The panel for Fringe, J.J. Abrams’ latest small-screen convolution, shed little light on the show’s already murky mythology. However, it was entertaining in its own right, just because it may be the most erratic TV/movie panel I’ve attended at a Con in years.
The entire cast showed up for the panel, somewhat surprising considering that this year’s NYCC, while a very enjoyable show on a number of levels, has been surprisingly light on star power.
Joshua Jackson earned the biggest cheer as he walked on stage.
After a fast-paced montage reel showed some of the highlights from the series so far, executive producer Jeff Pinkner admitted he had a hard time explaining Fringe's premise, which revolves around fringe science and the idea that there are people out there performing outlandish experiments, using the world as their lab rat.
"We want to explore with this show...what is reality? What is perceptive reality and emotional reality, and make it entertaining," he said.
Co-star Jasika Nicole then joked that a Fringe musical episode is coming soon. “We have a cow, so it makes perfect sense,' she said.
When asked how the cast is able to spout the complicated super-science terminology as if they really knew what they were talking about, John Noble (Walter Bishop) said it was an enjoyable challenge. 'It's alright, its good. I'm having fun with it,” he said.
Joshua Jackson claims he has a flow chart at home to help him follow what's going on. "I'm such a nerd, I'm an actor with a flow chart' Jackson said.
Lance Reddick, no stranger to shows with dense, complicated plots and long-running story arcs, says his character, Homeland Security agent Broyles, is a very spiritual man.
Reddick surprised the crowd when he mentioned he saw the Fringe comic book on the stands of his LCS [local comics store in plain English] when he went to find the latest issue of Ultimate Spider-Man. Who knew Abbadon was a fanboy??
Pinkner say sharp-eyed viewers have probably already picked up on the flashing signs that appear in each episode, as a commercial break approaches. He says those clues are part of a puzzle that you can unlock to learn what’s going to happen in the next episode. Pinkner said it’s not easy but if you crack the code, it does have a payoff.
As to how much the cat knows about the show's true intentions, Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) claims to not know much beyond the script for the episode they’re filming.
John Noble did say the relationship between Walter Bishop and his son will remain rocky but will continue to be explored and developed.
When discussing the show’s often gruesome visual effects, Joshua Jackson said the eyeball incident was far and away the worst for him.
"It was truly disturbing," he said, adding the shows creative staff was thrilled to pieces about doing this on television.
Blair Brown said wearing the bionic arm prop for the pilot episode was the weirdest experience for her. She was told the latex sleeve is what veterinarians use for certain procedures, and Brown said she was praying it wasn't something that had been used before.
There was some clarification on The Observer, the fedora-wearing mystery man who pops up in every episode of Fringe.” He’s not an alien, insists Pinkner. Since he’s the Executive Producer, he would know. Unless he’s lying. Which he swears he’s not, because he said the creative team decided from the outset not to have aliens on the show because they felt “The has already done it, and they couldn’t explain it any better than that show did, so why bother?
There are may also be more than one Observer, and whether or not there is, will be explored in an upcoming episode.
Joshua Jackson shared a story about how during the Eagles-Giants playoff game last month, he was sitting in the upper deck of Giants Stadium on a bitter cold day, when he noticed The Observer on standing on the sideline!
Pinkner added that Fox tried but failed to get The Observer on the platform behind President Obama during the Inauguration. No, he wasn’t joking.
As for William Bell, Dr. Bishop’s ex-partner and the head of Massive Dynamic, fans will meet him this season. In fact, Pinkner hinted that they may already have.
"This is a story that is still unfolding", he said.
Attendees then saw the first 10 minutes of Tuesday’s episode. It begins with the escape of Mr. Jones from a German maximum security prison. He escapes thru teleportation and winds up in Boston. he is, is still up for debate, because we learn that this method of teleportation also involves time-travel.
The clip ends with a newsstand worker being mummified after handling a $2 bill from a mysterious customer.
During the audience Q & A, one fan asked how hard is it for the writing staff to make Fringe more accessible to new fans than say, , while still servicing the show’s complicated backstory.
Pinkner answered by saying they know how the show will end, and they're just plotting their way toward that point.
He also added that up to now, the show has really been setting up the main story, introducing characters and so forth. There remain many details to introduce, according to Pinkner. He also said no lies have been told on the show.
As I said, there was little in the form of reveals and revelations here. Only the promise that things will start to be clearer as the initial season of Fringe continues.
More New York Comic Con 2009 Coverage: NYCC '09 Video Page