Another great sf television show was lost last Friday. Fringe was a show that I got into late – and I understand very clearly that I am part of the problem because of that. We are offered so few challenging shows on television, so it is up to us to not only support them but also share them with other potential viewers. I failed to get on board sooner, mostly thanks to the fact that the first season is merely adequate. It doesn’t sell the high concepts that came in the later seasons.
Fringe was a show about its own evolution, and therefore it was a show about constantly evolving the expectations of its viewers. The first season was little more than The X-Files with the promise of science instead of aliens. The second season introduced a parallel world that the third season fully realized with characters (alternate characters) all its own. The fourth season reintroduced the characters into a world that was greatly altered by the fact that one of the main cast was retroactively removed from all continuity. The fifth season was announced as the final season, and it would be the most challenging of all for me – a jump into a dystopian future.
Despite my reservations, I found out that the final 13 hours of the series were rewarding to watch. Longtime viewers will find so many callbacks of sorts, not to mention additional challenges. After all, the threat of the season were evolved human beings from an even more distant future, who were smart even to calculate most probabilities of time and therefore could figure out most plans as they were hatched. Not to mention that they introduced even more advanced technology, such as the fields that could pick up sound waves emitted hours in the past – essentially eavesdropping on old conversations. It sounds like the best way to overcome this problem would be to have an insider – or somehow become one of them yourself. Both of those ideas are explored to some degree. Nothing is left unturned. It’s a great season.
Now it’s over. Many of us will be left wondering what there is out there to fill the void, as there really aren’t that many strong sf series available on television right now. The other series that I really appreciated, Alphas, was just cancelled after two seasons. It’s another underappreciated gem – this one was something of a CSI series mixed with super powered stories, but all of the powers were presented as gifts that came with psychological consequences. I can’t think of any series currently on American television that can take either show’s place. Fortunately, in the case of Fringe, the 100 episodes are worth watching again. This is especially true after this final season, just in case you forgot the events that were called back. So, really, the void left by Fringe is really best filled with Fringe.