Friday, May 28, 2010

This Week in Fringe - Season 2 Recap

With Lost over, and FlashForward canceled, there's just one American-made show left that we currently cover (as Doctor Who will always be a product of Britain and airs in America with a delay). And considering that Lost and FlashForward were collaborative between Zach and myself, that only leaves me to the TV reviews... anyways, here is my recap of Season 2 of Fringe.

Favorite Episode(s)
If I had to pick my favorite episodes based by highest score, I'd go with "August," "Peter," and "Over There (Part 2)". Surprise! They all scored a 9.5, although only one of them, "Peter," actually got a VFH Seal of Approval. But what made these episodes so good? Well, unlike all the episodes that score a 6 or 7 out of ten, these episodes actually stuck to Fringe's core storyline, had a lot to say, and did a fantastic job of presenting all of that information. In the case of "Peter," however, I really loved how they not only physically transformed John Noble into a young Walter, but how John Noble himself transformed the character and I'd be shocked if this man never gets a prestigious award for the talent he brings to this show.

What I Liked
Well, my argument with Fringe, and it comes up every time I try to recommend the series to someone, is that, when Fringe sticks to it's core storyline, it's the smartest, most brilliant thing on television, even more so than Lost, I think. But when it does it's one-off, monster/case of the week type episodes, it's dull, repetitive, and bothersome, and these types of episodes occur more often than I'd like sometimes... So, despite the four episode ignorance of the first season finale, the few but great episodes that stuck to the storyline this season were definitely some of the best things I've seen on TV in a long time.

What I Disliked
As I've said before, I've never been a big fan of the one-off episodes, but, when 4 one-off episodes air at the start of the season, completely ignoring Season 1's fantastic, William Bell introducing, otherworldly season finale, then I get pissed off. The amount of time spent on the show ignoring cliffhangers at the beginning of this season was completely absurd, and the worst way to handle cliffhangers on any show I've seen before. Also, what was the deal with airing "Unearthed," an unused Season One episode, on a Monday and calling it part of Season Two despite having Charlie in it, a character that already died earlier in the season. It was not only a bad episode, but it's inclusion just created confusion, hence why I called it Episode ? and didn't give it a proper number.

What's Next?
Well, I can only make assumptions here based what I say in the finale. With William Bell presumably dead (and Leonard Nimoy retiring from acting), I have a strong, but sad, feeling that we will no longer be seeing that character. And it's a shame because his mysteriousness was always intriguing and seeing Nimoy on screen, especially in his scenes with John Noble, was totally a treat, not just as a Star Trek fan, but because he brought so much to the mythology of Fringe. However, since I noticed he was in the trailer for the localization of Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, I'm curious how out of the question vocal guest appearances would be for Nimoy; i.e. Walter finds an audio-recording between himself and Bell that reveals answer Walter himself might not know otherwise. I think it would be a great way to keep the character's existance in the series going, without actually having Nimoy appear on-screen (considering they already used a CG version of him in "Brown Betty").

As for the Alternate-Olivia storyline, my hope is that with Season 3, they start out normal, hell, I'd be OK if they start out with some one-off episodes. But, obviously, she will have to feel very unfamiliar with the world, and hopefully after a few episodes, Walter and Peter realize she's the fraud and devise a way to re-enter the Alternate Universe to rescue the real Olivia from Walternate, which may result in the loss of Peter again.

Averaged Overall Season 2 Score: 8.1/10

Note: That number includes "Unearthed," despite it being a Season 1 leftover and being the lowest score episode this season. But it's actually more surprising, how the rare great 9/10 episodes even out with the frequent 6-7/10 not great episodes.

Fringe will return for its third season on Fox this fall. And, I may or not be writing alone again, it depends on whether or not Zach is willing to catch up with the series by then, because otherwise there doesn't seem to be anything else interesting on TV for us to review together this fall.

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