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Capone Pops his Comic-Con Cherry at JJ Abrams "Fringe" Premiere!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here, except it's really Capone in San Diego this week, attending my first Comic-Con. The event's Preview Night has just ended, and there are already things to discuss. The highlight on Wednesday was the first-ever legal, non-leaked-on-the-evil-internet (paraphrasing co-showrunner J.J. Abrams' video introduction) screening of the pilot for the new Fox series "Fringe," set to premiere September 9 and run Tuesdays at 9pm (EST). Not surprisingly, the pilot is a real attention grabber, with Abrams & Co. (including Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the team behind Abrams' Star Trek movie) giving us yet another series opener that begins with a fated airliner. Unlike "Lost," nobody survives this flight from Germany, which lands on autopilot in Boston. In fact, the way the passengers and crew die is pretty fucking gruesome, especially a certain co-pilot. FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Australian lovely Anna Torv) is brought in to investigate by her overbearing, often cruel boss (played by "The Wire's" Lance Reddick, who also appeared in a couple "Lost" episodes this last season). The evidence leads Dunham and fellow agent John Scott (Mark Valley of "Boston Legal"), who also happens to be Dunham's secret lover, to a storage facility where they find a strange lab and a familiar-looking man operating it. The ensuing chase results leads to near-fatal results for Scott when an unknown mixture of chemical causes his skin to crystalize and actually become see through. The effect is unbelievably cool. Dunham search becomes two fold: find the possible terrorist who killed a plane load of people and find a cure for her dying boyfriend. Both searches lead her to Walter Bishop (John Noble), a former Harvard researcher who has been locked up for crazy for the last 20 years. The only way Dunham can interview him is to get the permission of a family member, so she finds Bishop's son, Peter (Josh Jackson), an intelligent wheeler-dealer who sometimes seems more con artist than actual genius. The rest of the show is a wild ride toward a scientific cure that takes this group of investigators and researchers from trying to cure one man to uncovering what may be a global conspiracy to turn portions of the world's population into human lab rats--a phenomenon known as "The Pattern" in certain whispering circles. I love that the Abrams bunch has pretty much taken the documentary THE CORPORATION and turned it into the basis for this promising show. The idea that apparently random events in recent history (such as massive tsunamis) may have been the result of testing on a giant scale. I'm guessing it's no coincidence that our Dr. Bishop shard a lab at Harvard back in the day with a man who now runs one of the largest industrial science-based complexes in the world. The cast is across-the-board strong as a rock. Torv is a great new face who seems pretty game as a skeptical investigator whose work on this case opens up a new career for her--to look into criminal or dangerous abuses of "fringe science," such as teleportation, invisibility, and reanimation. Yes, I said it! Re-fucking-animation! Also very good in the cast is Blair Brown as the ice-cold corporate mouth piece for the big corporation. She's only in a couple of scenes, but they are two of the most revealing sequences in the film, and she's just masterful. Noble's portrayal of Dr. Bishop might be in need of a little toning down. This incarnation of Bishop might be too "nutty professor," which I realize is exactly what he is. But it just felt a little forced. That being said, he delivers some of the show's best lines, especially when he sets out to cook up a batch of homemade LSD. In many ways, "Fringe" is a more reality-based version of "The X-Files." I'm sure I'm not the first person to say this, nor will I be the last. But that's because the tone of the show and the potential cases that Dunham and the Bishop men will look into seem right out of a more believable, science-based version of "The X-Files." Whether the series can keep up the immediacy of the first episode is unknown, but I'm thinking yes. The pilot is a slam dunk, and at the very least, check that out in September and prepare to be immensely entertained. I've got more interviews and panel write-up over the next few days than I care to admit. But myself, Quint, and Mr. Beaks will do our damnedest to bring it all to you. For myself on Thursday, I'll be bringing you material from CITY OF EMBER, TWILIGHT, PUSH, and (hopefully) HBO's "True Blood." Plus a few surprises. The updates are going to come at you fast and furious this year. Try to keep up. -Capone

Readers Talkback
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  • July 24, 2008, 2:07 a.m. CST

    can't wait

    by deanbarry

    i got me a whole heap of jj love to spread on the world. just saw the xfiles movie today too. pretty cool!

  • July 24, 2008, 2:12 a.m. CST

    I liked the leaked pilot

    by xsi kal

    ...any idea what the differences between the two versions are?

  • July 24, 2008, 2:16 a.m. CST

    Acknowledging its roots is a start...X-files

    by Shub-Wankalot

    Whether or not this show has the chutzpah to woo the next generation is the big question. X-files and shows resembling this brand may have run out of steam with the old crowd, but the attention span of the new crowd may require more than what this new incarnation promises.

  • July 24, 2008, 2:17 a.m. CST

    Any changes from the internet version?

    by V'Shael

    Or is this the new and improved to-be-aired on the not-evil television version?

  • July 24, 2008, 2:20 a.m. CST

    Ain't It OLD NEWS?

    by darthuser

    AICN becomes the last site to review a pilot the rest of the Internet saw two months ago

  • July 24, 2008, 2:22 a.m. CST

    AICN already reviewed this

    by mcgowanleg

    Darthuser AICN had their first FRINGE review up a long time ago

  • July 24, 2008, 2:37 a.m. CST

    Reality based up to the tank

    by elab49

    Then it all becomes more than a little absurd. The 'arc' and the 'conspiracy' are shoehorned in in a remarkably clumsy fashion that simply ruins the whole premise being built up. Which is a pity - because up until that bit it really wasn't that bad.

  • July 24, 2008, 3:19 a.m. CST

    The pilot was crap!

    by photoboy

    Dull, plodding, boring, inexplicable character decisions, etc. The first 5 minutes on the plane are OK, the rest is rubbish. Abrams is way overrated these days, and Orci/Kurtzman are just talentless hacks.

  • July 24, 2008, 3:27 a.m. CST

    I am entirely against illegal leaking of TV shows

    by ReZourceman

    And I entirely didnt download Fringe last month. And I entirely didnt enjoy the fuck out of it. And I entirely wont be illegally downloading it when it eventually airs.

  • July 24, 2008, 3:28 a.m. CST

    Kurtzman and Orci suck harder then a Dyson Vac

    by Xiphos_2

    It will entertaining when Orci shows up later to defend his "work". Which is shit by the way.

  • July 24, 2008, 4:07 a.m. CST

    The leaked pilot was a bit meh


    I watched from start to finish but was a little bored by it and had no interest in the characters they were trying to make us worry about. It all seemed a little forced. Lets hope it picks up, more decent sci-fi is what TV needs in my opinion.

  • July 24, 2008, 5:20 a.m. CST

    so when does hollywood totally suck the life out of

    by bacci40

    the comix industry? i want to know, cuz then the crowds will dissapate and i can return to the con and go back to drooling over issues of action comics number 1

  • July 24, 2008, 6:06 a.m. CST

    "Doomwatch" did it first.

    by Sans Souci

    A crack team of investigators running around solving science crimes and strange abberations of the natural order? Yep, the Brits already did it back in the 1970s. ;-) <p> Geek snarkery aside... <p> Anyone expecting the lighting of the "Lost" pilot to strike twice will be sorely disappointed. With that said, the show starts off in decent manner. Excellent special effects and editing. The use of "title cards" is unique. The sense of dread and drear is in full effect. <p> But the writing and acting... <p> Blair Brown captures your attention more in her two brief scenes than the rest of the cast do in the entire episode. That's not so good an omen. Jackson could become insufferably muggy for the camera if they don't nail down what his character angle is supposed to be. Con man? Discounted genius? Maybe even wolf in the fold? Noble could just rehash Mental Denethor too easily if the scripts don't pull his character in the right direction. And Cute Blonde FBI Chick has about the same impact as Jaime Somers 2.0 did in last year's forgettable "Bionic Woman" series, which is not a good thing for your obstensible lead. <p> Again, the special effects are top notch, but forget about the plane sequence, which I admit is pretty overwhelming. Just wait till you see what happens in Blair Brown's first appearence. Oompah! <p> One final quibble...the ending could've been much cooler if it hadn't been alluded to earlier in an unrelated conversation. At the very least it would've been more mysterious and spooky. But one casual reference just robs the end of its potential impact. <p> Right now for me "Fringe" is somewhere between "Heroes" and "Alias." There's groundwork for a rich mythos with plenty to discover, but things could quickly go off the rails if no firm direction is charted. Hopefully Abrams is as hands-on as he's claiming to be. This could be a thrilling ride or a middling "The X-Files" rehash. Further eps will have to be seen to make the call.

  • July 24, 2008, 6:11 a.m. CST

    So was this different from the leaked one?

    by Desmondo

    Had I seen that, I probably would have said that Pacey's character was pretty annoying. And probably would have found the pseudo-fringe-science far more jarring than most of the stuff on Lost. But obviously I haven't.

  • July 24, 2008, 8:54 a.m. CST

    The premise is based on The Corporation?

    by HoboCode

    I'm on board. Fucking great documentary.

  • July 24, 2008, 10:47 a.m. CST

    The pilot was great

    by aversiontherapy2

    Hope they don't mess with it.

  • July 24, 2008, 11:53 a.m. CST

    What's the recipe for that homemade LSD, Capone?

    by Squashua

    Inquiring minds...

  • July 24, 2008, 12:29 p.m. CST

    So its "Strange World"

    by Raymar

    and probably axed just as quickly...

  • July 24, 2008, 1:57 p.m. CST

    Liked the pilot but....

    by 7Cal

    Felt the first third, or maybe half, was much stronger than the rest. It seemed to get a little too 'kooky' for me, and maybe this vibe I picked up was the same one when Capone referenced them having to tone down the wacky-professor character.<p> Also some of the logic leaps from dealing with the airplane-virus, to having to get some guy who's been locked up for 20 years in a nuthouse to solve everything, seemed to be stretching thin for me. That's not to say it can't work, but maybe a quick few more exposition scenes showing how they go from A to B would help.

  • July 24, 2008, 2:04 p.m. CST

    Blair Brown

    by skimn

    Have had a crush on her since Altered States and that Molly Dodd series that shortly ran on NBC.

  • July 24, 2008, 2:26 p.m. CST

    One big problem I had with the pilot...

    by Executor

    Crazy doc has been locked up for 20 years, but his lab at Harvard is unused, untouched, and full of his old equipment. Seriously? In 20 years no one at Harvard thought of getting some use out of that lab????

  • July 24, 2008, 4:54 p.m. CST

    Does anyone at AICN.

    by cookylamoo

    Ever have a non-sexual reaction to seeing a movie?

  • July 24, 2008, 6:27 p.m. CST

    Seen one J.J.A. show, seen them all...

    by TheBLIGHT

    Alias, Lost and now Fringe... creepy (and old) powerful/brilliant men, weird science, many innocent lost lives - with clinical/experimental violence, double agents, grey/blah lighting, female leads (sorta man-ish ~ hello Sydney and Kate) with high foreheads, and plodding attempts at opening our eyes to the 'real' world. Got tired of it on Alias season 4 on, try something new J.J...

  • July 24, 2008, 6:52 p.m. CST

    Sure, sure, TheBLIGHT...all JJs shows are the same...

    by Executor

    ...with all the creepy old men, weird science, double agents and experimental violence in What About Brian?, Felicity, and Six Degrees.<p> And what do you expect from sci-fi action shows? Of course they're going to have science and violence and brilliant scientists. Else they wouldn't be a sci-fi action show! Ugh, moron.

  • July 25, 2008, 8:16 a.m. CST

    Ya know, maybe I'm wrong...

    by Kid Z

    ... but from the sound of the premise, it seems like it's a rip-off of Global Frequency instead of X-Files. Warren Ellis... call your attorney!

  • July 25, 2008, 1:10 p.m. CST

    This review by Capone

    by Outrider304

    I'm a little dissapointed in this review, and the overall state of reviews that I have been seeing here lately on AICN. I first read this piece earlier in the week and was a bit amped by Capone's excitement for it, but then as the week continued on and more articles came out about the viewing of this at comic con, other reviewers were making mention that the crowd wasn't bowled over. Now, certainly Capone didn't lie in his review, and his opinion is certainly his own, but he really pumps this thing, and makes no mention of the fact that the rest of crowd was sort of "meh" to it. I'm all for the personal opinion, but I think you do the readers a great disservice by not mentioning the tepid reaction of the rest of the audience. That's the magic of writing a review about something that you get to see with a larger group - you have the opportunity to write your own reaction, plus comment on everyone elses. The movie reviewers do that a lot when they see a movie that they like which everyone else in the theater liked as well, or a movie they hated that everyone else in the theater hated too. But for movies where they liked it and the rest of the crowd didn't, there is always a strange absence of crowd reaction there...Harry's done this a number of times, and now I see Capone doing it with this show. We TV and moviephiles come to this site in a lot of cases to help us decide what to watch, and if you don't include as much information as possible, then the site is no longer doing it's job. Which begs the question, is the site now catering to preferred individuals in the industry? Is this review an example of AICN bias toward Abrams?

  • July 25, 2008, 1:50 p.m. CST

    Do not replace noble

    by gotilk

    Do not tone him down. He DOES have the best lines. "Let's make some LSD" Whole thing was brilliant! Love the titles, too.

  • July 25, 2008, 10 p.m. CST

    M-O-O-N, that spells Executor...

    by TheBLIGHT

    Indeed, my first post after having read Harry's site from it's first weeks online back in the day, and still enjoying it today... and I have a young'un calling me a moron, right off... Well I am tickled and bemused. As a class act, all I can say Executor is, thank you. M-O-O-N, that spells fare thee well. Also, Tom Cullen, you rock it classic S-K style.