Review: Fringe Pilot + Orci & Kurtzman Fringe Interview | TrekMovie.com
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Review: Fringe Pilot + Orci & Kurtzman Fringe Interview September 7, 2008

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Fringe,Interview,Review , trackback

After a summer of buzz, on Tuesday September 9th the new TV series created by the Star Trek production team of JJ Abrams, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman finally hits the air…TrekMovie has an early review of the pilot for Fringe. Plus we have an exclusive video interview with co-creators Orci and Kurtzman.


 

 

Review – Fringe "Pilot"
The new FOX TV series Fringe TV series opens on a plane in trouble and viewers may immediately think that maybe JJ Abrams has recreated his hit ABC show Lost, but the comparison really ends there. At its heart Fringe is really a procedural drama that has far more in common with shows like CSI and Bones, with some genre touches like Torchwood, X-File, and even a bit of Brannon Braga’s Threshold thrown in. 

The pilot itself follows the origin story structure as you see how the eventual team is put together. Leading the charge is FBI Agent Olivia Dunham played by Anna Torv, who is part of the team investigating the mysteries of the doomed flight. Dunham is having a clandestine relationship with fellow agent John Scott (Mark Valley) and after he is infected with what killed everyone on the plane, Dunham delves into the world of ‘fringe’ science to help save his life. This journey leads her to seek out Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), the (literally) mad scientist who will help save her bf, along with Bishop’s son Peter (Joshua Jackson) who is some sort of genius bad-boy mercenary/scientist…and thusly the team (and core cast of the show) is born.

Although the pilot centers on Olivia and her relationships with John Scott (who spends much of the episode looking like the see through man from biology class), and her (maybe possibly a love connection) relationship with Peter Bishop, the chemistry that ends up working the best is between the reluctant pairing of the estranged father and son Noble and Jackson. Olivia is strong role and seems well-drawn from the same pool as Alias’ Sydney Bristol and Lost’s Kate Austen, and there is a lot of potential here in Fringe, but it appears that Torv will have to grow into her role.


Noble and Jackson, father and son in "Fringe"

Complimenting the core cast is the captivatingly intense Lance Reddick (The Wire) as Homeland Security agent Phillip Broyles who will be overseeing this new team of investigators. Along for the ride is Blair Brown (Days and Nights Molly Dodd) who plays a mysterious executive at the ominously named Massive Dynamics Corporation.

The pilot follows what will likely be the recurring structure of the show, in which the team work to solve a mystery (in this case, what infected everyone on the plane and how can it be cured). Where the show diverges from other ‘sciencey’ procedurals like CSI, Numb3rs and Bones is that it delves into the ‘fringe’ sciences. For example, during the pilot we see Olivia enter the coma mind of John Scott using a combo of home-made LSD and a sensory deprivation tank (perhaps an homage to Altered States). This element of the show presents the science well for the most part and should be able to keep  the interest of genre fans, but it doesn’t appear that the show will go down the alien rabbit hole like The X-Files.


Torv (center) trips out  in "Fringe"

The Abrams team seems have also added an overall mythology layer, in this case there is something called ‘The Pattern’ which is at the heart of seemingly unconnected mysteries around the world. Somewhere linked to this is the Massive Dynamics Corporation, which appears destined to the DHARMA initiative of Fringe. The pilot just teases this mythology enough to let the viewers know it is there. However Abrams and the team have stated that they will try and balance the weekly episodes to not expect viewers to watch every episode and losing track of this over-arching story.  It appears that they are applying lessons learned from their previous shows as well as other popular shows like Heroes, which tend to bleed viewers over time due to a growingly complicated mythology that requires religious viewing or you get lost.

Directed by Alex Graves (vet of 34 episodes of the West Wing) from a script by Abrams, Orci and Kurtzman, the tightly-packed, yet extended-length pilot feels more like feature film. The visuals are stunning, from the wide ranging locations, to the gruesome make-up effects, down to the floating typography that introduces each new setting.  The show isn’t all bio-toxins, bionics, corporate conspiracies and talking to corpses — there is a good amount of humor injected into the script as well. So far it appears that Noble will be carrying much of the load, however his kooky scientist saying off the wall inappropriate things routine may get old pretty fast. The second funniest character in the pilot is a cow, really, so the Abrams/Orci/Kurtzman are willing to go a long way to get a laugh on Fringe.

The pilot also makes an attempt at some sex appeal with Torv stripping down to her undies to get into the flotation tank, however the scene was a bit hammy and didn’t really work. Also the dynamics between her and both Mark Valley and Joshua Jackson was not really giving you that spark that makes the Jack/Kate/Sawyer triangle work so well. However, it is just the pilot so there is time for that to grow.


Valley and Torv look for the clues in Fringe

It is these dynamics that are the key to this show’s potential success. Although shows like Lost and Heroes have intriguing plots and over-arching mythologies, it is the characters that make those shows work. For Fringe, some of these dynamics (like between Jackson and Noble) are already working, whereas others need to be developed. Although the premiere falls short the pilot for JJ Abrams’ Lost, with these kinds of strong characters combined with the off the wall science, the bits of humor, and the sprinkling of mythology, Fringe has the potential to be must see TV for both genre fans and a wider TV audience. 

 

Video interview with Orci and Kurtzman
TrekMovie had a moment before the "Fringe" panel at Comic Con to talk to co-creators Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman about their new show.

Fringe premieres on Fox on September 9th at 8 PM. More info, including previews and interviews at fox.com/fringe.

 

Comments

1. Commodore Redshirt - September 8, 2008

okay, I’ll watch…
…after all there are still 241 more days to go until JJ’s Trek comes out.
(Unless the Universe ends on Wednesday…)
;-]

2. SpikedCanon - September 8, 2008

it’s worth a peak

3. star trackie - September 8, 2008

Looking forward to this one. It’s good to see Mark Valley working steadily so soon after leaving Boston Legal.

4. JWW - September 8, 2008

pish, why not just bring back the xfiles?

their recent movie was pretty good, though it felt more like a made for tv effort.

it still rocked…

5. CanuckLou - September 8, 2008

I’ll watch too. Good opportunity to see Orci and Kurtzman are capable of.

…the adventure continues…

6. Decker's Stubble - September 8, 2008

Got the DVR set.

7. AJ - September 8, 2008

I must say, I will watch for John Noble, who does batsh*t insane as well as anyone (LotR, Denethor).

Hope it’s a success for the boys. Their names are all over the public buses and commuter rail stations in NYC advertising “Fringe.” With the show,Trek XI, Transformers 2, and potentially a Trek XII, Orci and Kurtzman must truly have no personal lives.

8. MORN SPEAKS - September 8, 2008

Is this going to be on Fox.com? I don’t have the good fortune of a DVR.

9. Decious - September 8, 2008

anthony. before you delete my comments… did you LIKE ‘fringe’? did it live up to your expectations? i’ve invested heavily in the notion that the track record of kurtz-orci-abrams gives me very serious concern and trepidation since they have laid their hands on the holy grail of ST.

but nooooooooooo. nobody wanted to hear it.

and now the ‘fringe’ reviews are coming in – and it is not living up to the fanboy hype, right?

cinema blend: “many problems, wooden acting, blase exposition…’
newsday: ‘derivative’
orlando sentinel: ‘lacks originality’
SF Chronicle: ‘lukewarm’

i’m sure you won’t answer this question lest if jeopardize your relationship with abrams et all, but:

did FRINGE make you MORE or LESS enthused about the prospects of STX1???

10. Gary the Gorn - September 8, 2008

I agree with the author’s comment on Heroes.

I did like Heroes for a while, then it just got lame. If you missed a couple of weeks you felt like you were lost. Plus I wish they would give “The Heroes” cool outfits.

Not much good SciFi out there on weekly TV.

Chuck = Lame
Dr. Who – I never watched
Sarah Connor Chronicles = Boring
Lost = Too confusing if you miss a couple of weeks
Journeyman = Quantum Leap plus cranky man
BSG = No new episodes until January
Medium = Boring
The 4400 = Boring

Is there any weekly SciFi I’m missing that is good? Help my Obi Wan you’re my only hope…

11. AJ - September 8, 2008

9/Decious:

The good thing about a TV show is that it can be improved.

Originality is not a requirement for success. CSI and clones are all over the TV, and Law and Order has about 5 incarnations out there. Superboy has been in Smallville long past his sell-by date. Indy IV was a commercial tidalwave despite universal hatred of it in the press, and among its fans.

I think the reviews reflect the lingering on TV of “LOST” as more and more people whinge about it. It used to be the bee’s knees, and it’s time for the next “change” in genre TV. The critics are looking for it, but the casual viewers may be perfectly happy with the current product. Also, IMHO, the absence of “24” and the prevalence of strike-related reality garbage is making the critics antsy for quality.

If viewership is not up to muster, Orci/Kurtzman will be tasked with creating improvements specifically aimed at focused criticisms. It’s the pilot, and we all know how pilots compare to a show a year or two down the line.

However, because you have not seen “Fringe,” you should wait, and write your own review. I am sure Anthony will be tracking the show here.

12. Jordan - September 8, 2008

I don’t know what it is…but this show just looks so uninteresting to me. It’s like a rehash of everything JJ has already done + The X-Files + CSI.

I think I’ll pass. If I hear tons of good things, I may catch it online.

13. Mike T. - September 8, 2008

Gary the Gorn sadly two of the shows uyoi mentioned are gone: Journeyman and The 4400. Journeyman was getting good and then it was cancelled partially due to the writers strike. The 4400 started out good and then went down hill.

Chuck is so so but you should check out Reaper, it’s a well written show that deserves a chance.

14. Thomas - September 8, 2008

10. Gary the Gorn
Give Doctor Who a shot. I enjoy it a lot and it’s just a fun show. I will say, though, that at times it can be more than a little preachy. That only happens occasionally, but it can get pretty ham-fisted. Just give it a shot and get the DVDs from Netflix,

15. Boborci - September 8, 2008

9.

Each project is it’s own coin toss. Even if you HATE fringe, doesn’t mean the next coin won’t come up tails.

16. Boborci - September 8, 2008

Or heads. Or whatever side you like…

17. Anthony Pascale - September 8, 2008

Decious, read my review. And final warning for Trolling

18. Gary the Gorn - September 8, 2008

Thanks for the comments .13 Mike T. and 14. Thomas. I will check out Dr. Who and Reaper.

19. John from Cincinnati - September 8, 2008

Joshua Jackson looks like Tom Hanks.

20. krikzil - September 8, 2008

I’m gonna watch just cause I keep hoping there will be something worth watching on TV these days. I’m so tired of all the formulaic stuff that we have to choose from.

21. cagmar - September 8, 2008

Fringe is trying to be smart, and that’s kind of it’s problem. Smart stuff speaks for itself, you shouldn’t have to flaunt it. Fringe is flaunting it.

Anyway, the pilot was really sort of a disappointment at it’s core, but the show definitely has potential… so I’m looking forward, hoping. Joshua Jackson is a big liability on the series – either because of the lines he is being given or because he can’t act, don’t know. I always thought he was better than he was in this pilot. Really, he’s dreadful here. Anna Trov, on the other hand, is spectacular. She is amazing and she lives her role.

I’m giving this one a chance, but it needs to get back to what makes these fringe sci-fi ideas interesting — instead of assuming the presence of the idea is what makes a great show.

22. chad - September 8, 2008

You can watch the pilot episode of Fringe now. Go to http://www.surfthechannel.com . I watched it last night and I believe it has great potential.

23. Trekkie16 - September 9, 2008

#21 – I agree, I was a bit disappointed in the pilot. I think the show has potential but some of the story was implausible and the writing and acting was uneven. Parts of it worked for me and other parts were too predictable. I was able to figure out what some of the characters were going to say before they said their lines.

I feel shows like BSG and LOST and House and Dexter and the Sopranos have raised the bar in regards to great writing and acting and character development.

During parts where the writing was cliched and predictable I cringed and thought, “I hope the ST movie has a better written script”. I am still keeping very positive thoughts about the new movie but seeing this pilot did make me have some “uh oh” moments.

24. Enc - September 9, 2008

ill agree that it has potential
but it needs a lot of help.
the script was first draft quality. and the final product felt like a bunch of scene poorly strung together. let me put it this way. each shot was fine unto itself a poor director and or editor didnt pu the puzzle together right.
a bunch of taglines scadered thru out, fine on their own but after a while it begins to sound like a sales pitch to get ur attention (maybe for the advertiser to place in a tv spot). and it (to me) it seemed that Torv was hired for ability to emote well on camera, (at least it was a major consideration) and the director pushed too far. to the point that it stood out like sore thumb.
remember the old axium.’if the audiance cant see its an fx then you did your job’ (or something like it). that can be aplied to writing,directing,acting,editing, and yes even fx work.

live up to the fanboy hype? not this fanyboy
ill agree that it has potential. it is afterall a pilot.

25. JWW - September 10, 2008

#22

someone must have caught on…

This video has been removed due to infringement.

26. Fringe won't survive - September 10, 2008

I lost interest and turned the channel to America’s Got Talent.

Seriously this was boring. Almost nice try at ripping off the X-Files, but it failed. X-Files had way more interesting stories and characters. I also kept thinking about alias and lost while watching this due to the music and use of location identifiers. It’s too tainted with old shows. Fringe isn’t going to survive long as it’s all been done before – better.

27. CJS - September 10, 2008

Yeah, Torv doesn’t have the ability to carry this show in the same way Jennifer Garner did Alias. And Jackson is still just that kid from Dawson’s Creek (and I never even watched that show). Unless the next couple of episodes really get better, it seems to me that Fringe is a dud. And given that this is the whole team working on the next Trek film, such a failure seems like a bad omen. (Or maybe its good. They’re putting all of their real talent and efforts into Trek).

28. Joe Schmoe - September 10, 2008

Lost is good. I never watched Alias and have no opinion. Fringe was OK last night. It was entertaining, but I don’t expect myself to be excited and looking forward to Tuesday nights in order to see the next episode.

If it ends up being a show that I have to watch every week in order to keep track of what is going on, then I won’t be able to stick with it. There is only so much room in a busy life to devote to those kind of shows. Maybe 1 or 2 at the most. Right now it is Battlestar Galactica and Lost (although both are on hiatus). Maybe Heroes. And also my favorite football team every Sunday.

If you’ve got time to watch much more than that, it’s time to get outside and find new friends and hobbies, lol.

29. MORN SPEAKS - September 10, 2008

I saw Fringe last night, and I was pleasantly surprised. As far as pilots go, it was pretty good. It was very theatrical in appearance, had funny parts, sex appeal, an overall good story, and great music. At points, it did seem too convenient, kitschy, or cliched. I am a HUGE X-Files fan, and I was concerned, but I think this program can stand on its own two legs. I’ll check it out next week, it’s the golden age of Television and it’s getting hard to keep up.

30. TL - September 10, 2008

Even though Fringe was filmed in my home town of Toronto, it still managed to suck, big time. I hope those guys don’t screw up Star Trek. Who the hell wrote that bad script for Fringe?

31. TL - September 10, 2008

# 10
The best sci-fi on tv right now is Doctor Who, try to rent the first seasons on dvd, you won’t be disappointed!

32. Fringe Files - September 10, 2008

The best thing about Fringe last night was the partial trailer for Quantum of Solace.

33. Dom - September 10, 2008

AJ (10) (Nu-)Doctor Who is a nasty, chavvy, low grade shadow of the show that ran from 1963-1989. It’s also not science fiction: science fantasy at most (nothing wrong with that, incidentally!)

The only saving grace is that the best writer on the new series is taking over in 2010. Wait for that series and avoid Russell T Davies’ overrated, overhyped, politically correct garbage. Alternatively pick up some of Tom Baker’s episodes from the mid-1970s on DVD to see how good Doctor Who can be with good writers.

Also, if you’re interested in watching something a touch oddball and creepy, try Sapphire and Steel. The whole of that series is available on DVD. Those 70s shows make up for lack of budget with great writing. Nowadays, they seem to think frenetic running around, loud music and shouting can cover up for plot holes a JCB could drive through!

I now await extermination by the nu-Who-Nazis who have banned any unfavourable comparisons with the original show! ;)

34. TL - September 10, 2008

#33

Couldn’t diagree with you more. Doctor Who is great, especially the new series produced by Russell T. Davies staring Christopher Eccleston then David Tennant as the doctor .

35. Tony Whitehead - September 10, 2008

15. BobOrci

Congrats to the entire cast and crew of “Fringe”. I thought the pilot was well-paced and intriguing. If I were to have a complaint, on first viewing it appears to me that the show’s timeline had sort of a “warp-like” zippiness between certain scenes.

For example, how long was Mark Valley’s character lying on the table while all this was playing out? When they came up with the idea for the transfusion, was his blood in the fridge upstairs? I seem to recall that at that point, there wasn’t much time left, but that seemed to stretch credulity a bit.

Of course, there might have been some explanation that I missed; but on the whole, a solid effort that will warrant multiple repeat viewings looking for all the easter eggs in the show, such as the Massive Dynamics Corporation logo on the jet engine intake area toward the beginning of the program.

I look forward to seeing how this plays itself out. Again, job well done!

36. Dom - September 10, 2008

34. TL

Eccleston was so appalled with the new show that he was out the door within one season. His departure was announced after one episode had been broadcast, but he’d pulled the plug long before then. He’s a serious, talented actor who had better things to do than waste his time with that overrated hack Russell T Davies’ fart gags and constant repetition of the same cheap gags.

For all the film’s faults I’ve been driven to the point where I’d rather have seen a TV show based on the McGann movie than the dreadful hackwork of this show.

Any serious attempt at a new Doctor Who series that for four seasons completely ignores the huge talent pool of writers in the UK: Stephen Baxter, Iain M Banks, Alastair Reynolds, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, to name a few, in favour of Russell T Davies’ drinking buddies deserves all the contempt in the world.

If someone like JJ Abrams had made Doctor Who, we’d have had a show that was interesting and at least faithful to its source!

37. Fringe Mystery - September 11, 2008

The first episode of Fringe was incredible, I am hooked and cannot wait till next Tuesday to see what direction the show goes in. JJ Abrams and crew did a great job writing the story as well as choosing a cast for their characters.

It reminds me of an action thriller version of ER with an addition of imagination and I am loving it so far.

Also http://www.FringeMystery.com has some pretty good news and information about the show.

38. tks - September 11, 2008

I liked fringe alot. I thought it was better than most of the scifi/thriller stuff out there. I like Josh Jackson as well, good special effects and interesting cast. But that being said, it will more than likely be canceled because its not a reality show, which is all America seems to want to watch.

39. Introspective - August 8, 2009

Overall. Fringe is good TV series. It reminds me a little bit to Torchwood and X Files. I hope that it will not be spoiled over time.

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