Following yesterday’s post (where we saw why The X-Files still surpasses Fringe), we’ll now be discussing how the Abrams/Orci/Kurtzman show is actually getting its ideas from another source.
It seems that with this “parallel universe” story, the writers are beginning to get “inspired by” another science-fiction show, Sliders.
Yet again, I’ll be talking about Fringe up to, and including, its Second Season premiere. In addition, I’ll be making numerous references to major Sliders plotlines, so tread carefully (even though the show has been off the air for almost a decade).
Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery?
Fringe is no more “science” than it is “fiction,” especially now that we’ve been officially introduced to parallel worlds.
In reality, it’s just a convenient way to answer everything that’s unanswerable. Unsurprisingly, a self-cutting neck is not scientifically realistic, despite what the writers want us to think. Stop wondering why someone has a bionic arm, the answer is obvious: it comes from another universe!
And if you’re still thinking that the writers know their science, just take a look at who wrote (and directed) the season premiere: Akiva Goldsman, the writer behind the 1998 movie adaptation of Lost in Space with Matt LeBland (no typo). If I recall correctly, that movie was actually a documentary about space exploration. I mean, its use of “time bubbles” was simply astonishing.
In the meantime, here’s a brief history of Sliders.
From 1995 to 1999, the series ran for five seasons, including three on FOX. Created by Tracy Tormé & Robert K. Weiss, the series dealt with a group of people that get sent to parallel dimensions. Tormé and Weiss “left” the show after several problems with the network. Ultimately, SciFi Channel took over after the series’ third season, but by then David Peckinpah, who’d been made showrunner the year prior, had already ran the show into the ground by completely abandoning the concept of alternate histories and going into a more action/adventure direction. Sliders at its core was a show about the exploration of parallel worlds (which isn’t what Fringe is about–yet), but the series shifted focus during Season Three with the introduction of the Kromaggs (more on that in a second).
Sure, as soon as the multiverse is used on a show, Sliders is always brought up, but this time though it’s with good reason as the similarities between the two are beyond eerie.
Ironically, the writers seems to take from Sliders its worst storylines.
The main one being of course the Kromaggs, a parallel version of humanoid primates, and “a technologically advanced and highly militaristic race bent on conquering all human-dominated alternate Earths.”
They also have psychic abilities, such as the power “to project illusions and plant post-hypnotic suggestions into human minds. One episode had one Kromagg attempt to force data out of someone’s minds by touch, similar to Star Trek’s Vulcan “mind meld”.” Moreover, they also have “healing powers, whereby they can heal people with their minds.”
Okay, so now that you know what Kromaggs are, let’s take a look at the two main opposing forces in the Fringe ‘verse, symbolized by the mysterious group called Zerstörung durch Fortschritte der Technologie (“Destruction through Technological Progress” or simply ZFT).
io9 briefed us on the group’s motives:
Bioterrorist group ZFT is responsible for many of the experiments the Fringe team investigates. ZFT’s extensive network of scientists perform bizarre and often deadly experiments on other human beings — like infecting a woman with a form of vampiric syphilis or growing fast-aging humans. In addition to their biohacks, ZFT possesses some technologies developed by Walter Bishop, including a teleportation device.
But there’s also a method behind ZFT’s biological madness. ZFT members operate according to a manifesto that states two key things: there is another dimension more scientifically advanced than our own, and in the coming interdimensional war, only one dimension can survive. ZFT is out to create an army of biologically enhanced supersoldiers who will fight for our dimension in that war. But there’s also a chapter missing from ZFT’s manifesto — one that outlines ethics.
In the second season premiere of Fringe, we got introduced to this enemy from the “other side,” notably a shape-shifting soldier that is both very agile and very resistant.
So, to summarize, we have, on both shows, technologically advanced supersoldiers with powers, from a parallel universe, trying to destroy humans and other worlds.
It’s pretty much the exact same story.
Oh, and the shape-shifters also look like Kromaggs.
The similarities do not stop there.
Peter Bishop’s parallel world origins seem oddly comparable to that of another main character from Sliders, Quinn Mallory. Even though for the majority of the series we believe Mallory is from Earth Prime, it turns out that he’s not.
[Quinn Mallory is] from Kromagg Prime, an Alternate earth where humans and Kromaggs coexisted until a civil war broke out between the two species. He learned that he was transported to Earth Prime when he was a baby and left with his parents’ doubles. When his parents came back to get him, his adoptive parents were too attached to him so they hid Quinn, and Quinn was raised on Earth Prime.
Replace “Quinn Mallory” by Peter Bishop, “parents” with Walter Bishop, and “Kromaggs” by parallel world enemies, you’ve got the whole series’ arc for Peter and his enigmatic past.
Arguably, one might even say another major plotline was ripped from Sliders, its fifth season’s borefest around Mallory (also known as Quinn2 or Quinn Mallory 2.0).
That’s because the same storyline ran for half a season on Fringe. The consciousness of John Scott gets inadvertently transferred into her former partner’s mind, Olivia Dunham. There was even an episode where Olivia’s persona was about to be lost forever. Fortunately, John finally leaves Olivia alone midway through the series’ first season.
Last but not least, we have the mysterious character of William Bell, who seems to overshadow not only ZFT but several parallel universes thanks to his Massive Dynamic conglomerate.
In the second season premiere of Sliders, we meet a mysterious character named the Sorcerer (turns out, he’s an alternate version of Quinn Mallory). Anyways, this “Sorcerer” seems to be able to control the multiverse technology in the same way William Bell does.
Ding, ding, ding! You’re a winner.
If we look deep enough, other resemblances will probably be found with other science-fiction series.
Who knows, perhaps the writers will totally shift focus and lose their “evil alternates” stories. Probably not
But at least now, you’ve been warned about Fringe’s unoriginality.