Olivia Dunham: Anna Torv
Walter Bishop: John Noble
Peter Bishop: Joshua Jackson
Phillip Broyles: Lance Reddick
Nina Sharp: Blair Brown
When Fringe premiered in 2008, many people found it to be a passable program through it’s initial few episodes. The show borrowed heavily from The X-files and the comparisons between the two were understandable. It took the show a little while to find it’s own substance and rythym, but after that the show became progressively better and by seasons end it was apparent that there were good things to come.
The show stars Anna Torv as FBI agent Olivia Dunham. A series of circumstances in the pilot put her in a situation that exposes her to something called the pattern; a web of catastrophic events happening all over the world which the FBI is attempting to investigate and hoping to find some way to stem the tide of chaos.
Dunham find a former scientist named Walter Bishop who once ran a lab at Harvard, but is now in an asylum for a death in his lab almost two decades ago. It seems that Walter did experiments for the U.S. Government in areas of fringe science and these global events may be connected to his research somehow.
Using Walter’s estranged son Peter Bishop(Joshua Jackson) as a means to free Walter, the three become a team and weird family unit as they solve cases and find ways to uncover the mysteries of this pattern and it’s larger meaning in the fabric of their lives.
As mentioned above, Fringe’s first season felt like an updated version of the X-files. It seems that initially, both shows fought to balance “freak of the week” episodes with ones that delved deeper into the central mystery of the show. In it’s first season, it is understandable that some fans thought this show brought nothing new to the genre.
Looking back now however, I now understand that the need for so many “freak of the week” episodes was to give the show the foundation necessary to show the effect Walter’s past decisions have brought upon our world, and how we are paying for them all of these years later. Of course this is all in hindsight, but now that we are three seasons into the show, season one seems even better in retrospect than I thought at the time.
Of the three leads on the show, Anna Torv has show the most growth as an actor since the pilot. For a portion of the first season, her performance was wooden at times. It played into her character, so it wasn’t completely unsuccessful but she is now a much better actress.
John Noble is by far the best actor on the show and I think the best working on television today. He alternates between lunacy, warmth, denial and self-hatred and does it better than almost any actor I can think of. Walter Bishop is a unique character and one for the ages.
For Joshua Jackson, I think he deserves a special medal. In season one he delivers a good performance, but at times almost feels like the third wheel. He spends most of his time babysitting Walter and doing little else except getting Walter licorice or milk shakes.
If you have not seen Fringe yet, I implore you to put down whatever you are doing and find some way to watch it. The series only grows more confident as the seasons progress. Watch season one however, because every great story has it’s starting point.