Just the dimension for demented scientists
TAKE The X Files, remove the aliens, scotch the FBI’s deep scepticism about anything unusual and give both sides their own mad scientists, and you pretty much arrive at Fringe . Things have changed at the bureau since the days of Mulder and Scully and the FBI’s new paranormal investigators no longer base their operations in a forgotten basement.
There is now an entire Fringe Division and agent Olivia Dunham ( Anna Torv) is one of its crack operatives. Dunham has reunited brilliant but loopy research scientist Walter Bishop ( John Noble) with his son Peter ( Joshua Jackson) as part of a team aimed at investigating fringe science.
In this case, fringe science doesn’t mean the kind of left-handed surfboard thingie popular with the people who dole out government grants but serious stuff such as telekinesis, genetic manipulation and teleportation.
The problem for the forces of law and order is that the good guys are not the only people interested in this kind of research; a small army of Dr Evils is out there doing it, too.
And they’ve been a busy bunch of demented scientists. They’ve got a collective plan, known as the Pattern, and, as you would expect in the land of free enterprise, there’s even a company taking out patents on all this rogue research.
In tonight’s episode, an FBI agent is struck down by a massive coronary. When doctors crack open his chest they discover a large and unpleasant creature has wrapped itself around his heart. It’s up to Dunham and the Bishops to solve the mystery and get the parasite out before the agent dies.
But life is never simple. Cleverly, the team manages to find the sig-
Paranormality: nature of the creature’s creator embedded in its DNA and it turns out to be a scientist already imprisoned in Germany. But he will tell them the answer only if he can talk to a man the FBI has, inconveniently, shot dead.
The good news is that it’s exactly this kind of situation for which you have a mad scientist on the team.
I missed Fringe when Nine first started showing it. Co-creator J. J. Abrams ( of Lost and Alias fame)
stars Joshua Jackson, John Nobel and Anna Torv readily acknowledges the influence of The X Files and also throws in the late Michael Crichton, the Ken Russell movie Altered States and The Twilight Zone for good measure. However, this episode indicates the end product is struggling to match any of its influences.
History also suggests the fact that it’s on Nine weighs against the chances that the remaining episodes of this first series will get an unbroken run. On the other hand, it is summer.