The ‘Fringe’ Premiere: What We Now Know

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"Woman, get a grip on yourself! I don't know what will happen on Lost — we're on a completely different show!" Photo: Courtesy of Fox

After months of Internet speculation about it, Fringe (the brainchild of Lost leader J.J. Abrams and the bums who wrote Transformers) finally debuted last night. Even before the pilot’s air date, though, most people knew the basics of its story, which established the show’s central characters — tough-gal FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), crazy genius Walter Bishop (John Noble), and Bishop’s roguish son Peter (Joshua Jackson) — and set up Fringe’s overriding narrative about a shady super-corporation which is behind a string of fringe-science phenomena occurring around the globe. But now that we’ve watched the show, we have more answers — and naturally, more questions.

Fringe is going for an X-Files vibe with its sci-fi mysteries, paranoid bent, and mismatched partners dealing with a case of sexual tension. It seems pretty obvious the show will develop their relationship as it goes on, but since Peter is a bit of a drip, may we suggest Olivia go for her jerky boss, Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick), instead? At least that would be truly unexpected.

• Anna Torv — Olivia — kinda looks like Cate Blanchett, huh?

• After being hired by the government to work on fringe-science experiments, genius scientist Walter went cuckoo and has been locked away in an asylum for the last seventeen years. This fact sets up a moment during the pilot where the good doctor watches an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants with wide-eyed admiration. Unwittingly, Bishop has just fallen prey to the Meet Joe Black Principle, which states that if a character has been away from society long enough, he will treat modern-day trivialities as if they’re the most wondrous things ever.

• Also, if Walter is such a super-egghead, why does his sensory-deprivation chamber require you to be submerged in water and wearing only underwear to work?

• Seriously, Anna Torv looks exactly like Cate Blanchett.

• Massive Dynamic is the name of the show’s colossal corporation. We know that, besides being on the cutting edge of scientific breakthroughs, the corporation is also totally evil because the company's offices have the clean, spare, all-white look that fiendish organizations always choose in sci-fi films.

• If the pilot’s any indication, during pressure-cooker situations, Peter will be called on to make sarcastic comments and clench his jaw.

• Also, in HD, Peter’s perfectly manicured stubble is hypnotic.

• We never get tired of the conceit in sci-fi shows that if someone is in critical condition from a horrible, unknown infection that has rendered him unrecognizable and on death’s door, not only will the cure work almost instantly, the person will show almost no sign of the trauma afterward.

• While the bigger effects scenes were impressive — like the plane-load of people whose flesh evaporates — the coolest moment was Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) revealing her robotic arm. Promise us she’s gonna use that thing later on in the series.

• The collection of fringe-science phenomena going on in the world is known as the Pattern, again proving that if you capitalize any mundane word and put a “the” in front of it, you can make it sound spooky.

• Near the pilot’s end, Dunham and an associate decry the unstoppable power and treachery of modern-day corporations. We’re sure they don’t mean Fox, though — just, y’know, the bad corporations.