

Wow, you have an amazingly smart friend/colleague ;) I'm glad you liked it, and understood why I figured that you would. I'm told episode 2 is better than the pilot, and episode 3 may be even better than that!

Almost every review I've read has been VERY positive, so I'm thinking it will be an obsession for quite a few people. It'll be nice to have something to keep us busy while we wait for S5 of LOST :)

Ian said...

I was under the impression that since the artificial compound that infected Charlie was not in the concentrated form that it was on the plane and it did not affect him in the same way as it simply exploded from a storage facility.

The writers obviously had made a conscious decision to have Charlie's infection stem from an alternate source in order to support the continuing narrative.

I was actually annoyed that they kept him alive for so long, to be honest. As you said, "I knew" he had to die and I was just waiting for it. He was absolutely a throwaway character and unfortunately, a rather handsome character though.

I enjoyed this pilot episode as I watched it I had the thought that writing a pilot must be incredibly difficult. You have so much exposition that needs to be done and I felt that at times, the series premiere of "Fringe" was presented in a manner that was more tedious than necessary-perhaps dumbed down from an original script? It seemed like the show "spelled it out" for the viewer-literally in the form of the supertitles of the locations-which I quickly tired of. Cool, but needed?

I never had that feeling that I have experienced in movies or at the beginning of some television shows where the audience is tossed into a world that is already in motion. As the episode progressed, it was short of painfully clear where the "status-quo" of the show would finally sit at the end of the episode.

That said, I'm very much looking forward to further episodes to see how this world is fleshed out and challenges viewer expectations.

LadySolitaire said...

I liked it. I wasn't crazy about it, because I was only semi-watching it (I was prepping for my job interview). But I still liked it. I loved the opening scene. When they showed the shot of the plane from a distance, I was thinking, "Dude, if this plane broke apart into three pieces, I'd FREAK!" I love Joshua Jackson too! John Noble is so freaking awesome. Lance Reddick too. I'd probably watch it again. :)

leor said...

i liked it, but didn't love it, and i'm going to reserve full judgement until after a few more episodes.

i agree on the lover having to die, and on the silliness of him surviving the whole infection, only to die in a relatively minor car accident.

i was also not a fan of the way massive dynamic was's a public company (they even have billboards!), yet it just screamed "evil corporation" and the stark, huge rooms were a bit too cliche for me.

Crissy Calhoun said...

Pretty darn good pilot! It definitely had the "set-up the rest of the season" feel and i'm guessing the next episodes will be less exposition heavy. Love Joshua Jackson, like the main woman and Dr. Frankenstein. And thought U of T played an excellent Harvard, again. ;)

Anonymous said...

i e-mailed you about this earlier in the summer, when i watched the leaked pilot. honestly? i thought it was boring. the female lead is a terrible actress, her delivery is flat, she has no inflection or emotion in her voice and i thought her chemistry with joshua jackson was non-existent, which is insane ... a taxidermied armadillo would have outrageous chemistry with him.

i really WANTED to like it -- i mean, it's got joshua jackson in it, what's not to love? and jj abrams, to boot! -- but ... meh. the premise wasn't bad, but it was a bit draggy ... you know you're in trouble when you start paying more attention to the background and scenery than the action and dialogue, and it suddenly occurs to you that the whole thing is shot in your hometown, and it's more fun picking out the landmarks ("hey! that's the hospital my goddaughter was born in!" "hey, that's the ROM!" "hey, that's the tunnel i take to work each day!") than watching the episode. not sure if even JJ -- abrams or pacey -- can save this one for me.

Anonymous said...

I got bored and wandered off while I was watching, then wandered back and watched the end. Eh.

I'll give it another try, but I was very much not enthused.

Boston Legal next week. Yay!

K J Gillenwater said...

This has been discussed elsewhere...John was not exposed to the same chemicals/stuff as the plane victims. It was some other compound. Just to clarify.

My only problems with this show were that I missed 2 important plot points: how John was related to what happened (yeah, I got that he and the 'twin' were working together or knew each other, but didn't get the actual connection to everything) and why the other 'twin' exposed the plane (and himself) to this awful stuff.

But I did get those points cleared up online, so I'm good now. But if I didn't get it, so did a lot of other people.

However, I did like the show. Loved Anna Torv. The camera loves her...and I found her to be very sympathetic. I also loved Joshua Jackson and the way he subtlely was attracted to our main gal...without her even realizing it. I never watched "Dawson's Creek," so there's no past history with Joshua for me.

I also LOVED the crazy science dad! He was awesome! The dialogue between father & son was GREAT. And if I know JJ, these characters are going to have some very complicated backgrounds that we will get to uncover. YAY!

I'm only worried that the numbers weren't that great. Please watch this show everyone! I want to find out more...

Mike Cunningham said...

Overall I enjoyed the show and I'm excited to see where it will go from here. Having Joshua Jackson back on television is great. It's nice to see that he out grown his "Paceyness." The highlight of the pilot for me was the interaction between Joshua Jackson and John Noble. They make a great father and son combination (even if it was hard, at first, to get past John Noble. All I kept seeing was Denethor.)

Anna Torv did an okay job. Lance Reddick is just fabulous as always.

When it comes down to it, I'm just thrilled to have another J.J. Abrams show on television. The man is a genius.

YolandaAsh said...

I thought it was okay, alot of exposition for the rest of the season so I think the next couple of episodes will really make it or break it for me.
Also I don't really know how it fares for me that Joshua Jackson was my favorite character and I I spent all last week convincing my roommate what a jerk he was. (I lived in the town where they filmed dawsons creek and he had a bit of a reputation.)
Anyway I am curious to see how all of it unfolds and it still could fill an Xfiles sized hole in my heart.

yourblindspot said...

My wife & I both watched, and I have to say that we're both totally hooked, but she a bit more tenuously so, as I could tell that the dribbling jawbone opener freaked her out a little bit, and that she never quite came down from that initial freaked-outedness. Very reminiscent of the moment in the 'Battlestar' miniseries when Six snaps the baby's neck... it's been 5 years since that moment & she never has recovered from that, either.

Love what a great sense of humor it had, and the cast really seemed a natural fit. John Noble is so terrific, and I have to admit that I thought Jackson was pretty great, too -- the bit with the coffee mug really sealed it ("I'm gonna count to one. ONE!" BANG! = awesome)

Very much looking forward to tonight's episode, & seeing how part 2 plays against such a strong opener.

Jazzygirl said...

I couldn't wait to come on here and read everyone's thoughts. I loved it. Yes, I can see what others brought up about it slow at times and somewhat predictable...and since I live in the Boston area, I particularly loved seeing my "home".
In watching, I kept looking at What the hell else has Joshua Jackson been in??!?! It was driving me nuts. I didn't watch Dawson so it must be something else. Or he LOOKS like someone else very familiar?
Anyway, I also loved John Noble...he was great in Lord of the Rings and I think he's brillian here. The female actress...not bad. Hopefully she'll evolve like Kate did. She was a newbie with Lost too.
Now, here's the killer...I missed the Pilot the first time b/c I thought it started at 9pm not 8. So I only saw the last 30 min. So I set the DVR for a series recording...and it didn't pick up second run of the Pilot! I quickly turned to the channel when I saw that red record button wasn't on and alas...missed the first 15 min!!!!!!! So apparently I missed the jaw falling off the guy's face? LOL! Well, I guess I can live without that.
Now, what I really want to talk about it Abbadon...same character going by a different name in this show? Is this a lateral connection to Lost? At the end he brings up all these suspect situations that I felt could be related...the children disappearing and reappearing years later unaged...the comatose guy rambling numbers...plane crashes, etc. Am I stretching?? LOL

Anonymous said...

I watched the first 15 minutes of the second episode of Fringe last night before I got bored and gave up. I just don't find anything interesting in any of the characters. And no, I never watched Dawson's Creek, so I have no Pacey affection. I watched the end of Without a Trace instead.

I did catch a new Canadian show on Space that I quite liked called Rabbit Fall.

Anonymous said...

The gross-out factor put me off, to begin with, and after they killed Keen Eddie (Mark Valley), that was pretty much the end of it, because Joshua Jackson does nothing for me and obviously, we're stuck with him and his mad-scientist dad for the rest of the series. The cow was the best part of the ep. Some people I know think Valley will be back; I think I'll be spending that hour watching Simon Baker instead.

Anonymous said...

Just as an aside, the death at the end made me think of early attempts to write Lost. Damon and JJ said they thought about setting up Jack as a hero and then killing him in the pilot episode. In this episode, the set out the hero (well sort-of) and then killed him.

Emilia said...

X Files is back! However, I'm not as drawn to these characters as I am to Mulder and Scully. They're a little too...socially adjusted? I don't know. I think I will try to watch it, though. At least until Lost returns.