As Fringe heads full steam towards it’s final three hours starting in three weeks from now, I thought this would be the perfect time to finally write about the show. Though I do most of the TV reviews for Following The Nerd, I haven’t written one review for this show. There’s a reason for that, I don’t want to have to analyze Fringe, sitting there watching every little detail, picking it apart and breaking it down, trying to figure out every theme I play. Fringe is a complicated show, with a complicated mythos. I want to sit down in front of my TV; lights off, with my magic dragon named Puff (Hehehe.) and enjoy the show as a pure fan, not as a critic. Watching a show as a critic can change the way you see everything. You now notice every detail that may or may not work to advance the plot; you see every plot device used to get the characters out of sticky situations, even if those plot devices don’t make sense. You learn to be analytical with every scene. I just want to watch this show out of pure fandom and enjoy the ride.
Fringe and I started off with a rocky relationship. We got off to a great start, then we hit a rough patch, but we worked out our differences to rekindle that fire we once had. When the show first started I ate it up. As a good friend of mine, and fellow FTN contributor, Al Keenan (@baldgamerdude) pointed out; it was like the X-Files, only better. It sure was, with all these mysterious events taking place that couldn’t be explained, a dead boyfriend/FBI partner that seemed to be mixed up in the fray. Then there was a neurotic, drug consuming alt-scientist locked away in a mental institution, the only guy who could solve these puzzles and the savvy hustler of a son who was the only one who could get through to the scientist. All the pieces were in place creating the recipe for one hell of a show. I got into it, and in a big way. As the show progressed though I found myself getting bored. The monster of the week mysteries weren’t doing it for me, but the bane of my Fringe watching experience was that damned sensory deprivation tank. It seemed like the only way to solve most of these cases was by Olivia taking a bath in that tank. Peter is infected with an undiscovered virus. Olivia, get in the tank. Walter can’t remember his recipe for the perfect strawberry milkshake. Olivia, get in the tank. I started to despise that tank heavily.
Soon I found myself dropping out of the Fringe experience. My girlfriend at the time still liked the show, so I kept recording it for her on the DVR; she continued to watch while I made time for my new iPhone. Once we broke up I stopped recording it so I could dedicate my DVR space to other shows, like the greatest show of all time, 24 (FOX, where is my 24 movie already! I needs me some Jack Bauer in my life!). I missed a whole season at this point, and then something wonderful happened. One night out of boredom and the lack of anything good on my DVR, I recorded Fringe. I had seen an ad for the show and this particular episode looked like something I would like, so I hit that record button. I got my magic dragon out and turned on, while tuning out. The episode was going okay, then it happened, Olivia had some kind of experience which required her to…yep, you guessed it, go into the tank. I couldn’t believe it, the third season and Olivia is still being dunked into the tank like the unlucky bloke at the summer carnival. I was so mad, Fringe had suckered me! This was different though; Olivia wasn’t flow walking in the past (Star Wars EU reference.), instead she found herself in a whole different place. It seemed familiar, yet it wasn’t.
Olivia had crossed over to another dimension. My jaw dropped, I got whipped up into a frenzy, I screamed out loud, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” This is what I had been hoping and waiting for! Anyone who knows my sci-fi preferences or who has ever read an article where I have talked about such knows, my two favorite sci-fi themes that are not Star Wars related are time travel and the paradoxes it creates and ALTERNATE UNIVERSES. This was the beginning in what became the alt-universe saga of season four, and the beginning of my true love for Fringe. I eagerly tuned in every week from that point on, and boy was I rewarded. Peter was actually alt-Peter! Walter had crossed over and brought him back from the other side! The point of origin for the shape shifters! The reveal at the end of season four that the Observers were some bad dudes! Faux-livia! Walternate! I love doppelgangers. The end of season three and all of season four was J.J. Abrams and crew giving me flowers and candy and apologizing for their past mistakes, promising me they would change, and since then I have never been disappointed that I took Fringe back.
In six weeks time one of the greatest and most mind warping shows ever will be dropping the final curtain on their act, the fat lady will be singing. If it’s even the slightest bit emotional it’s guaranteed that I will shed at least one tear. Ever since I turned 30 I have noticed that I have become a bit more emotional, but that’s not the only reason I will be crying. I will also be crying for one of my favorite, oldest and dearest friends, television. We live in a society where our entertainment choices have been dumbed down to the fullest. Reality shows have hijacked our airwaves, we don’t want to think anymore, we just want to be entertained, and Jersey Shore, Honey Boo-Boo and Basketball Wives were more then happy to fill the void. Our music choices have gone the same way. We no longer praise intelligent or even well crafted music anymore. If anyone of my favorite rap groups, such as A Tribe Called Quest or Wu-Tang Clan had come out in this musical climate then we probably would’ve never heard of them. Instead record companies and radio stations prefer to inundate us with the stupidest and most ignorant “artists” they can find. (Lil Wayne, I’m looking squarely at you with that one. Stop pretending you skate and play rock guitar, white people already like you, stop trying so hard.)
The worst part is, it’s all fake, and yet we don’t care. Every single reality show you watch is staged. The rapper Rick Ross rhymes about selling massive amounts of cocaine, it was later discovered that he was never drug dealer, but in fact was a prison guard, and no one cared. His sales probably increased after that. However, every thought, every emotion, every mind warping possibility Fringe confronted me with was real on some level. It wasn’t high fructose corn syrup, it was pure cane sugar, and I loved it. Nowadays, unless your show is a “reality show” or about doctors, lawyers or cops who all have sex with each other, then your show will have no audience. Look at an excellent show such as Last Resort, which has been cancelled, for the proof. Our society is being told to stop thinking for ourselves, to shut up follow the herd, and we are all suffering for it. I live in the central time zone in the United States, so I get Fringe at 8:00pm. In six weeks time, Fringe will bid its final farewell, and at exactly 9:00pm on that day television will become a little dumber.