TV Guide Gets 'Fringe' Benefits
Here’s a snippet from the cover story:
As Fox’s big-ticket item this season, Fringe, J.J. Abrams’ new head-scratcher about FBI special agent Olivia Dunham (Torv) and her quest to crack a series of bizarre mysteries known as the Pattern, has been grabbing the attention of conspiracy fanatics jonesing for a juicy new mythology series to dissect. Mind readers, psychic artists, reanimated Feds. This one even comes with its own mad scientist.
“He’s literally been pulled out of a cell where he’s been sedated, subjected to shock therapy – all the things that happen in an institution,” says Aussie actor John Noble, who plays gum-chewing doctor Walter Bishop. And while Walter may be the brilliant, damaged Wizard to Olivia’s Dorothy, this all-knowing Oz is so fried from his 17-year stint in the rubber room, it’s still not clear if he’s part of the solution or the man who created the problems in the first place.
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TV Guide Gets ‘Fringe’ Benefits
“Walter’s always remembering things, so he doesn’t really know how much he’s got to do with the Pattern,” Noble tells TV Guide. “That gets revealed in bits and pieces, some that are wonderful and others that are horrific.”
An Aussie like Noble, Torv was building a respectable rep as an actress Down Under before Abrams saw her test reel and threw her right into the madness. “I came in and read, [the producers] had a few little notes, and then we had a few phone conversations,” she tells TV Guide. “I flew to Los Angeles and met with the guys, and then flew to Toronto in, like, a day to film the pilot. It was all very, very fast.”
Dawson’s Creek graduate Joshua Jackson, who has been “socially friendly” with Abrams since they were both working at the WB, says he wasn’t so hot about returning to the grind. “TV is a major bear,” he says. “That’s what kept me away for the past five years.” Still, he admits that the Bishop family’s plot-rich backstory, combined with his boss’ resume, convinced him to give TV another try. “The thing I learned the last time – and what is so hard about television – is that you have to tell compelling stories well, over a long period of time. J.J. and his Bad Robot crew have a pretty good track record of being able to do that. As an actor, it has to stay fun and, hopefully, it stays fun for the audience.”
To that end, the powers-that-be are determined to avoid going so far out there with the Pattern mythology that fans get, well, lost. “We want to make sure that we’re telling stories that aren’t too simplistic or too complicated because we don’t want to exclude the casual viewers,” Abrams tells TV Guide. “We also don’t want to use the deus ex machina of crazy-insane invention all the time, and yet part of the fun is watching these characters play with the idea of where science could go, not where it is already.”
Adds executive producer Jeff Pinkner, “One of the things The X-Files did the very best was that there was a controlling mythology to the entire series, but most of the episodes you could watch at any time, in any order, and you knew enough to enjoy the episode. One of the mistakes we made in Alias is that the mythology overwhelmed the storytelling.”
So ease up on the theories, kids.