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6 Ways to Fix Fringe

by Mindy Monez February 5, 2009 1:30 pm
6 Ways to Fix <i>Fringe</i> Fringe knows how to do a lot of things very well -- the opening scenes that set up each week's case are almost always scary and a lot of fun, and I think the show really has moved away from being an X-Files rip-off into something that is its own thing -- but there are still some nagging road blocks that are keeping the show from being truly great. Even in light of the past two exceptionally good episodes, there are some pressing issues the writers need to get to fixing ASAP.

Stop forcing the Peter/Olivia romance.
Because it isn't working, and it's a waste of everyone's time. These two characters (actors?) have no sexual chemistry, and a close friend and colleague relationship between them would serve the show far better than trying to get them together romantically. Also, this isn't Grey's Anatomy. Just because she's a woman and he's a man and they work together doesn't mean they need to start hooking up for no reason.

Leave Boston more often.
Besides the fact that it's just unlikely that this many bizarre cases would happen in just one city (and yes, they could be happening all over the world and just not making the news, but wouldn't the FBI have heard about it?) the show would be a lot more interesting and believable if the Fringe team at least left the East Coast to investigate something every once in a while. I know the show shoots in New York, and thus doesn't have the Disney lot luxury that, say, Alias had, but hey, Science Prison was in Germany, and I believed the shit out of that. They could make it work.

It's time to focus on The Pattern.
It feels like every time we start consistently moving on The Pattern, the show stops for stand-alone, or tangentially-related mysteries or other diversions, and everything just... stops. We met The Observer! That's crazy! We're really going somewhere! And then, even though he still usually shows up in a blink-and-you-missed-him capacity, the Fringe team has stopped talking about him. Mitchell Loeb says Olivia has no idea how big the conspiracy is! He was trying to help her! That's crazy! And then no one mentions that insane development this week, not even when they're just hanging out in the lab with nothing to do ("Hey Peter, remember that thing Mitchell Loeb said? Wow. Hey, anybody seen Gene lately?"). I understand the apprehension about making a show that requires the vigilant viewing that Alias and Lost did, but why introduce The Pattern at all if the show is just going to be some sci fi version of CSI or something? The Pattern is what makes the show special, and we need to know who the enemy is. If it's Massive Dynamic and Olivia needs to take them down, then let's start doing that. If not, then introduce something else. Are we really going to spend the entire first season having no idea who or what we're fighting?

More kung fu, please.
Remember when Olivia was kidnapped by Mitchell Loeb a few episodes ago, and then woke up as Bruce Lee to single-handedly beat the crap out of his minions and escape? That sure was delightful! I wouldn't mind seeing more of that.

Give Broyles, Charlie and Astrid better things to say and do.
The best shows are the ones that make you fall in love with all of its characters, even the auxiliary ones. Alias did that, Veronica Mars did that, Lost certainly does that (with exceptions, but it's an enormous cast), The Wire, Battlestar, and millions of others did that. But right now Fringe feels a lot more like House, where so much care is given to one character's -- Walter's -- hilarious antics, and everyone else just says whatever, and gets developed or not depending on how much time they have, and Lance Reddick is wasted barking gruff orders and delivering clich├ęd dialogue, Charlie is an underdeveloped lackey, and adorable little Astrid just picks up cheesesteaks and only every once in a while gets to contribute something wildly random. I don't feel like I know any of them yet, and 13 episodes in, it's time to get us emotionally invested in the entire Fringe team, not just Peter and Walter.

Olivia almost has a personality, now let's bring it home.
This week's resolution of the John Scott plotline gave us a few nice, intimate moments with Olivia, and the inclusion of her sister and niece has done a lot to humanize her lately, but I'm still not to a point where I really love Olivia. I root for her, sure, but I still don't know why I should like her. That's a problem. A lot of people (including me) have blamed Anna Torv, but I've been thinking about it and I'm not so sure now. The other day Angel and I were talking about the show and came to the realization that if someone watching hadn't watched The Wire or Lost, and just had Broyles's scenes to go on, they might think Lance Reddick isn't worth crap as an actor, and we all know how wrong that is. I think the problem with Olivia may lie much more with the writing than with Anna Torv's acting capabilities. She really needs to be developed more, and given more interesting dialogue and a stronger point of view (we don't even really know her personal history yet) before I can rejoice when she's on the screen. Or Anna Torv might actually be terrible, or it may be a combination of both. But at this point I'm willing to hold out for better writing.

Thoughts?

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