After six episodes, we’re still not sure what to make of Fringe. While J.J. Abrams’ much-hyped new show has become a permanent fixture on our DVRs, we can’t say that we really like it. However, we don’t really dislike it either. Tonight brings the series’ first new installment in two weeks, ominously titled "In Which We Meet Mr. Jones". As Fox’s website describes it: "a strange, almost-otherworldly parasite mysteriously attaches itself to the internal organs of a dying FBI agent." Eek! Sounds good to us! If you haven’t been watching, here are some pros and cons to help catch you up before tonight.
Pro: Fringe is super scary…
Most of the time, we watch Fringe while peering through the slits in our fingers as we cover our eyes. It’s awesome. How many shows can you say that about?
Con: …but it’s also crazy violent!
Fringe is to violence what Gossip Girl is to underage antics. There’s melting flesh, bleeding eyes and, at least once an episode, somebody gets tortured. It’s a little over-the-top. For instance, we don’t remember any episodes of The Twilight Zone beginning with a girl’s head exploding like a watermelon.
Pro: As promised, you don’t have to watch Fringe obsessively…
This was one of the biggest selling points for the show and it has proved accurate. Fringe‘s structure owes more to Fox’s biggest hit, House, than it does to Lost. The procedural tone makes it a lot easier to miss episodes and hop back in.
Con: …except that you do!
The problem is, while the mysteries on Fringe change week-to-week, there is this whole confusing and slightly boring mythology that goes along with them. Almost everything ties back to a previous episode. If Mr. Abrams promised us Law & Order: Sci-Fi, he seems to have delivered a lazier Alias.
Pro: The cast is pretty great…
Even though Joshua Jackson struggles when he plays tough and angry, we still think he’s at his snarky best as Peter Bishop. In the role of his father, mad scientist Walter Bishop, John Noble gets to play crazy, annoying, endearing and creepy all usually within one take. We love him. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Lance Reddick and Blair Brown, who play a pair of mischievous puppet masters with mustache twirling glee.
Con: …except Anna Torv is horrible!
Unfortunately for Fringe, the weak link in the cast is also the main character. As FBI agent Olivia Dunham, Anna Torv is just bad. Seemingly always concentrating on keeping her American accent level (Ms. Torv is a native of Australia), she exhibits less emotion than a piece of plywood. Maybe Mr. Abrams should invest in some acting lessons for season two.
Fringe airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m.