Skip to main content

Televisionary Exclusive: First Look at FOX's "Fringe" Pilot Script

With the threat of a potential strike looming over Hollywood, the networks have all ramped up their development efforts for next season, with many projects--like FOX's The Oaks and others--already garnering series commitments from broadcasters.

While these scripts have been trickling in, the one pilot script that I've been desperate to get my hands on has got to be Fringe, the new supernatural drama from executive producer J.J. Abrams and written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Alias), who co-wrote recent box office behemoths Mission: Impossible 3 and Transformers and penned the script for J.J. Abrams' upcoming relaunch of Star Trek.

So imagine my zeal when the script for Fringe, which has a thirteen-episode commitment from FOX, literally fell right into my lap. After all, this is a pilot script that reportedly has a $10 million budget and is already one of the highest anticipated entries for the 2008-09 season.

With Fringe, from Warner Bros. Television and Abrams' Bad Robot shingle, the dynamic duo of Kurtzman and Orci have created what can only be described as a millennial take on that seminal FOX series The X-Files, albeit with an added dose of humor and a taut mythology that serves as an undercurrent for this supernatural/crime procedural.

So what's Fringe's pilot script about? Good question. The teaser, in true Lost fashion, opens with a turbulent passenger flight from Hamburg, Germany to Boston. But lest you think that the plane crashes onto a deserted and possibly haunted island in the middle of nowhere, something else just as terrifying occurs. One passenger--referred to in the script as "Troubled"--injects himself with an insulin syringe pen and within seconds, his entire body begins to liquify. The contagion quickly spreads among the entire cabin as both passengers and crew members' bodies begin to melt. The plane itself lands safely at Logan Airport under radio silence. Cut to a cheap hotel where FBI Agent Olivia Warren (think Keri Russell) finishes a tryst with her secret lover and fellow agent, John Scott. They're summoned to the airport to await CDC inspectors as the plane shows no sign of life and the windows are caked in blood.

Pretty ominous, no? Things just get weirder from there. A suspicious exchange between two Middle Eastern men and a white guy out at a storage facility right after the plane landed is called in to the FBI and Olivia and John are sent to investigate. There they discover a lab filled with chemical equipment, canisters of unknown gas, jars of mutated animals and other horror movie detritus. Olivia goes to call for a chemical transport team when John spies a man inside the lab. A man who happens to look just like "Troubled." He gives chase, Troubled pulls out his mobile phone, punches in a few keys and detonates the lab. John is enveloped in a cloud of chemicals while Olivia is thrown backwards by the blast.

When she comes to, she's in the hospital and John is clinging to life. His entire body has become almost crystalline, his skin almost like glass, translucent and diamond-hard. Quickly losing hope that she'll lose the man she loves, Olivia tracks down the only person who could possibly help, a genius scientist named Dr. Walter Bishop (think Patrick Stewart), who engaged in research in the 1970s and 1980s that involved substances similar to that which caused John's condition. One problem: he's been in a mental hospital for the last seventeen years. Second problem: he's not allowed any visitors other than family... and his only family is his estranged son Peter, a genius misfit and nomad currently working in Baghdad. Olivia tracks down Peter, coerces him into helping her (there are some dangerous people looking for him), and gets Walter released. Together, this troika must work together to figure out a way to save John, track down the killer, uncover his link to Bishop's experiments, and prevent this from happening again.

I won't reveal anymore (sorry, spoiler junkies!) but suffice it to say, the above description is only the first two acts of a labyrinthine two-hour pilot. Along the way, there are car chases, explosions, secret cabals, shady mega-corporations, and things extraordinary, inexplicable, and unbelievably cool. As for the title? It refers to Walter Bishop's specialty: Fringe Science. Before his incarceration (there's a mystery there, BTW), Bishop investigated things like teleportation, astral projection, mutation, mind control. Otherwise known as things that conventional science can't explain. But one thing is for sure. Events like what happened aboard that plane in the pilot's opener are happening with a greater frequency and the world's governments have noticed this alarming trend, even coining a term for these anomalies: The Pattern.

I read Fringe's pilot script with a feverish passion, devouring each and every plot twist and turn. This is a hugely ambitious project and smacks of Kevin Reilly's positive influence over FOX: it's intelligent, controversial, and populist at the same time, filled with memorably abrasive characters, gruesome horror, and tongue-in-cheek humor. It's House meets The X-Files with The Twilight Zone and some of the British series Eleventh Hour thrown into the mix.

While there hasn't even been any casting announced on Fringe, I'm already eagerly anticipating the second episode. Too bad we'll have to wait until next fall for that...

Comments

Unknown said…
Ok, this does sound really good. I wasn't an X-Files fan, though, because it never answered a single question. (I think the theatrical movie is when it jumped the shark.) Hopefully Fringe will avoid that and keep viewers sufficiently satisfied to keep watching.
Anonymous said…
Ooh - I can't wait to read!
Anonymous said…
Sweet. I love every series JJ Abrams has actually had a hand in creating (Six Degrees and What About Brian don't count) and I'm sure this one won't disappoint.
The CineManiac said…
This sounds excellent, can't wait to see it.
Anonymous said…
Wow. This sounds great. Your description alone got my heart racing. Can't wait to see it all come to life!
Anonymous said…
I just read on Entertainment Weekly's website that they have cast Joshua Jackson for the lead. It also says John Noble from Lord of the Rings will play the dad, and an Australian actress named Anna Torv will play the female lead. Just thought you would want to know.
Jace Lacob said…
Hey Anonymous,

Yep, all of this information has been reported over the last few weeks on this very site. The review above was from October and we've been tracking all of the casting information on Fringe as it's been confirmed:

http://www.televisionaryblog.com/search?q=fringe

Thanks!

Cheers,
Jace
Anonymous said…
Looking for people who are interested in helping out on a Fringe related website and forum.

The groundwork is already layed out. Just need volunteers to help with episode reviews, searching the net for spoilers, graphic artists, etc.

If interested, post your e-mail address or contact me at j.jason.dawson@gmail.com

Popular posts from this blog

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

Me Want Food: Jenna Gets Famously Fat on "30 Rock"

I don't know about you, but I've already ordered my "Me Want Food" t-shirt from the NBC store. Last night's episode of 30 Rock ("Jack Gets in the Game") was, in my opinion, one of the strongest of the series and has officially pushed the zany comedy into the realm of Arrested Development : deftly plotted and intricately layered, with so many jokes piled atop of jokes that it requires several viewings in order to catch them all. While at its heart, 30 Rock is a workplace comedy, it's left that narrow pigeonhole behind to become a witty example of how intelligent and taut humor can work (and flourish) on television... and exist in harmony with hilarious throwaways like the Thriller -inspired Werewolf Bar Mitzvah music video that would have done the AD crew proud. I want Will Arnett to appear on this series whenever possible. His gay exec Devin is hilarious, manipulative, and has an inexplicable weakness for Kenneth the Page, but he claims to have

"Gilmore" Guy: Who is New Showrunner David Rosenthal?

A few days later and I am still processing the news that Gilmore Girls showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino--and her exceptionally talented husband, writer and producer Daniel Palladino-- announced their departure from the whip-smart drama after six seasons. The news wouldn't be such a blow, save for the fact that Gilmore Girls is as much about Amy and Daniel as it is about Lorelai and Rory. In their capable hands, the show explored a supremely complicated family dynamic through the beautiful friendship of mother and daughter Lorelai and Rory... and did so with smart dialogue usually found in a Nick & Nora film rather than on television. Zany subplots abounded as did quirky, beloved supporting characters. And now, after six seasons (including this most recent--and very shaky--season where Amy and Daniel wrote less episodes than usual), Amy and Daniel are passing on the showrunning torch to... Dave Rosenthal?!? For those of you in the audience unfamiliar with David Rosenthal ,