Remember the last time I wrote about fun TV?
Aw, I’m just foolin you. I remember.
I wrote about Fringe last spring with this plaintive comment: So Fringe, if you let Peter and Olivia be together and be a regular couple, I will give you permission to make the plot devices as nonsensical as you want. And I will happily walk around the gaping, yawning holes in your narrative path.
I saw the 5th season premiere this weekend. And it appears that the Lost guys pulled a Whedon.
Threw in a satirical musical piece to dramatize ambiguous morality?
Let high school cheerleaders fight evil and pimples simultaneously?
Put cowboys in space?
Take a moderately grim dystopia that was doing OK balancing procedurals with arc and suddenly kick it a few decades ahead into a much, much, much more horrifying dystopia with almost no narrative ties to the show’s establishing seasons?
Yup. That’s the one.
Fringe is now taking place completely in 2036, with absolutely nothing remaining, plotwise, of the more petty world-saving the team did. Dithering with alternate universes and cyborg warriors and deranged geniuses creating the circumstances for an entirely new planet, built entirely by a deranged genius geneticist, from the wreckage of two full universes.
It’s now all grim, grey, evil Observers versus vibrant but oppressed “natives,” doing their best to find hope in a world where even oxygen is running out. On purpose.
And I was correct in predicting that there would be no domestic bliss for poor Peter, Olivia and us. We got to see about 45 seconds of it, before the Observers came in and destroyed everything that everyone loved about being human and living on Earth. And split the happy young family in three different directions.
But you know what?
It’s a flipping amazing show now. Amazing. Depth, a tiny bit of humor, plot points they didn’t even bother explaining. Not insulting our intelligence.
Ttrusting us to remember way back from last season when Doofy Walter got his lobotomized brain chunk sewn back into his brain via a freaky chemical and became Dick Walter: ready to solve problems, but no more rhapsodizing about the perfect strawberry milkshake. Dick Walter’s come and gone now, without even a “previously” scene reminding us how he got that way.
A bit too good and evil for my taste. Standard dystopia: no music, intense repression, CO2 machines pumping up the air, dangerous seedy underbelly black market where we can trust no one, Mr. Mulder.
But I don’t care. Bring it on!