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Talk Back: FOX's "Fringe"

What is The Pattern?

If you watched the launch of FOX's new drama Fringe--from creators J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci--you might be asking yourself just that question.

Hopefully, you tuned in tonight to watch as Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) finds herself sucked into a world that she didn't know existed.... one that is comprised of the very limits of science itself: mutation, astral projection, reaninimation (heh), teleportation, and other phenomena yet discussed.

I've been talking about Fringe for nearly a year now, ever since I first read the pilot script last year and I gave the pilot episode a glowing advance review back in May. (At the time, I called it "eerie, gripping, and still haunting even after the final credits have rolled" and "spellbinding.")

Now that you've had the opportunity to watch the pilot episode for Fringe yourself, I am more than a little curious. What did you think of the opening installment? Were you sucked into the overarching mythology of The Pattern while digging the mystery-of-the week format? Did you love or loathe the on-screen chyrons announcing the location which seemed to be a part of the landscape itself? Did you fall for the chemistry between the series' leads? Did it seem at all reminiscent of The X-Files?

And most importantly: will you tune in again next week to see what happens to Olivia, Peter, and Walter Bishop?

Talk back here.


Anonymous said…
I loved it. I thought I would based on your review as we usually do agree on these things but I was hooked from the beginning. I was afraid that Josh Jackson would be channeling Pacey Witter but he brought a subtle snarkiness to Peter and I was happy to see him mature into a talented adult. Anna Torv was great and has a great intensity. I laughed out loud when Walter peed himself and was glad that JJ included a lot of humor in the pilot. I'm definitely coming back next week.
Anonymous said…
P.S. I liked the kyrons (sp?) on the screen. Nice visual touch than just having them typed out.
Edward said…
Was the pilot that aired any different to the one that leaked out over the summer?
Jo said…
I am hooked and the Season Pass is set. Didn't notice much of a difference from the pilot they aired at Comic-Con.

I really like the kyrons, although they remind of the similar style on Heroes.

And as a huge fan of both X-Files and Lost, I am thrilled that Fringe, while sharing only a few nuances from both shows, distinguished itself as unique from episode one.
Anonymous said…
I thought the show was very, very interesting, liked it a lot and will be back to see it again. I thought the kyrons were odd at first but by the end of the show thought that since they were different they kind of fitted in with the show. Which in itself is quite different.

Little Junkie
The CineManiac said…
I have to say I'd watched the first 3rd of the pilot a few weeks ago and just didn't ever get back to it. I honestly wasn't to thrilled with the first part and wasn't sure I'd keep watching the show at all.
I'm glad I tuned in last night and finished the pilot though. I really enjoyed the rest of the show, and the twist with John really threw me for a loop. I'll be tuning back in to see where this show goes.
Plus JJ has gone on record saying he thinks the next few episodes are better than the pilot, which isn't something you hear often these days.
Anonymous said…
I thought it was awesome and I can't wait to see more! I just hope it's more like LOST than Firefly and makes it through a whole season (or seasons).
Jace Lacob said…
The completed version of the pilot is only slightly different than the one I had screened prior to the summer, with the addition of Olivia's line about the lab still being there after 17 years as it's been used by Harvard for storage and the addition of the interrogation scene with Josh Jackson's Peter taking a more active role.
Anonymous said…
Overall I liked it, I'd give it say, a B+.

I found the kyrons screamed HEROES to me every time I saw them but if they had gone with the courier font and normal placement then they would have screamed X-Files ;-)

I think the writing on the hard science aspect was noticeably weak -- a usable lab in a few days (or a few hours?) from after it has been used for storage for 17 years? Really? -- and fancy (custom?) equipment that still works after all that time?

However, I love the conspiracy aspect of it and did not see the twist (of John being involved) coming, AT ALL. Always nice.

I'll tune in again but haven't completely made up my mind :)
Anonymous said…
I can't wait for the next ep! I thought it was exciting and suspenseful and I didn't see that ending coming at all. Do we think that John is dead? Were they able to reanimate him or just question him? Was John part of the Pattern?
Jace Lacob said…
Good question, Ted, about the reanimination. After all, I am sure William Bell and Massive Dynamics have perfected the procedure since Walter last used it over 17 years ago. Nina definitely questioned him at the very least but I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't the last we see of Agent Scott.
I was a little worried about the mystery-of-the-week format as self-contained episodes in this genre can feel over simplified. Luckily, they still were able to craft a compelling and intricate story with interesting characters and a fat conspiracy to boot. I'm definitely hooked and only hope they can continue with this level of intelligent storytelling, especially without the extra 1/2 hour of time.
Jon88 said…
I didn't get swept away. Maybe I'm losing my patience for Big Bad Conspiracy shows. And they're not doing Anna Torv any favo(u)rs by making her constrain her voice into an American accent. Planning to keep watching for at least a couple of more shows, though, which is more than I can say about "Sons of Anarchy," which got filed under "life is too short."
Sooz said…
I'm in!
Anonymous said…
I liked it. I was kinda hoping that the giant captions would eventually be worked into the plot somehow. (Can't you see them?!!! :-). I'll give it a chance. But they have to pay off, I won't buy into another X-Files with the bees, and the oil, and I still don't know what happened to Mulder's sister (and don't care).
Anonymous said…
I enjoyed it. I think there's a lot of potential -- especially if they've given the mythology some thought. I loved Alias, but I hated the fact that the mythology wasn't thought out.

As for the kyrons, I'm up in the air. A few of them were distracting rather than helpful.

Of course the most distracting element for me was the name Massive Dynamics. It's too close to Global Dynamics. (And I keep imagining what Jack Carter would say . . .)
Anonymous said…
I stayed with it because Anna Torv was so appealing, and it got better in the second half.

I'm still not sure I followed all the leaps of logic -- maybe it was a little incoherent or maybe I was just tired.

It's worth another shot or two, in my opinion -- the characters and premise definitely have promise. The fact that they use almost the identical music of Lost is annoying.
Page48 said…
Definitely no "Truth Be Told". I wanted to love love love it, but the best I could do is like it. It's billed as a 'thriller', but where I come from, you can't have a thriller without thrills.

We met Sydney Bristow with her head under water, gasping for air, and speaking a foreign language. We found out her father never sold airplane parts. The very first "Alias" saw Sydney's boss send his goons to a parking garage to kill her. We saw her colour her hair, break Will's heart, lose her man (like Olivia). We saw her go on an unsanctioned mission abroad using her best buddie's sister's passport, steal a car, trash a lab, go to college. We saw a tear dangle on the bottom of her chin and drop to the ground when it became too heavy to bare. We saw her leave her boss's office and walk with confident swagger and beautiful shoulders through the mean streets, on her way to CIA headquarters to become a 'walk-in'. And she did it accompanied only by her conscience and Sinead O'Connor. We saw her size up her future husband and question his motives, accusing him of trying to play her for a triple agent. Who even thinks about triple agents?

And best of all we saw her in the cemetery, her hair blowing in the strong summer breeze, holding the phone given to her by her father moments earlier to her ear, and calmly saying "hello", lighting the fuse on a whole new way of life for her and those around her.

That's what was missing from "Fringe". It's not irreparable, they just have to make the effort that was so obvious with "Alias". I'm in and I'll be patient, but there is work to do.
McD said…
I'm hooked!
Harley said…
Compare it to Lost or Torchwood or Battlestar? (The first two being more relevant comparisons.)

Not, as yet, in the same league.

The writing is competent and clever and cinematic, but a mile wide and an inch deep. Much like Giacchino's music, which is similarly clever -- and cinematic as well -- but also willing to descend into outright hackery when the spirit (or deadline) moves him. Using the Lost ooky violin button-sting to add tension to the end of a scene? I dunno. Do they honestly think people won't notice? That may sound like a little thing. But it may be emblematic of larger problems to come. Because when Abrams is good, he's very good. But when he's bad/lazy or otherwise engaged?

You get a different Alias franchise every season.
Anonymous said…
I do have to say that there were two plot weaknesses. Why kill the guy in the hospital? Obviously he was well-connected, he could have been a little more discreet. And why would he kill his own brother? That wasn't set up correctly dramatically, though they can still deal with it (could be clones, not siblings after all).
Anonymous said…
Bit late to the party having been away from the TV much of the summer and I was going to refrain from commenting here on shows I didn't like when I came back, but I was sooo looking forward to Fringe after Jace's previews and given the heights Lost has scaled before.

Once again I find myself puzzled by people's ecstatic reaction to something that was reasonably entertaining but dramatically very unfulfilling. Some nice characterization with the odd bit of zippy dialogue to get us started, thumbs up for that.

But the episode lacked any tension. They spoon fed the audience, and gave far too much away in terms of the over-arching structure of the series. TV Guide recently had Lost rated as the best ever pilot, and recall how you felt on seeing Lost - the sheer jaw-dropping wtf-is-going on?!? of it all. You didn't have a clue what was happening at the end of the pilot, and all the better for it.

With Fringe we already know where we're at and what to expect. Sure there will be twists and puzzles and wrong-turns, but for a show that is all about mystery I'm left feeling that there isn't any. And knowing the big corporation is the bad guy, part of some very high secret cabal - who knows where its tentacles might reach?! - please, it's all very unimaginative and seen-it-all-before.

Stealing the music from Lost, the gimmick of the kyrons or whatever they are called, these are just minor gripes. Three other examples of poor execution lacking tension were the chase scenes - two on foot, one on wheels - which were really just quickly edited scenes of people running (or driving) without a clear narrative. Unable to structure an actual exciting chase scene, they tried to fake one with fast editing.

If Abrams says it gets better I'll stick around for a while. If people are so undemanding of their shows then the shows we get will be undemanding.
Anonymous said…
Honestly? I kept falling asleep. I've seen this all before: Nowhere Man, X-Files, Lost, etc., etc. How many of these sweeping, grandiose shows do we have to see start up only to fizzle out a few episodes or even years later?

The only redeeming feature could be that J.J. Abrams says he's learned his lesson and can wrap up the show in the 9th episode or the 99th. We'll see ... I think that'll be tested because I expect an early cancellation.

The chyrons were interesting although clearly inspired by Heroes.
Unknown said…
Oh, one more thing: predictable. As soon as she said "I love you" to her agent-toy, I said to my wife, "Now he's going to die." (Okay, he didn't die but he did blow up.)

And, at the end of the show, when he was shot (and really did die), I said, "Reanimation."

There were many other instances of this. It's like the writers aren't even trying and just reach for the formulaic play book every show has a copy of.

And having Walter "piss himself"? That was disgusting and wholly unnecessary. Are they going for the 9-year-old boy demographic?

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