Best Sci-Fi Show on TV – “Fringe”

Best Sci-Fi Show on TV – Fringe
Star Joshua Jackson talks about The Fringe “Family”

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Arguably, Fringe is the best new science fiction show on the air, coming back extra strong in its current second season on Fox TV. Fans have compared it to The X-Files, the early years.

The complex drama that explores the “endless impossibilities” was co-created by today’s king of the genre J.J. Abrams (Lost), who is the first to brag about the series’ “dream team of performers,” Anna Torv as FBI agent Olivia Dunham, John Noble as crazy but brilliant scientist Walter Bishop, and Joshua Jackson as his shrewd son Peter Bishop.

Along with a strong ensemble of supporting players they make the powerful stories about investigations into “fringe science” come alive. And the discovery of an intriguing parallel universe (where Leonard Nimoy appears) is just part of the excitement that has captivated audiences.

What sparks the chemistry with the cast? Joshua Jackson, who plays the super-cynical son of the mad scientist, says it’s the tension in the “family dynamic” that drives the show forward.

 “You have this bizarre, broken, incredibly accomplished, psychopathic father, and a prodigal son, and what is becoming a sister or the daughter of this family dynamic.”

He dismisses any thoughts that Peter and Anna may end up naked together. “They’ve become protective of each other. This straight-laced, hard-ass, just-the-facts cop is forced into collusion with this very off-the-cuff, mercenary for hire that is, at best, this grey operative. But Peter is probably much more dark than that.”

Joshua describes his role as Olivia’s only avenue to a fruitcake (Walter). “The guy is out of his mind. He’s the anti-thesis of her thought process. Walter goes at everything through squiggly lines, and Olivia is everything straight ahead.”

The fact that these people were put together, creates a natural tension because none of them agree on the methods of how to do anything. And yet, Peter, Olivia and Walter have become a family unit over the course of the strange unfolding events, which are called “The Pattern.”

 “Maybe it’s a Three Musketeers thing,” Joshua muses. “They protect each other. An offense against one is an offense against all.”

How has Fringe affected Jackson’s life? “There are benefits and detriments to working on a television show,” says the former Mighty Ducks child film actor who got to grow up on the Dawson’s Creek series.

 “One of the benefits is that you get to work every day. It’s actually nice to go and flex the (acting) muscle. John (Noble) and I have an incredibly dynamic, off-camera work relationship. We’re constantly bouncing ideas. He has an incredibly playful imagination.”

“I have the same personality. I like to work and I like to peel things apart. I like to push a little and be a little ridiculous, and just keep everything fast and loose, and see where you land. The two of us play off of each other very well.” More like brothers than father and son.

Upcoming on Fringe, Joshua says, “We saw the family dynamic between Walter and Peter get richer and deeper, and explain how these two men were going to work in each other’s lives. We know why Olivia has to be there, and we know why Walter has to be there. But at first we never got into why Peter has to be there.”

 “At the very end of last season we realized that it’s because Peter is from the other side. So far, instead of letting the Fringe cases come to us, the second season has been about Peter saying, ‘All right, enough is enough. It’s time to kick ass and take numbers.’ He’s becoming a much more pro-active character the second season.”

The Fringe winter finale is set for Feb. 4, then takes a break before resurfacing April 1st with explosive new stories.


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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