By Jeff Jensen
September 09, 2011 at 03:51 PM EDT
Liane Hentscher/Fox
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As mind-boggling as Fringe can be, devoted fans of the Fox TV series probably have no need for a refresher course about the show’s now-elaborate mythology. Yet “Past + Present + Future” – a new series of recap videos that launches today at – is worth checking out for longtime viewers (and is a must for newbies curious to check out the sci-fi drama in the wake of its acclaimed third season), especially with Dr. Walter Bishop himself doing the narration. The first installment provides a big picture overview of the series. The second installment – called “A Tragic Past” – begins the deep dive exploration of the saga.

John Noble makes for an engrossing, entertaining guide, his sonorous voice finding the right balance of gravity and wink. “Bishop and Bell were once the Lennon and McCartney of science, lab partners intent on pushing the boundaries and blurring the perceptions of reality,” Noble narrates, just ahead of a memorably hilarious clip from the show in which the actor’s mad scientist character explains, with grave seriousness: “When Belly and I were younger men, we regularly ingested large quantities of LSD.” (Cut to: Joshua Jackson’s droll reaction shot. “You don’t say?”) The recap series is a compressed, chronological summary of Fringeverse history, providing a clear, coherent picture of Fringe’s epic puzzle narrative. “It’s like a condensed Reader’s Digest version of Fringe,” Noble tells EW via email. “It will tantalize and entice Fringe fans, new and old, with the rich and extraordinary story we’ve been telling for 66 episodes, and prepare them for the ongoing adventures in Season 4.”

Which, by the way, begins Sept. 23.

As for my theory that the title “Past + Present + Future” is a cryptic clue to the newly created jumbled-up Dr. Manhattan-meets-Minkowski spacetime nature of the Fringeverse in the wake of Peter’s reality-rebooting quantum leap in the season 3 finale – and that the mysteries of Fringe can be explained either as a mash-up of C.S. Lewis’ unfinished final novel The Dark Tower and Stephen King’s cycle of Dark Tower novels… or as a fancifully odd adaptation of the two-part album series “Past:Present:Future” by the Dutch pop band Ch!pz — no sane individual associated with the show, including Noble, cared to comment.

The countdown to Fringe Friday has begun.

Twitter: EWDocJensen

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