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A preview of J.J. Abrams' new show Fringe - VIDEO

by Kristin Sample, posted May 30th 2008 6:02PM
JJ AbramsImagine this. If The X-Files and CSI had a baby and that baby's godfather was Heroes, then that would be Fringe. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, after attending a screening of J.J. Abrams' new show at Fox studios in Century City, I can vouch that it is indeed pretty good. One might even say it's more than pretty good; it's great in fact.

I watched the two-hour season premiere on Thursday evening. The pilot I saw was unfinished, but according to the publicist for Fox, the network is so psyched about Fringe, they couldn't wait to show the press. He referred to it as Fox's "tent pole series for the fall."

After the jump, I tell you about the pilot and the characters. Consider yourself warned though, there will be a few spoilers.

The Pilot:

According to the press release, Fringe is "a new drama that will thrill, terrify and explore the blurring line between science fiction and reality." The pilot opens with as a plane from Hamburg, Germany landing at Boston's Logan airport with everyone on board dead. And they are not just dead...they're all gooey and translucent. Obviously, there needs to be an investigation.

That's when we meet our FBI special agents: Olivia Dunham, John Scott, and Charlie Francis. We also meet Phillip Broyles at Logan airport. He's with Homeland Security and will be leading the investigation. So FBI, CIA and other acronyms can report to him. They board the plane, check out the goo, and set about uncovering which terrorist is responsible for this atrocity.

After John Scott is hurt in an explosion, he suffers from the same gooey affliction, but the hospital slows its progress by putting him into a drug-induced coma. This is when Olivia Dunham gets seriously involved with the investigation. Her discoveries lead her to Dr. Walter Bishop, a pseudo-scientist (paging Dr. Suresh) who has been institutionalized. But, she can't access the doctor without an immediate family member. So, Dunham gets his estranged son, Peter Bishop, to help out.

Later in the pilot, Dunham's investigation leads to corporate executive Nina Sharp of Massive Dynamics. From here, Dunham finds out that while she thought she had clearance and knew all the classified information about Flight 627, she has really only scratched the surface. The Hamburg flight is part of a much larger set of events called "the pattern."

Meet the Cast / Characters:

OLIVIA DUNHAM: The heroine of the show is played by unknown Anna Torv, who looks a little bit like Kate Hudson (in my opinion). She's intelligent, tough, and forthright in her work. It's her tenacity and love of fellow agent John Scott that drives the pilot.

JOHN SCOTT: Dunham's love interest is played by Mark Valley, formerly of Boston Legal. I loved Mark Valley on Boston Legal so I was happy to see him in Fringe. When we first see John Scott, he's in bed with Olivia. He tells her he loves her but, of course, since they work for the Bureau, their relationship is hush-hush. Together they investigate a storage unit full of chemical and light-depraved rodents. But, in pursuit of a suspicious man Scott sees at the site, he gets badly injured. It's this injury that propels the rest of the pilot as Dunham wants to save his life. And there's more to John Scott, but I don't want to give it all away.

WALTER BISHOP: The looney doctor is played by Lord of the Rings' John Noble. Bishop not only provides much of the scientific explanations for the show, but also provides much of the humor. People laughed out loud in the theater after some of his lines. My favorite was when he sees his son for the first time in seventeen years: "I thought you'd be fatter."

PETER BISHOP: The doctor's son is played by Joshua Jackson (PACEY!). We first find him in Iraq and reluctant to help with his insane father. "I'd rather stay here in Iraq. That should tell you how much I want to see my father," he quips to Agent Dunham.

PHILLIP BROYLES: Played by Lance Reddick of The Wire, he leads the initial team that investigates the goo-ridden plane. But, he knows more... a lot more.

CHARLIE FRANCIS: The first on the scene from the FBI at Logan airport is played by Kirk Acevedo of Oz. He doesn't have a huge part in the pilot, but I think he'll be partnering with Agent Dunham more as the season goes on.

ASTRID FARNSWORTH: Played by Jasika Nicole of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, she is Olivia Dunham's assistant.

NINA SHARP: The corporate executive and champion of Massive Dynamics is played by Blair Brown (Altered States). She has a small but fecund scene with Agent Dunham in the pilot. She might end up being a villain but it's too early to tell. And, she's not all human.

Other Stuff:

  • Watching a TV show in a theater is way better than watching it at home. But, you could've guessed that. Then again, at a theater, you can't watch the show in your underwear and Homer Simpson slippers. Er, not that yours truly does that.
  • We first see our heroine in bed naked with her co-worker. Why am I not surprised?
  • There are way too many "honeys," "sweethearts," and other patronizing pet names for women in the script. But, I think they may have done that on purpose to highlight Olivia Dunham's smart no-nonsense character, to show that she's anything but a "sweetheart."
  • The text they use to denote the different location is cool. It's a very small part of the show, but it's interesting nonetheless. The text is 3-D and the camera sometimes will go through it, like the text itself is a physical part of the scene.
  • As I was sitting in the theater, a few members of the press were chatting about the tip sheet. One said sarcastically, "Wait, J.J. Abrams is making a show about a plane crash? I haven't heard that before." To be fair, the plane doesn't crash, it just lands itself (autopilot) with a bunch of dead gooey people in it.
  • Fringe's music (not the opening credits) is similar to Lost's. It has more of those discordant drawn-out strings that give us a good dose of the creeps.
  • The title refers to "fringe science" or pseudo-science according to Olivia Dunham in the pilot. Here's the wikipedia reference for those of you who are interested.
  • Best exchange of the pilot... Walter Bishop (dad): I just pissed myself. Peter Bishop (son): Excellent. Walter Bishop: It's just a squirt.
Here's the trailer for those of you who haven't seen it:

Fringe will premiere on August 26th at 8:00 p.m. ET / PT. It's regular time will be Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m. ET / PT on Fox.

What do you think? Does this sound good? Sound off in the comments.

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New trailers out: http://www.fringe-forum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=134

June 06 2008 at 6:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Too bad it will only be on long enough for me start getting interest in it, then it will be canceled because of any number of reasons.

June 01 2008 at 9:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

did it ever give a name of the airline

May 31 2008 at 7:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

almost look like it could tie into lost because of Lance Reddick and a plane he just has different names

May 31 2008 at 7:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"The text they use to denote the different location is cool. It's a very small part of the show, but it's interesting nonetheless. The text is 3-D and the camera sometimes will go through it, like the text itself is a physical part of the scene."

Isn't this what they already do on Heroes (for their episode titles), or is the technique more sophisticated than that?

May 31 2008 at 8:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Franklin's comment
Kristin Sample

I'm a huge Heroes fan and yet I can't remember what the onscreen text looks like. It probably is similar. But, I feel like it's cooler than anything I've seen before. (I don't want to build it up too much. After all, it's just text.) Even the people in the theater seemed amused when the camera went through the words. There's one aerial shot of Iraq and the text reads Baghdad, Iraq. The next shot is from the ground up looking at the helicopter (which has Agent Dunham in it) and the Q from Iraq is still in the shot but backwards. People kind of chuckled at that.

May 31 2008 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This looks like it will be very intoxicating or addicting to watch.....the hype on the show seems to be popping up everywhere....including a new ARG....

May 31 2008 at 6:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

From the trailers, I like this one a lot more than Dollhouse. I'm not usually drawn into shows with female leads, but there's enough of ensemble feel to the trailers that I think I can handle her.

It's the new show I'm most looking forward to in the new season.

May 30 2008 at 11:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Cynthia's comment

Same here. I'm really looking forward to this. Watching the trailer I got the feeling this could be the next "X-Files".

That would be a very good thing.

May 30 2008 at 11:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wasn't thoroughly impressed when I saw a clip from the show. I think i will check out the first to episodes but i think that in the end, the only show created by J.J. that I willl be watching next season will be LOST.

May 30 2008 at 9:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She looks like Cate Blanchett

May 30 2008 at 8:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'll believe it when I see it... but the pedigree is interesting.

May 30 2008 at 8:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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