44 reasons to watch Fringe

      

It’s President’s Day. To celebrate our 44 commanders in chief, I am proud to give you 44 reasons to watch Fringe, in random order.

  1. It’s critically acclaimed, if you care about those things.
  2. The tough-as-nails yet still sensitive leading lady, Olivia Dunham.
  3. The father-son bond between Walter and Peter.
  4. Walter’s affinity for psychedelic drugs.
  5. Walter’s affinity for vinyl records.
  6. Nina Sharp, the one-armed wonder of Massive Dynamic.
  7. The floating location titles. I know it’s a small thing, but I like them.
  8. Agent Broyles possesses scene-stealing strength of character in both universes.
  9. The juxtaposition of old and new technologies — a manual typewriter enables communication between universes.
  10. In the alternate universe, blimps are the predominate method of air travel, something any Akronite should appreciate.
  11. Astrid. Or is it Asterisk? Either way, you’ve got to love her ability to relate to Walter.
  12. There’s a cow in the lab.
  13. “Over There: Part Two” was the ultimate season-ending cliffhanger.
  14. The show has more emotional depth than any sci-fi show I’ve ever seen, except maybe Lost.
  15. Trent Reznor remade “Zero-Sum” for a Fringe promo, arguably the best trailer for a TV show ever made. Watch it here.
  16. You’re sharp enough to suspend disbelief and have a good time.
  17. You’re suspicious enough to believe that some of this could be true.
  18. You appreciate a good milkshake.
  19. Leonard Nimoy as William Bell, the head of Massive Dynamic, a powerful global corporation specializing in Fringe science.
  20. Anna Torv as Olivia.
  21. Anna Torv a Fauxlivia.
  22. Walter Bishop is probably the best mad scientist since Dr. Frankenstein.
  23. Yet, Walter is so fragile, so deeply aware of his flaws, that you can’t help but feel for him.
  24. There is romance for the lovers of love.
  25. But not too much romance.
  26. The special effects are top of the line. No cheesy CGI here.
  27. There are new cases almost every week, so you don’t have to know the mythology to start watching.
  28. But, the mythology is really intricate and cool, so you might want to go back and watch old episodes.
  29. It’s a serious drama.
  30. But Walter makes you laugh at least once an hour.
  31. You like blondes.
  32. You like red-heads.
  33. We’ve only just begun. Three seasons in, Fringe has barely tapped into the ethical questions raised by Walter, Massive Dynamic and the alternate universe.
  34. It’s The X-Files, on steroids.
  35. What else are you going to watch on Fridays?
  36. It’s not just for nerds.
  37. But if you are a nerd, you will appreciate the glyphs and symbolism. My favorite one being the apple with the foetus inside.
  38. It comes to us from J.J. Abrams, creative genius behind Lost.
  39. But it’s not a Lost wannabe — Fringe has its own mojo.
  40. Forget everything you know about Joshua Jackson from Dawson’s Creek.
  41. Two universes are better than one.
  42. Especially when each universe has a set of fully developed characters.
  43. The Fringe “Noir” episode, “Brown Betty.”
  44. If you don’t watch this excellent show will be canceled.

Thoughts on a monarch

Henry VIII has aged noticeably at the end of The Tudors.

Now that True Blood is back, I am forced to DVR The Tudors and watch it on the Monday following its airing. So forgive my delayed reaction to this week’s episode.

Henry VIII is now noticeably aged, with graying hair and beard as well as a more gravelly voice. His leg injury also seems to be more intense. Perhaps it is this old wound coupled with his loss of the war in France that has made him so incredibly bitter, cruel and uncompromising. Or maybe it is simply the sum of a life lived without fear of repercussions.

Often on this blog I have lauded the well-written anti-hero – Walter Bishop, Dexter, Tony Soprano and Eric of True Blood, for example, are all so complex. The anti-hero can often be very cruel, but he can also be kind. Perhaps there was a time, early on in The Tudors, when Henry also possessed some of these qualities. However, at this point in the show there is little to like about him, and I find it impossible to sympathize with him. As I’ve mentioned before, just watching some of the scenes of torture and imprisonment give me a newfound respect for my constitutional rights. This week was no exception – the torture and execution of Anne Askew as well as the unjust trial and sentencing of the Earl of Surrey were two of the darkest moments on the show to date.

This final season of The Tudors has explored in-depth the darkness of Henry’s nature and the corrupting influence of absolute power. We have seen him use and destroy his wives, friends and political allies for his own ends, which range from advancing his political agenda to his petty whims.

In its four seasons, this show has given its audience a lot to think about. As we approach the series finale on Sunday, I say kudos to the writers, directors and actors for making such a deep show. It is not a rollicking good time – it is an ever-evolving, insightful character study of an oft-documented and much-debated historical figure.

Fringe: An A+ season finale

William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) and Walter Bishop (John Noble) try to create a jam to keep the door between worlds open on last night’s season finale of Fringe.

Blerg! I am still reeling from the season finale of Fringe. I have been saying for two years that I wish Olivia and Peter would develop a romantic connection, and just when they finally reveal their feelings for each other, Olivia’s doppelganger pulls the classic switcheroo. And now the real Olivia is locked in a cell with Walternate as her wicked warden. BLERG!

Don’t get me wrong, I loved this episode, and a good cliffhanger is an awesome way to end a season. I’m pretty sure that all Fringe fans were in nerd heaven the last two weeks with so much going on between the two worlds – I know I was. I just want more.

I was especially impressed by the development of William Bell’s character (played by Leonard Nimoy) in this episode. I remember an interview with Nimoy a few months ago in which he said if the role wasn’t beefed up, he wouldn’t be continuing it. Although I think last night may have been his final episode with the show, they definitely used it as an opportunity to humanize his character and resolve some long-standing issues in his relationship with Walter.

I was also glad that it wasn’t a “kiss and make-up” type of ending with Walter and Peter. They have a complicated relationship – they always have. And it would be unrealistic to easily forgive Walter’s transgressions. So it’s good that Peter is going to have to work through this betrayal on his own time. I think this relationship is the real heart of the show, and the moral tug-of-war between Walter’s mad scientist persona and his good-natured side continues to be intriguing.

I am curious if Olivia’s doppelganger is going to have a lengthy stay next season, or if Peter will figure it out right away. I sure hope he figures it out quick, but who knows how they are going to get back to the alternate universe without the real Olivia and the other cortexiphan kids. Blerg!

Fringe noir

I loved this week’s episode of Fringe. Granted, I am always a bit anxious for the next mythology episode, but I also really love the “monster of the week” episodes, and this one was no exception.

In case you missed it, the show was basically a film noir mystery made up by Walter to explain the sudden disappearance of Peter. His tremendous guilt really came through in the narrative, but it was also fun and lighthearted throughout. Olivia looked amazing in her ‘40s detective era clothing and makeup, and so did Peter.

I also loved Nina, Broyles and Astrid, who are normally very serious but showed a lighter side in this episode.

The brief musical interludes were also very well done, and quite revealing of the characters’ true feelings – take Olivia’s song “For Once in My Life” to Peter and Walter’s bittersweet rendition of the “The Candy Man Can” from Willy Wonka. The singing corpses were hilarious.

I also loved the ending, with Walter’s bleak and depressing finale upstaged by Olivia’s niece, and her perfectly innocent desire for a happy ending.

I’m hopeful that Olivia will find Peter next week. What about you? Did you like the look and feel of the episode?

What Would Walter Do? Just about anything for Peter….

Fringe was so great last night that it’s hard to know where to begin. Actually, on second thought, I’ll begin at the beginning – with the amazing throwback credits. The opening was so geektastic that I replayed it not once, but twice. And even mentioning it now makes me want to watch it one more time for fun.

Of course, the throwback credits were perfect for this episode, which largely took place in flashbacks to 1985, when Walter took Peter from the alternate universe. Heavy on mythology, this installment answered one of the biggest questions – why did The Pattern start happening? We now know that it started with Walter opening the first portal and thereby tipping the natural balance between the two worlds.

I am so impressed with John Noble, who plays Walter Bishop. His character is at once endearing and off-putting. He is ever the loving and devoted father, but also the mad scientist, obsessed with his work and blind to the repercussions of opening the portal. His lack of remorse for kidnapping the alternate Peter is chilling, but I found myself sympathizing with him in the end as he said, “You can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child.”

I can’t wait until next week. I really have no idea how Olivia is going to handle this new knowledge, and the anticipation is going to be pretty hard to contain for a full seven days.