Tag: Joshua Jackson

TCA Tour: “Fringe”

Fox’s “Fringe” premiered last season to a ridiculous amount of buzz, thanks to the combination of J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci, a trio whose various credits (many of them shared) – “Alias,” “Lost,” “Mission: Impossible III,” “Transformers,” and the then-still-forthcoming “Star Trek” – were more than sufficient to get the sci-fi fanboys into a tizzy. Things may have started off a bit rocky, mostly due to a slight uncertainty about exactly what the hell was going on, but by the close of the season finale, when we found ourselves barely getting over that guest appearance by Leonard Nimoy before we found ourselves looking at a still-standing World Trade Center, we were already ready for Season 2 to begin.

“As we went along, I think we got a better handle on the balance of our characters and the plots and making sure that our plots were character-centric,” admitted executive producer Jeff Pinkner. “I think that we learned how to write for these actors, these characters over time, and I think we learned this in ‘Alias’ and ‘Lost.’ The shows that are really about the characters, the characters and the actors playing them start to meld a little bit more, and I think we’ve gotten better at that.”

Orci noted that one of the series’ biggest issue from the very beginning was figuring out the percentage of standalone episodes versus a larger serialization. “We’ve all read the research that says a regular viewer watches three episodes in a year, etcetera, etcetera, so you try to modulate,” he explained. “In the first season, we actually had to sort of plan around resetting the series once or twice and doing it around three- or four-week-long breaks. And that kind of exercise makes us, in Season Two, a little more flexible, a little bit more able to read the green. And I think, you know, the fact that we are closer than we were from New York is also helpful. We can all be up there a little bit more; we can communicate better with each other. I think we’re just a tighter ship this year.”

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Fringe 1.2

This won’t be a formal blog, mostly because I wasn’t able to watch the episode when it originally aired, but given the discussion that evolved from my initial preview of the pilot, I thought I’d at least offer up a few brief comments about Episode #2.

* First off, I didn’t mention it in my original write-up about the series, but I really dig the way they set the location: with huge letters that look like they’re part of the scenery. It’s one of those accepted parts of a series that you wouldn’t think they could do anything particularly unique with, but damned if they didn’t.

* Like the pilot, the opening sequence is nice and harrowing, making it the perfect way to get you caught up in the episode right off the bat, and the decision to provide it with limited commercial interruptions – timed down to the second – was certainly appreciated as well. Also, the method of offering flashbacks to the pilot was a nice, unobtrusive way to giving first-timers just enough info to walk into this episode without feeling lost.

* The character of Dr. Walter Bishop continues to be fascinatingly eccentric, with his memories ebbing and flowing like the tide, but the reality is that John Noble’s performance in the role is enthralling to watch. His quiet, innocent delivery makes even the strangest lines work, and his sudden explosion of anger at one point is downright shocking.

* Thankfully, they have indeed attempted to downplay the Pacey-isms being delivered by Joshua Jackson. There are still a couple of moments where he throws out snappy lines which feel inappropriate, but the character of Peter is startling to feel more like a real guy caught up in a weird situation. (I can only presume that his aptitude at police work comes from years of watching procedurals on TV.)

* Okay, maybe Anna Torv is a little glum in her delivery, but I don’t really have a problem with her performance. I had to laugh when my wife made a comment about how she needed to get her roots done, but she accepted my argument (or pretended to, at least) that a real government agent wouldn’t be all that concerned about maintaining a glamorous look, anyway.

* Obviously, things don’t really kick into high gear until the last 15 minutes of the episode, but between the unfolding of the man-baby plot, Walter remembering where he parked his car, the tie-in to the case to Walter’s research, and Olivia trying to work out how much of her work over the past year was tainted by her traitorous partner, I remained thoroughly interested from beginning to end.

* All hail the cow!

Greetings to the New Show: “Fringe”

There’s a tendency among viewers to see the name “J.J. Abrams” and instantly consider it to be a mark of quality television. This is called “The ‘Lost’ Effect,” so named because Abrams is so intrinsically linked to “Lost” that those of us who are fans of the series – and, yes, I consider myself to be one – will tend to shrug off his failures because, hey, the guy was still responsible for “Lost,” so we’ve gotta at least give his stuff a shot, right? Now, in the interest of fairness, we should acknowledge that there are other individuals who subscribe to “The ‘Alias’ Effect” and “The ‘Felicity’ Effect”…though, oddly, you don’t hear much about “The ‘What About Brian’ Effect.” But I digress. My point here, really, is this: when it comes to the latest series to have Abrams’ name listed a producer, Fox’s “Fringe,” let’s all just try to keep things in perspective, view the show on its own merits, and try not to love it or hate it solely because he’s a part of it.

As it happens, “Fringe” has the advantage of featuring a couple of other names which give it added credibility, particularly amongst sci-fi fans: Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Fox has really been pushing the fact that the duo wrote the script for “Transformers,” but for some reason, they don’t mention that they were called upon by Zack Snyder to assist with the script for “Watchmen.” Funny, that. Probably more important than either of those credits, however, is their longstanding working relationship with Abrams, having done time with him on “Alias” as both writers and executive producers and writing the screenplays for both “Mission: Impossible III” and the new “Star Trek” film. The collaboration has worked out well in the past, so there’s every reason to be hopeful that…

Dammit! See what I mean? I almost fell into being optimistic about “Fringe” just because Abrams is involved. Granted, he was only a third of that particular equation, but even so, I don’t want to do that. Not again. I did it with “Six Degrees,” and 13 episodes later, I was left a bitter shell of a TV critic. I can’t handle that kind of heartbreak a second time…particularly not when “Fringe” reminds me so much of still another show that was canceled too soon: “Threshold.”

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