Until the Last Word, Part 8 ~ MisunderstandingsFringe started as a very good show and it quickly became exceptional. It's a far-reaching story that remains grounded in people and relationships, that is constantly changing in surprising and emotional ways, and that needs time to explore all its dark and surprising corners. But there are those who don't really give it a chance.
At one point I was looking for some reviews, and I came across a reviewer that dropped Fringe after the pilot. Three years later they wondered if they should have and asked readers which episodes would get them up to speed. Just eight from season one, if you must know. They were also told to watch the first episode of the next season and then skip to "Jacksonville" and go from there. This is the wrong attitude to bring into the show. All episodes of the first season should be watched, not just because important plot points may be missed, but for the beautiful interactions and character development that Fringe does exceedingly well.
I could not ignore the points that were made:
One thing they got right, though, was that John Noble has range and his scenes with Jackson are enjoyable.
I'm not saying they were picking on Fringe. It's just that the grading system made no sense to me for someone professing to love television. It's very strictly objective, seeming to take feelings (the most important part of Fringe) completely out of the equation. Great shows like The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Homeland, Friends, and Parks & Recreation all were unable to crack an average of 70 out of 100. Some individual episodes fared better, but not usually by much. Points would be taken off for things that didn't meet the standard, like repetitiveness or plot holes, so nothing would ever get the highest score, because nothing is ever objectively perfect. Unpredictable, original, and emotional were requirements for getting the higher scores. If they'd kept with Fringe then they'd realize all of these things were a regular occurrence.
It was a good show from the pilot and kept me interested until the shocking cliffhanger finale, and it soon after became unmissable. There is great fun in going back to the first season to see all the hints of what was to come, not all of it intentional as pieces changed in importance when the writers had new ideas. Every episode is different and adds something more to the mythology, reveals something more of the mystery. There are no static characters or a set way of doing things. By the end of the first season we were riveted to the edges of our seats. It was never stuck, unable to figure out where it wanted to go. The writing seemed effortless. It felt like more than a show, like the characters were real in a living, breathing world, and it never broke that illusion.
I feel sorry that the reviewer missed this scene, one of the most beautiful in the entire series. As always, don't watch unless you have caught up. This is from season 4, episode 16, "Nothing as it Seems."
For this reason, I don't give reviews for fledgling series too much weight. I appreciate them saving me time when ads for a new show are interesting but don't really make clear the quality. But when somebody grades a show like Fringe, one with huge potential that is obviously keeping something back, I get quite annoyed. I'm glad I let an opinion be just that and try things for myself instead of taking any one reviewer's word for it.