Fringe returns for its fifth and final season tonight, and if you follow me on Twitter or have talked to me much in the last month or so, you've probably noticed that I've recently caught up and am completely obsessed. And, for me, when it comes down to it it's not really about the specifics of the plot or Joshua Jackson's coats. So I thought that in celebration of the show's return, I'd tell you the three main things that make me love it so much.
1. The continuity (and foreshadowing). My God, the continuity. The plot is extremely complicated, and the writers are extremely careful. Given the way many simpler shows can't seem to keep their own details and timelines straight, the way the Fringe writers have made this all work is nothing short of astonishing. They should be teaching classes. And tiny things, sometimes things that seem to be throwaway lines, from early seasons come back in extremely meaningful ways later. I already can't wait to rewatch the whole series to catch things I didn't notice.
2. The acting. I won't tell you specifics, in case I'm actually convincing any of you to watch, but several of the actors have had to play different versions of their characters over the course of the series, and they've all done a really good job. There's a particular couple who plays the actual day-to-day couple stuff (which is harder to do well than the early flirting/sexual tension stuff, I think) more believably than anyone other than maybe Peter and El on White Collar. And I don't usually go around ranting about how my favorites should be rewarded at awards shows, but SERIOUSLY WHY DOESN'T JOHN NOBLE HAVE ALL THE EMMYS?
3. It makes me think and care. Too often, "smart" shows leave the viewer feeling somewhat distanced from the characters and their concerns, and shows that excel at tugging on the heartstrings aren't necessarily intellectually engaging. Most shows at their best alternate between plays for the viewer's head and heart. Fringe is the only one I can think of that melds this perfectly, so that the thought-provoking sciencey bits are also the things that very directly affect the lives and loves and fates of the characters they make us care about so much.
If I've gotten you at all interested, well, do not jump in with the fifth season premiere tonight. Start at the beginning. Trust me, it's worth it. Amazon Prime members can stream the first three seasons for free, and Netflix has the first four seasons on DVD.