LITTLE ROCK A longtime reader from Hot Springs Village once asked me to briefly explain Fringe, Fox’s frequently confusing science fiction mystery thriller. She didn’t get it and really wanted to.
Briefly? I couldn’t do it.
As with Lost, The X-Files and Twin Peaks, the cult hit Fringe is not so much about the destination as it is the journey.
Weird stuff happens. You scratch your head. You come back the next week to see if any of it makes sense.
Is that a recipe for success? Not so much in this day of fragmented audiences, short attention spans and network programmers with hair triggers.
But Fringe had compelling characters and somehow it managed to last five seasons and 100 episodes.
It all comes to a promised spectacular and emotional two-hour end at 7 p.m. Friday. I’ve stuck with the series all the way and will be there to mark the occasion. Friday’s final two episodes are titled “Liberty” and “An Enemy of Fate.” Ponder that for clues.
Equally as exciting as it will be to see how the series ends is the fact that anetwork notoriously fickle in permitting longevity has actually allowed a series to wind down on its own. That’s increasingly rare these days, for Fox or anybody else.
About his show, co-creator J.J. Abrams told The Hollywood Reporter last week, “It has been both mind-blowing and humbling. I’ve always been a fan of science fiction, and to be able to tell this story about a family - a family that, through everything, fought together for survival - has been a highlight of my career.”
That’s as good an explanation of the series’ appeal as any. Behind all the bizarre events, parallel universes, corporate and scientific conspiracies, altered timelines and being frozen in amber, the tale is essentially one of family relationships.
The series stars JoshuaJackson, Anna Torv, John Noble and Jasika Nicole as four intrepid heroes who battle to save life as we know it from being destroyed by the cold, emotionless “Observers.”
It all began Sept. 9, 2008, with an airliner landing by autopilot at Boston’s Logan Airport. Every passenger was dead, their bodies crystallized. Baffled, the feds created a special “fringe science” task force to investigate this and other increasingly frequentscientific anomalies.
There seemed to be a pattern developing - “a mysterious sequence of unexplained phenomena suggestive of someone or something performing experiments on the world.” The Fringe Division was on the case.
FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Torv) joins forces with Peter Bishop (Jackson) and his brilliant but “mad” scientist father Walter Bishop (John Noble), adds her assistant,Astrid Farnsworth (Nicole), and the team is off and running for the next five years.
Season 5 has been set in 2036, years after the Observers seized control and our team was frozen in amber. Can our heroes save the world? I’m betting that they will.
30 Rock. Speaking of series finales, NBC’s 30 Rock folds its tents at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 with a special hour episode that’ll feature House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (DCalif.) as a guest.
Pelosi has a challenge after Vice President Joe Biden’s witty performance in a Parks and Recreation cameo in November.
Other politicians who have shown up on 30 Rock include Al Gore, Condoleezza Rice and Michael Bloomberg.
Longmire Several times each week I get e-mails or a call from readers asking if A&E’s Longmire has been canceled. The Western crime drama stars Australian actor Robert Taylor as Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire, Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Gallactica), as his deputy, and Lou Diamond Phillips as his friend Henry Standing Bear.
The series earned big ratings for A&E and was renewed in June for a second season. There has been no word when new episodes will arrive, but this coming June seems a logical time.
All renewed. USA has ordered a 10-episode Season 3 for Necessary Roughness. The series, starring Callie Thorne, joins other recent USA renewals, Suits, Burn Notice, Royal Pains, White Collar and Covert Affairs.
Downton numbers. Finally, several readers have asked how the Season 3 premiere of PBS’ Downton Abbey did in the ratings. Answer: Huge.
With almost 8 million viewers, on Jan. 6, Downton Abbey quadrupled the average PBS prime-time rating. It beat out Fox, ABC and NBC in its time slot.
The premiere was topped only by CBS’ The Mentalist with 10.7 million viewers and The Good Wife with 10 million.
Correction. Pioneers of Television airs at 7 p.m. Tuesdays on PBS and AETN through Feb. 5.
The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Weekend, Pages 32 on 01/17/2013
Print Headline: Fringe fans should be satisfied with series’ end