Be a Better man Than Your Father – Fringe (Retro Review)

JJ Abrams’ arsenal of television shows is huge. Whether you choose the mind bending Lost, the thrilling Alias or the spectacular Fringe, you know you’re in for a good ride. Fringe first aired on our television screens in 2008. It gained a steady following, and kept consistent numbers during the first season. The show followed a group of scientists investigating a series of paranormal incidents. With the shocking opening scene of a plane full of passengers landing, but leaving its inhabitants dead and decaying with no real explanation, you immediately get an idea what you’re in for.

The show had a certain dogged determination to tell its story in full. Fox cancelled Fringe on a number of occasions, only to backtrack after a massive backlash from the audience. Running for five seasons, Fringe incorporated many different genres and provided massive twists and turns along the way.

The show focused around three main characters, Olivia Dunham, played by Anna Torv, Walter Bishop, played by John Noble and Peter Bishop, played by Joshua Jackson. They investigate the strange occurrences happening in the world, and the so called fringe science that seems to be causing them. The father-son relationship between Walter and Peter is one of the main themes of the show, and is the cause of both humour and sadness. Walter, having been released from a mental institute finds himself living with a son who resents him. What starts as a strained relationship, eventually starts to turn into a mutual respect and a love for each other. A phrase that turns up regularly in the show is that of “Be a better man than your father”, and that is what Peter strives to do, despite the vast amount of knowledge he gains from Walter.

Fringe Photo 1

In later seasons, the show incorporates a parallel universe that may be playing a part in the strange events that are occurring in the main universe. Each character comes face to face with the alternate counterpart, and the differences are clear. As the two universes cross over with disastrous effects, each character has to truly look themselves in the mirror to figure out where they belong in this new and crazy world.

The mysterious character, William Bell, who forms the initial connection between the main characters and the new alternate universe is played by television legend Leonard Nimoy. We meet him when Olivia finds herself in a new world, shown by the view of the still-standing World Trade Centres. As this gives the audience the first look into a new world, we share Olivia’s confusion as she comes to terms with this shock to her system.

Some of the show’s highlights are the more unusual episodes. In the season three episode, ‘Lysergic Acid Diethylamide’, Walter and Peter enter Olivia’s mind to help extract information and to remove William Bell’s conscience from inside her head (not as strange as it sounds). This takes place in an animated world and is Fringe at its zaniest. In a similar episode, also thanks to the use of hallucinogenic drugs, we see a short, 75 second animated segment in the style of Terry Gilliam.

Fringe Photo 2

The shows final season takes place in the future, where so-called Observers have taken over the world as we know it, and our favourite characters are on the run. These Observers are characters that appear at Fringe science events, and we slowly start to understand their place in the universe. In this dystopian world, humans are outlaws, and Olivia, Peter and Walter fight to take back control.

The show reaches an emotional and heartfelt conclusion and is sure to bring tears to the most hardened viewer. The never say die attitude of Fringe’s loyal fans meant that the show’s creators could find a meaningful conclusion and the finale is a perfect sign off for a great show.

Creators: JJ Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orici
Cast: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Jasika Nicole, Lance Reddick, Blair Brown, Kirk Avecedo, Seth Gabel, Mark Valley
Country: USA
Number of Episodes: 100
Episode Runtime: 40-50 minutes