For all the hype, I was disappointed with Fringe’s pilot episode. Not that I didn’t like it, but all the promotion had me with higher expectations. It has been described as “X-Files meets House meets Lost”. The cost of making the pilot, which was ten million, has been a big a deal. And really, everything now tied to J.J. Abrams is highly anticipated. I think Kevin Smith said once that Abrams basically saved prime-time tv.
The “X-Files meets House meets Lost” description is not just a hyped promotion, it’s almost literal, and that’s one of the problems with the pilot; it’s trying to be all those shows at the same time, in an hour and a half episode. It’s like the show has an identity crisis.
We already knew that the episode was going to involve something bad happening in a airplane. There’s no crashing in an island, but a guy infects the passengers with some freaky compound, making their skin almost liquid and translucent. FBI agent Olivia Duhham and agent Scott start investigating the case and end up chasing a guy through a storage unit place. The suspect uses his cellphone and creates an explosion almost killing agent Scott.
What happens next is basically the plot of the episode. Agent Scott ends up having the same “disease” that the passengers have and the only one who can help them is Dr Bishop. But agent Dunham needs to contact first his son, Peter Bishop, played by the Dawson Creek actor. The problem is that Dr Bishop is insane and did spooky secret goverment stuff that he can’t even remember.
From there on, the story starts getting a little too fast for me. The Dr gets a lab, we get to see, not surprisingly, that agent Dunham and Peter Bishop have the hots for each other, and they catch the guy who spread the airborne compound in the flight. The shows’ premise, which is that it’s about “fringe” science, or “pseudo” science, is explained by it’s own characters. I found that kind of funny.
Eventually they get to a “fringe” science scene, where agent Dunham subjects herself to Dr Bishop’s last solution scenario injecting her with acid -yes, the hippie drug- and putting her in some liquid to “tap” into agent Scott’s conscience. The scene reminded me a little of the movie The Cell.
By the end of the episode we’re revealed that agent Scott is not who we thought. There’s a final and third chase scene, this time a car chase. (This is probably where most of the 10 million ended up) Agent Scott dies.
For us that are already fans of Abrams and shows like Lost, we will probably keep watching it, but I suspect that newcomers where thrown off by the pilot. It’s a hodgepodge of sci-fi television that’s maybe too much. I suspect that other things happening in the background where not caught. Things like the Massive Dynamic freaky company, the cryptic last scene where we hear, “How long has he been dead?” she asks. “Five hours,” the intern replies. “Question him,” she commands.
So yeah, the pilot kind of sucked, but Fringe promises to be a great show.