“FRINGE” Sucks After Two Episodes. “TRUE BLOOD” Renewed After Two Episodes. Funny that.

TV
Posted by Peter Hall - September 17th 2008 @ 7:09 pm

I held off after the premiere airing of J.J. Abrams’ new Fox Sci-Fi show in the hope that episode two would remedy faults in the pilot.  Last night said second episode did hit the airwaves and not only was a remedy out of sight, but I do believe I could see characters carrying around shovels, burying the show further and further.

If you’re not a TV watcher, a briefing.  “FRINGE”, executive produced to mediocrity by “LOST” co-mastermind J.J. Abrams and conceived by the screenwriters of TRANSFORMERS, is about an FBI agent who winds up investigating cases of fringe science experiments threatening mankind the world over, each a part of what is elusively referred to as “The Pattern”.  The agent in question, by the name of Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), enlists a man named Peter (Joshua Jackson) to remove his brilliant scientist father (John Noble) – who may or may not have been directly involved with the roots of these fringe experiments 17 years earlier – from a rubber room to solve all the mysteries.

Let’s move past the obvious.  Yes, “FRINGE” is apeing “THE X-FILES”.  Anyone who says otherwise is delusional.  But I’m fine with wanting to be “THE X-FILES”.  There is reason it is so revered.  The problem with Abrams’ new outfit is its impotency at being a procedural investigation into the abnormal.  “FRINGE” is to “THE X-FILES” as “CSI: MIAMI” is to “THE WIRE”:  A relationship more commonly referred to by its latin origin: Noob.

So far Fox has aired roughly 130 cumulative minutes of “FRINGE”, but has not yet accomplished half of the intrigue what “MILLENNIUM”, the best of the paranormal courters looking for a share of “X-FILES” pie, did in its 42 minute pilot.  Biggest hold up, for me, is that Ana Torv is not FBI Agent Olivia Dunham.  Her performance is as dry if not even slightly more arid than the actual character is.  The whole tough-but-naive agent was drilled in to the ground years ago.  Supporting players are a mixed bag themselves.  I’m a huge fan of Kirk Acevedo, who will always be OZ inmate Miguel Alvarez to me, but his screen time is limited as is fellow OZ vet Lance Reddick, who happens to be my favorite person on the show.  Joshua Jackson is the typical, “This is sooo wacky, but I’ll go with it!” foil to the show’s mysteries.  His mental patient father is a nice change of pace and well portrayed, but past him, Reddick as Dunham’s boss, and Acevedo in a bit part, no one on the show carries any weight.

And correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t cracking a supernatural pattern the exact plot of “THRESHOLD”?  If I recall, the pilot of “THRESHOLD” even opened with the team being called in to investigate a freighter on which all passengers and crew died.  “FRINGE” switched it up by going with a plane.  Huge difference.

Aside from hiding the interesting characters in the background and keeping the lame ones up front, Abrams and co end up dumbing down almost all aspects of the show for the lowest common audience.  Dialogue seems to exist 70% of the time to reassert what we just had explained to us visually or remind us of something that happened slightly earlier in the script.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that every episode features Joshua Jackson’s skeptic character functioning in the recite-all-the-obstacles-so-the-script-can-summarize-itself-for-everyone-too-dim-to-comprehend.  That’s fine every once in a while, especially if the script is genuinely complex, but I don’t see that happening here.

Yet sadly the show is of such a mediocre quality, that I’m sure I’ll tune in every week just because I need something to tune out in the background.  I’m one of those people.  Though while the show does disappoint, I must give FOX a lot of credit for its bid of limited commercial interruptions.  It’s probably the only thing keeping me from changing the channel.

I’ve already said my business regarding how promising HBO vampire series “TRUE BLOOD” is, so I’m glad to see the cable channel renew the show after only two episodes.  Great news in my book.


rss 18 comments
  1. Fringesucks
    September 17th, 2008 | 11:18 pm | #1

    i completely agree, after episode 2 i’m dropping the show and spending my time watching something else. I love True Blood, hope it doesn’t get cancelled (fringe on the otherhand,who cares right?)

  2. Chris Carter
    September 18th, 2008 | 4:01 am | #2

    JJ Abrams is my bitch.

  3. Truth Is Out There, but Not of Fox
    September 19th, 2008 | 3:49 pm | #3

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that it sucks. Like you, I was hoping it’d be good, but it seems to get worse with each episode (I know, all two of them).

    It begins terribly, and we’re supposed to care what happens to the main character’s boyfriend even though we barely got to know him. You’re supposed to lead up to intrigue, aren’t you? They’ve failed to do that.

    I don’t care about her, her brother, and the father is the only remotely interesting character in the show, mostly because of his funny offbeat quips.

  4. September 21st, 2008 | 12:45 am | #4

    Plus it was totally sexually objectifying and it fetishized torture for no reason- do only hot paralyzed women have glands?

    http://www.writinghannah.blogspot.com
    everything sucks flying solo

  5. September 22nd, 2008 | 5:01 pm | #5

    C’mon. X-Files? We all know FRINGE is trying to piggyback on the success of “Freakylinks.”

  6. Fred
    September 24th, 2008 | 5:48 pm | #6

    ‘Fringe’ also contains a stock character type I loathe – the misfit genius whose only evidence of incredible intelligence is the fact that it’s continually stated by other characters, and never once displayed through their actions or behaviour.

    Ditto with the rampant exposition-for-idiots, and a big thumbs down to the lead actress, who posesses zero charisma and seems to deliver all her lines in a sophorific monotone, to the degree that even the camera itself seems disinterested in her.

    Luckily, it’s on Fox. Expensive production + disappointing ratings = quick loss-cutting cancellation.

  7. September 24th, 2008 | 6:02 pm | #7

    But the misfit genius requires a cow in his lab! That’s just soooo quirky!

  8. AP
    September 24th, 2008 | 7:45 pm | #8

    I totally agree. No explanation whatsoever, why those seemingly dis/uninterested characters are chosen for the investigations. Nor do they try to question that themselves. I estimate it won’t see a 10th episode.

  9. Fish
    September 30th, 2008 | 12:40 pm | #9

    Oh joy another show with the tough, beautiful but vulnerable woman who works for the government and wears men’s clothing. The show had to mention “sexual harassment” in the first 5 minutes too. At least it has a father-son relationship in it no matter how weird. Please can we have a few shows with a believable man as the lead. Down with the PC “I am woman hear me roar” crap that is on 90% of TV these days. I know that all these female-centric self-esteem boosting, man bashing shows are catering to the fact that women make up the majority of the sheep-brained viewing public but throw the guys a bone once in a while so we can see something worth watching in between commercials featuring nasty women verbally abusing their idiot husbands to make them buy something stupid for the house that he paid for.

  10. James C
    October 5th, 2008 | 9:08 pm | #10

    I have to agree for part of this… the first two episodes left me disapointed… and even through the third i was almost about to drop the show. But i have to say after the fourth episode… things are really finally coming together, things you don’t understand before link up and they actually end the episode with you wanting to see more.. give the next few episodes a chance, then judge it again.

  11. Jimmy
    October 13th, 2008 | 10:44 pm | #11

    I can understand some complaints with Fringe but Trueblood???? My god, that’s the biggest POS show on TV! They cancelled Deadwood for John From Cincinnati, and I guess if nothing else they’re showing consistency with adopting new and crappier shows. Vampire drama…wow…people just need some intimacy in their lives if watching necks get bitten is their release!!!!!

  12. Peter
    February 23rd, 2009 | 4:08 am | #12

    i try to enjoy the show and i wish that the lead actress was better but then when she opens her mouth she ruins it for me. like you said, she doesnt fit the fbi character at all. all of the other main actors do a very good job imo. the plot could use some work but it is scifi so ill give it a little leway.

  13. Marti
    March 27th, 2009 | 5:55 am | #13

    I think Fringe is brilliant. Walter is a break out characte and completely compelling to watch. I never liked the X files, and true Blood is all fluff. fringe gives you something very rare in Tv shows. A plot that you actually have to think about, rather then a plot that falls appart when you do.
    True Blood is the very opposite. it has al the cute trappings i might like if the writing wasn’t so completely idiotic. Still both shows are better then most anything else out there. Just why do people watch American Dad or the Simpsons? Are fat cartoon idiots really so great?

  14. Scott42444
    April 23rd, 2009 | 1:23 am | #14

    So, here I am with the advantage of watching more than 2 episodes, all the way in late April of 2009. I am not going to fault this review, because it is just what it is supposed to be. An “I watched 2 episodes, here is what I think” early review. The comments though are ridiculous. Did everyone actually think that JJ Abrams wouldn’t try to tie things together after his other series (I didn’t watch Felicity). You know what else is funny? The review constantly refers to other somewhat obscure tv shows that were canceled without much fanfare like Threshold and Millenium. Maybe, just maybe, Fox was assuming that most people who watch American Idol (it’s lead-in that was planned since before the episode aired) might not have watched those shows. I don’t know, I guess 30 million people might have watched Threshold. If only they would have hit their target number of 31 million, then they could have fleshed the story out a bit. Give me a break. Not everyone watches television, or Sci Fi (or is it now ScyFy) for that matter, every day and night of the week. I think that a review should reflect that. But, I am not the one that has people commenting on my article, it’s the other way around. So, what do I really know?

  15. April 23rd, 2009 | 1:48 pm | #15

    Scott, I’m actually considering giving the show a second shot all in one go once the season wraps. I’ve heard from here and elsewhere that the show has gotten better since the opener, so I’m willing to be fair.

    “MILLENNIUM”, however, isn’t that obscure, so my comparison still stands. My point about that show was that its pilot alone had more intrigue than the first several episodes of “FRINGE”. “THRESHHOLD” I never really got into, but its pilot contained a near identical disaster to that of “FRINGE” as well as the escalation conspiracy premise (albeit one with aliens).

  16. Selvec
    July 1st, 2009 | 9:15 pm | #16

    Considering it’s directed by a guy who made a show that really didn’t start getting even slightly interesting till the second season, and written by people who wrote a movie for a famous toy that already had years and years of storyline to copy from, I think it’s not really to surprising that Fringe has started off slow and boring.

    I agree, it’s background music till something happens to catch my attention.

  17. Gillian
    October 31st, 2009 | 8:43 am | #17

    Please! True Blood? That’s gotta be the worst show ever.

    Fringe is great. X-Filesy but without the aliens!

    It’s actual science!

  18. Logan
    November 11th, 2010 | 9:40 pm | #18

    So disappointed in this season of Fringe! What started out so good became so boring so quickly. What a shame! Had promise! Cannot even watch a few minutes of any episode this year!

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