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Binge-Worthy Television: Sci-Fi Retro Edition

I am an X-Phile from the way, way back. The procedural style sci-fi drama has been part of my viewing schedule since the early days of Mulder and Scully’s reign on FOX. However, that’s not the show I am here to flash back to, and not because it isn’t worth your time. The show I am here to present to you for a good binge, is another sci-fi procedural from the FOX network… Fringe.

The basic plot of the show centers around the F.B.I.’s Fringe Division, and the team assembled to investigate cases that are “out of the ordinary”. The team consists of Agent Olivia Dunham, civilian consultants Walter Bishop and his son, Peter, and Junior F.B.I. Agent Astrid Farnsworth, all of whom report to Senior Agent Phillip Broyles.

Fringe aired on the FOX network from 2008, and aired its final thirteen episodes in 2013. Currently, Fringe can be found on DVD and episodes are available for purchase through Amazon.

Fringe was possible because of the X-Files. It felt just as genuine, had characters just as endearing and quirky as those we met through nine seasons of the X-Files. As far as its mythology goes, it gets a bit convoluted at times, but don’t despair! The story is told with an endgame in mind, and not without its ups and downs. Overall, Fringe is a show full of crazy, theoretical science experiments, parallel universes and an old man and his cow.

If your interest is piqued, keep reading for the three main reasons, you need to add Fringe to your binge list.

 

 

1. Walter Bishop

This is easily one of the best characters ever created for television, and I have watched A LOT of television. Walter Bishop (John Noble) is part delusional, part Dr. Frankenstein, part genius and part sugar-addicted man child. His story begins when he is needed when Agent Dunham (Anna Torv) asks him to help solve an F.B.I. case. The hiccup is that he has been locked in a mental institution for seventeen years and the only way for him to get out is to be released into the custody of his son, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson). Second hiccup, Peter really doesn’t like his dad, so he’s not exactly thrilled at the arrangement he was blackmailed into accepting. Throughout five seasons, Walter singlehandedly delivers the best lines of the series, as well as some of the best scenes; some hilariously funny and some so heartbreaking, that your eyes will probably sweat a little. Between his crazy cravings for root beer floats, candy and genetically created marijuana and acid, Walter Bishop will most definitely keep you coming back for more. Did I mention he keeps a cow in his lab?

 

2. The Relationships

All shows, sci-fi series included, have relationships: friendships, romantic pairings, familial roadblocks and even the relationships between or heroes and villains. One thing that Fringe does surprisingly well is taking those relationships and flipping them so you don’t always know who is right and wrong. The core cast of characters all have a unique chemistry with each other that adds that “something special”. Watching Peter and Walter rebuild a father/son dynamic is just as much endearing, as it is heartbreaking. Seeing Peter and Olivia fall in love, but get waylaid by obstacles that are literally out of this world is frustrating, but all worth it in the end. Of course, there is always that one partnership that always comes as a pleasant surprise, which in this case includes Walter and Astrid. Their scenes tend to be some of my favorite throughout the entire series. Mostly because you are just rooting for him to finally get her name right. There are a lot of things to love about Fringe, but the various relationships between the main cast of characters, and even the secondary ones, are what cements you as a die-hard fan of this short lived series.

 

3. J.J. Abrams Made It

Personally, I am an Abrams fangirl. There have been very few projects he’s been apart of that I didn’t like. So, when I first saw a trailer for this show, and saw his name attached to it, I was already writing it down on my ‘must-see’ list for that pilot season. This (not-so) simple tale starts with F.B.I. Agent Olivia Dunham and her partner John Scott investigating a mysterious case. Of course, all hell breaks loose and Olivia’s world as she knows it is shattered. The journey she then embarks on brings her to place she would have never thought possible: parallel universes, travels through space and dimensions, and Jacksonville, Florida. J.J. Abrams and the team of writers are able to keep you hooked and coming back for more with each episode. So much so that when you get to the two or three episodes that make you question if your beverages were spiked with one of Walter’s Brown Betty concoctions.

Even if sci-fi “isn’t your thing” Fringe is still a viable binge option. The cast is incredible, the writing is quick, smart, funny and engrossing, and the plot from season 1 episode 1, to season 5 episode 13, is an engaging tale of a family trying to put themselves back together after a lifetime of secrets and poor choices. Just so happens that some of these poor choices take place in a lab, and the family can be considered multi-dimensional. I can’t recommend this series enough, and don’t let the fact that it isn’t on Netflix dissuade you from finding a way to watch it. However, if you do take a pass, I can only hope that maybe the alternative version of yourself made the smarter choice.

 

Thanks for reading! Find me on Twitter and send me your picks for a retro-binge feature!

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Jen Ryan

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Writer of stories, watcher of TV. I am an avid horror and sci-fi junkie who’s been riding with the Winchesters since their dad went on a hunting trip in 2005. Current obsessions are The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files and The Dark Tower movie. Find me on twitter – @jryan_author – for your daily dose of sarcasm and poems about my unnatural love of coffee.

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