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Binge Watchin' TV Review: Fringe

Welcome to Binge Watchin,’ where we take a look at some of the best TV shows available on streaming or disc that have a great catalogue of seasons to jump into and get sucked into the beautiful bliss of binge watching! From crime, action, comedy, drama, animation, etc., we’ll be evaluating an assortment of shows that will hopefully serve as a gateway to your next binge experience.

Series: FRINGE

Number of Seasons: 5 (100 episodes)

Where to watch: Netflix, Blu-Ray/DVD

What’s the show about?

FRINGE is a science fiction series that focuses on a small group of law enforcement and scientists who work together to investigate bizarre cases that all have to do with the world of "fringe science".  Making up the team are former Harvard professor and asylum inmate Dr. Walter Bishop, his son and con-man Peter Bishop, FBI agent Olivia Dunham, her superior Philip Broyles, and Agent Astrid Farnsworth who assists.  The show is a little bit X-FILES, a little bit ALIAS, a little bit LOST, and a hell of a lot of awesome.  Developed by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci, FRINGE developed from a scifi procedural to one of the most original and unique series in television history.

Why should I watch it?

FRINGE never quite hit the acclaim that it deserved as it was moved all over FOX's schedule during it's five year run.  Part of that comes from the highly serialized nature of the plot which made it difficult for new fans to jump in which led to a couple of minor reboot points through the 100 episode series.  But, that also makes FRINGE the perfect show to watch during a binge session as the interconnected mythology works perfectly in multi-episode bursts.

Like LOST before it, FRINGE features an ensemble cast with few peers.  Anna Torv plays the lead role of Olivia Dunham with a sceptics eye, like a blonde Agent Scully.  Joshua Jackson brings his pitch perfect sarcasm and intensity that we saw glimpses of during DAWSON'S CREEK to the role of Peter Bishop.  THE WIRE's Lance Reddick is great as the gruff superior, Blair Brown is excellent as the mysterious Nina Sharp, and Jasika Nicole turns a minor part as Agent Farnsworth into a fan favorite performance.  But, it is the amazing John Noble who steals the show as Walter Bishop.  Vacillating between insane and brilliant, Noble brings an endearing quality to his potrayal of the mad scientist while also making him one of the best characters in TV history.  It is a shame he never got the Emmy recognition he deserved.

What sets FRINGE apart from THE X-FILES and ALIAS, whose convoluted mythology were their downfall, is that there is an endgame to each season of the show, a concluding chapter that also works as an ending that leaves fans with both a cliffhanger but also a satisfactory closing to the season-long story threads.  Bringing in great villians like Leonard Nimoy as the secretive William Bell and Jared Harris as the creepy David Robert Jones, FRINGE was highly successful in creeping out viewers while also offering incentives to keep watching.  Every episode goes to commercial with a glyph on screen that, if deciphered, offers a word that clues viewers in to solving that episode's mystery.  These are maintained in the streaming and Blu-ray versions so fans can still try to play detective along with the characters.

FRINGE could have easily gone on for years beyond the five season run, but the producers didn't stretch beyond the quality that they delivered.  What we get as fans are five very distinct seasons, each offering a unique view of this fictional universe (or should I say multiverse?).  Solving the mysteries of the bald-headed Observers, figuring out which parallel universe a particular episode takes place in (Hint: pay attention to the color of the opening credits!), and trying to unravel the intertwining plots and doppelgangers makes FRINGE a show you definitely should binge on.

Best season:

While the first and second season are the easiest and most accessible for the average viewer, season three is the best in the show's run.  Each actor is given the opportunity to portray their original roles plus their alternate universe versions which allows them to stretch their performances in unique ways.  John Noble gets to play Walter as both insane and megalomaniacal, Anna Torv gets to flaunt her sexiness versus her professional self, and much more.  Dead characters can return and even more insane stories can be told.  Runner-up would be the bold final season which completely throws the previous seasons out the window and tries for a story that you would never expect for the fifth season of a show.

Final thoughts:

I watched FRINGE during it's original run and I loved the cliffhanger viewing, needing to wait a week or a summer to find out what happened next.  But, rewatching the series on Netflix allowed me to watch multiple episodes at a time that share a story arc, giving the feeling that I was watching a feature film rather than a TV show.  With callbacks in later seasons to earlier episodes, I was able to go back and forth and rewatch season 1 episodes during season 4 and find hidden easter eggs throughout the show.  FRINGE is a non-linear series and the perfect show for the DVR and streaming crowd.  But, be prepared to get sucked in and lose entire evenings as you join the FRINGE Division.

Source: JoBlo.com

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