Sunday, September 09, 2012

Ask JKM a Question 33: Give Fringe a Second Look?

A reader named Todd writes:

“I would like you to do a reassessment of the Fox series Fringe. 

As I recall, you gave up on it early in the first season (in terms of blogging at least).  I think it got much better after that, especially seasons two and three. 

Once it really got into its own mythology, it stopped being a poor X-Files rip-off.  The most affecting parts of the show for me are when Walter has to deal with his guilt over how he cured his son and that action's consequences.  

Thanks for writing this wonderful blog.”

Todd, I want to thank you for the question, and also for the kind words about the blog.  I appreciate your comments.

You are absolutely right about Fringe: I watched and reviewed the first six episodes (“Pilot,” “The Same Old Story,” “The Ghost Network” “The Arrival,” “Power Hungry,” and “The Cure”) back in 2008.  

I wasn’t impressed.

My problems back then involved the formulaic approach to storytelling, as well as the overtly brazen X-Files-like touches.  I diagrammed the problems I saw with the series back in the day, but most importantly the big ones went like this:

Every case involved Walter’s previous work, so he had a ready-made answer to solve it.  In fact, he often had a ready-made device to resolve the problem of the week. This fact short-circuited the need for the characters to learn and think.  They just had to go to Walter and he’d essentially pull something off the shelf or solve the problem based on his research.  It was dull, and lacking in suspense.

Every case also led back to Massive Dynamic and the conspiracy or Pattern, and I felt this was tiresome and also effectively killed suspense.

I haven’t watched the series since 2008, but I know many viewers very much enjoy it now, including my own Mom.  So I’m not averse to the idea of a re-assessment in 2012.  

There are four season to go through, so it may take some time.  But I have to admit, I’ve been curious.  I’ just finished watching Grimm Season One (and I’m in the middle of Timeslip…) so I’ll see if I can’t work Fringe into my near-future.

Don’t forget to ask me questions at


  1. Thank you for getting to my question so quickly. I agree that a lot of the first season episodes weren't all that good. I tell people that they just have to soldier through most of the first season because it gets much better after that.
    I look forward to your posts on the subject. I know it seems like a daunting task to get through four seasons, so I will be patient.

  2. Yes, season 1 wasn't all that special, there was one really silly episode about a killer computer virus. Season 2 is better, but the overall arc of that season was predictable. But nearing season 3 and onwards they really opened up and came into their own. As generic season 1 was, it was still fun and I liked the characters.


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