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TV Series Review

In 2008, Fox's much-buzzed about paranormal drama Fringe began with a plane mysteriously landing on autopilot at Boston's Logan International Airport. When officials pried the doors open, they found that the jet contained dozens of bodies with flesh melting off their skeletons like reheated Jell-O.

That oozing introduction told potential fans exactly what to expect from creator J.J. Abrams' Frankensteinian effort at piecing together shows such as CSI, The X-Files and his very own  Lost into a living, breathing sci-fi classic. And though the show has transformed from a freaky (but little watched) cop procedural into a sprawling (but still little watched) saga full of alternate realities and parallel universes, Abrams' strange creation remains as grisly and creepy as ever.

The title refers to fringe science: psychokinesis, parapsychology, reanimation, you name it. And the Fringe Division at the center of the investigatory action is a joint federal task force supported primarily by the FBI. But that doesn't mean the characters are all dark-suited agents sporting Joe Friday cool. Instead, we get a truly mad scientist named Walter Bishop, whose last full-time job was downing the pudding at a local insane asylum. While the glad-to-be-free Dr. Bishop is busy dissecting brains and experimenting with psychotropic drugs, FBI agent Olivia Dunham busts the show's ne'er-do-wells, and Bishop's jack-of-all-trades son, Peter, makes sure Pops doesn't wander away.

Since the show's debut, the team has been knitting a paranormal sweater out of a lot of creepy dangling threads. The resulting tangle has revealed an all-out war with an parallel universe that centers around the fact that Walter, years before, actually kidnapped Peter from a counterpart Walter on the other side. (Cue The Twilight Zone music.) The baddies that be hope to eventually destroy both universes and create a new one—under their control of course.

None of Fringe's alternate realities have been able to void some real-world concerns. Episodes can contain a smattering of language, and while sexuality isn't a pervasive issue, Peter has had intimate relations with the Olivias from both sides of the universal divide. But the drama's real showstoppers are its blood, gore and squirm-inducing torture scenes. Each week at least one or two victims meet a goopy end, ranging from liquefied brains to spilled entrails to plucked-out eyeballs.

"I want [Olivia] to vomit one time when she sees one of these things," actress Anna Torv told the Los Angeles Times when the show first launched, "because I think she would legitimately feel that way." If a hardened FBI agent would react that way, what about the families stumbling upon this sci-fi scarefest?

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Episode Reviews

Fringe: 5-4-2012
Fringe: 2112011

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Cast

Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham; Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop; John Noble as Dr. Walter Bishop; Blair Brown as Nina Sharp; Jasika Nicole as Astrid Farnsworth

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Fox

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