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November 28, 2014

I'm starting to think I've seen Fringe before...

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Apr 23rd 2009 2:21PM

Olivia (Anna Torv, L), Walter (John Noble, C), and Peter (Joshua Jackson, R) track a deadly creature in the FRINGE episode 'Unleashed.'
When Fringe premiered last September, critics around the country distilled the new sci-fi drama down to one simple sentence: it's like a cross between Alias and The X-Files. At the time, that's what pretty much guaranteed I'd tune in. I still found that assessment a little odd since I always thought Alias had a healthy dose of influence from Mulder and Scully to begin with.

Regardless, Fringe clearly took a few cues from both shows in many ways. However, after this past Tuesday's episode ("Bad Dreams", S01E17), I stared to get a little annoyed. I've seen this before.

Blame JJ Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci for that. It's one thing to draw ideas from a show you already worked on, but this is bordering on total rip-off. The similarities between Sydney Bristow and Olivia Dunham are so strikingly aligned that it's starting to feel like only names have changed in the hand-off from Alias to Fringe.

From their gifted childhoods shrouded in conspiracies that unfolded during their adult years to being placed in positions that afforded them the opportunities to uncover it all, they might as well be the same person!

The CIA sanctioned tests that Jack Bristow ran on his daughter are the same as the Florida Cortexaphan trials that Olivia was subjected to. Milo Rambaldi and his long list of "before their time" inventions is the same thing as Massive Dynamic and William Bell. Sydney lost Danny and Olivia lost John - both as a result of their jobs. While it hasn't been revealed yet, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Broyles knows more about The Pattern than he's letting on, just in the same way that Arvin Sloan misled Syndey early on. Hell, even Walter looks like Marshall Flinkman with an extra 30+ years tagged on and they certainly share the exact same laboratory quirks.

Like I said - names have changed, but at its core, Fringe is playing out awfully similar to Alias. I'm thrilled that Leonard Nimoy was cast as William Bell and I'm excited to see how the final three episodes play out - I'd love to be proven wrong. All we need now is some creepy familial connection - any takers on Olivia being related to either Walter or Peter?

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Western

"I stared to get a little annoyed. I've seen this before." Maybe all that "staring" made you annoyed :) I like Fringe, I think Walter is wonderful. I think Anna Torv-Valley is a better actress than Jennifer Garner and I loved Alias. I like the relationships in the show. If we look back at the blogosphere in 1993 when The X-Files started you would see, "oh it's just a rip off of the Night Stalker" (kind of was and admittedly so), oh wait there was no blogosphere in 1993... nevermind.

April 27 2009 at 6:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Page 48

The thing is, "Alias" was riveting. "Fringe"....not so much. Way too much standalone freak-of-the-week stuff coupled with followup autopsies back at the Harvard lab. Too much goofy schtick from Walter (including weekly penis/anus/bodily fluid reference and weekly untimely food craving). Too much gimmicky comic book Observer guy (with appearances on every FOX show involving a live audience). And, alas, none (repeat, NONE) of that "Alias" edge o' the seat tension or excitement? It's billed as a thriller, but, apparently without the thrills.

"Alias" was brilliant out of the gate but "Fringe" at it's best has a lot of work to do to match a weak episode of "Alias". Sad but true.

April 24 2009 at 10:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Will

This was probably the first episode I halfway enjoyed; however, that said, I still think "Fringe" is the poor man's "X-Files." I'm just not really that impressed.

April 24 2009 at 11:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

Jonathan Toomey is a moron!!!!!

April 23 2009 at 6:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eugene

Oh god... look, these contrivances are hardly new. You could easily draw the same parallels with the first Star Wars movie:

Olivia and Luke have murky hidden pasts.
Olivia and Luke have comedic side kicks
Olivia and Luke may have strange powers that have something to do with their hidden past.
Olivia and Luke are guided by a mysterious mentor who seems to know more than they're letting on.
Olivia and Luke have an enemy that seems to be more connected to them then is immediately obvious.

These types of stories rely on a formula, just like heist films and westerns. Of course you've seen the character before, she's a fucking archetype just like Sydney, just like Luke, just like Dirty Harry, just like Danny Ocean.


April 23 2009 at 6:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Eugene's comment
donkey23

An excellent point, so I just have to fall back on the fact that Fringe is just so bad at retelling the same story that it ticks me off. Hell, this week it ripped off Medium! There is nothing original about this show--NOTHING! And that is what takes it too far. Plus, the acting a character development is pathetic, and the stories are usually ridiculous to even an open-minded SciFi fan like myself! This show is a flaming turd each week! Its only value is I can blog about how bad it is (which gives me enormous satisfaction, unlike say, watching an episode of the show).

If you want familiar territory that is done with originality, adds to the mythos on which it is based, and makes you think, then try watching the Sarah Connor Chronicles. Better yet, go out and buy it on DVD.

SAVE SARAH CONNOR!!!

April 23 2009 at 11:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
matt.hinkley

"Peter needs to stop being so dismissive of everything. After 17 episodes, you'd think he'd get it by now."

he was right wasn't he? she didn't kill people the people...the dude was calling for her...not her actually killing them!

April 23 2009 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Mighty

Peter needs to stop being so dismissive of everything. After 17 episodes, you'd think he'd get it by now.

"You killed people in your dreams? No way. That's not possible. No way. No way. That's crrraazzy."

April 23 2009 at 4:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DanGarion

Good television annoys you?

April 23 2009 at 3:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to DanGarion's comment
donkey23

People who think Fringe is good television annoy me.

April 23 2009 at 11:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard Lawler

I'm more concerned with how much fringe copies itself. How many episodes this season have involved parasites killing their human hosts? First Olivia dreams of herself as her old, dead, partner, now she dreams of herself as her medical test / emotional killer childhood partner.

April 23 2009 at 3:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
am_hollitz

I could criticize the show for being too similar to Alias or X-Files, but I'd rather celebrate that achievement--finally a show worthy of the genre! To boot, while it may seem like a dead end, I'd rather think of these similarities as a springboard which allows JJ's fans to reconnect with something familiar, while catapulting us beyond what Alias and X-files have done.

Personally, I thought "Bad Dreams" was the best episode to date.

April 23 2009 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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