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Fringe: Pilot

“When you say ‘Fringe science,’ you mean pseudo-science.”

In anticipation of tonight’s Season Two premiere, I thought it time to finally review the First Fringe Episode Ever. Enjoy, and check back for the Season Two review later tonight!

The first time I watched this pilot, it was hard not to compare it to Lost and Alias. Now that I’ve seen more episodes (and I won’t spoil anything about future episodes in this review, don’t worry), it’s easier to rate on its own merits. Having said that, this isn’t the most exciting pilot ever: too much exposition masked as natural dialogue, crazy floating letters to tell us where we are (duck!), and some fairly obvious plot twists straight out of…um…Lost and Alias.

The pacing is a little off—the hour and a half format (with commercials) tweaks my internal clock, since I'm used to 44-minute episodes. I don’t think it’s just me, though: the episode is really fragmented, as through it was written with a skit-show performance in mind.

But the longer format does allow for a few moments of emotional development that would have otherwise gotten short shrift. Peter’s potential dark past is interesting, and I’ve got no problem buying him as a curmudgeonly autodidact cutie-pie—it helps that I’ve never seen Dawson’s Creek, I assume. Walter brings the full-on crazy in this episode, which gets old quickly, but the awesome John Noble (Lord of the Rings) manages to make him slightly sympathetic.

As for the pseudo-science: the melting people on the plane was pure B-movie gross-out. John Scott’s see-through body was a cool effect. The tank thing (and I’ve mentioned how little I like it in other reviews), was too pseudo-surrealist dreamscape for me. The bad twin thing is too hackneyed to discuss. The bio-arm is awesome, and made me wish we could do something like that for all our vets. “The Pattern” sounds interesting, but it’s really no more than the explanation for what Olivia, Peter, and Walter do each week.

The Good:

• Broyles insulting Dunham just by pronouncing “liaison” with a French accent. That’s delivery.

• Broyles and Peter both called Dunham “sweetheart.” Sexism certainly still exists at all levels of American society, but it’s rarely this transparent.

• Peter’s defense of book-reading.

• Walter watching Sponge-Bob.

The Bad:

• I lost interest in chase scenes that take place next to boxcar thingies years ago.

• John Scott dying wasn’t a surprise; him being evil was a mini-surprise to me, but my viewing partner said he saw it coming.

• Kids, don’t ever mix Special K and LSD. Please.

Fun Quotes:

• Walter: “It’s not good, to see through the skin.”

• Walter: “I just pissed myself. Just a squirt.” This isn’t actually a Fun Quote; it’s an embarrassment for the actor.

• Walter: “It’s not an exact science.”
Peter: “It’s not even science.”

• Agent Francis: “Is that a cow?”

• Olivia: “I’m cleared to know whatever you’re cleared to know.”
Nina Sharp: “Apparently not.”

Interesting Facts:

• Olivia used to be US Marine Corps Special Investigator, which appears to be something like Marine Internal Affairs.

• Walter’s birth year is 1946, and he went to Oxford and MIT.

• Peter speaks Farsi.

• Walter’s research at Harvard was under the cover of doing research for a toothpaste company.

• Blair Brown, the Massive Dynamics lady, starred in Altered States, a movie about what happens to your psyche when you go into a magical—I mean fringe-science—tank of water.

Two out of four Bow-tied Victor Garbers. (And if you don’t get the reference, you should really start watching Glee.)

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. No need to apologize for the Glee-exuberance. I'm feeling it, too!

  2. I've just watched the pilot and it didn't make me think much about Alias or Lost (both of witch I am a fanatic fan...) I was thinking more about X-files (that I don't particularly like or hate). I liked it and will continue watching the other episodes.

  3. I actually found the "I just pissed myself" comment to be bordering on hilarious. Which probably says more about me, than it does the show. It wasn't so much what he said, but the inappropriateness of it, and his lack of awareness of that fact.

    A better pilot than I remember but, as you say, kind of disjointed in places.

  4. I just forced one of my friends to start watching Supernatural [which he promptly fell in love with] so in return he's making me watch Fringe. I'll say, it is a tad weak in spots, but for the most part, I am totally hooked and can't wait to watch the rest of the seasons. And if it only gets better from here, more power to it. :)

    A definite highlight for me was having Michael Giacchino as a composer. His works is so absolutely beautiful and adds a definite edge to the show. Maybe the reason I didn't find the pilot so weak was because I was so busy listening to the music.

  5. My husband gets weirded out when he hears me watching Fringe from another room, because he keeps thinking he's hearing Lost. Giacchino definitely has a distinctive sound. I like the combination of his scoring and Chris Tilton's work in the later seasons. They seem to complement each other well and create a unique sound for this series.

  6. This show is definitely worth watching. I was impressed with the characters and the humor from the start. The mythology takes awhile to get interesting, but stick with the show until the very end and you will be rewarded. One of the best genre shows ever. Scares, weirdness, humor, emotion, drama and mind bending twists. Plus a scene stealing cow. Just wonderful.

  7. Thanks for the review, sweetheart (lol sorry, I hope you're older than me because that'll make it slightly more funny)

    Yeah it definitely did feel fragmented. I didn't get a real Pilot vibe from it. I still think it's cool though, making it extended. Had me thinking of BSG's miniseries premiere.

    Watching this premiere kept my surreal streak going of seeing a prominent actor I watched from my last show show up in my next one. It's the guy who played the twins here, he was also playing an FBI agent in Ozark s1 which I watched just before. So while the first episode didn't leave that much of an impression on me I'm taking it as a strong enough sign to keep going. I liked the cow, I'm not being funny. I liked the visual sight of it watching spengebab with Walter & frens

    This isn't completely blind for me. I remember watching it back when it aired and I just stopped keeping up with it when I lost track of one of its breaks. Memory's vague but it tells me I was enjoying it enough that I ought to finish out the first season at least. I like watching Walter's actor perform even if it's hammy crazy talk. And Olivia's a good lead, even if Peter's not doing much for me atm. Great to see 2 Oz alum (based Lance Reddick and uh Miguel Alvarez's actor) and I hope they stick around

  8. Started watching this after the Doux Top Twenty post! Liked the pilot, am a bit apprehensive about how I'll enjoy season 1 after what the post said...

    So this was pretty nice. Not the greatest fan of the lead actress so far but I am warming up to her. The translucency on the body was well done, must've taken some effort to create that effect. Wish it was that easy to fix one's skin!!!!! Is there a real life Walter?

    This definitely requires some suspension of disbelief... am prepared to grant it for the fringe science. Thought it a bit weird tho how much leeway Olivia got with her investigation. But maybe that was because Broyles knows about some of the weird stuff happening, so he has a bigger tolerance for it... the reaction of her colleague though upon seeing the lab was a lot milder than mine would've been. Imagine walking in there and seeing that.

    Thought the cow was hilarious! Poor cow though... although did anything bad even happen to it besides being exposed to Spongebob Squarepants? (I kid, I have nothing against Spongebob)


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