Farewell to Fringe

I've been trying to write this blog for quite awhile now, but between recovering from the drunkenness (and the nearly-lost-an-eariness) of my birthday party the day after the finale aired followed by a nasty bout of bronchitis that I'm still fighting off... well, the writing of it has been problematic at best. But the passing of the best pure science fiction show in years deserves at least a little something, and by Jove that's what it's going to get.

I mean it when I say Fringe is the best pure sci-fi show in years. Each week for a full one hundred episodes we would get a plot that revolved around some weird leap or advancement in science that had disastrous results: time travel, dimension-hopping, genetic mutation, shape-shifters; you name it and Fringe covered it, always in a mature way with an eye towards explaining how things like that could actually be scientifically possible. In fact, I'd say that if Fringe had one drawback, it was that it could be too devoted to the science, with the plot sometimes threatening to buckle under the weight of all the sometimes incomprehensible science babble and the plot holes it caused. Whenever that happened, though, the real strength of the show shined through: that it wasn't really about the science at all.

How was the best pure science fiction show in years not really about science at all? All good science fiction is about something more than what it is, and Fringe was no exception. Underneath all the parallel worlds and mutated creatures and diseases and saving multiple worlds, what Fringe was really about was family. It was about Peter Bishop (played amazingly well by Captain Duck himself, Joshua Jackson) reconnecting with his slightly crazy, drug-addled mad scientist father Walter (John Noble, who was absolutely brilliant week in and week out... for my money, there was no one on television the last five years more fun to watch than him), a father whose love for his son was so strong it caused most of the problems they faced in the first place. It was about Olivia Dunham, (Anna Torv, a brilliant leading lady in sci-fi, something that is pretty rare) the lead FBI agent assigned to work with the Bishops on all these weird cases, a woman who started out the show alone with no family except for a sister and niece she barely saw, and ended it with a husband, a daughter, another sister, and both a surrogate mother and surrogate father.

Fringe was always about the love of a family, never more evident than in the end of the three-season-long alternate reality storyline, where it was Peter's love for Olivia that saved all their lives and led to his sacrifice, which saved all of reality... and it was Olivia's love for Peter that defied all logic and brought him back into the show's new timeline in season four. And it was their love for their daughter that drove the fight against the Observers in the show's final future season.

Built on a balance of strong science fiction and even stronger emotions, Fringe really was the perfect sci-fi show, and now that it's gone there's definitely something missing from television. I don't know if anything will ever really be able to replace it, but whatever show that might come along to try has its work cut out for it.

After all, what other show will ever be able to bring the great Leonard Nimoy out of retirement... and have him co-star with a cow?