|Pacey Bishop is Sexy, Like a Meow Meow|
As the summer of 2011 closed in and I started contemplating doing this site, I realized that I couldn't possibly avoid the show, since it had become the new big geek/nerd deal. Also, a couple of friends who were fans of other shows I watched were often talking about it so I decided to just bite the bullet and catch up on all three seasons.
What follows are my general feelings as I watched the seasons. Note that there will be spoilers for those who have not seen the show. I do not recommend you read this if you want to know nothing. So stop right here if you don't want to be spoiled. You should also stop right here if you are fragile. Finally, you can scroll to the bottom to see my grades for the different seasons, if that helps your decision to watch or not:
Right away I find this Australia Dumbham (played by Anna Torv), or whatever her name is, to be the most wooden, uninteresting, blank sheet of papery character. I can't even be bothered to learn her correct name. I mostly just call her "FBI b***h." As in "that FBI b***h needs to die so I can almost enjoy this show." Plus, her American accent is terrible. This one is what I call the marble-mouth American accent where the actor sounds like she is rolling a marble under her tongue when trying to say certain words. I had recognized it when I watched one episode at some point during the live run of the show, but this is nearly every episode of me not caring about her character and hating her accent. I just want the writers to set her on fire. Is that possible? She seems like a main character/actor. I can't believe I have to watch this talentless hack for TWO MORE SEASONS!
Thankfully, Walter Bishop is addictive, awesome, brilliant, adorable, and superbly acted (by John Noble)! Also, Walter's relationship with his son, Pacey Bishop (played by Joshua Jackson), is very interesting and often wildly entertaining. I am happy about this because the snoozefest that is Australia Dumbham would have made this show a torture to watch. Granted, I really, really, super really, HATE the whole sci-fi horror/gore genre. I don't like zombies, I don't like goblins or monsters or bubbling masses of cancer cells. I don't dig it, I don't get the interest, and I piss in the mouths of people who masturbate while watching that crap. So I am already predisposed to disliking this show.
But I watch and I suffer through the case-of-the-week boredom, while enjoying Walter and his relationship/exchanges with his son. Thank the gods for Walter and Pacey. I can almost cancel out the insufferable FBI b***h and the storylines. I sometimes fast forward through the episodes. It is the first time I have ever fast forwarded through episodes. That is how much I dislike the genre and Dumbham (I laugh outloud every time she answers her phone: "DUMBHAM!").
|Dumbham needs to poop.|
I survive season 1 but barely. Oh no... are there more episodes in season 2? This is not good. Also, I think I just realized Walter's son's name is Peter. Goodbye Pacey Bishop.
Man... this show isn't getting any better. Walter and Peter are still great but FBI b***h is just as bad as ever. Correction, Anna Torv's American accent has improved (she has a smaller marble in her mouth now). But from a story telling perspective, this season doesn't improve much, if at all. UNTIL... the final few episodes when there is a sudden rush on a real story arc. Oh and I should mention that there is an episode in the middle of the season left over from season 1. Featuring a character who is dead. Yeah. That just happened.
|Yes, he is a scientist, but he's also trippin' balls!|
OK, so jumping back into where season two goes at the end, I am suddenly interested starting with the end of episode 15. However, it isn't until episodes 21 to 23 where I start looking forward to what comes next. Sure, Peter's decision to leave seems out of character, since he is such a deep thinker and with such a strong will, but I suppose I can also see that he feels disconnected from the things around him and decides to see what is on the other side. Also, there has been a slow build-up of possible romantic feelings between Peter and Australia. This begins to actually reveal itself here as Peter meets the other world FBI b***h. When she asks him what the other her is like, Peter's response is very honest and likely a revelation to himself. It is probably my favorite acting moment for Joshua Jackson, up to this point, and the point where shipper hearts likely took off like I do when one of my relationships gets serious.
The season ends on a very predictable but interesting note as one Australia takes the place of the other, and FBI b***h is left behind (good, I hope they kill her). I am finally interested in where they may take this.
Anna Torv is a revelation! What the hell happened here? I can't remember an actor going from a talentless hack to the one-to-watch three seasons into a show. Were the writers just giving her so little to do that it underwhelmed the actor? Is she like one of those geniuses who, if you don't challenge them, they deliver a half-assed job? Whatever it is, someone was screwing with me for two seasons. I am just happy to see that the writers have given Torv two new characters to play. Olivia Dunham and Olivia Dunham (the other world version who we shall call Fauxlivia to make things easier). I know, not very original seeing as she played Australia Dumbham for two seasons, but I guess it is easier for the actor to remember her character's name if it is so similar. After all, she is blond and you know things get really difficult for them.
Suddenly Olivia/Fauxlivia are the most interesting characters on the show. The arcs are deep. The emotions are complex. Both characters are similar but also noticeably different. Body language, facial expressions, even the way they speak is different. When Olivia smiles, it is the smile of someone who doesn't take happiness for granted. When Fauxlivia smiles, it is the smile of someone who is very happy to be who she is. But these stark differences also create a problem for Peter's character.
|Someone's got some 'splainin' to do!|
Thankfully, once Peter begins to piece things together and, more importantly, when he is confronted by the real Olivia about it, the writers give Peter a believable (or close enough to it) explanation. Should he have known right away? Maybe. Did he? Maybe. But he wasn't thinking clearly because he wanted to make things work, even if he knew something wasn't right. Is it a bit tough to swallow? Yeah. But it also makes for an interesting dynamic between the three characters since... dundundun... Peter and Fauxlivia kind of fell for each other realzies like. Oh, and she is preggers! But Peter is in love with Olivia, or so it would seem, so this could get interesting.
Meanwhile, we have been dealing with a weapon that can destroy worlds and Peter's quest to discover what it is all about and his place in all of it. It seems that Peter is the juice the machine needs to work. At this point I begin to make bets with people that Peter will step into the machine in the finale and destroy one of the worlds, then scramble to take it back in season 4. The writers pull a CHUCK on this one and accelerate the storyline instead of using it for another season. But before I go there, the show deals with the Peter and Olivia romance, as well as the Fauxlivia pregnancy.
The Fauxlivia pregnancy is dealt with very quickly but with some fun dramatic beats (I am of course leaving out a ton of episodes between all of this just to get to the main points) and I get the feeling that the birth of her and Peter's son will have a greater deal of importance in season 4 than it did in season 3 (as nothing more than a tool for DNA). Meanwhile, after roughly 20 dramatic conversations (exhausting but sometimes believable and well written) about their relationship, Peter and Olivia finally become a couple and now I am sure one of them is going to die!
Somewhere along the way Peter has become my favorite character. Now, I am a heterosexual male with no bisexual tendencies but I am willing to go back to college to experiment. Peter is dreamy. I don't care how that makes me sound. It is the truth. I want him to snuggle me and tell me everything will be alright. Is that wrong? If it is, then I am prepared to wage a war against right. That man is just intoxicating. I want to go watch reruns of his other show, Richard Dawson's Creep. Stop looking at me like that, guys! Oh... Pacey. Peter! I meant Peter! I wish I was a woman right now.... I sure hope that doesn't come back to haunt me some day when I run for president. But I digress.
|Peter tries to clone himself the lazy way. If only...|
I am sure that even though Peter went poof, he exists somewhere. He just doesn't exist to these characters at this time. But will they begin to remember him over time? Will they feel a loss, even if they can't remember why they feel it? Peter made an enormous impression on two worlds, he can't just be wiped away for eternity. And does Peter exist on a different plane? Can he now travel between worlds? Is he invisible? Is he a god? Can he remember everything and see everyone? Is he suddenly all-knowing? Does he go back in time and return to his body as a child but with all the memories of a man who just saved two worlds? Does he become Neo? Can he appear in my bed right now? Arrrgh! Damn you, Peter! Why must thou be so full of wonderful?
This is why I am interested in seeing FRINGE season 4. Because the writers didn't play it safe. They elevated the game. And while I never had much interest in watching this show, I am glad I did. I am not glad to have suffered through about 36 episodes in seasons 1 and 2, but more than happy that the show creators figured out how to take what was working and to keep it interesting. And to take elements that weren't working and make them work. And most importantly, for realizing that the show they had been writing for two seasons was nothing more than an X-FILES wannabe with X-FILES homages. So, instead, they created a unique show out of the best material. Oh and I am sure fanboys and fangirls of this show will tell me how nearly two useless seasons of snail-paced exposition was necessary, but I will counter with season 3. This show never needed the long setup or the case of the week focus. It just needed to tell an exciting and well constructed story.
(Non-Americans: A = awesome, B = good, C = ok, D = not good, F = failure)
C : If not for Walter and Pacey, I would not have made it through this one. The case of the week rarely interests me and the show focuses too much on my least favorite character, Australia.
B- : Walter and Peter help me get through to the final three episodes where the show really takes off. Also, there are a couple of pretty good episodes scattered throughout the season that set up the grander arc.
A : The lame case-of-the-week structure is diluted into backwash. Almost every character is interesting. I really enjoy Olivia (that's what he said). Most of the stories rule. The acting and writing is top notch. On par with a very good season of LOST or BSG. And the final few minutes of the finale had my heart pumping in ways only the best shows ever do. I would have given it an A+ but there is at least one season left. If all three seasons had been this good, FRINGE would be my favorite show on TV.
TBD : As long as the writers pay off characters arcs, this one should be on the level of season 3.
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