“Fringe” Explores Unexplained Phenomena

Fox Drama Fringe Explores Unexplained Phenomena
Great Expectations For Fringe Producer J.J. Abrams

 

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The tag line for the new Fox TV series Fringe is “Imagine the impossibilities.” So get ready for something that will excite your imagination with tales of confronting the spread of powerful and unexplained phenomena.

Fringe, airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m., follows in the footsteps of The X-Files, the show that gave the Fox network creditability during its early years of broadcasting. The unique drama deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as The X-Files thanks to the quality of the production and the talent behind the show.

The executive producers are J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who can boast of being the team behind the latest Star Trek production, Mission: Impossible III and Alias. Heading a fine ensemble cast are John Noble (Lord of the Rings), Joshua Jackson (Dawson’s Creek) and a kick-butt Australian actress Anna Torv.

Together they have created a new procedural thriller that explores the blurring line between the possible and the unimaginable.

In the high-profile series premiere (Sept. 9), an international flight lands at Boston’s Logan Airport carrying crew and passengers decimated by a mysterious virus.

The event brings together an unlikely trio. A brilliant scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble) is referred to as our generation’s Einstein, but has been institutionalized for the last 20 years. Now he is recruited to help save the world, along with his scheming, reluctant son Peter (Joshua Jackson). They join FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) to uncover a deadly mystery involving a series of unbelievable events that may be a part of a larger, more disturbing pattern.

There are high expectations for Fringe, which Abrams says creates tremendous pressure. Abrams explains, “I feel that ultimately any pressure or expectations for this or any other show could ruin a show. If you expect something that’s going to change your life, no matter what it is, it’s almost invariably going to be disappointing.”

He adds, “Moving forward with the series, the stories and the incredible talent of this crew and cast, I’m hoping we create a show that’s entertaining as much as we think it is and hope it is. I don’t think any one show can save the fall, but I think a great show is something that we all want. So I look forward to seeing the reaction.”

Abrams reports that he got “freaked out” when a rough cut of the show was leaked online. But that turned out to be a blessing since the response was so positive. That has made everyone “excited and nervous.”

Comparing Fringe to Alias, Abrams explains, “This show is going to have a different sort of paradigm. Week-to-week there will be stories. So you can tune in and just watch that. But there will, over the course of the series, be bigger arcs of stories. So I think we’re trying very diligently to do a show that doesn’t require the kind of insane, absolute dedication to a series that, if you miss an episode, you truly have no idea what’s going on. But hopefully you want to see every episode because they’ll be exciting and fun.”

A bonus for Fringe viewers is that the Fox network has embraced a new broadcasting strategy called “remote free TV,” that offers fewer commercials and more content.

Currently, Abrams, co-creator of Lost, is involved with post-production on the next film in the Star Trek franchise, which he directed. But he says, “I’m going to be deeply involved, writing or doing rewrites when necessary, breaking stories, and with the story arcs for Fringe.” And he anxious to direct an episode of Fringe. Maybe the story will be about cloning himself so he can juggle all of his productions.


Frank Barron is the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter, having served twice in that capacity. In between, he was West Coast news director for Billboard Publications, supervising their five magazines. Barron also created the western TV series “The Man From Blackhawk” for the ABC network. For more than three decades he and writer-wife Margie Barron have covered Hollywood for Production Update magazine, and they currently contribute to numerous publications. Frank started in showbiz as publicity director for the KHJ radio and television station. Before moving to California, he was a sports editor in New Jersey.

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