Fringe is one of those shows that have had a paradigm-shifting affect on television, making the impossible possible and exploring metaphysical concepts that are as intriguing as they are mysterious: alternate dimensions, cryogenics, mutations–and pretty much anything you can think of in the realms of speculative science–are all major plot points for each of the show’s five seasons.
The show itself, created by J.J. Abrams (who’s also responsible for a little show called Lost), Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, follows FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) in her induction into Fringe Division, an unconventional branch of the FBI that deals with the inexplicable and inconceivable world of Fringe Science.
With the help of the extremely brilliant–and quite eccentric–Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his son Peter (Joshua Jackson), Olivia unravels an dynamic and intricate web of events that are known as the Pattern, discovering bits and pieces of the complex inter-dimensional puzzle that fall into place as the show progresses.
Fringe is most known for its mix of genre types: it seamlessly blends science fiction, mystery, drama and horror elements together to deliver a remarkable television experience akin to The X-Files.
And trust me, as a huge fan of The X-Files, that’s not praise that I give lightly.
What differentiates Fringe from the realm of the everyday is it’s ability to transcend the mundane and open a multitude of possibilities: the show brings with it the kind of abstract thought that flourishes in theoretical physics, and allows everyday viewers to not only learn more about the physical (and metaphysical) universe, but of complicated scientific theories that pertain to many of the shows episodes and cases.
This is the magic of Fringe: with every hour-long episode, viewers get to travel to another world, one where anything is possible and impossibilities are just relative. Dr. Bishop is constantly bending and manipulating forces beyond most people’s comprehension (when he’s not dosing caterpillars with LSD, that is) in order to help Olivia Dunham solve mysterious unexplained cases.
In a way, Fringe is to science fiction mysteries as House (another great FOX drama) is to medical mysteries. All of the characters are invaluable–even agent Astrid Farnsworth, who mostly assists Walter Bishop in his seemingly-mad schemes–and prove to be helpful in their capacity.
The show debuted on FOX in 2008, and since then spans five seasons, the fifth and current season being it’s final run. Each season is twenty-two episodes–except Season 5, which is limited to only fourteen–and generally runs for about an hour with commercials. One of the best things about the show is it’s masterfully written and executed plot, which ranges from subtlety to in-your-face explosiveness.
Fringe is infinitely creative and as you watch it, it seems to open your mind to new concepts and ideas that weren’t there before (unless you happen to be a theoretical physicist by trade), and you feel as if you’ve taken something away from each episode.
Below is a list of some of the scientific concepts that make up Fringe Science and are included in the show:
- Alternate Dimensions
- Time Paradoxes
- Hive Mind
- Astral Projection
It’s hard to talk about the show without wanting to spill its immensely full bag of secrets, and that’s how captivating the story line really is. It’s exciting to discuss the show with another fan, especially if they aren’t as far into the series as you are, as you know what’s in store for them and can give them little hints and pieces of the puzzle.
Fringe is well-known for its variety of puzzles and mysterious story elements, especially with the multiple and varied back stories for each character. Nothing is ever as it seems and there’s always some hidden meaning in most things, especially in the episodes that chronicle the show’s main plot.
Fringe also has an expanding cast of characters, with many special appearances such as Star Trek’s own Leonard Nimoy as Dr. William Bell as well as Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes’ very own Dr. Moriarity) as the nefarious David Robert Jones. Nimoy does a fantastic job in a supporting role as Walter Bishop’s friend and colleague, and actually has a very important part to play in the overall scheme of things.
Jared Harris’ portrayal as the show’s principle antagonist David Robert Jones is also impressive, as Harris is the perfect villain who’s trying to hasten the demise of our world with the completion of the ZFT organization. Many of the episodes are spent trying to understand and stop Jones’ fanatical plan, especially the later seasons.
Although the series has ended on FOX with season five, the show maintains its place as one of the most entertaining and original series in television history and is definitely worth a watch (or three!).
Fringe is shocking, hilarious, abstract beyond reason, and just plain scientific fun, and it has all the elements that make an incredible television series. It blends humor and suspense with interesting, mysterious scientific principles–many of which bend or break the limits of reason and logic–to deliver an entertaining and captivating experience for just about anyone.
Fringe seems to only get better with time, and the farther you get into the rabbit hole, the less you care about finding your way back; you just want to keep going and explore the other side.
For more information on Fringe including clips of the show, full episodes, character bios and more please visit the show’s official website.
For even more information on the show’s expansive story arc be sure to check out Fringepedia!