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Category: Fringe

Fox stalks its prey on Thursdays

May 19, 2009 |  6:30 am

The network will use 'Bones' and 'Fringe' to try to pry the lucrative night away from rivals.

Reporting from New York City -- Fox has been TV's top network among young adults for five years. And now it hopes it has the goods to take control of Thursday, TV's most lucrative night.

The network kicked off TV's upfront week on Monday by announcing a fairly conservative fall schedule -- four comedies, two dramas and a late-night talk show -- that nevertheless contained a bold play for Thursdays, which has for years been ruled by rivals.

In contrast, ABC is expected to unveil a much larger crop of new shows for the fall today, while NBC, which already revealed its pickups two weeks ago, will finally announce its upcoming schedule as well. CBS and the CW will follow with their presentations later in the week as part of the annual event aimed at media buyers.

In the fall, Fox will start off Thursdays with "Bones," its durable fifth-season forensics drama, followed by the second season of "Fringe," J.J. Abrams' sci-fi drama. Last fall, Fox had essentially punted for the night, airing back-to-back episodes of the reality series "Kitchen Nightmares."

Read the entire article: Fox stalks its prey on Thursdays

-- Scott Collins

Review: 'Fringe' finale leaves Planet Plot for Planet Mood

May 13, 2009 |  8:32 pm

Fringe This is a good time to be J.J. Abrams. His "Star Trek" prequel has earned big love from critics and cultists alike; "Lost," which he co-created, is moving smoothly toward its self-imposed date with destiny and should make it through with its dignity intact; and his co-creation "Fringe," which finished its first season Tuesday night, has been renewed for a second.

Beginning its life as a historically expensive $10-million pilot, "Fringe" has gone on to become a less expensive but still good-looking, highly watchable series. An "X-Files" redux, or ripoff, in the simplest terms, it successfully — more successfully than "The X-Files," I think, or at least more purposefully — melds the crime-of-the-week procedural with a long-arc sci-fi conspiracy thriller.

Much has happened since we met FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and the planeload of melted flesh that was her, and our, first hint of "The Pattern," the wheel beneath all the other wheels the series has turned.

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'Fringe': End of the beginning

May 13, 2009 |  2:36 pm

120_nimoy_111 Over the course of this first season, "Fringe" has had to explain a lot of things. Flesh-dissolving chemical on an airplane, "Fringe" can explain it. A woman’s brain explodes in a diner, "Fringe" can explain it. Killing people in your dreams, "Fringe" can explain it. In the season finale, "Fringe" had a doozy to explain. It took most of the episode to explain it. Heck, there was even a part where they were cutting back and forth between Walter and Nina explaining it. It’s almost as if all the explaining all season long was just to get us ready for the explaining they were going to do tonight, and what they were explaining I am dubbing the déjà vuniverse.

That’s right. I’m making this call. Some people might call it an alternate reality or the other place or Earth Two, but they, of course, are wrong. It’s called the déjà vuniverse. I thought of it, that’s what we’re going with. Got it?

Up to this point, "Fringe" referred to the déjà vuniverse as “out of the country.” As in Walter Bell is “out of the country.” After a while, you could almost hear the finger quotes when Nina Sharp said it. It’s basically the equivalent of when your dog went to “live on a farm.” That means your dog is dead. Hate to be the one that breaks this to you, but yeah, your dog didn’t go to any farm. Sorry.

Tonight, "Fringe" confirmed that the déjà vuniverse is a parallel world. A copy of everything we know with some slight changes. Walter and William Bell used to visit there by taking large amounts of LSD, but evil German and Invisible Man wannabe David Robert Jones attempted to travel by stealing a power cell from Nina “Terminator” Sharp and put his laptop on a tripod in the middle of the street. Personally, I think I’d enjoy Walter and William’s route better. But whatever works.

David Robert Jones needs to learn my “Apple Theory” on technology. Very simple. For every advancement in technology, you want to make sure and get the Generation Two version. Brand new iPod? Yeah, I’ll hang on for the Generation Two version. iPhone? That’s OK, I don’t need to stand in line. Why? To avoid bugs. In a couple months they’ll figure out how to prevent any crashing or memory issues or being sliced in half. Jones used Walter’s original teleporter and it melted his face. I don’t know why he was jumping at the opportunity to try out the déjà vuniverse door. Serves him right to get halved.

Now that the door between the two universes is open, it leads to a wealth of possibilities. I thought it was pretty well spelled out that Peter is actually from the déjà vuniverse. Walter again referenced that Peter got very sick at one point as a child. We first heard that when Water was trying to explain why he built the transporter. So if Peter got sick and died in 1985 and Walter went into the déjà vuniverse to get that Peter to replace him, what does that mean for the déjà vuniverse’s Walter? What caused all the destruction in the déjà vuniverse and why did the Obamas have to move into a “new” white house? And if the déjà vuniverse version of me is a woman, is it legally wrong for me to date her or just morally wrong?

The déjà vuniverse was a bold move. I can’t wait to see what our friends at "Fringe" do with it. I’m genuinely sad that there won’t be a Fringe next week. Can’t wait for next fall.

Fun Bits and Pieces – So Massive Dynamic can tap into any camera they manufacture? I hope that doesn’t include the webcam built into my laptop. I’d just hate for my family to find out how much time I waste on World of Warcraft. What about Peter wiping the dust off his family portrait? Just him and dad. Couldn’t wipe off mom. They haven’t cast her yet. Catch the blue flicker when Olivia switched universes? That’s popped up before. Oh, notice how well they lit Leonard Nimoy’s ears? Guess they wanted us to know for sure they aren’t naturally pointy.

Astrid Action – There wasn’t much action in the lab this week other than people asking where to find Walter, but Astrid was there to tell everyone she didn’t know. What would we do without her?

Spot the Observer – Baldy crossed the line from observer to participant tonight. Though all he really did was take Walter to where he needed to be. It’s nice to see the Observer as a character more than a prop, but I couldn’t help but feel like him walking away was a little under-dramatic. He should at least have a smoke bomb or something. I’ll give him the summer to think about it.

-- Andrew Hanson

Photo: FOX

'Fringe': J.J. Abrams chats

May 9, 2009 | 11:06 pm

Fringe


It’s a big week for J.J. Abrams. Wednesday night put all the pieces in place to head into next week’s season finale of "Lost." "Star Trek" hit theaters Thursday night, and the fan response is just starting to roll in. And last but not least (at least to this Showtracker), "Fringe" concludes its inaugural season Tuesday night at 9/8 central. But when asked about how his day was going, Abrams said it was “wonderful,” though mostly because his oldest was out of school and they got to spend time together.

It almost made me feel bad that he had to pause in the middle of his Friday afternoon to answer a bunch of questions. Almost made me feel bad. I mean, come on. I get to be on a conference call with J.J. Abrams. The kid will be fine. Hollywood children are a tough breed, right?

Of course the first question out of the gate was about Leonard Nimoy. How did they land the iconic actor in the role of William Bell? “Begging,” Abrams joked. He went on that selling the part on "Fringe" was similar to selling Nimoy on returning to the role of Spock on "Star Trek." They pitched him the idea, and like the plan to reboot the classic franchise, Nimoy also found "Fringe" to be “interesting and intriguing.”

William Bell was originally planned to appear earlier on in the first season, Abrams explained, but as the show progressed, “it tells you as much as you telling it.” “One of the biggest challenges of the first seasons of a show,” he went on, “is finding the pace of the series.” Which seemed to encapsulate Abrams' overall feelings about the first season of "Fringe." He said that the first season was “about the setup of this show. The characters. Their roles. Their jobs.”  He and his co-creators had a surprising amount planned but in broad strokes, but as the season progressed, “you start to get resistance. Not from an actor or a director or even other rights. The show defines its shape in a strange way.”

Olivia Dunham started as a “guarded, protective woman,” but she’s gotten opportunities, like her sister moving in, to be warmer. When similarities were raised between Olivia and other strong female characters in Abrams projects, he confessed, “I don’t really try to write characters that are strong women. I just write when I can, strong characters. If they happen to be women, then they happen to be women.” Though he admitted to having a good basis for strong female characters in his wife, Katie McGrath. “It's no coincidence that after I met her I wrote "Felicity." She reminded me to write things I care about.”

But enough about the sappy stuff, what’s going to happen in the season finale and on into season two?

Abrams called next week’s episode a “massive turning point” for "Fringe." “The end of one chapter and the start of another.” Among other things, Abrams promised revelations about Peter Bishop. It’s a “piece of Peter’s ultimate story but a huge turning point for the other two as well.” The father/son relationship between the eccentric scientist Walter and his estranged, outlaw-ish son Peter “was at the very beginning one of the things that got all of us excited.” While the Bishops seem to have developed a rhythm, as Abrams put it, he and the show’s writers are giving them more sparks, “setback that will make their working together a little more dynamic. Not so familiar and easy-going.”

Don’t forget the crazy science that will keep on coming. Abrams told us that "Fringe" was “always meant to be a fun, cool and insane representation of what it feels like to live in a world where science seems to be limitless in what it can do.” Last week’s episode introduced us to a sort of alternate reality. A déjà vuniverse, if you will, that Abrams referred to as the “other place.” When asked if time travel will be appearing in "Fringe" since it has seeped into both "Star Trek" and "Lost," Abrams answered that while "Lost" has focused on travel in time, "Fringe" is more focused in traveling through space.

Keeping the show unique was a big concern for Abrams. Concepts like the “other place” are part of that uniqueness. He pushes to follow the ideas where you can say, “There’s no other show on TV that could do that weird thing.” He said that if you don’t go for those ideas the show becomes “increasingly mundane” or “disposable.” But no matter how far out, Abrams finds reality keeps them in check. “The weirdest part of 'Fringe,' as we work on it, pushing the envelope, there’s always a real-life actual story that’s reported that feels almost beyond what we’re playing with.” 

Overall, Abrams seemed very excited about the direction of "Fringe" going into its second, 22-episode approved season. He promises a “shift in the fundamental paradigm of the show at the beginning of next season in a very cool way.” “It’s one of those next season beginners that feels thrilling to me.... I can’t wait for them to come back. I can’t wait for them to experience what we’re doing and come back this way.”

I, personally, can’t wait.

-- Andrew Hanson

Photo: FOX

'Fringe': Flame on

May 6, 2009 |  7:29 am

119_roadnottaken_0158Walter explains why Olivia has been what he calls prolonged déjà vu by describing the multi-verse: The theory that every choice we make splits off into a separate reality. It’s a theme known in science fiction, comic books and a particularly good episode of Futurama. No matter how many of them there are, it appears that all roads lead to William Bell.

Last week’s revelation that William Bell has been funding ZFT pales compared with this week’s confession that the typewriter wrote ZFT’s manifesto “Destruction by Advancement of Technology.” I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I totally called that back when Walter first played with the typewriter. William Bell pays for the experimentation on the general public, William Bell ran the trials of Cortexiphan, William Bell broke the cookie jar. No, wait, that was Not Me, the impish gremlin from "Family Circus." Though like Not Me, William Bell seems to be everywhere, yet he remains unseen.

Though just as Olivia is about to find some real answers to what’s really going on, she’s sidetracked by another crazy death. Wow. It seems like this keeps happening. Like on a weekly basis. Well, whenever "Idol" isn’t running too long.

This week’s sidetrack came as a girl who ran off the bus and exploded. Simple enough. Though as Olivia starts to investigate, she finds herself slipping back and forth from an alternate universe. Where black phones are red, Broyles rearranged his office and all hell had broken loose. And out of one or the other universe, Stanford Harris reemerged. Remember that guy? He showed up for about three episodes to make Olivia’s life miserable because she tried to bust him on sexual assault charges in the past. He’s back and here to stay and… oh, he blew up.

Stanford Harris blowing up was a good thing though. He was experimenting on a woman in a contained room and Olivia had to talk her down from exploding. Talk about déjà vu. Didn’t she already do that? Back in "The Cure?" Instead of pyrokenisis, the woman had been turned into a microwave. And instead of Stanford Harris it was David Esterbrook. Which universe is that guy in? Olivia should really consider going back to interrogate him after everything that’s happened.

By the end of "The Road Not Traveled," Olivia is demanding that Walter tell her why he and William Bell experimented on children. Walter explained that they were preparing the children, but he couldn’t remember why or for what. I’m really wondering what the powers that be over at Fringe are preparing us for.

Synergy -- "Fringe" veered very close to a whole other kind of crossover this episode, too. J.J. Abrams’ other major project "Star Trek" stopped by for a visit. You have to be living in a cave without WiFi to not know Leonard Nimoy is showing up next week to play the role of William Bell, but we also got a taste of the film in one of the "Trek"-filled commercial breaks. Beyond that, Clint Howard showed up to explain how the Pattern is actually the exposition for "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn," which is actually more plausible than most "Lost" theories I’ve heard.


"Fringe" also managed to give a shout-out to Stephen King, acknowledging that he coined the word “pyrokinesis.” The Bad Robot crew has a fondness for the iconic horror writer, and he has a fondness for them as well. It would be great to see King become almost the Jules Verne of "Fringe," his outlandish novels being read years later as scientific clairvoyance.


Astrid Action – Astrid made it out of the lab. All the way to a crime scene. I guess all it takes is Peter to be out with Olivia when they call for Walter. Someone has to carry all that heavy equipment.


Spot the Observer – You know where I wish I hadn’t spotted the Observer? In the previews for "The Road Not Taken." I’d been waiting the whole episode for Baldy to show up, so when he slipped into Walter’s lab out of focus, I didn’t think for a second that it was Astrid. Knowing in advance kind of took the steam out of that scene, though the way that Walter grabbed his jacket and shuffled out of the room, steam would have been lost anyway. I wish this had come after Nina Sharp’s kidnapping. I would have liked Walter and the Observer’s slow exit to be the end of the episode.


-- Andrew Hanson


Photo: FOX

'Fringe': 'I know a lot about the things you want'

April 29, 2009 |  2:30 pm

118_midnight_0037 Eighty-one people have died in "Fringe" cases since Olivia joined the department. “That’s not including the 147 on Flight 627.” I didn’t know Olivia was keeping track, but it’s an interesting statistic. This is the 18th adventure we’ve been on with Agent Dunham and the Bishops, and the time on the job has affected the team. Agent Reddick pointed out that he remembered when a human killer used to be a given, not an option. Walter acknowledged that they’d be hunting “something exciting, I’m sure.” Though Peter still doesn’t know to wear gloves while playing with these bodies? Really?

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'Fringe': 'Because I don't know everything.'

April 22, 2009 |  3:29 pm

117_baddreams_168Sooooooooo … Olivia made out with a chick. A stripper. Sure it was her dreaming herself into the position of her former evil science camp buddy, but still, Olivia made out with a stripper.  Not that it’s a big deal. I only bring it up because it would be weird if I didn’t, right?


The first half of “Bad Dreams” wasn’t very exciting. Olivia dreams of herself killing people and wakes up to find them dead. Not really an unheard of concept in science fiction. I found myself trying to pick out significant clues from the background (What was with the picture of the flaming guy on the wall behind the suicidal woman’s husband? Was there a secret message on the package of 'No-Sleep'?) I really  hadn’t expected much from writer/director Akiva Goldsman. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Goldsman. I love to hate on him, being the writer of one of the only films I seriously considered walking out of (it rhymes with Ratman & Bobin). 


The second half really picked up. Just about the time we found out this was all linked to the ZFT manuscript and Cortexiphan. From that point out, there was plenty to keep up interest.


If there had been any question whether or not Olivia had been experimented on, it’s long gone.  Olivia basically confirmed not only that she’d been experimented on, but that she’d been paired up with another child, Nick Lane. Through Nick, we got a lot of interesting info: They were recruited and trained like the manuscript said, they were put in hiding with instructions to wear black and grays and blend in, some strange man pretending to be his lawyer came to him and offered to activate him.  Just enough answers to make us ask more questions.

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'Fringe': Finding its groove

April 15, 2009 |  1:34 pm

116_unleashed_094 "What’s wrong?”

That’s such a perfect line. Peter calls Olivia at night and she instantly thinks something horrible has happened. After this long dealing with  bizarre cases, of course they would be used to it. Expecting it, even.

The characters in "Fringe" are getting into their groove, and it really seems like the people who put the show together are getting into their groove.

Peter wasn’t even calling Olivia. He was calling her sister. Guess we know what Rachel was doing up so late in the last episode. I knew that would become something important. Seriously. It was one of my Bits and Pieces last week. Though this is way cooler than anything I would have expected. Peter has a life outside Walter’s lab. After the single mother. Smooth.

Then the monster sequence of “Unleashed” was better than most horror films I’ve seen lately. The kids breaking into the animal testing facility, the car flipping in the forest -- everything built to the gravity of what they released. And they cleverly didn’t show the lizardwaspbatthingie in a way that built the tension and probably save a ton of cash.

I watched the credits to prove my theory and, yep, written by J.R. Orci and Zach Whedon, the pair behind “The Transformation.” Remember that episode about the kinda-werewolf guys? Yeah, that was a good one.

You know who else was really in his groove on this episode? Kirk Acevedo. Charlie Francis. Going out into the woods and getting attacked by the lizardwaspbatthingie, climbing into bed and soothing the fears of his hot wife (the girl who replaced Jessie in "Saved by the Bell: The College Years"), and lying in bed filled with grubs. You can’t help but like this guy. And you can’t help but like this show.

I hope that the people who would enjoy it are finding it. Hopefully, the release of "Star Trek "and Leonard Nimoy’s appearance as William Bell will bring that audience and this show together like strangers on a blind date. Just like a blind date, it may not lead to a lifetime love, but it can lead to some fun nights.

Possible spin-off -- J.J. Abrams, if you’re reading this (and honestly, how can you not be), I want to talk to you about a possible "Fringe" spin-off. Call it "Peter Bishop: The College Years." When Peter mentioned he spent a few nights at MIT, I imagined him wandering around the country, a genius intellect with no real direction. Meeting chicks and hatching plots. This could be a winner. Call me.

Astrid Action -- Astrid kept pretty busy tonight. Still mostly helping out though. We’ve had our Charlie episode, isn’t it time for us to learn a little more about our lab assistant outside the lab?

Spot the Observer -- Baldy is getting a little cocky. See him walking in the background of the news report? He's like any other person who sees filming and can't help but "walk casually" in the background. You think the Observer called all his friends and told them to watch the news that night?

-- Andrew Hanson

Photo: Fox

'Fringe': Leonard Nimoy is William Bell?

April 9, 2009 |  1:06 am

Nimoy1 So it's official: Leonard Nimoy has been cast as William Bell for the May 12 season finale of "Fringe."

My first reaction was "Isn't he a little old?" I mean, he's supposed to be Walter Bishop's former lab partner, and the last time I saw Nimoy, he looked like a pile of unironed laundry. Checking on IMDB, it seems that Nimoy is only 17 years older than John Noble, and he's actually looking pretty good.

Plus it's Leonard Friggin' Nimoy (That's his actual middle name. I think it's Yiddish for "Not actually his middle name."). I can't think of a single actor who would be a better get for a science fiction show. Sigourney Weaver? Christopher Lee? Tom Baker? They all come in second place at best. Though seriously, what's Tom Baker up to these days? Wouldn't he be an awesome addition to the cast?

Though, again on the downside of this announcement I can't help but worry that casting Nimoy might mean that William Bell won't be making regular appearances on "Fringe." The show already seems rife with characters who just appear, then vanish. How many villains did they set up in the first season? David Esterbrook? Jacob Fisher? John Mosley? Heck, even David Jones felt like he was just here and then gone. And what about Harris or Nina Sharp? Where are they off to?

But I may just be looking a gift horse in the mouth. Nimoy is going to be William Bell. How cool is that? And hopefully it'll draw more fans to my favorite new show of the season.

Guess Bell isn't going to end up being Walter from another universe. That's OK too.

-- Andrew Hanson

Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

UPDATE: 'Fringe': Foiled by Simon Cowell

April 8, 2009 |  4:05 pm

115_innerchild_0108 Seriously. Fox and my TiVo need to communicate a little better. I’ve been waiting two months for a new episode of "Fringe," and as I fast-forwarded through a potential "American Idol" murdering the entire song “Mad World” instead of just murdering the last bit of “Mad World,” I knew something was wrong.  I found out 40  minutes later, right as Olivia was pulling over the Artist’s van and noticing the air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror that was the same shape and color that the Basement Kid had made out of M&Ms in the hospital. That’s when my TiVo switched over to "Law and Order: SVU."

But I can’t get mad at Fox. In these economic times, I understand how they might need to keep that "American Idol" audience around as long as possible.

I’m just warning you that I’m relying on hearsay for the last few minutes of “Inner Child.” I had to call my editor and have him describe it to me over the phone.  What an ending it was! I mean, from my understanding. Wow! Right?

I’m getting ahead of myself. "Fringe" returned from its hiatus in a surprisingly understated episode.  Just before demolishing a building, the demolishers (demolishiers?) are mysteriously drawn to a hidden chamber and a being I refer to as Basement Boy, a bald, feral child who survived 70 years eating rats and millipedes. Which spawns the larger question of the episode, how can a child who’s never been exposed to sunlight have a darker complexion than Olivia's?

Basement Boy goes all Diana Troi on our favorite G-(wo)man. Seems he can sense her emotions, a skill that must be helpful since you can’t really pick them up watching her. Aw, I shouldn’t rag on Anna Torv. She is starting to grow on me.

Continue reading »

Lance Reddick's 'precarious position'

February 25, 2009 | 12:47 am

Lancereddick

Lance Reddick doesn't get to smile a lot on the job. 

As  federal agent  Phillip Broyles in Fox's hit drama “Fringe," he is icy -- and possibly sinister -- as the head of an interagency team investigating a pattern of bizarre, deadly incidents.

Flip the channel and you might also catch the Baltimore-born-and-raised actor in his recurring role as the stern and smartly dressed Matthew Abaddon, whose last name may be a fearful omen for the survivors of the plane crash of ABC's “Lost." 

And he was rarely happy in his  best-known role as the ambitious Lt. Cedric Daniels  in HBO's "The Wire," where his character was  trapped between the political miasma of the Baltimore Police Department and the never-ending wave of drug dealers wreaking havoc in the inner city. 

Given his strait-laced gallery of characters, it's almost surprising to see Reddick  flash a real smile away from the cameras. In fact, he's almost unrecognizable from his on-screen personas, appearing younger, less worldly and a bit self-conscious. 

Read more of the story here.

(Photo by Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Depletion of New York tax credits is sending 'Fringe' to Vancouver

February 23, 2009 |  7:32 pm

Fringe_3_2 Uncertainty about the future of New York state’s tax credit program for film and television work is already driving major productions to other locales. Warner Bros. Television confirmed today that the sci-fi drama “Fringe” it produces for Fox will decamp from New York for Vancouver, Canada, if it’s picked up for another season.

“We did not come to this conclusion easily, but economic and practical imperatives dictated that this decision be made in a timely manner,” the studio said in a statement.

Earlier this month, New York exhausted the $515 million that had been allocated for the tax incentive program through 2013. Backers of the program are pushing state leaders to include more funding in next year’s budget, but legislators are wrangling with a $13-billion deficit.

Ongoing series like “Gossip Girl” that had already applied for the tax credit are staying put, for now. But the situation has already had a major effect on New York’s television pilot season, with studios largely avoiding the state in favor of cheaper locales. Canada is a major beneficiary: “Maggie Hill,” a 20th Century Fox Television pilot about a female heart surgeon set in New York, is going to be filmed in Toronto, for example. California’s recent passage of a tax incentive program for film and TV could also lure more work back to that state.

— Matea Gold

(Photo: Robert Caplin/For The Times)