Yesterday I finally got my Abrams-lovin’ ass round to watching the first episode of Fringe.
It was pretty great. It was like watching the Alias pilot refracted through a shinier, more contemporary — and, I get the impression, more sophisticated — lens.
But it wasn’t just spotting key preliminary Alias arcs that gave me an uncanny sense of familiarity. There was something else, something about leading character Olivia Dunham, that I couldn’t quite place…
Fringe is a show about investigating the borders and hinterlands of science — namely, fringe science. In the first episode we see melting flesh, psychic communion, doppelgangers, a mad genius, a robot hand, and the promise of so much more to come.
I’ve always been good at lateral thinking and pinpointing smells, so here’s my very own Fringe mathematics.
Q: What is it about Olivia Dunham that hasn’t been explained?
That’s what it was! Fringe actress Anna Torv kept ghosting shades of Cate Blanchett… Just add a dash of Naomi Watts, and there you have it — Fringe lead Olivia Dunham.
Don’t you feel better? The nail’s been hit on the head — that pestering feeling, abated.
And that’s just the beginning.
Now, Kirk Acevedo’s Agent Francis was another elephant in the room. At first, the look and the voice were channeling snowman alumnus John Forsythe — but then I started seeing shades of Nicolas Cage. Was I mad? Then I realised — both Francis and Forsythe (principally in Topaz) were the natural heirs to Humphrey Bogart.
When the inevitable big-balls remake of Play it Again, Sam comes for us, I’ll be looking out for Acevedo.
Wait, what’s that?
You’re still hungry?
Another effortless joy here — John Noble’s mad scientist Dr. Walter Bishop is none other than Danny Huston multiplied by Werner Herzog.
Note that two of the three even have the same portrait photographer.
Bit more of a stretch, this one, but watching Mark Valley’s Agent Scott was like watching William Hurt try to get out of Farscape‘s Ben Browder.
* * *
So there we have it. Those lookalikes you couldn’t quite put your finger on are all accessible through the mysterious science of fringe mathematics.
The only anomaly is Joshua Jackson — let’s not forget that he has, as an actor, perhaps the hardest name to shed. At one point the whole world was all about Dawson’s Creek, but now it’s a little more dangerous a show to be associated with. Unfortunately, for me, it just didn’t happen that Joshua Jackson became just his character, Peter Bishop, in the first episode of Fringe. I do, however, anticipate this disappearing promptly — Fringe looks too good a series, and Jackson is too capable a personality for this to go on.
Incidentally though, here’s how his new (that is, 2008…) character distances itself from Dawson’s Pacey: