Fringe is a science fiction television series which was the brainchild of J.J.Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. It follows Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and Dr Walter Bishop (John Noble). They’re all members of a fictional FBI division called the Fringe division, set for the most part in Boston, Massachusetts. It aired on September the 9th 2008 with one of the most expensive pilots of all time and ended with a 13 episode, 5th season on January the 18th 2013.
The general concept of the show is that it uses fringe sciences, which are the abnormal and unproven science theories. Some concepts such as teleportation, telekinesis and psychokinesis are explored in many different ways throughout the span of the show and is given an element of realism. These theories were combined with FBI investigative techniques to solve cases.
The show starts off with a traditional mystery of the week format, which sets the tone of what this universe entails in terms of horrors and theories, and establishes a subtle link and pattern. This format slowly starts to change to become more woven and serialized whilst still maintaining some episodic stories, the main overarching themes include a parallel universe and without spoiling the show, an element of time travel, doppelgangers and monsters.
Each season tackles a certain aspect of the story and leaves the audience with more questions on certain occurrences, however this show had the rare chance to wrap up and complete each plot point neatly. Fringe is influenced by other shows such as The X-Files, The Twilight Zone and Lost, however it’s wholly unique within its own right.
The show follows the main character Olivia Dunham, an FBI Agent who finds herself head of a new division, entering a new world that she did not think was even remotely possible. Her character starts off being in denial and completely walled off after a betrayal she encountered, yet you can still see her emotions and how she feels about the events occurring with mastered subtlety that is performed in a very beautiful way. The audience is able to establish a level of relatability that is present all the while she maintains this guarded façade. Anna Torv allows for this character to grow, flourish and adapt to the events in the show in the most seamless way possible, the way Olivia Dunham finds herself intertwined in this new world and how her character plays a significant role in being the main member who keeps the team together is nothing short of fantastic.
Olivia Dunham is by far one of the strongest female leads in TV. Her character is strong, smart and courageous all the whilst being in touch with her emotions and accepting her vulnerabilities. she truly is the heart of the team.
One of the main overarching themes of the show is the importance of family, and this is very present with the father and son relationship that evolves throughout the show. Whilst John Noble’s character Dr. Walter Bishop is a “mad scientist” who is sometimes found disjointed and incoherent, the constant tether he has to reality is how much he loves his son Peter Bishop, and how he sacrificed so much for him. Dr. Walter Bishop needs his son in order to function. In the pilot, Dr. Walter Bishop was taken out of a mental asylum on the one condition he is supervised by his son Peter, who very reluctantly agrees to return to help Olivia Dunham solve a mystery. Peter then finds himself immersed and involved in this new world whilst struggling to establish a connection with his father.
In the re-connection of this relationship there is significant character growth for both of these characters, and the story evolves and connects the team in a very nifty way, there are events that make the bond that they share stronger over time. The situation that they all find themselves to be in is complicated but through that situation the audience is able to relate to how they try to keep the team working and it’s done in the most grounded way possible.
Both John Noble and Joshua Jackson’s performances are stellar and the way they portray these characters is brilliant, and the relationship that these characters have feels natural.
The world that these characters live in is crazy and verging on the impossible, however the writing and the direction of the show is executed in an impeccable way. Other shows have found themselves lost in the direction or have those impossible themes become cheesy or lost to the audience, however the team of writers and showrunners keep Fringe grounded in reality as much as possible. The plot points that may seem bad in concept are carried out brilliantly. The writers somehow manage to continuously surprise the audience. The show manages to keep cliché concepts from being clichés and actually turning them into fresh and unique twists.
Other Members in the team such as Astrid Farnsworth who was played by Jasika Nicole and Philip Broyles played by Lance Riddick shine in their roles and give the team a different perspective. Astrid helps Walter bishop rely on himself and her amazing skills and knowledge are vital in many of the cases that the team solve. Her wit and her charm gives the show joy and lightness. Lance Reddick delivers a brilliant performance throughout the series and shows his range in acting throughout the seasons.
Fringe keeps the audience on their toes with intertwining plot points and bold and gutsy directions that work seamlessly. Viewers were left at the edge of their seats from one week to the other, and the way the show concluded highlights the importance of humanity, love and family. This show was a masterpiece that made the impossible possible in the most pragmatic way possible.
This show had the opportunity to also branch out into comics with DC producing a series called Fringe: Beyond The Fringe, and a game.