We're in the middle of the writing break now, and as my bosses unsurprisingly want me to wait for the Fox News/Karl Rove session before I do any column-writing, I thought I would write up my thoughts on Fox's "Fringe," which Fox screened last night on the hotel's closed-circuit system. The panel itself wasn't incredibly newsworthy, though I got J.J. Abrams to say afterwards that they'll make Lance Reddick available as needed to the "Lost" guys (and said that he initially resisted casting Reddick here to avoid keeping him off "Lost," until he realized he'd have more control over the situation than if Reddick wound up on someone else's show), so I'm going to stick to my traditional Pilot Watch format.
Same caveat as always applies: this is not a review. The version I saw has a number of significant changes from the one that leaked online, and J.J. and company said they might be tweaking it even more between now and when it debuts in the fall. These are just my first impressions, coming up after the jump...
Who's in it: Anna Torv (Australian newcomer), Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Kirk Aceveda, Lance Reddick, Blair Brown, Mark Valley, a cow
What it's about: An FBI agent (Torv) recruits a mentally ill genius (Noble) and his brilliant and bitter son (Jackson) to investigate crimes involving fringe sciences like cloning, telepathy, etc.
Pluses: J.J. and company know what they're doing. It's a slick pilot with interesting characters, a plot that moves and some good action sequences. Noble and Jackson are very strong as genius father and son (I always liked Jackson as Pacey and am glad to see him in a good adult role), and supporting players like Reddick (as Torv's hard-line boss, not much of a stretch from his work on "The Wire") and Brown (as an executive of a cutting-edge science company) do the expected lot with a little, in terms of screen time. J.J. admitted at the session that "Alias" got too incoherent too quickly and promised stronger episodic elements each week, in addition to whatever ongoing story arcs he has planned.
Minuses: Didn't wow me in the way that the "Lost" or "Alias" pilots did, and I'm not sure how much of that is on Anna Torv, who didn't make nearly as strong an impression as the two male leads. But even if it's nothing more than a well-made "X-Files" copy, I can see myself watching it on a regular basis.