“Fringe” Season 1 (2008-09, Fox), episodes 1-6 – “Fringe” (8 p.m. Tuesdays, Fox) is developing into a cool series.
In one episode, a bad guy flash-freezes a busload of people and our heroes – led by scientist-on-the-fritz Walter Bishop – tap into a guy’s brain to track down the perpetrator. In another episode, they use images from a dead woman’s retina to break a case.
On this show, the crimes are in the realm of fringe science, and – thanks to Walter’s borderline-crazy experiments – so are the solutions. “Fringe” needs to keep pushing the weird-meter: There are still a lot of sci-fi buzzwords from the opening montage to get into.
The central trio is rounded out by Walter’s flabbergasted son Peter, the audience mouthpiece who looks a lot like Pacey from “Dawson’s Creek,” and Olivia Dunham, a curious but cautious FBI agent. At the office, Dunham answers to crisp-voiced and almost skeletal Lance Reddick.
No one speaks with a Boston accent (has there ever been a Boston accent on TV?), but the city is a versatile character itself, running the gamut from old warehouses to futuristic skyscrapers. Walter’s lab, in a basement on the Harvard campus, is a blend of musty oldness and underground tech.
“Fringe” creator J.J. Abrams aims to hook us in a questions-and-more-questions game like he’s doing with “Lost’s” Dharma Initiative. The freaky goings-on regularly lead Dunham to the doorstep of Massive Dynamic, an intimidating corporation that accommodates her requests for technological assistance while also seeming shifty.
The mythology isn’t addictive yet, but the sci-fi/horror possibilities on “Fringe” are endless. I hope Abrams’ writing team keeps probing the darkest depths of their imaginations.
– John Hansen, “Completely Random Slice of Pop Culture,” Brainerd Dispatch, Oct. 23, 2008