How does the second episode fare with the Bureau? We’ll start with a recap review….


Fringe Review: The Same Old Story

Cast and Crew

Director: Paul Edwards
Writers: J. J. Abrams, Jeff Pinkner, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci

Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham
Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop
John Noble as Dr. Walter Bishop
Kirk Acevedo as Charlie Francis
Blair Brown as Nina Sharp
Lance Reddick as Philip Broyles
Jaskika Nicole as Astrid Farnsworth
Mark Blum as Dr. Penrose
Derek Cecil as Christopher
Betty Gilpin as Loraine

Synopsis

An unexpected pregnancy leads the team to a mystery involving an unsolved case from Agent Dunham’s past, mad science from Dr. Bishop’s lab, and expository dialogue from most of the cast.

High Point

The underlying premise of the episode created an interesting mystery of the sort one might expect on this show. The notion that Dunham’s former partner was covering up “Pattern”-related evidence to past cases could serve Fringe well.

Low Points

The “retinal camera.” Given the amount of mad science already present in the film, did they need this, too? They might have tracked their killer in a number of other, more interesting, premise-related ways. And is anyone keeping track of Dr. Bishop’s inventions? Will they be reused?

Those obtrusive and often unnecessary place-name titles make it look like everything has large stone signs out front. They reflect, however, the script’s high levels of obtrusive expository dialogue.

The Scores

Originality: 3 out of 6. This still plays like The X-Files with wonkier science.

Effects: 5/6.

Story: 4/6. The story improves on the first episode. I found the mystery interesting, and they sold the underlying solution as possible, if we accept the series’ pseudo-SF world. They’re still cluttering too much mad science into one story. Why do more with the initial premise, instead of side-tracking into the retinal camera? It’s like a shared-universe comic-book adventure. I find it too much for television, and does not encourage interesting plot resolution.

Acting: 4/6 This remains uneven, though the actors faced a challenge delivering that “As you know, Bob” introduction. John Noble gives an interesting performance as a sanity-challenged genius.

Production: 5/6 This remains top-notch.

Continuity note: The weather isn’t a huge concern; we make allowances for series television. As a resident of the Great Lakes Basin, I’m certainly aware that in some parts of the world, the weather in spring and autumn gets set to “shuffle.” However, I couldn’t help but notice that it was snowing last week, and we saw clear signs of winter. This episode seems to follow the pilot closely in time, yet winter appears long past.

Emotional response: 3/6. The second episode begins better than the pilot, but that only set the bar high for budget, not quality. It did not follow through, and failed to be consistently disturbing or interesting.

Overall: 4/6.

“The Same Old Story” receives twenty-eight out of forty-two.