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BLOG Sweeping Back Some Fringe

SFX blogger is excited about the return of Fringe to UK TV this week (spoiler free for people watching at UK speed)

Fringe returns to our screens this week and I can’t wait. The show, created by JJ Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, started out three years ago as a series that looked to be nothing more than a noughties update of The X-Files , but it outgrew this early typecasting. The evolution from monster-of-the-week type fare has been gradual, and while there is still an element of that to the show, there are now very few episodes that don’t further the mythology and bigger plot arcs to some degree. This is a show not afraid to be a bit smarter than average, a show that isn’t afraid to throw some big complicated ideas at its audience and expect them to keep up, and I love it for that. The show is now my favourite hour of sci-fi TV of the week, and the wait between seasons gets harder and harder each year, especially after the show moved to Friday nights in the States last year. For a while we weren’t sure if it would come back at all. I’m very glad the show survived its move to the so called Friday Night Death Slot last year and was renewed for this season. I bet the SFX bods had some witty “ Getting Your Fringe Cut” type headline all ready to go.

As I’ve said, the show can be very mythology-centric and quite a lot has happened to the characters over the last three years, but I’ve read in several sources that this new season may be a good jumping on point and if you haven’t seen before, then it’s the perfect time to try it. New character (sort of) FBI agent Lincoln Lee is being introduced as a new team member and will be used as a fresh set of eyes to help give an outsider’s view. I don’t know how much water this idea holds as I’ve watched the show since the start and I’d say there’s quite a lot of stuff in the ongoing plot department to get to grips with for a new viewer, including a totally game changing bat’s arse finale.

This kind of raises the question of how do you rave about a show that’s very mythology heavy when it’s just about to start it’s fourth season? You can’t really tell people to watch it because they’ll definitely lose out on earlier plots and twists but at the same time you want to get anyone who hasn’t watched it to give it a go. I could always tell people to try to get their hands on seasons one to three on DVD, emphasising that they won’t regret it. But who’s going to take my advice?

The basic premise of the show is the Fringe team are set up to investigate a growing number of weird goings on and crimes involving fringe science and all sorts of bizarre hijinks ensue...

From mutants to mad scientists, alternate universes to time travel nothing is off limits; Fringe dips its toe into all sorts of weirdness, usually with a very interesting and original take on things. The Fringe team is full of great characters (even Gene the Cow) and there are plenty of excellent guest players from the world of sci-fi, but the only character I’m going to mention in any detail is Walter Bishop.

As I said, all the characters are great – as individuals you care about and as important members of the Fringe Science Team everyone matters – but Walter… Walter is something special. He’s an amazing character; a mad genius who spends half his time eating and the other half self-medicating with God only knows what concoctions, and still he finds time to be brilliant, to help solve the crimes and tug on your heart strings every week. Walter is the heart of the show. He’s a man with secrets; a man tortured by the person he used to be and the choices he’s made. How John Noble hasn’t got a shelf full of awards for his portrayal of this character is beyond me. Walter is surely one of the most interesting characters on TV at the moment.

There’s a phrase they used to use in SFX : Bat’s-Arse Idea. Right back at the very beginning of time, back when they had the Heroes and Villains feature; a page of little stories about some of the comings and goings of the Sci-fi world. The feature had little icons to describe the various stories. And if the story contained a crazy or mad idea the little icon was a bat in a roller skate and it meant “Bat’s-Arse Idea.” This phrase has always stuck in my head and if ever there was show that was full of Bat’s-Arse Ideas it’s Fringe . It’s a mad crazy show full of mad crazy occurrences and I love every minute of it.

As you’d expect with a show you enjoy, you want to share it. You recommend it to people; you try to get your friends to watch it. And all of the people I know who do watch Fringe love it. And people I’ve recommended it to like or love the show too. So whether you take a leap and join the show in season four or you try to get the DVDs and watch it from the start I’d say it was worth your time. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.