It had to happen: For weeks we've been telling you that JJ Abrams' new Fox show Fringe is nothing but an updated X-Files for the 21st century (ignoring the fact that the old X-Files has a new movie out this summer, which probably means that it's still the X-Files for the 21st century). But now the first reviews of the new show are rolling in, and they suggest that we identified the wrong series as Fringe's inspiration. If only we'd known Fringe was the next Alias all along . . . be warned — vague spoilers await you.
It's Variety's Cynthia Littleton who pointed out that anyone looking for a new Mulder and Scully was headed for disappointment:
About five minutes in to the [press] screening, I realized I've done this show a terrible injustice with the loglines I've been using the past few months, and the suggestion that it would be very "X-Files"-ish. It's not. It's right there in the patented Abrams-conspiracy chiller/thriller/action milieu with a wildly intricate plot. It's a good sign that the pilot — penned by Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and helmed by Alex Graves — does not feel too derivative of "Lost," even as it opens with mayhem on a commercial airline flight bound for Boston's Logan airport.
Of course, "bound for" doesn't necessarily mean that it gets there in the same state that it set out, and it's that change in circumstances that's the opening mystery for Abrams' latest labyrinthine conspiracy theory. Despite the lack of overt 1990s-esque alien abduction theories and the possibility that the show could become another victim of its own mythology (Surely I'm not the only one who spent each week on Alias feeling as if they weren't just making it up as they went along, but also doing so without remembering anything that had happened in earlier episodes?), however, Littleton seems to be cautiously optimistic about the show:
Casting really is the strongest suit here. The pilot script and story is very compelling. It's not "Lost"-level instantly addicting, but it leaves you very curious about what's gonna happen next week. There's a big twist toward the end of the pilot that I never saw coming. The direction is very fast-paced and not-showy. There's a few stretches that seem over-loaded with action-action-action but I'm guessing that's easily fixed in the editing process... There's a bit of wooden-ness here and there in the dialogue...but again, nothing that probably can't be fixed in post.
She does agree that there's one thing that can't be fixed in post-production, though... Joshua Jackson having a lead role. If James Van Der Beek ends up getting the main part in Cloverfield 2, then I'm calling shenanigans.
Fringe: First impressions [Variety]