FOX has given the go-ahead to a new series from J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot Productions. "Fringe," which was created by Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, will kick off with a two hour pilot that is budgeted at over $10 million dollars. According to Variety, the show will feature self-contained episodes focusing on paranormal investigations and the relationships between the three leads, a crazy scientist, his son, and a female FBI agent (sounds like a CBS Monday night comedy), while also having an overriding mythology. Basically, it's the "X-Files." Abrams can name-check stuff like "Altered States" all he wants. It's not going to change anything.
First of all, is it just me, or does it feel like J.J. Abrams is taking over genre film and television? It's probably just me, but with the "Star Trek" reboot, "Cloverfield" and now this, it just seems like he's Hollywood's king geek. Second, I actually think this show might be pretty good. The Variety article also says that CBS and ABC have similarly themed shows in the works, and frankly, I have a lot more faith in Abrams to produce a quality genre show than I do in Jerry Bruckheimer and Zak "X-Men: The Last Stand" Penn, even if Kurtzman and Orci are the guys who wrote "Transformers." Unfortunately, FOX as a really lousy track record when it comes to giving its sci fi shows a chance to gain an audience.
It also strikes me that Abrams is a much better successor to the "X-Files" tradition than he is to the "Star Trek" tradition. Anyone who has watched "Alias" or "Lost" knows that his shows excel at creating mountains of unanswered questions and labyrinthine mythologies that are difficult to keep track of without the aid of charts and graphs.