Hot off the heels of my Emmy rant, I'd like to recommend another season of television for those lacking something to watch this summer: "Fringe". The show has already gone through two seasons, but I've only finished the first (and am anxiously awaiting the second on DVD). Without gushing too much, "Fringe" is just the greatest. I didn't know what to expect when I first turned the show on and I was completely blown away. I was a tad concerned that it would be really campy and lame, but those fears were quickly put to rest. Almost every review of the show has compared it to "The X-Files" and they're all right. This is the new "X-Files", only, in my opinion, better.
"Fringe" is for those "X-Files" fans who loved the arc-episodes. Fans will often wax-nostalgic for the "Monster of the Week" episodes of "The X-Files" like they were actually good. I wanted those disjointed tales about monsters and vampires and werewolves to be good too, but they just weren't as thrilling or expertly crafted as the ones about alien conspiracies. "Fringe" has episodes that are similar to the "Monster" episodes, but the beauty is that they all tie in to the greater conspiracy plot, which concerns super-science and alternate dimensions (which is way cooler than aliens if you ask me). Also add in the terrorist and Homeland Security angle that the show has and you have something pretty special.
The key players in "Fringe" are also a winning component. Anna Torv, who plays the lead Olivia Dunham, is actually kind of annoying because she's always sneering or squinting, but the character is interesting (the Aussie actress is a lot more charismatic out-of-character). Joshua Jackson, of "Dawson's Creek" fame, makes a quiet comeback with his performance as Peter Bishop. Something makes me think that he actually modeled his performance after George Clooney, which might not sound appealing, but it comes out well. The true star of the show is John Noble, who portrays the delusional, but brilliant scientist Walter Bishop. His performance is equal parts comical, maniacal and heartbreaking. There's a lot of levels to all the characters and I believe (and hope) that the first season is just scratching the surface.
Another enticing tidbit about the show is that it was created (and often written by) creative dynamos J.J. Abrams, Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman. They often claim that the show is based off of real fringe-science, but there's obviously a very tenuous grasp with reality in many of the episodes. The science really doesn't make any sense a lot of the time, but I love the show because it's fun, not because it's factual.