facebook_pixel Press "Enter" to skip to content

Looking to start your TV writing journey?

The unoriginality of Fringe (Part One)

Similarities between FOX’s Fringe and other science-fiction shows have been going on for some time, mainly The X-Files.
Ever since Fringe premiered, the first show that pops into everyone’s mind is the one about aliens and conspiracies.

A little warning before we start: I’ll be talking about the Second Season premiere of Fringe, so, if you haven’t seen the episode yet, check out in the meantime this cute ad.

Coast clear?
Okay, now that we’re among adults, let’s get real.

I’m not going to talk about the differences and similarities of Fringe vs. The X-Files, given that this has already been done before (kinda).
That said, I recently came across a so-called “article” that lists “10 Reasons Why ‘Fringe’ Is Better Than ‘The X-Files’.”
I should warn you now that if you read this, chances are you’ll have a heart attack in the following ten seconds.

I was so taken aback by this piece of–uhm–journalism (?) that I’ve decided to counter it right here and now.
Let’s get it on.

1. No aliens. OK, there’s an alternative universe, but at least everybody’s human.

So, besides the fact that we don’t know if they are indeed human (just look at their super-powers), you’re saying that Fringe is better than The X-Files because it doesn’t have aliens?
I take it you mean that aliens are bad.
If that’s so, then I’m sorry that Star Trek, Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica, are such horrible, horrible fiction works.

2. The mysteries seem more solvable. Of course, there are unanswered questions at the end of every episode. But they’re not too stupid to beggar belief.

Are we watching the same show? And by “the same show” I mean the FOX TV series produced by Bad Robot, the sole company that actually takes pride in the fact that you’ll never get concrete answers out of their mysteries (see Alias, Lost, Cloverfield, or even Felicity’s mystery box).

3. The characters don’t take themselves too seriously. There’s Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), who heads up the investigations. Peter Bishop (Dawson Creek’s Joshua Jackson), the wise-cracking slack genius who helps her by taking care of his father, Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), who is completely insane. I mean really, Mulder did all that pouting and screaming and what did it get him? Nothing.

First, Mulder doesn’t pout. Second, he not only was right about the Aliens, but he ended up in a relationship with Scully (and a baby). I wouldn’t call that “nothing.”
And I’m pretty sure Olivia Dunham does take things seriously, especially when we’re talking about innocent people dying everywhere.

4. The pseudoscience is at least theoretically possible and doesn’t require great leaps of the imagination. There’s a running storyline in which computer geniuses are trying to download information from a dead man’s brain.

Should I point out that you’re using as an example someone downloading a dead guy’s thoughts?
You’re countering your own argument here lady. This isn’t even remotely “theoretically plausible.” Nothing on Fringe is.
For some believable Science vs. Fiction comments, Popular Mechanics has numerous articles on the subject.

5. Every episode has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

They’ve finally found out how to tell a story, nice!
It’s certainly not like that other show with cliffhangers, random act breaks, and the bad guy never being caught.

6. There are no love affairs—yet.

The “love quadrangle” (John/Olivia/Peter/Rachel) begs to differ.
Oh, and check out that Nina Sharp/Phillip Broyles kiss, it was in the freakin’ season two premiere!

7. Leonard Nimoy is in it. He is the shadowy head of Massive Dynamic, a huge multinational corporation that is a combination of GE, Microsoft, and Blackwater.

Lenoard Nimoy was also in Zombies of the Stratosphere. So what?
Anyway, he wasn’t even in the premiere (by the way, nice dodge from the writers of last season’s cliffhanger). He’ll probably be seen only a few minutes for the whole season, max.

8. There’s a lot more racial diversity in Fringe. Yeah, X-Files had a few black people, but it really was this weird world where people of other hues were mostly used as plot devices.

Can someone tell me why the hell this is an argument for “why Fringe is better than The X-Files“?
I wasn’t aware skin color equated to talent. Robert de Niro has won more Oscars than Marlon Wayans, but Dennis Haysbert is obviously tons of time a better actor than, say, Larry the Cable Guy.
The issue of diversity, though laudable, is irrelevant to the actual quality of a show (or its writing).
Meanwhile, Astrid Farnswrth continues to be the definition of pointless character/plot device.

9. Because Fringe actually knows where its storylines are going, it doesn’t rely on filler episodes to distract you from the fact that you’re being sold a bag of nothing.

That was an ironic statement, right?
(See point number 2)

10. Fringe is worth watching just for Noble. His characterization of Bishop, the mad scientist at the heart of the show, is at turns brilliant, exasperating, hysterical and tragic. It’s the best of The X-Files in one man.

Though I don’t disagree with Bishop being the best character on the show, like the old proverb says, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
And Fringe has plenty of them.

All done…

Regarding its faux-procedural aspect, Fringe does, in a way, take a hint from The X-Files.
However, for its more mythological storylines, the writers seem to be more inspired by another science-fiction series, Sliders.
As to how, tune in tomorrow.
(Oh yeah, I went the cliffhanger route)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *