I lived in my apartment for 78 days without Internet. Technically, since we had the downstairs neighbor’s password, we could access some Internet, but not well enough to stream video or to use my laptop in my room. It could have been worse – I do have access at work – but it wasn’t ideal. While waiting for our service provider to sort itself out, I read a lot, and borrowed a lot of DVDs from friends (and Netflix), including the first season of Fringe. (Also Entourage, but the less said about that, the better.)

Fringe, the Fox show about paranormal investigation, falls into a weird nexus of my personality. I am a big science fiction/fantasy fan, and was hugely into The X-Files, a similar Fox show from years back, for a long time. And the similarities between Fringe and The X-Files are not superficial – monster of the week episodes interspersed with shadowy conspiracies, kidnapping of the main female character, characters motivated to investigation by personal/family connections – but there are also major differences, in that Fringe is (in my opinion) much more visually graphic than X-Files, and moves through several seasons worth of X-Files plotlines in its first season.

On the other hand, I’ve become much more skeptical in my personal outlook since I was a devoted X-Files fan. I am still interested in science fiction, fantasy, and other forms of speculative fiction, in writing and movies/tv shows. But I find myself rolling my eyes a lot and sighing exaggeratedly at my roommate’s beleaguered cats, who just want to nap on my lap in peace. I find I almost prefer the crazy, over-the-top quantum space-time transportation episodes to the stranger-than-fiction episodes. When it feels like they’re treating pseudoscientific nonsense seriously, I have a harder time suspending my disbelief, especially since the characters grow more credulous over the course of the season, and there’s no consistent Scully character to be skeptical and take the hard line. The first season’s heavy reliance on various miraculous devices to drive or resolve the plot becomes frustrating, and the ambiguous motivations of a supervisory character walks the line between “keeping the viewer in the dark” and “written to suit the episode’s plot needs.” But there are many ways in which I enjoy Fringe, too, including the extended and generally developed cast of charaters, the scenic Boston-area setting, and the rambling musings of the principal investigator.

If you like The X-Files, Lost, or similar shows, you’ll probably like Fringe. I suspect it’s not quite procedural enough to have crossover appeal, but it’s been on long enough I may be wrong about that.

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