Once again, the imaginative science-fiction series managed to stave off extinction and Fringe will be rewarded 13 more episodes to wrap up the series. That’s right, somehow a low-rated but critical and cult favourite series actually deserving of renewal was graced with good news and Fringe is allowed to continue to tell the boldest, sharpest and most satisfying sci-fi story in this or any parallel universe. Not only is Fringe’s narrative more risky and rewarding than most of the formulaic shlock that’s airing on, well, all of the networks, but the ensemble could also easily compete for the most talented cast with the challenging and (literally) multi-dimensional characters they bring to life.
Originally, Fringe even received decent ratings, certainly buoyed by being touted as the new show from Lost’s J.J. Abrams, but the first season of the then sci-fi procedural (or X-Files clone) didn’t provide a proper blueprint for the inventive and original series that was to come. Fringe operates in a wildly imaginative science-fiction universe and always offers satisfying weekly resolutions in addition to the focus on the serialized narrative and world building. It’s truly a master class in storytelling. It’s refreshing to watch a show where the writers are constantly trying to satisfy the fans in their carved out niche instead of dumbing down to appeal to the masses. Not the best business plan, but it makes for great television, only aided by the incredible performance that bring the narratives to life.
While each and every member of the large ensemble deserves mention, Anna Torv and John Noble are delivering performances every week that rival any working actor. Watching Anna Torv play the Olivias is a real treat because she has to suggest subtle differences and offer a nuanced performance while, on the other hand, it’s equally great to see John Noble’s vastly different portrayals of Walter, a true testament to the man’s unbelievable talents. And it’s not that the cast deserves praise for simply playing several versions of one character, it’s that they do it so damn well. The pair - plus Josh Jackson, Lance Reddick and Jasica Nicole - regularly deliver compelling work and are just another reason why the show was well deserving of renewal.
However, like they say in Unforgiven, “deserves got nothing to do with it” so it certainly wasn’t just Fringe’s artistic merits that resulted in the fifth and final season, many factors were at play over the last four months the least of which was the fact that the 100-episode syndication sweet spot was inching ever closer. On top of the purely creative and artistic reasons to want the show to continue, there was even a financial argument to be made for a fifth season. And ultimately, it seems this reasoning played a heavy role in the final decision since the 13-episode Fringe extension allows it to reach themagic three-digit number, as the series currently sits at 87. Wait, let me check that math. Yep. Nailed it.
Fringe is just one of many examples of a series struggling because of its fierce originality and the demands it makes of its audience, but somehow, this time the saga managed to survive the uphill battle and will finish on its own terms. The storytelling is boldly going where no (or few) series have gone before creating not only wonderfully complex narratives but fantastic roles for these great actors to play, and I couldn’t be happier to get to see it all play out.
Fringe offers a viewing experience unlike anything else on TV, a fully serialized and immensely satisfying science fiction adventure and one that has thankfully been graced a continuance and will be able to properly plan out the conclusion. The number of Fringe fans may be relatively small but they were loyal, willing to watch on Friday and deserved to be rewarded for watching such smart television. Finally, fans got what they deserved.