Stuff I thought was cool in last night’s pilot for J.J. Abrams‘ Fringe on Fox:

Lance Reddick‘s spooky cranium. First thing in the ep I saw that made me cheer out loud.

• That translucent-skin ailment. Gross, but really cool.

• The cow walking through the halls of Harvard.

• The whole immersion tank scenario. I was thinking, “How very Altered States.” And then, a few minutes later, who shows up but Altered States star Blair Brown. With a ROBOTIC ARM. Well played, sirs, well played.

Stuff I was less impressed with:

• Star Anna Torv, who strikes me so far as the poor person’s Kelly Lynch.

• The opening midair disaster. C’mon, J.J., you’ve been there, done that.

• Those 3D title cards. They were novel the first time I saw them –at the opening of Panic Room. Less so after 90 minutes of repeated usehere.

• The “Pattern” conspiracy/mythology. So far, awfully thin gruel tofuel the entire plot of this series, though it’s easy to see how it’lloffer a plausible excuse for Torv & Co. to explore other weird X-Files-ishphenomena. I can also see how it’ll be loose enough to allow forstand-alone episodes that could draw casual viewers who aren’t wrappedup in the mythology.

Overall, I thought the pilot started out slow and routine, but itdefinitely picked up when Reddick showed up and Torv’s Agt. OliviaDunham recruited the Bishops (John Noble and Joshua Jackson,pictured). There’s a lot of potential in the chemistry among the threeleads — naive but open-minded Olivia, giddy mad scientist Walter, andskeptical, street-smart Peter. The characters are going to need a lotmore fleshing out; fortunately, Abrams is the king of backstory. Watch for a full, official review of Fringe from our TV critics in a forthcoming issue of EW. Meanwhile, I’llbe tuning in next week. How about you?