A quick review of the "Fringe" winter finale coming up just as soon as you get me some pretzels...
As "Fringe" heads into another long, frustrating hiatus (so that Fox can find a timeslot for the very silly "Past Life"), I'm wondering how strong my interest will be in seeing the show when it returns in April. There are some things it does very well. You can always count, for instance, on freaky/cool/disturbing teasers, like tonight's collision of two buildings from parallel universes, and the people in them(*). And John Noble will always be wonderful, whether he's being endearingly wacky (the pretzel gag), or terrified, or forced to face up to the despicable nature of all those experiments he did with "Bellie" all those years ago. And episodes can usually be counted on to wrap up well, as we got the swirling building disappearance (with better CGI effects than I've seen on a number of shows this week, like "Lost" and "Human Target") and Olivia discovering Walter's terrible secret about which universe this Peter Bishop came from.
(*) The most prominent of said people was played by Jim True-Frost, well-known to "Wire" fans as Prez. I was a little disappointed he didn't get a chance to do much with old co-star Lance Reddick, frankly.
The problem, almost always, is in the long, boring middle between the disturbing teasers and the episode's resolution - and that seems to be true whether it's a standalone episode like last week's evil Nazi story or a mythology-heavy one like this. I also don't find Olivia wandering around a fantasy dreamscape nearly as fascinating as the show's producers do.
Because "Fringe" airs on such a busy viewing night for me and simply isn't as high on my priority list as, say, the NBC comedies, I tend to let episodes stack up on the DVR for a while. And when I get to them, it's usually in conjunction with completing some other task. (The Nazi episode accompanied yesterday morning's workout, and then the sorting of some laundry.) It's not a bad show, but even in is more mythology-heavy episodes (which tend to be the creatively stronger ones), it's rarely compelling enough that I feel in the need to hurry to see it. And with it being out of sight, out of mind until April Fool's Day, it may feel very easy for me to just cut the cord.
The ratings have ticked up in recent weeks, and some people at Fox I spoke with at press tour seemed perfectly content with the ratings when you factor in DVR usage. (They knew when they moved it to Thursdays that its audience might wait a day or two to watch it, but would be technologically-adept enough to be willing and able to do that.) We'll just have to see how much loyalty there is over the next two months.
What did everybody else think?