Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TUNE IN: 'Fringe' (Tuesdays, 9 p.m.; Fox)

Note: During the course of the next few weeks, as more new shows begin to premiere, I will be making my picks for the shows that will be most worthy of your time. "Fringe" is my first pick of the young television season.

Tonight's second episode of FOX's new hit, "Fringe," was intense, filled with cheesy and awkward dialogue and at the same time, extremely entertaining television.

Yes, the J.J. Abrams hourlong drama thriller is still working out its kinks. And yes, some of the characters' (and actors') chemistry aren't meshing just yet. But the implausibility of its fringe science-driven cases and capabilities are what sustains "Fringe" as one of the fall season's best new hits.

It doesn't matter that we still can't meld two people's thoughts into a coherent dream-like state. Who cares if it's impossible for a fetus to age rapidly in the womb to the point where after just an hour, it kills its mother (via combustion in the womb) and grows into a full-fledged adult. Nope, none of that really matters. All that really matters is that the characters in the world Abrams has created, along with "Transformers'" writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, believe that all that is possible - and they do, rather intensely.

Newcomer Anna Torv (Olivia Dunham) isn't the typical leading lady. She still lacks a demand for attention, something former "Alias" star Jennifer Garner consistently upheld during her tenure on her five-year run on the ABC spy thriller (also helmed by Abrams). But, with a new show, comes time and with time, Torv will learn to show Olivia's emotions with grace and fight with dignity and integrity.

"Dawson's Creek" alumnus Joshua Jackson, however, is the show's comedic relief and often blurts out what us, the viewers, are thinking, reacting or seeing onscreen. Was he the best choice for the role as Peter Bishop? Maybe not, but Jackson injects a sense of realness and cynicism that balances out the absurdities in the cases and supposed fringe science techniques that his institutionalized father, Dr. Walter Bishop, perfected. (Also, Jackson's lines are perhaps one of the weakest aspects of the show, but in tonight's episode, he did use the unforgettable phrase "man baby" twice!)

So is "Fringe" the most accurate show on television? Probably not. But it's intriguing storylines keep evolving into something much more complicated than before; there are layers upon layers of kept secrets, unknown mysteries and dangerous truths - a recipe for another entertaining J.J. Abrams show.

FOX's "Fringe" airs Tuesday nights right after "House" at 9 p.m.

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