FRINGE: Ten Years Later, The Fox Drama is Still Underrated - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

FRINGE: Ten Years Later, The Fox Drama is Still Underrated

September 7, 2018 by  


Credit: Fox

[This post contains light spoilers for FRINGE.]

A decade after FRINGE debuted (on September 9, 2008), the sci-fi series remains woefully underrated.

The show, which is currently unavailable to stream anywhere (it last lived on the now-departed go90), felt like a gem at the time it aired; in hindsight, it’s almost more impressive. What could have been a quasi-X-FILES clone developed into one of the most beautiful stories of love (familial and romantic) and the lengths one will go to protect those they love.

What remains impressive was how much the show and its writers trusted the audience—both to stick around to get to them playing with the alternate universe, and then to be able to track the two parallel stories. Television in 2018 also moves at a different pace, and FRINGE likely wouldn’t be the show it was if made today. Season 1 is particularly interesting to rewatch given what was revealed later; there’s something to be said for a slow burn.

And really, what show could pull off what FRINGE did? Even if you exclude the great storytelling, this is also a show that did a musical episode, an animated hour, reset timelines, and took a sizable trip to the future. Most series couldn’t even pull off one of those feats, let alone all of that in 100 episodes.

But it’s also worth repeating that there was a stretch of FRINGE (from season 2’s “Jacksonville” to season 3’s “The Day We Died”) that was one of the finest consecutive batches of episodes ever. The fallout of Peter learning the truth about his childhood until the third season finale was simply stunning. (FRINGE also remains the only show that made me physically bolt up in shock from a twist in two different episodes…the writers had a fantastic way of delivering an insane twist that felt so richly earned.)

Part of what made all of the characters so compelling—and something that has stuck with me as I’ve watched every show since—was the awareness that the way audiences felt about certain characters was entirely dependent on where the writers opened the story. “The truth is in the episode ‘Peter,’ when we finally saw what Walter did 28 years ago, obviously borne out of love for his son, he as much as admitted he was willing to play God — risk what he understood to be potentially damaging two universes to save this boy,” executive producer Jeff Pinkner said in 2011. (Pinkner ran the first four season; executive producer J.H. Wyman joined as co-showrunner in season 2 and ran the show solo in season 5.) “We can all understand his choice. We would all make the same choice, we don’t have to support it and we’ve been witnessing for three seasons the consequences. Had we played that episode first, Walter’s the big villain [of the show]. But because we know him and we love him and we see the consequences, we understand why he did it, suddenly it becomes an understandable act. And we’re telling a show about science — science is not good or bad. It’s the application of it that is good or bad and our storytelling is the same.”

Of course, the actors were incredible. John Noble’s lack of Emmy recognition will always be an egregious oversight. Anna Torv’s work, especially in the third season, was perfectly heartbreaking. Josh Jackson’s Peter could have been a thankless role; instead he was compassionate, angry, heartbroken, and driven. Jasika Nicole, Blair Brown, and Lance Reddick…I would still love to spend 50 more hours with Astrid, Nina, and Broyles, getting to learn more about them. The trio were grounded forces whose presence was invaluable. Seth Gabel was a fantastic late addition to the show, and Kirk Acevedo’s early work as Charlie provided one of the show’s earliest heartbreaking twists. And Michael Cerveris portrayed more with a silent look than most other actors can do with 20 lines of dialogue.

Quite simply, I miss FRINGE. I wish it was more widely available so new generations would discover it easily on the major streaming platforms. (It’s worth every penny to buy it physically, though that’s obviously less of an option for people who are casually seeking out new shows.) I hope people will lend out their DVDs/Blu-rays and continue to talk it up so it gets the attention it still deserves.

That being said, please don’t reboot/revive the series. It got an actual ending—a rarity for this kind of show—and it doesn’t need to be touched again. Let us appreciate it for what it was without trying to recapture the moment. Thank you very much, TV Gods.

Happy Birthday, FRINGE.


Do you miss FRINGE?

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