Weird and Wonderful


I am not an X-File.

Fringe is back on SkyHD for a second outing and it’s a welcome return. Having concluded season one with a meeting between the mysterious William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) and Agent Dunham in the World Trade Center of an alternative universe (that really is a freaky sounding sentence for those who haven’t watched),  I was all set for some answers as I sat down to enjoy episode one of season two but, to be honest, I should’ve known better. The episode started with a car crash that saw Olivia Dunham catapulted through the windscreen of an SUV suffering from complete memory loss, so we have been thoroughly denied any of the answers I was hoping for. Denial of answers in an FBI based paranormal drama is, of course, not unusual for fans of the genre but this is not the only little nod that we get to the X-Files.

We had a shape-shifting alien (X-Files check #2), sexual tension between the male and female leads (X-Files check #3), a threat to close down the FBI division (X-Files check #4), and even a little post-modern wink to the audience when we saw one half of Bros watching an episode of the X-Files shortly before being killed and his form taken over by the alien shapeshifter (X-files check #5).  I’m sure that there were more but I lost count after that.  Thankfully though, the characters do tend to be quite engaging and a writing credit for JJ Abrams is always a good sign and meant that we got a tightly plotted little adventure that served as a good re-introduction of the characters.  The final stroke of genius (look away now spoiler-phobes) is that the weakest character from the first series, Agent Charlie Francis, whose primary purpose in life seemed to be to act as the voice of conscience while wandering around looking bemused at the weird goings-on, seems to have been converted into the under-cover shapeshifting alien. A move which heralds some interesting potential storylines as series two progresses.

No review of Fringe would be complete without a nod towards the mighty John Noble as the slightly unhinged Dr Walter Bishop, who performs the role of mad scientist with aplomb. It is quite some feat of acting to convincingly portray a man whose mind is in such turmoil with such sympathy but all the while maintaining the tiniest element of the sinister. For all the criticisms that could be levelled at the show, it continues to remain engaging and is a must-watch feature of Sunday nights, chez Fazzinchi. And again, Sky have managed to secure the rights to show the programme shortly after US debut so spoilers are easily avoided.   Do you watch?  Is it a poor X-Files clone or a healthy dose of paranormal entertainment in its own right?

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