Having run between 2008 and 2013, this six season television series created by J.J Abrams was a complete revelation to me when I discovered it on Amazon Prime this summer. Having watched all 100 episodes in a relatively short time frame, I can confidently say that it is one of the most bingeable shows I have ever watched. This, I must say, came as a bit of a surprise, as I had honestly never heard of it before this year, despite recognising many of the lead actors from other popular television shows.
This may be a bold statement, but the pilot episode is definitely the best introduction to a series I have watched since episode one of Game of Thrones. It is so compelling from the off because of the way it throws viewers into the action straight away, thus completely drawing you into this new exciting world. It instantly sets itself apart from other shows in the way that it blurs the boundaries between reality and science fiction in a really unique way. The pilot is is also hugely effective in its 1hr30 run time, in building an emotional connection between the viewers and the main characters in a way that resulted in me at least, becoming so emotionally invested in these complex individuals I’d only just met, that I wanted to watch more and more.
While described as a mystery sci-fi show, this series is, at heart, a story about people and their relationships and connections, which is why it was so watchable…
It begins with an introduction to Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), an F.B.I agent who, when faced with a slew of unexplained phenomena known as ‘Fringe events’, must work with a mad scientist Dr Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his son Peter (Joshua Jackson), as well as put-upon lab assistant Astrid (Jaskia Nicole) in an attempt to rationalise and contain them. As season one progresses, this new team are forced to tackle everything from the bizarre to the (often) dangerous using Dr Bishop’s ramshackle Harvard lab as a base, while simultaneously investigating what is really behind these events.
However, while described as a mystery sci-fi show, this series is, at heart, a story about people and their relationships and connections, which is why it was so watchable for somebody like me, who would not usually consider the sci-fi genre to be my ‘cup of tea’. Ultimately it is so special because it does not detach itself completely from reality as so many other sci-fi shows do, but instead constructs a world in which there is a balance. This meant that throughout season one, I was increasingly interested in following these characters and seeing how their relationships evolved.
It went from strength to strength as the seasons continued, and developed stronger plot lines and story arcs, rather than falling into the trap of following a precise formula that ‘guarantees ratings’
It is often considered a cross between the X-Files and the Twilight Zone, and I would definitely agree with such a comparison. The sci-fi element to the show appears to become more and more wacky with every passing season, and it is safe to say that this is something which definitely kept me on my toes and added to it’s bingeable quality.
Some long running network shows often lose their way as they are commissioned for yet more and more seasons to keep the money rolling in. Lost is a good example of this unfortunately, and had a famously disappointing ending as a result. However, I can confirm with absolute certainty that Fringe is not one of those shows. It went from strength to strength as the seasons continued, and developed stronger plot lines and story arcs, rather than falling into the trap of following a precise formula that ‘guarantees ratings’. While beginning as a ‘creature of the week’ style show which focused on a different ‘Fringe event’ in every episode, it soon became much more of a story about the characters and their relationships. While parallel worlds and time travel thrown into the mix added to its complexity, this only increased my investment in the characters and their emotional responses to their world, as they were forced to navigate more and more troublesome threats.
Upon finishing the show I now realise why it secured a whopping 8.4/10 rating on IMDb as well as glowing reviews
It is because of this constant improvement and development within the show, that I have such a huge amount of respect for Fringe. Having watched multiple interviews with the cast and directors since finishing the series (yes, I am not ready to let it go just yet), it is clear that J. J. Abrams prioritised the storyline and complex character arcs ahead of live viewing figure statistics. While risky, this was a tactic that meant it was possible for them to carry on for 5 seasons regardless of reluctance from the network. Why? because it was so popular with fans who, like me, really fell in love with these characters and were vocal enough about this to keep it running as a result.
Now, I must concede, if somebody had asked me what I thought of the show in the middle of season 3, I would probably have said it was a little too complicated for its own good. However, upon finishing the show I now realise why it secured a whopping 8.4 rating on IMDb as well as glowing reviews. This is because as you reach the final season you realise that everything has been planned from the very beginning.
It is honestly a tragedy for the incredible cast and crew involved in this series that it is not more widely known and popular
Despite being given a limited time-frame, budget, and only 13 episodes for the final season (as supposed to the usual 20+ of previous seasons) they managed to tie up the show in a satisfying and logical way that harked back to events and arcs planted in the very first few episodes. In other words, J.J. Abrams is a genius.
It is honestly a tragedy for the incredible cast and crew involved in this series that it is not more widely known and popular. If it was on Netflix I’m sure there would be such a surge of support for the show, that there would even be talks of a film or perhaps even a bonus episode, just like there was for fan favourite Gilmore Girls not that long ago.
At the end of the day, this show did not get an 8.4 IMDb rating and 90% on Rotten Tomatoes (I mean come on!!!) for no reason, and through blurring the lines between science fiction and reality in perfect balance without losing the element of humanity, this show really is one of a kind, and frankly deserves more recognition. Please watch it, you will honestly not be disappointed.
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