By Paula Hendrickson
As FOX winds down the final season of Fringe — the last episode is scheduled for Jan. 18, 2013 — it feels somehow appropriate that Science Channel has added the sci-fi cult hit to its regular lineup.
While Fringe officially premiered on Science Nov. 20, fans will have an extra reason to give thanks over Thanksgiving weekend with a two-day Fringe marathon Nov. 23-24.
Friday’s season one Fringe-a-thon kicks off with the pilot episode at 9:30 a.m. (all times Central) and runs through 11 p.m. The season picks up again with Saturday’s episodes that run from 10:30 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Then, Tuesday, Nov. 27, Science starts the second season in a four-hour programming block beginning at 7 p.m.
Considering how different the fifth, and final, season of Fringe has been, Science is giving fans a fun opportunity to compare the current season with some of the early episodes. The final season is set in the future, but the revelation that Walter (John Nobel) archived evidence from the “fringe events” they investigated throughout the series helps tie the two very current seasons together with nods to the early days — you know, back when Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia (Anna Torv) were dealing with simple issues, like inexplicable radiation poisoning, people dying when their faces disappear and people being caught between overlapping multiple dimensions.
Fringe is a series with several backstories — and universes — that have converged over the years from a history where Walter tested Cortexiphan on young Olivia and other children (hoping to enhance or develop the test subjects’ mental abilities), to the alternative universe where “Fauxlivia” (a red-headed Torv) had Peter’s child, to another reality where Olivia was raised by Nina Sharp (Blair Brown), the head of Massive Dynamic. I doubt even the actors can keep the various incarnations of their characters straight.
While some of the storylines might be hard for the casual viewer to juggle, the individual episodes are intriguing on their own. (Star Trek fans can also watch for the occasional appearance by Leonard Nimoy as Massive Dynamic founder William Bell.)
When Fringe debuted, some people considered it an X-Files wannabe, but once the show found its footing — by the middle of the first season, in my opinion — it evolved into something special.
Catch some older episodes, then watch the new season, Fridays at 8 p.m. on FOX, and you’ll be amazed at the evolution of the series and its characters.
Recent episodes have Emmy-worthy performances, especially from Nobel. He’s always been great in defining both the mentally unstable child-like genius Walter and the cold, calculating Secretary of Defense “Walternate” in the alternate universe, but this season he’s gone one better as Walter’s two personality extremes begin to merge — the Walternate-like man he was before his psych-ward days, and the genial, food- and music-obsessed scientist we’ve known since the first episode. Nobel subtly shows flashes of the heartless, egocentric man he once was poking through Walter’s gentle persona.
If nothing else, you can watch old episodes and see how many different A-names Walter has called Astrid (Jasika Nicole) over the years.
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to email@example.com.
From the Nov. 21-27, 2012, issue