Friday, December 29, 2017

Fringe

Review.

Fringe seemed at first to be another X-files clone. and though there's quite a bit 'episodic' stuff, there's also the kind of... perception shift. We'll move from Mulder / Scully reality-checks, into nutty professor territory. Great! A definite must watch!


Update

Fringe was on (Dutch) Netflix, but they took it off again. I hate them!

 
If you haven't seen it yet

(Parts of the text below date back to the dark ages 😁 and were taken from old installments of TellTales!... 2011 or even earlier? I've left them as-is, which makes it easier if you're about to do a re-watch, or if this is your first encounter with Fringe.)


Closure

One very important aspect of any television show (at least for me) is if it has any 'closure'. Too many series die on a cliffhanger.

Fringe almost fell victim to the 'early cancellation disease' but fortunately the show-runners were allowed to send it off properly. A bit in haste, but better than nothing. So it's worth watching and has proper closure. What else do you want?


John Noble

You'd expect the leading male / female couple to be the focus of the show, but it's actually the 'crazy professor' Walter Bishop, played by John Noble, that draws all attention. John Noble does a fantastic job portraying Walter Bishop... in all its incarnations. Definitely Emmy / Oscar material.

(You may recognize him from Lord of the Rings.)


So with that out of the way let's go back to...


2011 

I know from the web that the series is going to move in a certain direction, or at least that's the impression I got. (I have not gone all the way yet, but there's the word 'reality' which means we're getting tuned up for alternate dimensions or something similar.

That's good.
 
Anything that messes up the mind, the mind of the viewer, and / or the mind of the main characters, is cool in my book. (Aw gawd, showing my age there.) And there has been some messing around, for example the old typewriter that shows that Walter was the author of a certain manuscript. Or there's this 'Cortexofen' stuff which makes it tempting to say the show is about Walter and not about Olivia.

Update. Of course I've finished watching this. And this one is definitely worth your time, so go and watch it. Can't give you any details, as it would spoil things 😄

Then when you're done, read on.

I've compiled some older comments, and separated each season with a warning as below. If you have not watched it yet be aware... Spoilers ahead! But you should be reasonably safe if you don't scroll down too quickly... Just stop at the spoiler alerts or episode names.





Suspension of disbelief

There are some bad parts as well... The first thing that requires a massive amount of 'suspension of disbelief' (and which makes or breaks the interest the show may hold for you) is the concept of a nutty professor fooling around with dead bodies in the cellar of a university.

No questions asked.

The second thing is the fact that that same nutty professor seems to be responsible for all 'episodic' threats, creatures and doomsday-devices.

In all other aspects I do like the show thus far, better than expected with the arcs surpassing the stand-alone episodes. (Aw come on, a virus / chemical that turns people into spine-fluid-drinking-vampires...)

As I'm watching downloaded television episodes (at the time I wrote this, Fringe wasn't on local television nor on Netflix) there's the original television station logo and / or commercial showing in the corner... Hey, I haven't watched any of those advertised shows yet! There's still a lot to watch... Dollhouse, and euh... Well. Much more.


Fringe season 1

Season 1 is perhaps the most episodic of all seasons, and Fringe had not yet figured out if it was trying to become a distant cousin of the X-files, or if it could find its own way.

(Fortunately, it found its own way ☺)


Fringe season 2

Another season of Fringe...

 


And yes! Charlie got bad! I knew it! Though honestly I thought him to be bad all the time, not just the victim of a bait'n'switch..

Keep your eyes peeled for Walternate... Noble for president!



Fringe season 2 episodes 15 and 16

Major spoilers!

Well... perhaps not that major. I'm not the smartest person around, and even I've seen this one coming for ages: Peter is... well... not Peter, though he is Peter. No suprise whatsoever

I must note that the make-up job on Walter in the subsequent episode 16 is pretty damn good. If you're having a look at this episode of Fringe, check out the intro, it's interestingly 'different'. And the same thing applies to the whole episode, as it explains a lot of 'why' and 'how'.

Good intentions... we all know the line.

This episode doesn't tell us much about the Watchers though, except that they are able to make mistakes. And euh... Eric Stultz playing Marty McFly? Nicely sneaked in, that one


Fringe season 2 episode 2

When a show is able to take itself less seriously, and still keeps tone and style just right, then it must be a great show. At least in my book.

As I understand Fringe had to put in some 'musical' elements due as forced by a 'theme week' by the original broadcaster (Fox I believe) but they managed to pull it of rather well.

It's not Once More with Feeling from Buffy. Instead the creators dug into Walter's wacko mind (not entirely sane to begin with, and a bit of marijuana took care of the rest). It's a blend of The Princess Bride and Philip Marlowe, a telling of hope and loss, as seen through Walter's eyes. It seems to have divided the fan base straight through the middle: people either love it or hate it.

I love it.


Fringe season 3

Well, world hopping is fine in my book, so Olivia ending up on the other side made for 10 good episodes, a good first half of the season. Perhaps the ratings are decreasing but this has become one hell of a good show.

Besides. I don't care about ratings.




I fear season 4 is going to be the last season. Let's hope the creators of _Fringe_ realize the risk and put an acceptable final episode to it. It's rare that a show is properly ending... Heroes did not, 4400 got an acceptable (though unplanned) ending, Farscape got a miniseries after huge complaints by the fans, and Firefly managed to get the major plot-lines wrapped up in a movie

So, ten good eps, two or three fillers, and in episode 14 Olivia and Peter make up. Then comes number 15 and though low on action it hits hard, and below the belt

What an incredible good episode. More drama than anything else (and I don't even like drama). And why is it a good episode? Because in some way they managed to get everything just right, telling us what both Walter's went through. Then there's that one drawing of Olivia and Peter, and suddenly we see how 'Walternate' came into being.

Slow, but good. No car chases, but good. No explosions, but good. No brainless entertainment. And still good.

Screw the ratings. Keep this show flying... (Oh wait, that was Firefly...)

Oh, and could somebody please arrange an Oscar or Emmy or whatever for John Noble, the actor playing Walter? He absolutely deserved it!


Fringe season 5




Fringe season 5 episode 4


Only the vidiots amongst us may have recognized the front page of _Dapper_ #126. If you watched the final season of _Fringe_ you should have seen Etta’s face on posters, all over the place.

For some reason (never properly explained though, but still cool to see) Etta’s face became the focus of the resistance during season 5.

But first she had to be killed.

Farewell Etta

It’s a gutsy move. Although everybody knows successful heroes (and even more so: villains!) tend to return. Especially when dying off-screen. Shot in the stomach. Blown up in an anti-matter explosion. Still there were many ways Etta could have survived. Could have returned. One of the observers could have ‘teleported’ in and grabbed her. Cortexofan powered individuals could have snatched her into a parallel universe.

None of that happened. She died. All to put a little more pain on Olivia and Peter’s plate.


Fringe season 5 episode 7

Peter is going into a midlife crisis! He’s getting bald!

Obviously, it’s observer tech, turning him into an observer. He already grabbed a handful of their powers, he displayed several mannerisms, and now it seems he’s about to enjoy their haircut.

US studies have shown that bald man are seen as more powerful, decisive, more like leaders, more like men. It’s image building, and us (Bald) man have to thank people like Bruce Willis and Pierluigi Collina.

Which is good.

Which is compensation.

Because similar studies have shown that bald people are seen as less attractive by women… (Yes. Wishful thinking. And yes. I am bald.)



Fringe season 5 episode 8

Not up to par. Yeah, it closed the ‘observer implant’ thread, but to me it seemed an easy way out. I was disappointed.

This whole ‘observers / invaders’ concept is definitely worth the 20-odd episodes of a regular season. The current breakneck speed is definitely going to hurt things. As for the implant, I think an incident or accident (high voltage, EMP, some ‘fringe talent’, whatever) would have made a more plausible reason for the implant to fail. How about Olivia’s super powers, running wild on an overdose of Cortexofan, burning out the Observer’s technology?

This was too easy.


Fringe season 5 episode 9

Fringe season five episode nine… four more episodes, and Fringe is no more. Was the previous episode below par, this one is great! Walter goes tripping, and brings Monthy Python’s Flying Circus aboard.

Good episode, great stuff, and another arc about to be closed. (The boy’s back, now where’s the other guy? Oh, wait! I know! It’s obvious, come to think of it…)

I have a few remaining episodes of Fringe, as now the series has come to an end. I’m just reluctant to watch them, as afterwards I know there will be no more Fringe...

Cringe.


Fringe season 5 episode 13 An Enemy of Fate

Walter hands Peter some bullets and tells him to be careful with them, as they are special anti-gravity (?) bullets that will make the Observers float in the air after they’ve been shot.
“But once we shoot them, they’re dead,” Peter says. “Why would we want them to float?”

“Because it’s cool,” Walter replies.

(I think I have to re-watch this episode, no, the whole series!)


Fringe wrap up

Fringe ends on a positive note: the future is saved. Our future is save.

I think.

Olivia and Peter are enjoying a peaceful moment in the park, and the observers do not attack. Etta’s back. That’s good.

It is, however, a typical ‘reset’ solution, after the reset you can safely ignore everything that happened after the reset moment. That’s bad.

I’m not much into ‘reset’ solutions, to be honest. (It’s one of the reasons I’m not much into Star Trek.)

Still, I can live with it. There was some happiness to be deserved, even though the couple did not experience the death of their child. I just can’t figure out the exact meaning of the white tulip that Walter send to Peter.

Anyway, some defining moments from the final episode(s):

Fauxlivia! I love that alternate universe. Interesting that the observer(s) could follow Olivia, though apparently they never showed up before… or did they? Those seemed to be the ‘superfast’ guns…

Astrid! Finally, Walter gets her name right. One of those little running gags that makes the difference between a good and a great show.

The fish thing! Oh, I forgot. It’s emotions that save the day. See? Love conquers all.


Unanswered questions

None of them showstoppers though!

In its last season, the Fringe producers only had 13 episodes to bring things to an end. They managed to do that somewhat satisfactory, but I would have liked another 5 or 10 episodes to finish things properly. I’ve still got too many questions.

-    Where did the machine originate?
-    What happened to Bell?
-    No observers in the parallel universe? Why not?
-    Does Olivia (still) need Cortexofan for her ‘powers’?
-    Why does Fauxlivia’s ‘painted’ hair show grey streaks?
-    How can changing the future change the past?
-    What’s that white tulip all about?

I know the whole ‘conquerors from the future’ doesn’t make much sense (as they would be meddling with their own origins, unless they are the result of their own meddling, argh, it hurts the mind). Still, I just cannot understand how a young observer send into the future would change the past. That doesn’t even make sense to me. (Many things don’t, just add another one.)

Argh! Time paradoxes make no sense, which is why there’s no time traveling. If time traveling existed, it would screw up history so bad it could / would no longer be invented.

Does making sense matter? On a certain level: yes. But when watching a series, such as Fringe, entertainment takes priority. And Fringe was entertaining. Definitely. I enjoyed the ride. Suspension of disbelief. Throw mama off the train, and ense out of the window. 


Farewell Fringe

The final season of Fringe did show something else, something often overlooked by cable networks and television stations: it has closure. An ending. Though it might not be wrapped up as well as some of us would have liked, it still was an ending.


 Dapper / TellTales! 50 / TellTales! 68 / TellTales! 85 / TellTales! 86

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