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Fringe returns tonight

by Ethan on January 21st, 2011

“I watched the first two episodes and then lost interest”
-Just About Everyone I’ve Ever Talked to About Fringe

The last time I wrote about a TV show, it was cancelled. With Fringe moving to Fridays (and with everything that that implies), this may not be the best time to blog about it. But it returns tonight and I’m really excited.

Allison and I have been fans of J.J. Abrams work for a long time. From Felicity to Alias to Lost to Star Trek, we’ve enjoyed many of his creations. When I read the pitch for Fringe, it seemed perfect. The X-Files, remade by JJA? Sign me up! And it delivered on that premise, but for one reason or another we didn’t stick with it. My dad kept telling me how great it was, but I felt like we had already missed too much to jump back in after two months of missed episodes. Though I loved Lost, the obligation of it wore me down. I wasn’t looking for more long-form television when I was watching less and less TV every year.

So by the end of the first season, I had given up. And when my favorite sci-fi blog wrote a recap of the season finale, I went ahead and read the post. Hey, I remember that show, how did it end up? And I was blown away. That post is linked below, but it’s a heavy spoiler for all of 2008′s season one. It also established the core of the show. This X-Files remake had its Big Picture, but also a destination and a plan.

When Season 2 started, we tried it again and watched two or three episodes. My wife is normally quite averse to a new TV show, but she said, “I like this show, let’s watch more of it.”. But then there was a particularly gory episode, which she doesn’t like, and I stopped making time for it. We let it drop. Fast forward another year. The show kept getting more and more positive buzz. My dad and other friends kept at me about it. Finally we relented to last month’s publicity onslaught and watched episode 3.08, a climactic turning point for this season. This was the 51st of the show, but only the seventh we had watched. And we were hooked.

“Exec producer J.J. Abrams, known for twisty, myth-intense shows like Lost and Alias, is under-recognized for his jeweler’s eye at casting. The lead trio here is expertly balanced: Jackson lends his patter-heavy, dubious son a core of decency, Torv alternates between steely action and wavering self-doubt, and Noble plays his cuckoo genius with the daffiness of Christopher Lloyd and the diction of Frasier Crane. Dashing around a subterranean lab at Harvard, his pure delight is strangely adorable amid all the gloom. ”
- EW‘s Gillian Flynn

Another io9 post gave me a good list of the must-see episodes. The post is a bit spoiler-y, so here is their list without description:

  • 1.01 “Pilot”
  • 1.04 “The Arrival”
  • 1.10 “Safe”
  • 1.14 “Ability”
  • 1.17 “Bad Dreams”
  • 1.19 “The Road Not Taken”
  • 1.20 “There’s More Than One of Everything”
  • 2.01 “A New Day in the Old Town”
  • 2.04 “Momentum Deferred”
  • 2.08 “August”
  • 2.10 “Grey Matters”
  • 2.15 “Jacksonville”
  • 2.16 “Peter”
  • 2.19 “The Man From the Other Side”
  • 2.22/2.23 “Over There Parts 1 & 2″

They recommend starting with 1.14, but I started us back at episode 2.15 (“Jacksonville”) which is where the current downhill run started. The show has largely moved away from the Monster of the Week model. Back to the long-form television that didn’t interest me in 2008. I’m really enjoying this show. And if you’re completely caught up, here’s a fun article comparing… well that would be a spoiler.

It returns tonight after the winter break. I’m nervous and sad about the move to Fridays. The odds don’t favor a Season 4. That will be a shame. This show is great.

Fringe on FOX
io9′s Recap of the Season One finale

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