TV News: Abrams on the Fringe

Mark Valley and Anna Torv in the series from J. J. Abrams

FRINGE is a new fantasy-themed show from producer J. J. Abrams (LOST) that will debut on Fox this September 9. It follows the adventures of three characters – a young FBI agent (Ann Torv), a demented scientist (John Noble), and the scientist’s son (Joshua Jackson) – who combine forces to solve inexplicable mysteries each week.
We spoke with co-star Joshua Jackson about FRINGE back when he was promoting SHUTTER, and he had this to say:
“FRINGE takes the world that we all live in and says, ‘What you think you know about this cup, you don’t actually know, because if you look at it from over here, it’s something entirely different.’ That will be the thrust of the show. The physical world that we live in, without the addition of any magic or anything supernatural, is far more than we all see it as being.”
The actor credited producer Abrams with convincing him to return to the small screen. Abrams has managed to create some intriguing television work, but his penchant for teasing audiences with mysteries that drag on over several episodes – not to mention who seasons – has worn out the patience of some fans. Worse, it makes it difficult if not impossible for the shows to attract new viewers, who would be lost without knowing the intricate back stories of the continuing plot threads.
This interview in the New York Times addresses the issue, making Abrams seem a bit less than gracious toward to previously faithful fans who got finally fed up with his approach.

IF you’ve ever been utterly baffled by a television show that J. J. Abrams had a hand in creating — too confused to follow the serpentine plot twists of “Lost” or “Alias” or, heck, even “Felicity” — know that Mr. Abrams, the prolific writer, producer and director, has been annoyed too. With you.
“I just got tired of hearing people say to me, over and over, ‘Yeah, I was watching it, but I missed one, I got really confused, and I stopped watching it,’ ” he said in a recent phone interview.

Abrams and his collaborators, including Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci (who wrote TRANSFORMERS) promise they have learned their lesson and will make FRINGE easier to understand on an episode-by-episode basis, even though there will be overarching narrative, suggesting that the preturnatural phenomena on the show are all part of a larger pattern.

The initial goal, Mr. Abrams said, was to create a show that suggested complexity but was comprehensible in any given episode — a goal he felt eluded him on “Alias.”

Over at, there is a brief post offering a little sage advice on this topic:

It would be fine for these guys to engage in elliptical story-telling if the networks would just give them a set time-frame for how long the series was going to run and make that short–two or three seasons. But viewers can tell when the folks making the show have no idea where it’s headed either.

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