Home Featured TV Shows All TV Shows Movie Reviews Book Reviews Articles Frequently Asked Questions About Us

Fringe the second time: The Same Old Story

I saw the second episode of Fringe last night. As far as I'm concerned, they're 0 for 2. I am totally discouraged. J.J., what were you thinking?

Last night's episode reinforced my initial impression that Fringe is a reboot of The X-Files, only with a much higher budget, a lot more gross-out and a lot less quirky charm. Yes, I understood the story and the character motivation, but why did the super soldier with the artificial progeria have to torture young women to death while stealing their pituitary glands? Kill them to survive, yes, horrible but understandable (not that I approve), but why only young women? Why operate on them while they were still conscious? That level of nastiness wasn't explained and just seemed, well, pointlessly nasty. The teaser consisted of wall-to-wall screaming.

And the eyeball? Come on. What was the point of that other than to make us squirm? Twenty minutes into it, and I was waiting for it to be over. If I had been watching it alone, I would have turned it off.

What did you all think? Honestly? Feel free to disagree. I want to believe, I really, really do. But last night's made me feel that I'm just getting too old for this crap. Or maybe I'm just missing David Duchovny. Hope the rehab is going well, David.
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. I'm kind of liking the series as a whole, due in large part to the characters. I like the lead (I think mostly because she looks so much like Cate Blanchett, whom I love), and I adore Peter and Walter. I loved Walter's line after Royles asked if he remembered that his lab was re-opened: "No, but that's *fantastic* news!" Too funny.

    However, I think the characters are all that's keeping me coming back at this point. The fringe science is deeply disturbing (probably as it is meant to be), and the level of horror and grossness is above and beyond my comfort level. And I have a pretty high tolerance! I had to look away from the screen multiple times during this last episode. The eyeball thing was way nasty and the teaser was horrific. My husband was sitting in the other room while I was watching, and after the teaser he asked "What the heck is going on in there?!" I couldn't even begin to explain it.

    So I'm not throwing in the towel yet, but I wish they would tone down the gross out factor.

  2. Hi Billie,

    I'm kind of with you on this one. I so want to love this show. And JJ is such a good writer. But the X-files similarities are just too close for comfort. This week we had some nutcase eating pituitary glands in order to stay young. Anyone remember Eugene Tooms, the X-files character played by Doug Hutchinson (of Green Mile fame)? Who used to eat livers to stay alive? Not exactly the same, but similar enough to have me worried.

    And the "gross out factor" does seem to be a bit much. It's even too much for me, and generally I'm oblivious to gore (having had to endure the slasher movies of the 80's, back in the day).

    I admit to loving the X-files, though concede that the plots were, well, all over the place at times. JJ's plotting in Fringe I'm pretty sure will satisfy me long term. And I'll keep watching for that reason alone. But already it's turning into one of those shows that I watch whilst doing something else. I just hope it gets better soon.

    Paul Kelly

  3. Billie,

    I like the show so far, but it is definitely a "rip-off" of The X-Files. The second episode was practically a carbon copy of the episode "Leonard Betts" from The X-Files.

    In that X-Files episode, the "monster of the week" eats cancerous tumors to survive (similar to the pituitary thing here). His mother is in on it (like the professor/father), and even lets Leonard...take...her own tumor to sustain himself.

    What's keeping me going right now are the characters. I like the bond between Peter and his father. Olivia I still need to warm up to. I've liked Lance Reddick ever since his role on Lost as the mysterious "Mr. Abaddon,"

  4. I agree with your reaction to the second episode. An exercise on gross out without a coherent storyline to prop up the show.

    JJ Abrams also insults the intelligence of viewers when he denies producing an X-Files reboot. And he similarly denied that Trek 12 would be a reboot of The Original Series for months before the plot details were revealed.

    Abrams has a huge fan following and a high reputation in Hollywood, but my estimate of him has gone down in the last few years.

    I expect my view to be in the minority, but in retrospect I have come to believe that the mind-blowing episodes from the early seasons of "Alias" and "Lost" were due to collaborators. I now believe that Abrams doesn't have original inspirations, but simply recycles other people's stories. His strengths lie in self-marketing and producing spectacles rather than in characterization and taut storytelling.

    Orci and Kurtzman on their own have penned some projects, like "The Island," "The Legend of Zorro," and "Transformers" that I feel are stronger on explosions and chases than they are on characterization, story, and logic.

  5. I agree with you, Billie. The 2nd episode didn't do anything to endear me to the series. At this point I'm hoping that this series is just starting out slow, a la Babylon 5, and that they do have a plan but they just need time to get to it. However, this show has so much financial, cast/producer, and audience support, you would think it would be better than this. JJ has certainly done enough series by now that it shouldn't start off this rocky. The tempting conclusion for me is that he's so high on his own success that he can't look at his own material with a clear eye and see that it's not... good, or very original. Maybe the originality will come later, once they reveal more.

    But I also agree with Boris that the two guys he has working with him, Orci and Kurtzman, aren't exactly known for their story focus. I'm feeling some trepidation here.

    In the meantime, the gross outs are unnecessary. I watch Bones, which features some disgusting stuff with the corpses sometimes, but I'm able to watch it. Heck, a lot of times I eat while watching Bones and am fine. But that eye on that last episode... just ughhh and totally unnecessary. They didnt need to show it like that. And I agree the way the guy killed the women (and who he killed) was unnecessary as well. They were just going for scares, and it's so heavy handed it hurts.

    Speaking of the eye thing... I hope they aren't going to just use Massive Dynamics as their handy dandy convenience store every time they need some sort of experimental tech. I would tire of that convenient plot device very, very quickly. I also feel like they went from a theoretical discussion of how to do it to actually doing it within the space of like a minute. Either poor pacing or poor writing or really a combo of both. They just made it way too easy. The team also came to the conclusion that the guy wasn't deliberately impregnating women, he was trying to keep himself alive, way too easily. Like they instantly dismissed every other possibility just to focus on that one for plot purposes. Shoddy writing, imo.

    At this point, the only thing of interest to come out of that was the hints at Peter's origins. Wonder what he was created for, if this guy was supposed to be a quickly grown super soldier. Peter's IQ is insane, he was purposely made highly intelligent, but for what purpose though?

    Sigh, I am able to just tear this show apart. In contrast though, the Supernatural premiere was FANTASTIC. Can't wait for your thoughts on that episode, Billie. ;)

  6. I am not really liking this series, and that has everything to do with the story and the characters. I think the story in both episodes was boring. And the characterization is unbelievable.

    Maybe it will become more interesting when the season arc picks up. Standalone episodes have the weakness of lack of depth.

    I didn't catch the eye thing though. I remember an eye being popped out, but that didn't seem too gross to me. I guess I've seen too much.

  7. Implausible, underdeveloped stories and superficial characterizations in the first two episodes suggests to me that more emphasis was placed on production values than the scripts themselves.

    Something many producers and directors, who aren't skilled writers or writers at all, don't realize is that film and TV begin with the script.

    Big name/charismatic actors, cool camera angles, special effects, etc. will not salvage a production if the script it's developed from is horrid.

    Joss Whedon has suspended production of Dollhouse in order to rewrite the scripts of the order of inital episodes. In my view, Joss Whedon is a writer and storyteller first and last.

    Abrams, Kurtzman, and Orci strike me as being grand spectacle showmen rather than storytellers.

  8. Definitely gratuitously gross. I like the characters so far but I'm already getting bored with the cases and there have only been two!

    The music is really bugging me! I know some people don't like the LOST music/sounds, I think it work there but here it just seems like a JJ gimmick and I wish they wouldn't be so obvious in their reuse of the same orchestra and instruments.

    I know the word 'Dynamic' is generic but all I can think of when I hear Massive Dynamic is Global Dynamic from Eureka.

    I had such high hopes for this show but as soon as there is something else to watch in the same time slot, I don't even know if I'll waste space dvr-ing it.

  9. The show's plenty derivative so far, pulling on everything from Alias to X-files. Several of the actors are awesome -- though I don't like the two leads too much. Then again, I tend to get turned off characters who feel like they're being pushed together without any actual chemistry to back them up.

    Strikes me that they should be going for a Charlie/Olivia hookup. They're got loads more chemistry than Pacey/Olivia.

    Ho hum. Next two weeks look just as derivative. Find an individual tone show and work on it!

  10. Fringe isn't a rip off of the X-files. JJ Abrams doesn't rip off other shows. For evidence of this look to his other shows.. like Alias, for example. If that isn't originaL (with A Femme spy and her haNdler mIchael) then i don't Know what Is (know whaT i'm sAying?).


We love comments! We moderate because of spam and trolls, but don't let that stop you! It’s never too late to comment on an old show, but please don’t spoil future episodes for newbies.