After our summer hiatus (hey if Best Week Ever can take August off then so can we :-) the Rainbow is back and we start with the first new show of the fall season that I’ve caught.
The pilot of Fringe, the new Fox show co-created by J.J. Abrams, made me think of the opening lines of the old Buffalo Springfield hit “For What it’s Worth”…there’s something happening here, what is ain’t exactly clear.
But then it is the pilot, the time to set up the status quo for the series, so I guess I can cut them some slack on that (I don’t need or want all of the answers in the first episode, I just want enough to make me want to stick around as the answers unfold.) That said, the show seemed to plod along after a startling and grisly opening scene and it never seemed to find its footing…perhaps that will come as the series unfolds.
At first blush, Fringe is deep into X-Files/Lost territory touching tried and true plot points such as the supernatural, seemingly sinister conspiracies, government intrigue, unspoken attraction between the leads, etc., etc. It’s all very portentous (as these shows intend to be) but so far underwhelming.
As FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham, Anna Torv is pretty enough (she first appears lying naked in bed with her lover and later they manage to contrive a reason for her to strip down to her underwear) but her acting is tentative and bland (unless they were going for that Dana Scully cool reserve thing, then she nailed it.) So far she doesn’t seem to have the presence to be the center of a sprawling show like this one appears to be.
Joshua Jackson is game as the smart but cynical ne’er do well Peter Bishop, who is blackmailed into helping Dunham, but, again, I didn’t quite believe him as the character.
One hopes and expects that they will grow into their parts as the show moves on.
John Noble has some interesting moments as Peter’s estranged father Dr. Walter Bishop (who has been isolated in an institution for 20 years…for reasons we are not yet privy to…but who is apparently not so dangerous that he can’t be signed out with just his son’s signature.)
Lance Riddick is on aboard as a hard-bitten FBI agent who has both a mad on for Dunham (for something she did to one of his friends years ago) and the knowledge that there’s something strange going on in the world.
Throw in Blair Brown as the creepy and, yes, seemingly sinister executive of the mega-corporation created by Dr. Bishop’s former partner (himself unseen as yet) and you’ve got yourself a party.
The sum of Fringe’s parts don’t add up as yet but I’ll probably give it a few more episodes to try to win me over.
* * * * *
On an unrelated note, Fox followed up the premiere of the Fringe pilot (which will air again on Sunday before the show returns to its regular Tuesday time slot) with an airing of their new game show Hole in the Wall (which is about people trying to jump through holes in a moving wall before they get dumped into a pool of water.) This show may not be the dumbest thing ever shown on network television but it’s definitely in the running for that dubious title.