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Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman sing the praises of Thursday night’s musical 'Fringe'

April 29, 2010 | 12:30 pm

219_BB_sc53_007 Last week’s “Fringe” ended with major cliffhangers. While trying to stop the shape-shifting soldiers, Peter discovered he’s not from our reality, and then checked himself out of the hospital and vanished into the night. Where’d he go? What will he do? Thomas Newton, the “head guy” of the Deja Vuniverse’s forces, managed to bring the mysterious Mr. Secretary to our world. What are they going to do once Mr. Secretary’s out of his oxygen sleeping bag? Who knows?

If you’re biting your nails waiting for Thursday night’s episode to answer those questions, you don’t know “Fringe” that well, and you haven’t seen the preview for “Brown Betty.”

That’s right. Thursday brings the musical episode of “Fringe.” Now this is the kind of departure from the mythology episodes that I can live with.

“Fringe” show runners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman took time to discuss this week's episode, "Brown Betty." 

“The last episode that aired, Peter learned that he was not from our universe,” Pinkner explained. “We wanted to explore how that affects Walter before we sort of plunge forward into the end of the season.

“We came up with a narrative device to really explore Walter’s feelings. We had largely all the elements of the episode in place and Fox called and said, “Hey, how would you guys feel if we asked you to have some musical element in the show.” They didn’t ask us to do “Glee.”

“It’s a fractured fairy tale.” Wyman added, “We chose songs for specific reasons, and they’re on very different ends of the spectrum. The object was to tell the great story and find the right music for each piece.”

“We didn’t let the song drive the storytelling,” Pinkner said. “They both advance the story, and they give us insight into the character. Walter, as a character from the moment we met him, has a deep connection to music, as do most. This was important for John Noble because in his research, the scientists he found and respected had complicated and interesting relationships to music.”

The idea of setting the story in a 1940s noir world came from an unlikely source.

“Early in the season, we were graced with being on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, and they chose to dress our characters in sort of a '40s detectives noir look.” Pinkner said. “We wanted to tell a sort of 'Princess Bride'-type story where Walter was relaying a story. As soon as we saw that cover, we said, 'Oh, it has to be a detective story.'”

“And noirs traditionally are morality tales, and that’s kind of what we’re doing.” Wyman said. “We felt that that was a great way to get across Walter’s mind frame and where his head is at right now, with his son missing.”

The question quickly popped up about how they would top a musical episode next season; one reporter even jokingly asking if they’re going to have a Saturday morning cartoon animated episode or anything like that.

“You may be closer to the truth than you realize.” Pinker replied. “Remember that question. Deep in next season, remember what you just asked us.”

For now, you can check out the musical episode of “Fringe” Thursday night at 9 p.m. on Fox, and don’t forget to come back to the Show Tracker blog after for my complete breakdown of the episode.

-- Andrew Hanson


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Photo: Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia (Anna Torv) are caught up in a mysterious and musical tale. Credit: Fox Television