4YE’s Better Late Than Never: Fringe (Season 1)

Credit: FOX

I was sixteen or so when Fringe was released to the viewing public. The first episode premiered on September 9th, 2008 on Fox. I was aware of most of the mythology surrounding the show, having trolled Tumblr during the height and the finale of the show.I had never been interested until I discovered the beauty and majesty of John Noble in season four of Elementary.

Noble plays Dr. Walter Bishop, a mad scientist with a particular interest in fringe science. Fringe science is tied to a larger series of events aptly titled “The Pattern” which is tied to Reiden Lake in New York City. At first, Fringe seems to follow the typical “monster of the week” procedural. The over-arching theme comes to light very quickly. The Pattern has everything to do with William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) and Bishop’s science experiments and a radical movement called the ZFT and their fixation on the experiments Bell and Bishop worked on.

Enter the Fringe Division. Led by Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and Agent Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick), they as well as Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) and Agent Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) investigate the Pattern and all the machinations that come from it. Of course, as with all science fiction TV shows, not everything goes as planned. Often, nothing goes the way Dunham or Broyles want them to and that’s what makes Fringe so interesting.

J.J. Abrams and his frequent behind the scenes partners have really crafted a show that takes everything you know about science fiction and introduces a human element that is refreshing and a welcomed change from most procedurals on the air right now. Not only that, Fringe has the best cast possible to fill what is arguably the most interesting set of characters to ever grace sci-fi.

The Peter Bishop, Walter Bishop, Olivia Dunham trifecta is nothing short of revelatory. Never has a trio of characters captured my interest so quickly and so fully. Knowing a bit of the future events has made me realize just how perfect and how all encompassing their story is to the Fringe lore. The first season introduces them in all their glory so perfectly. Noble, as Walter, is hands down the best of the three. If you were wanting a master class in how character acting is done, then look no further than Dr. Bishop.

Walter Bishop is really the lynch pin of the whole Fringe mythology. Don’t let his mad-scientist schtick fool you because once you look past it and see the heart of Walter, there’s no going back, not for you as a viewer and not for the show itself. So much of the show is tied up with Walter that not liking the character is almost tantamount to not liking the show.  He is loveable, funny, scary, and absolutely heart breaking. Abrams out did himself with Walter Bishop. I need more characters like him (and more John Noble just in general) on television today.

The stories are intriguing which is the most important part. They’re also interesting, based in reality, and kind of icky in some places. Of course, Fringe doesn’t shy away from the ick and the mind bending twists and it makes the show that much more entertaining. I can see why the show earned a cult following in its airing ten years ago.

If mind bending twists, wonderful characters, and fantastic stories are your cup of tea, then give Fringe a try. Yes, the first season isn’t flaw free. I you can get past the procedural parts and look toward the bigger lore being laid down, then there’s no doubt that you’ll be incredibly impressed and hooked for the rest of the show.

Shelby Arnold
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