TV PRESS TOUR: “Fringe” first impressions

  Critics finally got a chance to see the completed pilot episode for “Fringe,” Fox’s splashy new drama from J.J. Abrams and the writers of “Transformers,” last night. (This was a different version than the work-in-progress that found its way online a couple of weeks ago.) And while I’ll get into it in detail the closer we get to its Sept. 9 premiere, the one thing I’ll say is: Temper your expectations.
  Abrams’ “Alias” was one of the best two or three pilots I’ve ever seen, and his “Lost” definitely was in the Top 10. And because no one had seen it yet, “Fringe” had built up this reputation as the show that would save not only the fall season, but maybe television itself. (Focus groups have suggested it also may cure impotence, correct the housing market and end the war in Iraq.)
  But it’s just not that show. Watch it while expecting to be entertained, and you’ll be fine. But if you’re expecting it to be some sort of religious experience, well, that’s just not going to happen. While “Fringe” likely still will be the class of the fall season, and it looks to be genuinely compelling and entertaining, it seems to be missing the sense that you’re seeing something completely new and different.
  Because it looks great, the mood is dark and creepy, and it deals with fringe science, the easy comparison is to “The X-Files.” But Abrams and his co-creators prefer to think of it in the tradition of “Altered States.” (And not just because they both star Blair Brown.)
  Maybe that’s the problem. Years later, I still can’t easily compare “Lost” or “Alias” to anything.

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