It’s almost impossible to watch Fringe without thinking of X-Files. Created by JJ Abrams, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman & produced by Abrams’ Bad Robot, Fringe – like X-Files – concerns a FBI division (under the Homeland Security Department) that investigates paranormal events, with the undercurrent of preventing an otherworldly invasion.

X-Files watchers will no doubt be aware of how the series ultimately wrote itself into a corner with its mysteries and conspiracy theories and ran out of steam and ideas. And I’m certain that this possible future is also uppermost on the minds of the Fringe producers.

The early episodes of season one set out the ground rules. We have Olivia Dunham (the lovely Anna Torv), a FBI agent who finds herself drawn into a web of intrigue and inexplicable paranormal events and she recruits scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble) – from a mental asylum, no less – and his son Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) to aid her in the investigations. Dunham reports to Philip Broyles (Lance Reddick) and is supported by fellow FBI agents Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) and Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo).

Naturally, there are twists and turns along the way but it is the underlying story – which involves a war with an alternative earth – which keeps things interesting. Much of the season one episodes follow a basic formula – something strange happens, in the midst of investigation, they realize that the phenomenon originated from the senior Bishop’s early research (which someone else has invariably perfected) – the problem is solved and a further clue may be given with regards to the impending hostilities.

The star of Fringe is the gorgeous Aussie actress Anna Torv – who’s conventional beauty and ability to mix vulnerability and kick ass steel really carries the show in its duller moments. There are a couple of excellent development points in the relationship between the two Bishops (although the actors are nothing special).

The finale of season one finds agent Dunham somehow transported into the alternative earth where she finally meets the ellusive William Bell (Leonard Nimoy), Bishop senior’s former lab partner and CEO of the biggest technology corporation in the world and who are also involved in the events investigated by the Fringe division. It is a brilliant setup for season two. How well the writers and producers evolve the storyline further will determine whether Fringe will end up like X-Files or the recent completed LOST. I’m rooting for the latter result…

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