Yesterday’s papers for most of you genre fans I’d wager, but for me this years early small screen discovery has been Fringe, the J.J. Abrams produced post 9/11 version of the X Files, with a dash of Lost and a sprinkling of CSI: Harvard scattered into the mix for good, paranoid measure. If I had a main criticism it would be that the two leads Anna Torv and that dude from Dawsons Creek are pretty bland, but they are overshadowed by Denethor from LOTR as quite literally a mad scientist, he can be quite an amusing character from time to time. It very much takes the monster / strange phenomenon / fucking mentalist weirdness of the week template and drives this into the ground, but as the show evolves it delves and develops its background mythology with alternate dimensions and multi-planar warfare being secretly waged on our poor beleaguered reality, and that’s when things start to get interesting;
The show employs the same tech crew as J.J. Abrams earlier hit Alias – including lensflaretastic lighting techniques which I assume he was testing before the Star Trek reboot and Super 8 – that earlier espionage show was good fun until it went stupid in the final seasons, I just hope the same fate doesn’t afflict this franchise which recently wrapped up its 5th and final season in the states to mostly critical acclaim. If you need a hint of its geek credentials then I’ll just quietly point out a modest detail in one episode where our heroes are rushing around a parallel dimension New York, and the camera lingers on a framed, 1st print mint condition issue of Frank Millers seminal 1986 graphic novel series, Dark Superman Rises. Everything’s, like, just a little bit different y’see…..
I’ve just started on Season 3 which is starting to get into Philip K Dick territory, or at least a reasonably decent diluted mainstream translation of such material that you’d expect of a modestly budgeted SF / Mystery series, not too taxing or ‘weird’ but inventive enough to hold the attention. It’s nonsense but good-natured and entertaining nonsense, perfect boxed-set fare which can be easily digested in four or five episodes a night chunks after a gruelling day at work – recommended.