Fringe is TV's latest attempt to redo The X-Files. This time Hollywood enlisted the ultimate inside ballplayer, JJ Abrams, to get the job done. Which was probably what will ensure this show's doom.
Fringe is competent TV- and too competent at that. It is almost suffocatingly overproduced. Like nearly every network TV show I've seen for the past several years, it's over-lit, over-shot, over-casted, over-edited and underwritten. I don't believe a single one of the characters. Oh, they're all fairly competent actors, but everyone looks exactly like everyone else on every other network drama.
The X-Files was so revolutionary precisely because the producers went out of their way to cast ordinary looking people. The point was to believe what you were seeing was really happening. The X-Files also had the wisdom to shoot in Vancouver, which was a decidely-unpretty town in the early 90s and had a rich, velvety blanket of mist all year round.
The point here is that The X-Files sought to be real, while the kind of TV Abrams and his cohorts specialize in seeks to be sexy. There's a big difference. Network TV dramas are shot to seamlessy blend in with the commercials, and I was often confused while watching the show online when the commercials kicked in, since they were lit and shot exactly like the show itself was.
The show is fairly interesting, though, and important in that it goes after the biotech industry in the same way that The X-Files did. The only problem is that I don't feel any passion or conviction in it. It all feels like commitee.
Someone said, "You know, there were all these really great X-Files standalones- 'F Emasculata', 'Wetwired', 'Pine Bluff Variant'- about field experiments being done on civilians. I think we could build a show around that."
And everyone smiled and nodded and thanked God they'd made it this far in Hollywood where they were sitting around with JJ Abrams doing his X-Files, and hoped they'd never go back to doing cereal commercials.
Chris Carter fought tooth and nail to do his shows his way, for better or worse. Most producers today would geld themselves before they pissed off an exec. So all the guys who play ball get a shot to do their Chris Carter shows -- Invasion, Threshold (the most egregious of the bunch), Dark Skies, The Eleventh Hour, Fringe -- and most of them will die.
None of them will ever make any dent in the Collective Unconscious because Carter and Co. broke all the old rules and wrote new ones and then the power players come in and play by them.