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Best Dramas of 2011: 4 – Fringe

December 20th, 2011 by Nathan Alexander Video Editor

We’re counting down the Top 10 Dramas of 2011. Each pick will be revealed on Hulu’s homepage every day of this week. Selections 10-5 can be viewed here.

4 – Fringe

Every show eventually hits a slump—that point when the same old characters keep doing the same old thing. Sometimes it’s “Breaking Bad,” where every single episode is the one where the chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-dealer almost reveals the truth to his wife. (Oh, the suspense!) And sometimes it’s “CSI: Miami,” where the formula has become so repetitive that the audience embraces it as schtick.

In its second and third seasons, “Fringe” was falling into a comfortable place. The Fringe team would investigate a strange crime. Peter Bishop would unexpectedly know a whole lot about whatever they were investigating. Walter would work furiously in his lab, take a psychotropic drug and request an obscure candy. Or make milkshakes. The entire SWAT team would close in on the suspect, but somehow either Peter or Olivia would end up completely alone in an abandoned building with the bad guy, and the bad guy would turn out to be a freakish victim of some experiment Walter conducted 30 years ago.

Fringe could have stayed there indefinitely, stretching the show’s mysterious throughline over 7 or 8 seasons as the Fringe team investigates case after case.

The X-Files” did that. To a lesser extent, “Alias” did that. But Fringe didn’t do that. And we’re so glad.

Last season, Fringe took us to the alternate universe, where every character’s personality and motivations were entirely different, and the show’s incredible ensemble cast was put through their Paceys. Ahem, paces.

Actors Anna Torv and John Noble, in addition to their perfect American dialects (both are Australian), had the task of reinventing their characters. Anna Torv’s alternate Olivia (we’ll call her “Faux-livia”) was cruel and calculating. John Noble’s amazing alternate Walter (“Walternate”) was slick, cold and ruthless, a sharp contrast from the bumbling, unkempt Walter Bishop of Seasons 1 and 2. Last season’s amazing cliffhanger ending saw Walter’s son Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) blink out of existence, the result of the team’s constant meddling in the space-time continuum. Brilliantly employing the classic time-travel concept of “The Butterfly Effect” (change one small thing and you change everything), this season Fringe became the sci-fi version of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” It presents a world in which Peter Bishop never existed, or to be more accurate, died at age 9. Season 4 is an amazing reboot. As an audience, we get to start fresh, trying to piece together the backstory and motivation of each character. Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) is now evil (or is she?), Olivia is lonely and confused, and Walter is a broken, terrified hermit.

It’s a stupefying outrage that John Noble has never been nominated for an Emmy. He’s a master of his craft. Noble and his fellow castmates are now playing the third (and sometimes fourth) versions of themselves. An ensemble with this kind of range deserves recognition. If you’re not watching Fringe, it’s time to rent some DVDs, stock up on TV dinners and catch yourself up.

Last comment: Dec 28th 2011 22 Comments
  • TQbabies says:

    I want to thank you for not acknowledging JOSHUA JACKSON in your stupid blog. Thanks a lot.

  • Sareeta says:

    Finally, Fringe gets some recognition on a “Best of” list! Season 3 was amazing. Having the story go back and forth between universes was a genius idea and freshened up what was turning into a monster-of-the-week show. I found myself equally attached to the alternate-universe characters (Charlie!!) as regulars. I am not sure what to think of season 4 based on the first 7 episodes, but I am hoping the show will surprise me as it always does as the season unfolds.

  • Ram says:

    Best show in years! I love it!

  • elizabeth says:

    Fringe really is an amazing show, it’s such a shame not many people are watching it. The acting is such quality, Anna Torv has (no joke) played around 7 different characters.

  • Carmen G. Mendez says:

    Fringe is a wonderful show. I can hardly wait till the next one. Please continue to show thanks


  • PU says:

    Fringe is #1! This show should continue. It makes you really think of the possibilities out there and the acting is superb.

  • Alemoe says:

    Fringe is the only show I know that has the ability to reinvent itself every season. This show is awesome and continues to keep me interested. I can’t wait for January to come!

  • Maura says:

    FRINGE has the guts to go beyond the ‘norm’ and delve into places we could only imagine. It’s creativity is by far more interesting than most tv offered today. I enjoy the fact that the characters keep evolving as far as they do and that the scripts take us to places we would not expect to go. I hope they are finally recognized for the excellent show they are.

  • Fox Mulder says:

    THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE ..!!!! but TRUST NO ONE…..exFBI agent Mulder

  • aman says:

    I love fringe

  • mile says:

    Anna Torv is a smashing beauty to my eyes..

  • jenny says:


  • nounou says:

    I like this show ,very entertaining and keep you want to see more , sometimes you feel that it repeat itself tough I never felt the episodes were boring .
    The fact that there is a parallel world is fascinating which keeps you thinking…

  • saul says:

    You’re right about shows becoming complacent once they have a winning formula
    I liked Ugly Betty for example.
    I thought the writing was good and so was the acting.
    But that not enough if the shows become too predictable.
    Even House has become too predictable
    I don’t know of any show that hasn’t and was on more then a few years.

  • Laura James says:

    Fringe is horror, Sci-Fi, and dark humor all rolled into one. I love this show.

  • MC-G says:

    Fringe is great and John Noble is brilliant. Thanks for recognizing him, and yeah, where is his Emmy?

  • Garfield Hylton says:

    Fringe, is syfy, meets drama with a hint of humor (in its weirdest way). Its is gravitating. I have been watching since episode one, i’m addicted to it. For me, I would give it number 1!

  • sayelaine says:

    Fringe is an excellent show. The networks need to come into the 21st century when computing ratings. Their methods are so out dated they ultimately cancel shows that should be ccontinued.

  • Kent says:

    Agreed, John Noble is one of the best Actors on TV right now, I find it hard to believe he has not been tapped for an Emmy. John, if your listening, anybody that is half paying attention knows that you are fantastic. I think you will at least be busy working for a while.

  • KC says:

    Love Fringe. I hope it stays on.

  • hulurats says:

    Fringe is engrossing if you’re a syfy fan. definitely in top 4.

  • Fringe is a good show.