Tonight, September 9, Fox debuts one of the most anticipated shows of the fall, J.J. Abrams’ “Fringe”.
Pitched to Fox as “Indiana Jones meets the X-Files,” Abrams has promised that while his trademark emphasis on characters and long-term story arcs will be present in “Fringe,” he and writer-producers are working hard to make sure the show stays accessible to avid viewers and casual fans.
In an interview with USA Today, Abrams said that he’s taken a page from another hit Fox series, “The X-Files” on the structure for “Fringe”.
“Lost is a club,” Abrams said, “and I think it is a much more difficult show to pick up and start watching” midway through. “I wanted to try something where the door was opened a little wider.”
Abrams called “Fringe” an “experiment”, adding, “We wanted to do a show that had a procedural template, a sort of structure, but doing a procedural in the mold of ‘CSI’ and ‘Law & Order’ didn’t interest me; it’s been done to death.”
The centerpiece of “Fringe” is a trio of characters. There’s Olivia Dunham, played by relative newcomer Ana Nova. Dunham is an FBI agent, who explores odd occurrences at the edge of “fringe science.” Her investigations lead to her scientist Walter Bishop, played by John Noble. Bishop began the series a resident of a mental institution but is freed to help Dunham’s investigations, dragging in his estranged son Peter, played by Joshua Jackson.
While the series episodes will be stand-alone in nature, there will be an overall pattern to events that fans should begin to notice as the season progresses.
“Every question that gets answered will leave three more at least,” Torv says. “You’re getting satisfaction, but every time you get satisfaction, there’s more to know.” The mystery “keeps getting broader and wider and bigger.”
However, unlike “The X-Files”, the producers have already mapped out the ending for the series.
“We know what the pattern is; we had to know what it was all leading to,” said producer Alex Kurtzman. “It’s something that can be revealed whenever we want to, in 13 episodes or 13 seasons, depending on the show’s success.”
USA Today reported that the series fourth episode, set to air just before the show takes a brief hiatus for the World Series will begin to give viewers a taste of what’s to come with the overall plotline. The hope is to create buzz among viewers and not lose any of the show’s early momentum due to the baseball playoffs.
For now, it appears Fox has faith in the show and is doing everything it can to make “Fringe” succeed. Tonight’s pilot episode runs 83 minutes, with Fox allowing the entire pilot to air and not requiring cuts or additional footage to be filmed to fill a time slot. Nor did the network add additional commercial breaks. As we reported earlier this year, “Fringe” is one of several Fox series that is being aired with fewer commercial breaks to draw in audiences by offering more content.
Now it’s up to the series to hook the fans and hopefully live up to the buzz. If the series is as good as promised, it could be one a highlight of the fall season and a potential “must see TV”.