by Ben Helms
Comic-Con 2008 opened up with a screening of one of the most anticipated shows in years, J.J. Abrams’ Fringe
. Best known for such hits as Alias
and the recent blockbuster thriller, Cloverfield
, Abrams brings us a sci-fi drama series that seemingly combines the thrill and suspense of his previous work, while at the same time providing viewers with a sort of next-gen X-Files
(or at least demonstrating his own critique on what the X-Files
should have been).J.J. Abrams in “Big Brother” mode at Comic-Con 2008
The two-part episode featured everything from monster and zombie-like makeup effects, to telepathy, E.S.P., invisibility, and the waking dead. While this might be a little more supernatural than previous J. J. Abrams efforts, rest assured, his stamp and identity can be found throughout the episode, even paying homage to himself on several occasions by alluding to other shows of his (planes crashes, monsters, etc.).
The overall acting by the majority of the cast left a lot to be desired, but for the first twenty minutes there are still plenty of positives to keep it above float. In fact, star Anna Torv is superb throughout, and luckily for the audience, she’s in just about every scene. Unfortunately however, Joshua Jackson arrives about 20 minutes in. If his awkward, out of place “Sweetheart,” “Honey,” “Darling” film-noire-esque nicknames towards Torv aren’t enough to get you chuckling at the poorly feigned “realistic” factor, then the fact that they try to scientifically talk to the dead bodies will. It really is only a matter of time until even the most gullible of viewers begins questioning the plotline, the acting, or even J.J. himself.
As always with J.J. there are deeper, extra-curricular (ARG) activities to all of his characters and plot twists (most of which, like Lost and Cloverfield, can be found online already). Each cut to commercial featured a different sort of clue for the audience to piece together somehow, into the show’s self-claimed “pattern” (all of which was already far over the audience’s head, just as Abrams usually likes it).
The important thing to remember is this: it’s only the pilot. While that may sound like some sort of half-assed rationalization for a poor show’s even poorer start, keep in mind that many great shows have mediocre beginnings. It might just take a bit of time for the directors, writers, and actors, to fully lock down the full identity of what the show is and could be.
In the end, the 84-minute pilot of Fringe
didn’t live up to the hype of “The Next Great J.J. Abrams Project”. But at the same time, what can? Throughout the pilot, there were hints of greatness, but in the end it definitely came up short. But hey, who knows? Maybe the show will get unfathomably better. There’s more than enough time to fix-up the next few episodes and improve on the shortcomings of the pilot. Until then, we’ll just have to hope that the lesser-known “J.J.” (Joshua Jackson) is able to take a much less intrusive role in future episode (i.e. getting killed off)
You know, for the sake of the show and all.