"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fringe: Pilot

"I knew someone would come eventually." -- Dr. Walter Bishop

Similarities to Lost. I admit I was a little bummed when I saw the first scene. A plane incident? Really, J.J. Abrams? Are you that fixated on planes? But the scene truly does work to set the tone for the series. Why? Because there are all these people trapped in the sky. Something weird happens and their bodies go haywire. The plane lands safely on autopilot, and the agents find the grisly remains of their bodies. It sets up a whole bunch of questions. What happened? Why did it happen? Who is doing it? Where are they now? And how can Olivia and her team make it stop?

The set-up. They've packed just about as much into a pilot as humanly possible. There was the skewed romance between the FBI agents (which might not be over, even though one of them is technically dead), the "fringe science" around which everything else revolves, a looming government conspiracy with a robotic-armed woman, an emotionally unstable father and a distant son, an outsider who's being reluctantly pulled into a world he'd rather avoid, and Olivia, the glue that holds all of it together. And then there's the cow...

The cow. Did it seem a little over the top to you? I appreciate the presence of the cow even though it just seems weird to have a cow in the laboratory. Really, it's basically there for comic relief.

Suspending disbelief. I know the show is all about weird science, but I can't help scratching my head over the way some things went down. No, not the dream sequence. I'm actually ok with that. It's the fact that they had this ancient lab up and running at light-speed, even though it had been collecting dust for years (and why was it still there?). Also, how was Olivia able to recover from her drug-induced dream state and spring back into action so quickly? The cocktail they gave her had LSD in it, for cripes sake, yet she was up and lucid in no time flat.

The characters. With her furrowed brow and husky voice, Anna Tory has just the right personality for both her job AND this series. She's tough, but also vulnerable, as her first scene with John shows. Olivia, Peter and Walter are such different characters, and it will be fun to see them form an alliance of sorts to figure out what's going on. Joshusa Jackson has that every-guy quality that makes me really like him -- ok, fall in love with him a little bit. He's mild-mannered until things don't go his way, and then he unleashes the fire. In contrast, Olivia seems more even-tempered, not as willing to fly off the handle as Peter. John Noble as the kooky, emotionally scarred mad scientist is fun, too. What a complete thrill to see Blair Brown again. I loved her in The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, but wow, I'm feeling old, because she's showing some age and so am I. But the fact that her character is covering up something and she's not all she appears to be -- it's intriguing. Likewise, the jury's still out on Homeland Security Agent Phillip Broyles. He seems on the up and up, but is he really...?

The special effects. I'm completely mesmerized by translucent skin you can see through. I didn't care for the the little 3D location markers between scenes. But did love the pre-commercial visuals of frogs, leaves, apples, handprints and so on. Those are cool, even though they're Lost-like.

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