Enter Netflix, streaming past seasons of the show, to the rescue. Did I mention I never saw the pilot and first few episodes? Thanks to Netflix, now I have.
First of all: holy great premise. J.J. Abrams set up a plausible way to investigate fringe science, and do it with a fringe scientist, Walter Bishop - one of my favorite characters on television. He's so intelligent and childish at the same time; one minute he's redesigning thermonuclear physics, and the next he's trying to eat expired Devil Dogs.
HIs relationship with Peter Bishop, his continually exasperated son, is spot on. And when Olivia Dunham enters the mix, along with assistant Astrid and Homeland Security chief Philip Broyles, the ensemble is taut and frenetically energetic.
|Walter Bishop, probably cooking up some LSD.|
Yes, the comparison to The X-Files is obvious, although the working cast on X-Files was smaller and, therefore, the older show seemed to depend more on "What weird, creepy stuff can we come up with this week?"
There's still a lot of weird, creepy stuff, but the character of Walter and his history of strange experiments overrides it and makes the series very cohesive.
Altered States, that trippy movie from the early 80's, is an obvious influence in the show. Blair Brown, who played William Hurt's wife in the movie, also appears in Fringe. Later on in the series, Leonard Nimoy shows up - swoon!
So, I'll be catching up on the past seasons, thanks to the rerun option. And what's next? Maybe I can finally figure out what really happened on Lost?