Last week, J.J. Abrams’ latest television show, Fringe, premiered. At first, I was excited to see another serial sci-fi on network television. Unfortunately, it did not take long for my excitement to wane. And (mostly) not due to the content of the show, rather it is the artistic choices that have me disappointed.
On the surface, Fringe is about an FBI agent who is assigned to a special group to investigate strange happenings that are collectively dubbed “the pattern.” It is believed that these events are the result of some one (or group) using the world as their laboratory. The general premise is interesting, though the details are a bit infuriating.
Granted, the show is about fringe science, but a “pulse camera” that when aimed and flashed at a dead woman’s optic nerve (after the eyeball has been removed from her socket, though while it is still atached) produces images on a monitor that she saw before she died. Not the moment before she died, mind you, but rather hours before when she was conveniently looking out a window to see a bridge that tipped the investigator off as to the location of the killer. Normally, I’m all for suspended reality, but there were so many times I would audibly say to my self “oh, come on!”
However, like i said, it is not really the content or premise of the show that pushes me away. It is the uncanny artistic resemblance one of Abrams’ other shows that does it for me. The soundtrack could be lifted directly from Lost. The stingers and transitions are just too identical. Then there’s the mysterious, possibly evil, Massive Dynamic, which provides a plot convention so similar to The Dharma Initiative that I was expecting to see Dr. Pierre Chang from the training videos walking around somewhere. Not to mention that there was a Massive Dynamic commercial at the end of the premiere pointing to their website for yet another ARG.
Lastly, while each episode can stand on its own, there are still so many questions posed which you just know aren’t going to be answered until season 3 (or will all be answered in one fell swoop in the season finale, only to ask 20 more). I get it Mr. Abrams, you like to keep people guessing and have a story arch spanning entire seasons. I just hope you learned from Lost that you have to actually answer those questions as you go along and not piss off your viewers.
I want to like Fringe, I really do. In fact, I might catch an episode here and there. I like Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv is okay as Olivia, and Josh Noble plays the cliché mad scientist well. But there just isn’t enough to keep me hooked, and there’s too much to push me away. It felt too formulaic, granted it is an Abrams formula, but formulaic still. It’s a shame.