Couch Tater Reviews FRINGE

fringe cast

By the end of FRINGE’s pilot — airing tonight at 9 p.m. ET on FOX — you’ll be asking, “What the hell went wrong?” Sadly, you’ll be talking about the show itself as opposed to the central mystery involving the decomposed bodies found aboard a doomed flight.

While the opening sequence is exciting, anyone who’s seen the ads — and who hasn’t? — knows the fate of Flight 627 and those on board. Unfortunately, while the grounding of LOST’s Oceanic Flight 815 set into motion a series of unforgettable and gripping events, FRINGE’s doomed airliner goes from intriguing to predictable upon landing.

While the plot zips along at a breakneck pace, one quickly realizes that’s due to an fervent hope that viewers won’t notice that the road they’re traversing was cobbled together with characters and scenes stolen from a million better offerings.

Every character fits into a nice, neat little box. Worse, assuming we’re not smart enough to figure out who’s been assigned to which stereotype, the script leads us by the nose. Just before meeting Joshua Jackson’s obnoxious alter ego, we’re told he “sounds like a pain in the ass.” And he is! Our heroine, Olivia, has personal issues with her prickly boss (is there any other kind?), and the scientist is, of course, of the mad variety. The action even unfolds on sets recognizable from every science fiction project ever, from the laboratory which has conveniently remained basically intact despite having been abandoned years earlier to the generic Massive Dynamics, an all-encompassing corporation comprised of huge empty spaces (no doubt meant to represent an emptiness where their heart should be) and sterile walls. Even the storyline is paint-by-numbers, with someone realizing late in the game that the prerequisite car chase was missing and needed to be squeezed in.

The only thing missing is a hooker with a heart of gold… but hey, maybe they’re saving that for episode two. Maybe the hooker can work with our gal Olivia, because in the pilot, it starts to seem as if it’s her, the mad scientist and his son against the world.

What works works well. The special effects are top notch, as is the acting. But by the time Olivia is sharing the modern (if less believable) version of a Vulcan mind meld with her near-dead lover, the whole mess is more likely to inspire eye rolling then excitement among viewers.

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  • bws

    This review probably could have waited one more day…

  • ct

    Why? You know that reviews have been running on this show for weeks now, right? And that MOST reviewers run their reviews a day or two before the show airs?

    Also, I’d point out that the review is pretty much spoiler free…

  • Hil

    We were due for a jaded review. Glad we got it over with. You can review most shows with that attitude and get similar results. Having seen the leak I still think the show picked up in the second half once the real main cast assembled. It wasn’t as smash bang as his other pilots with some pacing and focus problems, but it has potential and I really like the chemistry between the main characters by the end of it.

  • bws

    It doesn’t have anything to do with spoilers. I can’t discuss the show on this posting today… but I could tomorrow. But it will have fallen down my RSS feed by then and I might forget. I guess it depends on whether it was a review that was intended for discussion or not.

  • Krystal

    This “critic” is nuts. I’ve watched the pilot at least a dozen times, and I’m still totally excited about tonight’s premiere.

  • JImbo

    A dozen times? Why? Go outside and get some fresh air. Speak to your family. Etc….

  • ct

    A dozen times? Wow, that’s over a dozen hours you’ll never get back. By the way, no need to put the word critic in quotes. As the saying goes, everyone’s a critic. In fact, you, my dear Krystal, become a critic the moment you call me nuts and offer up your own opinion.

  • ct


    Afford me a moment of clarity. By your logic, anyone who does not like a show or who points out their flaws is offering a “jaded” review? Better I should heap false praise upon the altar of J.J., whom, by the way, I think is a genius (who, in my opinion, stumbled with this particular offering)?

    The definition of “jaded” is “worn out” or “wearied” and I will admit that by the end of the episode I was worn out — as in tired of counting cliches — and wearied — as in kinda bored.

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion — even (gasp!) moi. There are plenty of critics out there ready to fall all over themselves to either praise the show or find ways to throw it backhanded-compliments (“It’s not a great pilot, but I’m sure it’ll get better as the season goes along!”) You only get one chance to make a first impression, and this show didn’t leave a great one on me.

    The key word there being “me.”

    But hey, let’s not forget that I’m the guy who had to be won over by those SUPERNATURAL Winchester brothers!

  • tim wilkins

    Well, I’ve been hearing all the hype online about ‘fringe’ being the new fall show or “it’ this season, but I’ve been left feeling like ‘eh’ about this. Like ct pointed out, it seems cliched and I haven’t even SEEN it. And this review did not give anything away. If anything, I’m thinking “i’ll wait and see”. lol I like ct.

  • Dennis Boston

    After a few minutes I was hoping the whole cast would contract the mystery disease. A poor copy of a copy.

  • Jim P

    I hated the X Files and this show actually raised my opinion of the X Files. It went wrong on every level… I’ll suspend my disbelief on the supernatural, but don’t try and make me believe an FBI agent can jet around the world (in a private jet) on a moments notice.

  • Chad E.

    “…more likely to inspire eye rolling then excitement in viewers.”

    So they roll their eyes and THEN get excited?

    Sorry to be the spelling police, but jeez. That’s pretty bad.

    As for the show, I think it played it a bit safe in the first episode, and that’s ok–it’s only the first episode. If it plays it safe every week–making the characters too stereotypical and the storylines too familiar–THEN (not than) find something else to watch.


  • ct


    Nice catch! want a job as a copy editor?

    Meanwhile, sorry, but once you’ve made the characters into cliches and established their relationships and connections as equally cliched, you can’t go back and change that. The history of a character can’t be rewritten.

  • ct

    Thanks for the kind words. I’ll use them as an emotional shield against the slings and arrows of cruel fate… er, readers.

  • Chad E.


    No, the history of characters can’t be rewritten, but they do evolve over time. There was nothing in the premiere that screamed “unmitigated cliche”, at least not to me. It felt more like a nice little story to introduce the characters, the premise, and “Massive Dynamics”.

    The premiere was just a promise of things to come, and glimpse of the style of storytelling we’ll see. It’s enough to keep us watching.

    If, however, nothing more interesting is added in the next 5–or on the outside, 10–episodes, I’ll lose interest. I don’t know about others.