Series Spotlight is a monthly feature in which I talk about television shows or miniseries that has caught my attention and/or undying devotion. Have a suggestion for a TV show I should watch? Let me know in the comments!
The Premise: FBI Agent Olivia Dunham isn’t expecting the call she gets one night, but who could have expected what she would find inside the mysterious plane that lands at Logan Airport? Olivia’s work on the investigation leads her to scientist Walter Bishop, his work in fringe science, and his prickly son Peter, who is Olivia’s only hope for getting the information she needs.
The Draw: Fringe is one of those shows that I’d been hearing quiet buzz about for years before I actually watched it. A friend would suggest it occasionally, and I’d always note it down, but never got to trying out the pilot until the season 1 DVD went on sale. Even then, I didn’t get to watching until I got sick and literally couldn’t move from my nest on the floor (back injuries suck). My brother and I watched the first season in two days, and immediately started season 2. We caught up to season 4 just as it was coming back from its winter hiatus.
Why You Should Stick Around: The landscapes and challenges that Fringe presents to its viewers are as multi-faceted as the science it covers. Dull moments run few and far between as Olivia begins to understand the way Walter’s brain works, almost simultaneously with the cases they take on. Her interactions with Walter and Peter very quickly begin to reveal more about her than the men, and the mystery of Olivia’s own brush with fringe science has serious unexpected consequences that drive the later seasons into amazing new territory.
Anna Torv is a true revelation, and it only took one episode for me to believe in her and the character she’s created from these scripts. Her acting is careful and measured, a single flick of her eyes communicating a multitude of emotions, coming into direct contrast with John Noble and Joshua Jackson’s more animated performances. Lance Reddick’s Agent Broyles grounds the series–his portrayal of the head of Fringe Division came to mind as I watched Pacific Rim‘s Idris Elba, as a man who is trying to make sense of the strange new world in which he finds himself, and protect the people around him. Jasika Nicole is fantastic as Astrid Farnsworth, and her work in later seasons has been rightfully praised for its sensitivity to autistic people. The balance between the cast brings a great dynamic to the show, and helps to sell some of the plotlines themselves.
Those plotlines range from complex scientific mysteries to complicated personal entanglements, and just when you think something’s gone too far to one extreme, the writing pulls it back to focus on the characters and who they grow to become through working on these cases. Even as Walter spouts terms and bits of knowledge, the viewer is always reminded of the many ways science can be used and abused by the people working with it, and the motivations that may not always be seen under the surface.
Next month on Series Spotlight: “You can’t handle the me!”
January: Nikita on The CW
February: Shitsuren Chocolatier (Heartbroken Chocolatier) on Fuji TV [Japanese drama]
March: Veronica Mars on UPN/The CW
April: New Girl on Fox
May: Reign on The CW
June: You’re Beautiful on SBS [Korean drama]
(all gifs gathered from Google images)
Categories: Series Spotlight