Fringe Midseason Report Card: B

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Far too many of our favorite TV programs are on hiatus at the moment, with no new episodes airing until 2012. That's the bad news.

The good news, however? Now is an ideal time to gauge where these shows stand, Midseason Report Card style! We've already graded the first half of The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle. Up now: Fringe.

What has worked this season: Taken in pieces, how they have established a timeline void of Peter Bishop has been extraordinary. Much like the Christmas classic It's A Wonderful Life, we (and Peter) have an opportunity to see the lives of our favorite characters if he had never existed as an adult. It isn't pretty. This is most true for Walter, who never got over the loss of his son, and despite his best attempt he wasn't able to save alternate Peter. It's true, Peter's presence made a different in their lives and his absence means these aren't the characters we have come to love.

What hasn't worked: First, the pacing. While I understand these types of plots take time to develop, viewers don't have the staying power that the writers do. While it's entertaining, especially the time jumps, learning about Olivia's completely different life and how the Fringe division has become an elite division of the American government, it's just not moving fast enough. It shouldn't have taken Olivia seven episodes to realize she meant something to Peter in "his" timeline.

Second, the missing alternate universe. Peter gave his life so the two worlds could work together to fix all of the wrongs that were tearing them apart. After a strong start and a brilliant partnership in "One Night In October" they've barely been mentioned. Some of the strongest moments of season two occurred over there. It's sorely missing in season four.

Best episode: "Subject 9." At that moment it seemed we had opened up the giant gift box from which our greatest wishes would come tumbling out. Peter was back, Olivia and Walter both recognized him from their dreams and visions; it seemed they would be willing to discover what the appearance of this man meant to them.

Worst episode: "Wallflower." After the promise of the best episode, we made little headway toward understanding how Peter came out of the ether, where he was or how he was communicating with Olivia and Walter. Granted, baseball had some play in why we were left at this point for midseason, but we only have this. Peter is absolutely certain he isn't meant to be where he is, while the rest of us have no idea what to believe. To top it off, the idea of Olivia and Nina sharing a lovely life together was torn asunder by an unscrupulous deed.

Hopes for 2012: More answers. More alternate universe. Tell us if Peter is meant to be here and put his life back together or if there is someplace else to get back to. What are The Observers thinking as all of this unfolds? We've never even learned for certain whether or not Fauxlivia has Henry. I'm ready for the blanket to be ripped off the bed. Even if what I find leaves me cold and shivering, I'm ready to face the music. Are you?

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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I see Fringe as a cinematographic masterpiece. Mainly because this show puts us in a constant state of attention and suspense. See Fringe, is to be attentive to small details and all that, for shares in merged two-dimensional universes, with interaction between the characters and their "copies". This is simply sensational. Fringe is a complex and intelligent plot, which "pulls" the imagination, as assistants, makes us "wiggle in their seats," excites our feelings of apprehension, fear, joy and passion. Fringe is all this and more.

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I think its important to remember the pacing of a show like fringe depends in large part on how long the writers and producers wish the show to go for, and that proberly depends on how many stories the writers can continue to churn out before the ultimate end of that show.
In one interview Miss Torv thought that 5 seasons would be more likely, in another interview i saw John Noble said that the writers and producers had enough material for a 6 season show, and in still another interview Blair Brown said that the writers had a plan for at least 8 seasons.
What I'm trying to say no matter whether 5, 6 or 8 seasons a serial show like fringe has to be paced according, so to reach one of those conclusions.
For the record I think 6 seasons would be about right to reach the ultimate conclusion and to give us all the ending that I think we would have deserved.

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I agree worse episode was Wallflower and best episode for me was "And those we left behind", because it felt like old fringe with the great chemistry between Olivia, Peter and Walter. That's what makes Fringe for me. This season has been a real snoozefest for me bar two episodes. Way too much Lincoln and Olivia when we have yet to know much about Astrid, Broyles and Nina. Also, we haven't seen Walternate yet and what he's like in this timeline. More mythology and answers from the Observers would be great. We are suppose to get more about the observers this season, where is that?

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@ Review - I agree, people were unfairly hard on Anna in S1/early S2, blaming her for portraying a character who had a lot of problems and a really screwed up life as...acting like someone who had a lot of problems and a really screwed up life. Ironically I think people are doing the same to Josh now. Look at who Peter is. He's a guy who spent his 20's fast-talking his way through life, going from place to place and job to job and identity to identity. He was a loner, gambler, and con artist according to what we know. So portraying him as a sort of emo drama queen incapable of restraining his emotions would be completely out of character. Josh's portrayal of Peter is I think subtle and restrained and understated, which fits who Peter is - this incredibly smart guy from a parallel reality who is, paradoxically, also IMHO the most down-to-earth, approachable character on the show. He has the tendency to do a lot of amazing things but also simultaneously play it down like it's no big deal. It's easy to forget Peter never graduated from college and that apparently his skill set which includes everything from piano playing to precision pistol headshots to speaking multiple languages to computer hacking comes from nothing more than self-education and his own life experience. I think the biggest thing with Josh is that when things happen to Peter, we always see the reaction from OTHER characters far more than from Peter himself. I blame the writers for seemingly ignoring the chance to tell the story from Peter's POV. But in the episodes where Josh *does* get emotional scenes he does damn well - Entrada, The Man From the Other Side, Novation, etc.

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I agree on the worst episode. I consider "Wallflower" the worst episode of the whole show by far. The best for me is "And Those We've Left Behind", followed closely by "Novation". If there is anything this season has taught me is how unlikable, boring and sometimes intolerable I find Walter and Olivia without Peter. Walter is still crazy, but he doesn't amuse me anymore. I suppose I'm not supposed to be amused, but Walter was one of the reasons I tuned in to watch Fringe. Although I'm aware of the wonderful nuances John Noble brings to this iteration of Walter, it is not enough. Olivia is an even more uninspired bland cold version of S1 Olivia, who still falls for her work partners. Then they decided this wasn't boring enough and they added one of the dullest characters ever, Lincoln, and made it all about him, instead of focusing on Peter, which is what they promised anyway. They promised this would be Peter's season, but they lied. The only thing they've given us is lots of Lincoln and Olivia. What I hope for 2012: more Peter, more Peter/Walter/Walternate, more sense of danger, a resolution to the alternate universe, what's going on with September and the other Observers, more Astrid, Broyles and Nina, much less Lincoln if at all.

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Having read some of the comments below, confirms what I said earlier.
If you think Fringe is all about adult-Peter and Olivia and Walter are nothing without him, you are negative about the episodes without him, and you get comments like they are robots or whatever, so how is that?? Walter is the same as before, but having not been able to save redPeter left a bitterness, and for some reason he has a phobia and does not leave the Lab, which had nothing to do with having adultPeter, if they end up presenting it as such, they do not know what a phobia is. Olivia in this timeline is warm and caring for Walter, has a sort of friendship with Astrid and cares for Lincoln. She only protected Walter in her first encounter with Peter, in 4.06 she immediately trusted him, was relieved he crossed the bubble, and wanted him to find his Olivia.
Simply because this Olivia is not drooling after Peter, she is a robot??? The way the writers have set this up with the overhype on Peter, and some of the writing, they are doing the exact opposite of last season.
Last season Olivia was more or less erased as a personality, brainwashed, replaced and then worst of all she had to return for Peter and was reduced to a needy, insecure woman, no longer the special one, hero, savior.
That went all to Peter. This season has been set up from 3.10 , all for Peter to be central, from the spoilers you can be assured, Peter fans, that he will be God incarnated, as he probably will cure Walter from his phobia and Olivia will have to fall for him again, with a bit of badluck for Anna maybe Fauclivia as well. Reminder; Olivia was a confident, smiling, happy and direct woman when we met her in the pilot with John Scott, he made her happy, not Peter, he only made her insecure and needy.
What she did for John Scott was breaking all the rules to save his life. I am one of those who immediately loved the Olivia Dunham character and recognized Anna Torvs great acting, sadly for Anna only some American critics did, it has always been about he Bishop Boys and Jackson and Noble, and Jackson seems to very much protected by the media. Every time you dare to point out that may be he is not that good of an actor, bam, but the amount of abuse Anna Torv had to go through, sickening.
A year ago the rest of the critics apologized and then asked why she was so underused in the first 2 seasons, the episodes in S1 and S2 with Olivia central are still favourite, only in the beginning of this year mr. Pinkner had something to say about this.
Simply put Anna Torv is awesome and the episodes with her central are the best of Fringe, and she deserves to get praise.

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Agreed, on best and worst episodes; I'd give this season a C- or D, though, for the lack of entertainment and the sloth of pacing. As the commenter above said, it should be entertaining (doesn't have to be fun! happy! all the time, but it should be engaging); neither the story nor these lifeless others are. Agree too that the writers have more staying power for their writing than we viewers do. I've no trouble understanding or following the storylines, it's not THAT complicated...it's just gotten more like going to the dentist than watching a show I care about. And I have been fanatical about Fringe since the very beginning. This fall was promised to be about finding Peter and bringing him back (one of the interviews with the producers made it seem like a race against time to restore him....... but they have him back and ....yawn. They're not interested. It's like Olivia and Walter were replaced with automatons. Not only do I miss Peter, I miss the Peter-Walter and Peter-Olivia relationships. For me, without those original people and original relationships, it's not a show I want to watch. I didn't sign up for the Lincoln show, find the idea of another triangle simply embarrassing, and am hoping, hoping that things pick up the pace, and that our three are restored to each other, fast. Even the commercials have been more interesting than much of what they filmed so far. :(

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D -
@ CP
Agree on , What hasn't worked. Best episode, and Hopes for 2012. I wish the season had started at Reiden Lake into SUB9. The writing might be genius, but this is a medium that demands entertainment. Which is nonexistent( Peter Pun) in season 4. More answers. More alternate universe. Yup yup CP..
:)

Modwild

@clarkson_fan - Fixed!

Fortyseven

Agreed about what worked, what didn't and best episode. I'll give it a B- .

Fringe Quotes

I've come to the opinion that home is where the heart is.

Peter

I feel fine, hon.

Peter

Fringe Music

  Song Artist
Song Poor Little Fool Ricky Nelson iTunes
Dear mr fantasy Dear Mr. Fantasy Traffic iTunes
Blue bayou Blue Bayou Roy Orbison iTunes
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