Category: Fringe

‘Fringe’ recap: The end … for now

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Well done, “Fringe.”

Season 4 was probably one of the most daring risks in television. The kind of bold leap only a show teetering on the edge could make: erasing its own history. Though “Fringe” took that experiment and used it to explore its past. The details may have changed, but the themes of scientific ethics and how far you will go for the people you love came through even stronger, building to this week’s finale. It was the culmination of the past four years, and it came together in a way that was dramatic, personal, surprising and ultimately uplifting, a true gift to the fans who stuck with this show through its often rocky life.

The past few episodes brought to the foreground story lines that have been developing since the first season. There was David Robert Jones’ evil plot, which turned out to be William Bell’s evil plot, which turned out to be Walter’s evil plot. Olivia learned the full extent of the powers given to her by the Cortexiphan and why she was given them in the first place. Plus we saw the true purpose of a few early “Fringe” cases like the were-porcupines. Everything was connected, and it all built from one of the oldest concerns of dabbling in Fringe Science: playing God.

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‘Fringe’ Friday: Show runners talk Walter, Bell, Season 4 finale

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Tonight the fourth season of “Fringe” comes to a close. I got the opportunity to watch the finale a bit early, and I can honestly say it does not disappoint. It’s a conclusion that could easily have been the ending of the series, but also drums up excitement for what the fifth and final season of “Fringe” will bring.

Show runners and executive producers J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner took a few minutes out of their hectic Friday to chat with me about the ending of this chapter and the roads that brought “Fringe” there.

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‘Fringe’ recap: Surprise, surprise

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“Fringe” has always been fantastic at season finales, mostly because the show seems to enjoy making massive changes from one year to the next. At the end of Season One, Olivia first visited the other side, traveling to the parallel universe to first meet William Bell. Season Two concluded with Olivia trapped as Walternate’s prisoner while Fauxlivia took her place. Then last year, Peter climbed into the machine and ended up far in the future. Each finale has been more daring than the last, and “Brave New World” has already had more surprises than any other season closer, and that’s only the first half. 

Season Four came out of nowhere. When Peter activated the machine, he erased himself from history and rebooted the universe. “Fringe” restarted, introducing us to new versions of all the characters we’d come to know. They were still the same people, but without Peter, their lives had taken different paths. It was a crazy risk that paid off. Season Four has been the finest year of “Fringe.” The writing, the acting, the themes. And it has all been building to this.

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‘Fringe’ recap: Closing the door

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Three years ago, the first season of “Fringe” ended with Olivia stepping into a parallel universe. She was promised a meeting with the elusive William Bell, the president of the mysterious Massive Dynamic Corp. (back when it was Massive Dynamics). That moment revealed the central concept of the show: There are two worlds, identical in countless ways but also vastly different. Now as we head into the end of the fourth season, “Fringe” slams the door between those two universes, but not before getting in a few emotional goodbyes.

Everything stems from David Robert Jones’ secret plan. Jones has been our big bad the entire season. He’s been growing new shape-shifting super soldiers and stealing precious minerals. He’s creating human/animal hybrids by the pair and loading them into boats. Walter connects the mad scientist dots and in a dream realizes that Jones’ endgame involves collapsing the two universes together into a second big bang that he can safely ride out and then rewrite the laws of physics. Not too shabby as far as evil plans go.

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Fox gives 'Fringe' fifth (and final) season

Fox renews Fringe for final season
Fox has renewed "Fringe" for a fifth season — but it will be the cult sci-fi drama's last.

It's a sigh of relief for its ardent fan base. The drama has seemed doomed in the past, especially after its move to Fridays in its second season. And its fate appeared murkier this season, its fourth, when it saw its ratings in the 18-49 demo dip multiple times; it averaged around 4.5 million viewers this season.

It was even reported that two endings were shot for this season's finale in case a renewal didn't happen. Instead, fans of the sci-fi series will get 13 more episodes — which will help it reach the highly coveted 100-episode mark, which would help in positioning a profitable syndication deal.

“This pickup means the world (both of them) to us, because we love sharing these stories with our enthusiastic fans,” said show runners and executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman in a statement. “On behalf of the cast and crew, we applaud our fans and Fox for allowing us to imagine the impossibilities together for so long. Season Five is going to be a conclusive thrill ride for all of us.”

RELATED:

‘Fringe’ recap: In the year 2036

‘Fringe’ recap: Fathers and Sons

'Fringe' Friday: Show runners J.H. Wyman, Jeff Pinkner talk Season 4

— Yvonne Villarreal

twitter.com/villarrealy

Photo: Joshua Jackson in a scene from "Fringe." Credit: Fox

‘Fringe’ recap: In the year 2036

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Is there any other network drama on the air as daring and inventive as “Fringe”? Normally, the great, bold moves are reserved for cable. Even the big hitters of network creativity like “Lost,” “Twin Peaks,” and “the X-Files” had their formulas. You would have to get away from the big four channels to find risks like a musical episode of “Buffy” or the “Xena: Warrior Princess” where the actors played the show’s writers and producers.

“Fringe” takes risks. Risks on top of risks. It’s one thing to jump 24 years into the future for an episode. It’s something else to jump 24 years into the future and end on a cliffhanger. Television audiences notoriously want answers, or at least the promise of answers. “Letters of Transit” gives a lot of things (a fully developed world, compelling new characters, and a thrilling adventure), but it doesn’t even pretend that it’s going to give you answers. “Letters of Transit” is another excellent example of what “Fringe” does best: changing the perspective, and it’s a great example of why “Fringe” deserves a fifth season.

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'Fringe' Friday: Back to the future

If you have ever loved "Fringe," you need to watch this week’s episode, "Letters of Transit."

"Fringe" always likes to have a little fun as it gets closer to the end of the season. In year two, we got "Brown Betty," Walter’s pot-induced journey into the world of musical film noir. Then last season we were treated to an animated view inside Olivia’s crowded brain with "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide." This year it’s "Letters of Transit," where (spoiler alert!) "Fringe" takes us to the year 2036.

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‘Fringe’ recap: Fathers and Sons

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"Fringe" was built on the concept of two parallel universes. Season One hinted at the possibility until the finale when Olivia finally crossed over. Season Two built on that with Shape Shift Super Soldiers and the war between the two sides. In Season Three we spent a lot more time “over there,” seeing how the alternate Fringe Division operated, and Season Four got a bridge where characters could travel back and forth easily. The writing staff continually comes up with new and clever ways to explore that duality, but this week we got something new: a crime that happened simultaneously in both universes. The two worlds are becoming more and more entangled, which seems to be the endgame for the villainous David Robert Jones.

The investigation kicks off after an average yelling CEO is levitated then slammed down on a conference table with the force to shatter all the bones in his lower body. CEO of Aartz Holdings. Not to be confused with Leslie Arzt, the unlucky science teacher from "Lost." While examining the bodies, Peter notices bruises that are consistent with seat belts, which leads to the discovery that the man’s doppelganger in the other universe died at the same moment in a plane crash. Walter doesn’t know how it is possible or who caused it, but at this point, they should just start assuming David Robert Jones is to blame right off the bat. 

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Friday's TV Highlights: 'Fringe' on Fox

Click here to download TV listings for the week of April 8 - 14 in PDF format

TV listings for the week of April 8 - 14 in PDF format are also available here

This week's TV Movies


Fringe
THE “OTHER SIDE”
is where Walter (John Noble) finds himself when he investigates a case in the alternate universe on a new “Fringe” at 9 p.m. on Fox.

Undercover Boss: Chad Hallock, one of the five guys who started Budget Blinds 20 years ago, goes back to the company's front lines in this new episode (8 p.m. CBS).

Need to Know: This new episode of the newsmagazine looks at the system that makes ordinary citizens responsible for redistricting (8:30 p.m. KOCE).

Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.: In this episode, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick both learn they have ancestors who were early opponents of slavery (9 p.m. KOCE).

Fairly Legal: Kate (Sarah Shahi) mediates bankruptcy negotiations involving a client who can't pay his mortgage because of a tenant who's dealing drugs. RonReaco Lee and Esai Morales guest star in this new episode of the para-legal drama (9 p.m. USA).

Art in the Twenty-First Century: Ai Weiwei, El Anatsui and Catherine Opie are featured in the season premiere (10 p.m. KOCE).

SPECIALS

ACM Presents: Lionel Richie and Friends — In Concert: R&B legend Lionel Richie released an album of his hits reimagined as duets with country stars, including “Endless Love” with Shania Twain, “Stuck on You” with Darius Rucker and “Say You, Say Me” with Jason Aldean, to name a few. Some of those duets will be showcased in this new special (9 p.m. CBS).

MOVIES

The Usual Suspects: An outstanding ensemble cast (including best supporting actor Kevin Spacey) brings to life this 1995 suspense drama about five criminals wrongfully implicated by the police in a crime (7 p.m. Cinemax).

SPORTS

Baseball: The Angels visit the New York Yankees (10 a.m. FSN); the Dodgers host the San Diego Padres (7 p.m. FS Prime).

Hockey: NHL Playoffs: The Detroit Red Wings visit the Nashville Predators (4:30 p.m. CNBC); the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Pittsburgh Penguins (4:30 p.m. NBCSP); the Kings visit the Vancouver Canucks (7 p.m. NBCSP).

Basketball: The Lakers welcome the Denver Nuggets (7:30 p.m. FSN).

Photo: Liane Hentscher / Fox

‘Fringe’ recap: Lincoln vs. Lincoln

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If you told me we were going to get an episode of "Fringe" with barely any Walter, I would have called you crazy. Walter Bishop is "Fringe." He is the origin of the rift between the two universes, the cause of most of the crazy science they have to clean up. He’s the heart of the show, supplying the majority of emotion and by far the largest chunk of humor. Yet in "Everything in Its Right Place," Walter only gets two scenes, bookending the episode, and you know what? I barely noticed. This week was all Lincoln Lee.

At the beginning of the season, Seth Gabel moved up from a special guest start to "Fringe" cast member, and Lincoln got promoted to a full-fledged agent of Fringe Division. But it hasn’t been the best year for him. He lost his partner to a shape-shifting super soldier. Then he got promoted to Fringe Division and got to flirt with the beautiful and skilled Olivia Dunham. But as soon as he seemed to be making a connection, a guy who wasn’t supposed to exist appears out of thin air and woos her away. Talk about unlucky.

So now, Olivia, Peter, and Walter have bonded into a nice little family, Lincoln feels lost and out of place. They notice Gene the cow is depressed but don’t pick up the same cues from Lincoln. No wonder he needs a vacation. And what better place than an alternate dimension.

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‘Fringe’ recap: the 60% solution

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On Thursday, I got the opportunity to speak with “Fringe” show-runners J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner, the two guys charged with managing all the different universes and timelines we tune in to every Friday night to watch. One thing Wyman said really rang true to me. “We write the show for our fans. We get a tremendous amount of pleasure having the audience recognizing what we’re doing. It’s like playing with a very tight group of friends that can appreciate every little nuance that the casual viewer might not always pick up.”

“Fringe” might not be for everybody. How many viewers want to watch an episode over and over until they spot one bald guy in the background? Would everybody notice the alternate universe had comic books featuring the Red Lantern and Red Arrow? Even the heavy emphasis on science in the “Fringe” version of science fiction might put some off. That’s fine. Those who watch “Fringe” are a certain, special circle of nerd-dom, but don’t worry, those who make “Fringe” are from that circle as well, and they know how to give you just what you want.

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'Fringe' Friday: Show runners J.H. Wyman, Jeff Pinkner talk Season 4

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I might not be the best person to interview the cast and crew of “Fringe.” I’m sure many fans would love for me to grill anyone I get access to for details about where the show is going or what to expect next, but I’m not a fan of spoilers myself. Even to the point where I try to keep myself away from the previews of next week’s episodes (though I almost always fail on that attempt).

When I have had the pleasure of speaking to a John Noble, Anna Torv or Josh Jackson, the conversation always seems to shift to a joint admiration for the depth of the characters and themes of the show. Much of that depth comes from the work of “Fringe” show runners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman. I was lucky enough to get a few minutes of their time to chat about Season 4, Wyman’s directorial debut, and what we have to look forward to in the upcoming episodes of “Fringe.”

Season 4 was a bold risk, switching to an alternate timeline and almost reinventing your characters. Was there any concern taking that chance?

Pinkner: There wasn’t concern from us. There was absolutely concern from both Fox and Warner Bros. Their job, understandably, is to make sure everything stays the same and familiar. And it is our job, on a show that is built as a narrative – as opposed to a hospital show or police procedural – to constantly change. We were very excited about this idea that Peter disappears and the consequences of the sacrifice he made to save this world and the woman he loves. We were really confident that we had a thorough story worked out this season about how he comes back and the consequences of him coming back.

You also have to think about the ‘Fringe’ fans, who seem to be a little more sci-fi savvy than the average television viewer.

Wyman: That was a big concern. We’ve always sort of gone with our gut. We have a solid plan of where we’re going each season before we even begin. We just knew it was right for us. We’re always trying to re-contextualize or see different sides of our characters. It reflects the themes we’re talking about all the time. What impact do you have on people. What impact others have on you. What turns have your life taken. How can you change your life? Different versions of our characters that have different choices is really interesting to us. It reinforces that theme.

I’ve had the opportunity to talk to John and Anna a few times in the past. I always comment on how “Fringe” must be a thrill ride for the actors.

 

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