Time for me to force a recommendation from me upon you. I only do this with programmes I completely adore, and this is no exception.
EDIT: Apparently, a lot of people are getting to this post whilst looking for the funniest show that no-one watches. If that includes you, then you’d do worse than get into the glorious Community, which I have also blogged about. Pop pop.
Anyway, Fringe is the latest awesome sci-fi thing to come out of America. When it started the basic permise involved an FBI agent finding out that weird shit goes down all the time, and setting up a team to stop the weird shit including a mad scientist and Pacey off of Dawson’s Creek.
During Season 1, the episodes follow a fairly set template, where something weird happens (normally fairly gruesome, people blow up a lot on this show) the team investigate it and then solve the problem by the end of the episode. So far, so X Files.
But towards the end of the first season, a new story arc starts creeping in (I won’t ruin it by explaining what it is) that spins the show in a whole new direction, and makes it so much better than it could be. It’s really difficult to describe the immenseness it reaches without spoiling the main conceit behind the second and third seasons, but it’s a fairly standard trope in sci-fi done amazingly well. Plus, I’ve just watched the Season 3 finale, and I have no freakin’ clue where they’re going to go in season 4. Which is exactly how I like my sci-fi.
The acting is always top-notch. The main character Olivia (played by Anna Torv) may seem a bit wooden and unsympathetic at first, but she is meant to be. As the years go on, she starts getting warmer and downright loveable. An amazing case of character development. Joshua Jackson as Peter is always very good, and in actual fact can be very good without you even realising he has been. The rest of the cast is always dependable including a cow named Gene who lives in the Fringe lab. It makes sense in context.
But the real star of the show, and frankly the thing that’ll get you through the rather slow monotonous first season is John Noble as Walter Bishop (you might recognise him as that mad king off of Lord of the Rings). He takes the tired “mad scientist” trope and makes something completely new. Funny, sweet, interesting, random and above all, fucking mental, he is normally the one to figure out the solution to that week’s problem but not without a large amount of liquorice and… well, weed. He is simply one of the best characters in any TV show ever.
It really is worth tracking down, and it’s heartbreaking that it’s been trapped on Sky One since it started over here, because it deserves to be a huge hit. Even season 1, which I wasn’t a huge fan of, has it’s charms and if you like “case-of-the-week” sort of shows, you’ll love it. But the next two seasons are up there with the best that Doctor Who can do. And I can think of no higher praise than that.