My daughters and I love the Fringe, so we saved the fifth and final boxed set as long as we possibly could. It’s the only big show I’ve bought on DVD without having seen it at all beforehand. Far as I know, Fringe has never been on a free-to-air channel.
If you like these big shows, the preposterous High Concept variety (like Alias, Lost, The 4400, and – in days of yore – The X Files) then Fringe is probably for you. Most closely related to X Files, it did nevertheless have its own style and an ensemble cast that made it a very special experience. It was a series characterised by bold strokes: plot devices that were audacious and entertaining. Alias was previously good at this. And if you remember the gasp of pleasure and surprise when Dawn, the sister, was introduced in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you’ll enjoy similar joys with Fringe.
I avoided spoilers and read nothing about each season, and kept this up for Season 5. All I knew was that it would be the last. The first disappointment was that it was a truncated season of just 13 episodes. It had also, obviously fallen victim to budget cuts, and the core cast was reduced, with just occasional walk-ons for other previously more prominent characters like Broyles and Nina Sharpe. As for the plot line, it was also reduced, to an ongoing attempt to defeat the bad guys in a kind of paint-by-numbers way, assembling pieces of some super weapon from fragments and clues left by Walter.
While I still watched it avidly, I couldn’t help but feel that same sense of disappointment you got from The X Files when it became overly concerned with the Big Conspiracy and there were fewer of the brilliant, one-off episodes about the kind of cases which gave the show its name. Fringe had its share of Big Story Arcs, but it was only with Season 5 that it concentrated on the one thing to the exclusion of everything else. Usually you got time to breathe and be entertained by weird stuff along the way.
Needs must. The show is cancelled, and the producers wanted to wrap it up in a satisfactory way. In the end, it still felt rushed, and a little too neat. Fringe always felt as if there was a Plan, and I guess what we got in the end was the Plan with no room for anything else. One thing that was nice about this final season: the gang used a lot of the weird stuff from Seasons 1-4 as weaponry, especially in the finale.
A qualified thumbs up, and I will miss Anna Torv.