With a long rerun-and-reality-packed summer behind us, the new TV season is finally here. And as always, Entertainment Weekly’s Fall TV Preview – on stands this week – has all the crucial info you need to navigate your remote control as television roars back. Amongst the early reviews, interviews, insight, and plot hints for shows both new and returning, our double issue takes a deep dive into the gory, witty world of Fox’s Fringe with Jeff “Doc” Jensen.
Last year’s most heavily hyped new drama, Fringe was engineered by creators J.J. Abrams and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci to be a high-impact hybrid of The X-Files and CSI – a serious yet accessible sci-fi series. Though the highly anticipated thriller started shakily, making geeks wonder if Abrams and his reliably mind-bending production company had finally let them down, Fringe ended its first year with a finale filled with insane, chat-room-exploding twists that won over a skeptical fan base. Now Fringe will try to maintain its momentum in TV’s most competitive time slot, Thursdays at 9, against CSI and Grey’s Anatomy. But if Fringe is to thrive, Abrams’ team will have to apply the lessons learned from its rocky first season. Says Abrams: “It’s going to sound weird, but a show starts talking to you and telling you what it wants to be. It took us a while to hear it.”
As the series approached midseason last year, and some elements began to jell (fan-favorite villains and a feet-first immersion into an alternate-reality mythology), buzz began to grow. Says co-star Joshua Jackson, “This has been the total opposite of my Dawson’s Creek experience.” Unlike the teen soap that was an instant hit when it debuted in 1998, “Fringe has taken a while for the show to percolate in the pop culture. I would never complain about being on a show with the words ‘J.J. Abrams’ above the title, but the expectations were impossibly high.”
The show’s most crucial story line in season 2 belongs to Jackson’s Peter Bishop. “Eventually, he’s going to learn where he really comes from, and everything is going to blow up,” says Jackson. The Sept. 17 season premiere also hints at romantic potential between Peter and lead investigator Olivia (Anna Torv), even though both Torv and Jackson hope it’s not the case. “I see Peter and Olivia more as a brother and sister with a truly bizarre father figure – three broken people, coming together as a dysfunctional family,” says Jackson. Adds Torv, “I hope they don’t put us together. That would be so conventional. What’s interesting about this show is that in many ways, Olivia has the masculine role, and the two guys are the women. She carries the gun, they sit around and talk. I think that’s pretty cool.”
For much more on Fringe, as well as looks at 85 other fall shows, both new and old favorites, check out the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Sept. 11.