Fringe Benefits from Mind-Boggling Sci-Fi Storytelling

Photo by Margie Barron

“Fringe” star Anna Torv.

Watching the third-to-last Fringe episode in advance (which will air Friday, Jan. 11) was a powerful set up for the end of the outstanding Fox TV drama starring Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, and John Noble. It will wrap up five brilliant seasons on Jan. 18 with a two-hour finale. Needless to say, I love the show and will miss it.

Although the science-fiction save-the-universe series is incredible with its mind-boggling storytelling, “At the very core, Fringe is about family,” says executive producer and showrunner J.H. Wyman (along with Jeff Pinkner). That is true, and what makes it so great is the creative-team family who work together to make it so imaginative. Series co-creators and executive producers are J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci.

The creative force behind the rebooted big screen Star Trek franchise and the acclaimed Lost series, Abrams explains that this show is “a very rare thing. It isn’t a massive hit, but the network supported the show, and it’s something we’re all proud of. And Fringe has always been true to its name, a little bit more of an outside-the-box series.”

Wyman explains he likes the idea of the art of storytelling to express “why we’re all here, and what it’s like being a human being. When Fringe came around, I wanted to figure out the [sci-fi] realm I was working in. And it was fantastic to realize that the greater science fiction is, in my opinion, the more it is really about humanity. It’s an incredible forum to talk about what it’s like to be a human, in the freakiest kind of craziest way. It’s so bizarre the possibilities are endless.”

Jackson (of Dawson’s Creek fame) reveals, “As a kid, I became such a sci-fi geek because I could take the things that were uncomfortable to me, and I could be part of a nuclear winter discussion in a way that was more digestible to me. Imagine the impossibilities, that’s what our show is about. The constant with the evolving nature of our show has been the bravery of our really compelling stories that you’re not expecting.” He notes that the creators, producers, and writers should get most of the credit because they “have the cojones to do it right, and to keep challenging us (the actors) and challenging our smart audience as they follow our journey.”

Chatting with the Fringe cast, I’ve especially enjoyed Anna Torv’s passion for the show. She says, “I’ve always been a sci-fi fan, and now to be supported by lovers of the genre is ridiculously flattering. This is a little cult show with a little cult following that you are able to do it properly, and do it right for the people that love it. We’re proud of that.”

The Australian-born actress, who had only a few credits Down Under before grabbing attention and respect with her Fringe role, is also passionate about her castmates and says, “I don’t think there’s a person that works on our show that doesn’t have the utmost respect for John (Noble) as a person and as a performer. Watching John and Josh (Jackson), both such experienced performers, has taught me essentially how television works, that it is fluid. John and Josh would push the envelope with their characters, and slowly you’d see something amazing happen in the next episode, and the one after that.”

Tune in, there are only a couple episodes left to see. And Wyman says, “I want to be able to feel like there’s a sense of closure, at the same time that there is a feeling of hope from this. At the end, when you’re finished watching you can say, ‘Wow, that was very moving, and I feel really good, and I feel emotional.’ But the next day driving to work, you can actually say, ‘I think I can imagine where they’re going to be in their lives and how it would go on, and that the people I fell in love with for four years, they’re going to be okay.”

Wyman’s last promise to the series’ fans is that they’ll “let Fringe go off into the ether in a way that is satisfying and bittersweet.” Amen.