The spooky spooky woo woo show
October 7, 2010 11:28 AM   Subscribe

If I wanted to watch Fringe, what episodes should I watch If I don;t want to watch a lot of boring monster-of-the-week stuff? This list seems like a good starting point, though I'll happily include episodes that are watchable or good rather essential to the overall series mythology. For bonus points, which disks of the DVD library should I get from the video store to see the good episodes?
posted by Artw to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: To repost an answer of mine from an earlier thread:

* * *

The AV Club recently put up a list of must-see episodes for newcomers in their review of this season's premiere:
With Lost over and the new slate of fall shows leaning more episodic than serialized (with the exception of The Event, which is its own kind of crazy), I’ve been hearing from people curious about whether they should start watching Fringe. Some used to watch and then bailed; some have never seen a minute. But a lot of folks have heard that Fringe took a turn from the hit-and-miss to the pretty consistently awesome toward the end of its second season, and they want to know whether it’s worth watching all 40-plus existing episodes in order to hop on the bandwagon.

Luckily for them, the very thing that makes Fringe problematic for some—the sometimes awkward blend of overarching mythology and MOTWs—also makes it easy to catch up. If you want to start watching Fringe, I’d suggest watching these 20 episodes, in this order:

From Season One: “The Arrival,” “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones,” “The Equation,” “Safe,” “Bound,” “Ability,” “Bad Dreams,” “The Road Not Taken” and “There’s More Than One Of Everything.”

From Season Two: “A New Day In The Old Town,” “Momentum Deferred,” “August,” “Snakehead,” “Grey Matters,” “Jacksonville,” “Peter,” “Olivia. In The Lab. With The Revolver,” “White Tulip,” “The Man From The Other Side” and “Over There.”

Some of the mythology might be a little confusing at first, but it’s not that hard to pick up. And with a few exceptions (like “White Tulip,” included because of its overall excellence), these episodes aren’t Fringe stand-alones. They do advance the story, and will prepare you for the start of Season Three.

Or if you don’t have time for all that, just watch “Ability,” “The Road Not Taken,” “There’s More Than One Of Everything,” “Peter,” “The Man From The Other Side” and “Over There.” That should get you up and running.

Or just start here, with “Olivia.” You can piece together the backstory later.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:52 AM on October 7, 2010

Best answer: I know the purpose of this question was how to avoid the moster of the week episodes but I would highly recommend you give all of them a try. Walter is so good in all the episodes and his character really develops and changes over time.
posted by WhiteWhale at 12:01 PM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Well... I am open to good monster of the week episodes, or monster of the week episodes that happen to have good Walter action in them.


My Fringe experience to date has consisted of watching the Pilot and the episodes up to Arrival.

I kind of dug some of the ridiculous bravado of the pilot, but my main reaction to it was "This is the X Files, only shit". The episodes after that reinforced the whole X-Files, only boring and shit thing, and I was pretty much ready to ditch it. And then I hit Arrival, which was actually pretty awesome, and decided to see this one through, but maybe skip the shit bits.

So I'm probably a wanting to be a bit more inclusive than the io9 and AV Club lists, but I do want to skip any that have that generic X-Files episode only shit thing going on.
posted by Artw at 12:10 PM on October 7, 2010

The thing about Fringe (in my opinion) isn't so much that the monster of the week episodes are *boring* as that the early episodes are *mostly bad.* If you can endure or skip the first two-thirds of the first season (as they visibly retool the show week by week to make it better), once you've gotten to the first season finale you'll probably want to watch everything else from then out.
posted by gerryblog at 12:30 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree that most of the first season was crap. But I think you want to watch the ENTIRE second season, even some of the semi-boring MOTW episodes.

A lot of what seems (on first viewing) to be throwaway bits turn out to be quite important in the end. And what I at first took to be a MOTW turned out to be, like, the key to the entire arc story.

One of the reasons I was so blown away by the second season was the craftsmanship. Which I don't think you can appreciate, without having seen all of it.
posted by ErikaB at 1:23 PM on October 7, 2010

I've watched from the start, and I agree that if you have the time/endurance, just watch the whole thing. The show greatly improved toward the end of the first season and has been pretty uniformly good since then.
posted by CheeseLouise at 1:24 PM on October 7, 2010

Best answer: Meh, you can go back and watch the not-so-good episodes that you missed any time you like. Here's my list, though

Season 1: (Parentheses episodes can be skipped initially, but you might want to come back to them later)
1.5 - Power Hungry - ties up the John Scott deal.
1.7 - In Which We Meet Mr. Jones - A fantastic new character is introduced.
1.8 - The Equation - You start to get a feel for why Fringe's mythology diverts from (and IMHO surpasses) X-Files by the end of the episode
1.10 - Safe - continued mythology story arc. The show starts to feel kind of awesome.
1.11 - Bound - Sort of a Pt. 2 to 1.10
(1.13 - The Transformation - This is a Zack Whedon episode; a little sappy, and can be skipped for now, and adds additional closure to the first episode story)
1.14 - Ability - story arc
1.15 - Inner Child - mythology
(1.16 - Unleashed - This one is a must-see, but not in any particular order. You can catch up to it later. There are a lot of references to this episode in Season 3.)
1.17 - Bad Dreams - mythology / story arc
(1.18 - Midnight - this is a mythology episode, but I think it's skippable for now.)
1.19 - The Road Not Taken
1.20 - There's More than One of Everything - Hooked.

My list doesn't have you skipping much, and I hope I'm not giving away any plot or spoilers. The thing I love about Fringe is that in every episode, there is a gross-out gratuitous kind of graphic sci-fi scene, paying homage to its campy forbears. There is also an appearance by an Observer.

I'll flip through Season 2 for you, if you like, but I'm guessing by then you'll go all-in (or you'll fold).
posted by jabberjaw at 2:33 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the great answers! We actually put off the great Fringe watch for a while as other things came up, but now there's a bit of a lull in TV so it's next on the Agenda. In the end we bought the box set of S1, and will probably end up watching the whole thing, even the terrible episodes, but these answers are helpful regardless, especially if we end up watching the equivalent of the black market episode in BSG and need to know how long it will be until we reach something worth giving a damn about.
posted by Artw at 11:56 AM on December 14, 2010

« Older reality tv revenue stream?   |   Take the bus to Mercury Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.