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'Fringe': Exploding heads!

October 21, 2008 | 11:59 pm


Oh, "Fringe," you had me at the moment the girl's head exploded right before the opening credits.

The series is definitely keeping up with the gore factor, what with the top-popping opening tonight, the premiere episode's face-melting and all the dead bodies and autopsies in between. But if you're hoping to learn anything about science, even fringe science, you should look elsewhere. Like maybe "Nova" over on PBS. It's on the same night as "Fringe."

In this episode, titled "The Cure," there's much discussion given to people suffering from the rare autoimmune disease Bellini's lymphocemia. But searching the Internet afterward for information on the disease only led me to this fellow traveler. And while the inspiration no doubt came from Italian anatomist Lorenzo Bellini, I couldn't find any evidence that the disease was real. Which means the lessons Dr. Bishop gives us each week are nothing more than a well-disguised variation of the scientific gobbledy-gook spouted for years on science fiction shows such as "Star Trek."

So if the science they're pushing is wonky, is it worth paying attention to? I say no. No matter how hard I try, I invariably find myself zoning out during Bishop's weekly explanations of the science at play. I used to feel guilty, just like when I skip complete issues of "The New Yorker." But now I know it really doesn't matter one bit. Old Doc Bishop doesn't even have the scientific credibility of Beakman.

Just as "CSI" has given rise to "the 'CSI' effect," is it possible "Fringe's" brand of authentically fake science will infect impressionable, under-informed minds all over the nation? Will science teachers have to combat a "'Fringe' factor" in their classrooms?

I doubt anyone else is able to follow Bishop's rambling half-explained scientific soliloquies, but you never know. And I'm not even talking about the microwave radiating blood vessel pellets that lead to the exploding head stuff.

Knowing that even the basis for the science on the show is made-up isn't a big loss, since it's the drama that I come to the show for, and while this episode was a little lighter than some on major revelations, we were treated to a few juicy unanswered questions:

• When will Agent Dunham's revenge-seeking stepfather make an appearance?

• What price will Nina extract from Peter?

• What was the exact nature of Nina's long-ago close relationship with Walter? Is it possible that William Bell got a sex-change?

• And finally, where was the Observer? He's been with us from the beginning, but he was sorely missed this week. He's my favorite spot 'em character since Waldo.

Three weeks until a new episode (stupid elections and baseball). Here's hoping we'll come back to some new kind of cranial trauma. Just don't worry about anything happening to you. We all know that on "Fringe," even the inspiration is hokum.

— Patrick Kevin Day

Photo courtesy Fox