Screen Rant reviews J.J. Abrams’ Fringe

We’ve given sporadic coverage to J.J. Abrams’ new TV series Fringe (which airs on Fox) over the last few months, and now I wish we’d done more. It can take a new TV show a few episodes to find its legs, but the series premiere of this new Fall 2008 TV series was great.

Let it be known that there are spoilers below. If you haven’t seen the show, the premiere will be broadcast this upcoming Sunday. I recommend you check it out.

The show opened with a nod to Abrams’ other hit show Lost, by taking place on an airliner with of course something going terribly wrong. One of the passengers starts freaking out, and we soon see that it looks like his skin is starting to melt. Not a pretty site.

Soon the rest of the passengers are infected and there are melting faces everywhere. One closeup reminded me of the now-famous “jaw-ripping” scene from this summer’s horror movie stinker Mirrors.

Our main protagonist is Olivia Dunham (played by the very attractive Anna Torv). She is an FBI agent in a relationship with another agent. Their relationship is hidden since it’s against protocol for them to be romantically involved. They are called in to investigate this airplane that has landed with no one alive onboard. Yes, I know… HOW did it land. I was all ready to go off on that plot point but they explained that this plane had the most advanced, state of the art autopilot in existance, able to safely land a plan automatically.

Olivia ends up having to work for Homeland Security agent Phillip Broyles (played by the intense looking Lance Reddick). To say he treats her disrespectfully would be an understatement. There is bad blood between them based on a prior case that she had worked on.

While following a thin lead, she and her partner find an impromptu lab set up in a cargo container, and stumble across the owner of the lab, connected to the disaster. There is an explosion and agent-man survives but is infected by the same chemical agents that caused the flesh melting deaths on the flight.

Olivia’s mission now entails tracking down someone who can save her partner, who has been stabilized by being put into a coma. She ends up tracking down Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) who was locked up in a mental hospital 17 years ago for manslaughter. Apparently he is a scientist and genius, with the slighly bad habit of having conducted experiments on humans – resulting in a death.

Our heroine has to track down his son Peter (Joshua Jackson) in order to get access and finds him half way around the world. He’s a bit of a scammer and has a few skeletons in his closet. Reluctantly, he goes with Olivia to meet with his estranged dad.

That’s probably enough about the plot – what you need to know is that the show was very well done all around. The acting was very good, story, direction, visual effects, etc. This is a quality effort and not a schlocky premiere that will be gone in three episodes.

Its lead-in on Tuesday nights will be the extremely popular series House, and in January the lead-in will be American Idol, so expect Fringe to do very well in the ratings department.

And yes, this does seem like a new version of The X-Files, but in this case that’s not a bad thing. Of course, being a J.J. Abrams TV series, there is some larger conspiracy and many other related events that all somehow mesh together. My concern is that the show doesn’t lead us all over the place by the nose like X-Files did and as Lost did for a couple of seasons. Hopefully he’s learned his lesson from the feedback he’s received from fans.

And on a completely unrelated note: Fringe solidifies my hope that the upcoming Star Trek reboot may in fact turn out to be excellent. Why? Because the team behind this show: J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are the same folks who are behind Star Trek.

Hopefully the quality remains high on Fringe – it’s off to a hell of a great start.